#PopeFrancis "... an invitation to develop the talents that God has given us." on #Sports - FULL TEXT
(CCCB – Ottawa)... The annual Plenary Assembly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) began yesterday and will continue until 30 September 2016 at the Nav Canada Centre, Cornwall, Ontario. The meeting is chaired by the Most Reverend Douglas Crosby, O.M.I., Bishop of Hamilton and CCCB President, who presented his annual report at the opening session. On this first day of the meeting, the Bishops reflected on the impact of Bill C-14 which legalized assisted suicide and euthanasia in Canada. His Eminence Willem Cardinal Eijk, Archbishop of Utrecht, Holland, gave a reflection on the social and cultural impact of legalized assisted suicide and euthanasia in The Netherlands and beyond. The day began with the celebration of the Eucharist presided by Bishop Crosby with the participation of almost 40 members from the Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School Choir in Cornwall.
A moral theologian, medical ethicist and physician, Cardinal Eijk gave an overview of the experience in his country. He said at first there had been arguments in favour of euthanasia and assisted suicide in 1969, followed by frequent medical practice of euthanasia in the 1970s and then the first law to provide provisional regulation of euthanasia in 1993. Since then, he said, public sentiment permits euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide for people suffering from emotional disorders and psychiatric illness, including depression, as well the termination of infants born with disabilities. At the same time, doctors who used to practise euthanasia frequently now receive fewer demands because of growing accessibility to and awareness of palliative care.
"What can the Dutch experience teach politicians, policy-makers and people working in health care in other countries?" he asked. His answers were that first, there is no need for a "new medical ethics" other than what is provided through palliative care: "to reduce the suffering of people with incurable diseases to bearable proportions and to help them to discover or rediscover the dignity of their lives by giving loving professional care -- humane, medical, socio-psychological and pastoral; in short: it is directed to the whole person." Secondly, the Dutch experience provides empirical evidence that once the door is open a little, it easily opens wider. "Once one allows the termination of life for a certain kind of suffering, why should one not allow it for suffering that is just a little less?" The third lesson to be learned, he said, is palliative care respects how people who are suffering greatly, whether from disease or disabilities, can discover dignity in life and be enabled to continue their lives despite their circumstances.
In his annual report, Bishop Crosby highlighted several initiatives in which the Conference has been involved, including advocating for palliative and home care and mobilizing local support for these, as well as urging federal and provincial politicians to respect freedom of conscience and religion for health-care providers and institutions. The CCCB President also pointed out the initiatives by the CCCB and dioceses over the past year "to focus on relations with Indigenous People, including questions by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)." The CCCB President recalled his letter to the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau the day he was sworn in as Prime Minister. "I highlighted the need for improved Aboriginal access to education, the epidemic of murdered and missing Indigenous women, the need for environments supportive of Indigenous families and communities, and the importance of strengthening the ability of Canadian justice and correctional systems to respond to Aboriginal realities," Bishop Crosby stated.
#PopeFrancis "... an invitation to develop the talents that God has given us." on #Sports - FULL TEXT
According to tradition, St. Bruno belonged to the family of Hartenfaust, or Hardebüst, one of the principal families of the city, and it is in remembrance of this origin that different members of the family of Hartenfaust have received from the Carthusians either some special prayers for the dead, as in the case of Peter Bruno Hartenfaust in 1714, and Louis Alexander Hartenfaust, Baron of Laach, in 1740; or a personal affiliation with the order, as with Louis Bruno of Hardevüst, Baron of Laach and Burgomaster of the town of Bergues-S. Winnoc, in the Diocese of Cambrai, with whom the Hardevüst family in the male line became extinct on 22 March, 1784.
We have little information about the childhood and youth of St. Bruno. Born at Cologne, he would have studied at the city college, or collegial of St. Cunibert. While still quite young (a pueris) he went to complete his education at Reims, attracted by the reputation of the episcopal school and of its director, Heriman. There he finished his classical studies and perfected himself in the sacred sciences which at that time consisted principally of the study of Holy Scripture and of the Fathers. He became there, according to the testimony of his contemporaries, learned both in human and in Divine science.
His education completed, St. Bruno returned to Cologne, where he was provided with a canonry at St. Cunibert's, and, according to the most probable opinion, was elevated to the priestly dignity. This was about the year 1055. In 1056 Bishop Gervais recalled him to Reims, to aid his former master Heriman in the direction of the school. The latter was already turning his attention towards a more perfect form of life, and when he at last left the world to enter the religious life, in 1057, St. Bruno found himself head of the episcopal school, or écolâtre, a post difficult as it was elevated, for it then included the direction of the public schools and the oversight of all the educational establishments of the diocese. For about twenty years, from 1057 to 1075, he maintained the prestige which the school of Reims has attained under its former masters, Remi of Auxerre, Hucbald of St. Amand, Gerbert, and lastly Heriman. Of the excellence of his teaching we have a proof in the funereal titles composed in his honour, which celebrate his eloquence, his poetic, philosophical, and above all his exegetical and theological, talents; and also in the merits of his pupils, amongst whom were Eudes of Châtillon, afterwards Urban II, Rangier, Cardinal and Bishop of Reggio, Robert, Bishop of Langres, and a large number of prelates and abbots.
In 1075 St. Bruno was appointed chancellor of the church of Reims, and had then to give himself especially to the administration of the diocese. Meanwhile the pious Bishop Gervais, friend of St. Bruno, had been succeeded by Manasses de Gournai, who quickly became odious for his impiety and violence. The chancellor and two other canons were commissioned to bear to the papal legate, Hugh of Die, the complaints of the indignant clergy, and at the Council of Autun, 1077, they obtained the suspension of the unworthy prelate. The latter's reply was to raze the houses of his accusers, confiscate their goods, sell their benefices, and appeal to the pope. Bruno then absented himself from Reims for a while, and went probably to Rome to defend the justice of his cause. It was only in 1080 that a definite sentence, confirmed by a rising of the people, compelled Manasses to withdraw and take refuge with the Emperor Henry IV. Free then to choose another bishop, the clergy were on the point of uniting their vote upon the chancellor. He, however, had far different designs in view. According to a tradition preserved in the Carthusian Order, Bruno was persuaded to abandon the world by the sight of a celebrated prodigy, popularized by the brush of Lesueur--the triple resurrection of the Parisian doctor, Raymond Diocres. To this tradition may be opposed the silence of contemporaries, and of the first biographers of the saint; the silence of Bruno himself in his letter to Raoul le Vert, Provost of Reims; and the impossibility of proving that he ever visited Paris. He had no need of such an extraordinary argument to cause him to leave the world. Some time before, when in conversation with two of his friends, Raoul and Fulcius, canons of Reims like himself, they had been so enkindled with the love of God and the desire of eternal goods that they had made a vow to abandon the world and to embrace the religious life. This vow, uttered in 1077, could not be put into execution until 1080, owing to various circumstances. The first idea of St. Bruno on leaving Reims seems to have been to place himself and his companions under the direction of an eminent solitary, St. Robert, who had recently (1075) settled at Molesme in the Diocese of Langres, together with a band of other solitaries who were later on (1098) to form the Cistercian Order. But he soon found that this was not his vocation, and after a short sojourn at Sèche-Fontaine near Molesme, he left two of his companions, Peter and Lambert, and betook himself with six others to Hugh of Châteauneuf, Bishop of Grenoble, and, according to some authors, one of his pupils. The bishop, to whom God had shown these men in a dream, under the image of seven stars, conducted and installed them himself (1084) in a wild spot on the Alps of Dauphiné named Chartreuse, about four leagues from Grenoble, in the midst of precipitous rocks and mountains almost always covered with snow. With St. Bruno were Landuin, the two Stephens of Bourg and Die, canons of Sts. Rufus, and Hugh the Chaplain, "all, the most learned men of their time", and two laymen, Andrew and Guérin, who afterwards became the first lay brothers. They built a little monastery where they lived in deep retreat and poverty, entirely occupied in prayer and study, and frequently honoured by the visits of St. Hugh who became like one of themselves. Their manner of life has been recorded by a contemporary, Guibert of Nogent, who visited them in their solitude. (De Vitâ suâ, I, ii.)
Meanwhile, another pupil of St. Bruno, Eudes of Châtillon, had become pope under the name of Urban II (1088). Resolved to continue the work of reform commenced by Gregory VII, and being obliged to struggle against the antipope, Guibert of Ravenna, and the Emperor Henry IV, he sought to surround himself with devoted allies and called his ancient master ad Sedis Apostolicae servitium. Thus the solitary found himself obliged to leave the spot where he had spent more than six years in retreat, followed by a part of his community, who could not make up their minds to live separated from him (1090). It is difficult to assign the place which he then occupied at the pontifical court, or his influence in contemporary events, which was entirely hidden and confidential. Lodged in the palace of the pope himself and admitted to his councils, and charged, moreover, with other collaborators, in preparing matters for the numerous councils of this period, we must give him some credit for their results. But he took care always to keep himself in the background, and although he seems to have assisted at the Council of Benevento (March, 1091), we find no evidence of his having been present at the Councils of Troja (March, 1093), of Piacenza (March, 1095), or of Clermont (November, 1095). His part in history is effaced. All that we can say with certainty is that he seconded with all his power the sovereign pontiff in his efforts for the reform of the clergy, efforts inaugurated at the Council of Melfi (1089) and continued at that of Benevento. A short time after the arrival of St. Bruno, the pope had been obliged to abandon Rome before the victorious forces of the emperor and the antipope. He withdrew with all his court to the south of Italy.
During the voyage, the former professor of Reims attracted the attention of the clergy of Reggio in further Calabria, which had just lost its archbishop Arnulph (1090), and their votes were given to him. The pope and the Norman prince, Roger, Duke of Apulia, strongly approved of the election and pressed St. Bruno to accept it. In a similar juncture at Reims he had escaped by flight; this time he again escaped by causing Rangier, one of his former pupils, to be elected, who was fortunately near by at the Benedictine Abbey of La Cava near Salerno. But he feared that such attempts would be renewed; moreover he was weary of the agitated life imposed upon him, and solitude ever invited him. He begged, therefore, and after much trouble obtained, the pope's permission to return again to his solitary life. His intention was to rejoin his brethren in Dauphiné, as a letter addressed to them makes clear. But the will of Urban II kept him in Italy, near the papal court, to which he could be called at need. The place chosen for his new retreat by St. Bruno and some followers who had joined him was in the Diocese of Squillace, on the eastern slope of the great chain which crosses Calabria from north to south, and in a high valley three miles long and two in width, covered with forest. The new solitaries constructed a little chapel of planks for their pious reunions and, in the depths of the woods, cabins covered with mud for their habitations. A legend says that St. Bruno whilst at prayer was discovered by the hounds of Roger, Great Count of Sicily and Calabria and uncle of the Duke of Apulia, who was then hunting in the neighbourhood, and who thus learnt to know and venerate him; but the count had no need to wait for that occasion to know him, for it was probably upon his invitation that the new solitaries settled upon his domains. That same year (1091) he visited them, made them a grant of the lands they occupied, and a close friendship was formed between them. More than once St. Bruno went to Mileto to take part in the joys and sorrows of the noble family, to visit the count when sick (1098 and 1101), and to baptize his son Roger (1097), the future King of Sicily. But more often it was Roger who went into the desert to visit his friends, and when, through his generosity, the monastery of St. Stephen was built, in 1095, near the hermitage of St. Mary, there was erected adjoining it a little country house at which he loved to pass the time left free from governing his State.
Meanwhile the friends of St. Bruno died one after the other: Urban II in 1099; Landuin, the prior of the Grand Chartreuse, his first companion, in 1100; Count Roger in 1101. His own time was near at hand. Before his death he gathered for the last time his brethren round him and made in their presence a profession of the Catholic Faith, the words of which have been preserved. He affirms with special emphasis his faith in the mystery of the Holy Trinity, and in the real presence of Our Saviour in the Holy Eucharist--a protestation against the two heresies which had troubled that century, the tritheism of Roscelin, and the impanation of Berengarius. After his death, the Carthusians of Calabria, following a frequent custom of the Middle Ages by which the Christian world was associated with the death of its saints, dispatched a rolliger, a servant of the convent laden with a long roll of parchment, hung round his neck, who passed through Italy, France, Germany, and England. He stopped at the principal churches and communities to announce the death, and in return, the churches, communities, or chapters inscribed upon his roll, in prose or verse, the expression of their regrets, with promises of prayers. Many of these rolls have been preserved, but few are so extensive or so full of praise as that about St. Bruno. A hundred and seventy-eight witnesses, of whom many had known the deceased, celebrated the extent of his knowledge and the fruitfulness of his instruction. Strangers to him were above all struck by his great knowledge and talents. But his disciples praised his three chief virtues--his great spirit of prayer, an extreme mortification, and a filial devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Both the churches built by him in the desert were dedicated to the Blessed Virgin: Our Lady of Casalibus in Dauphiné, Our Lady Della Torre in Calabria; and, faithful to his inspirations, the Carthusian Statutes proclaim the Mother of God the first and chief patron of all the houses of the order, whoever may be their particular patron.
St. Bruno was buried in the little cemetery of the hermitage of St. Mary, and many miracles were worked at his tomb. He had never been formally canonized. His cult, authorized for the Carthusian Order by Leo X in 1514, was extended to the whole church by Gregory XV, 17 February, 1623, as a semi-double feast, and elevated to the class of doubles by Clement X, 14 March, 1674. St. Bruno is the popular saint of Calabria; every year a great multitude resort to the Charterhouse of St. Stephen, on the Monday and Tuesday of Pentecost, when his relics are borne in procession to the hermitage of St. Mary, where he lived, and the people visit the spots sanctified by his presence. An immense number of medals are struck in his honour and distributed to the crowd, and the little Carthusian habits, which so many children of the neighbourhood wear, are blessed. He is especially invoked, and successfully, for the deliverance of those possessed.
As a writer and founder of an order, St. Bruno occupies an important place in the history of the eleventh century. He composed commentaries on the Psalms and on the Epistles of St. Paul, the former written probably during his professorship at Reims, the latter during his stay at the Grande Chartreuse if we may believe an old manuscript seen by Mabillon--"Explicit glosarius Brunonis heremitae super Epistolas B. Pauli." Two letters of his still remain, also his profession of faith, and a short elegy on contempt for the world which shows that he cultivated poetry. The "Commentaries" disclose to us a man of learning; he knows a little Hebrew and Greek and uses it to explain, or if need be, rectify the Vulgate; he is familiar with the Fathers, especially St. Augustine and St. Ambrose, his favourites. "His style", says Dom Rivet, "is concise, clear, nervous and simple, and his Latin as good as could be expected of that century: it would be difficult to find a composition of this kind at once more solid and more luminous, more concise and more clear". His writings have been published several times: at Paris, 1509-24; Cologne, 1611-40; Migne, Latin Patrology, CLII, CLIII, Montreuil-sur-Mer, 1891. The Paris edition of 1524 and those of Cologne include also some sermons and homilies which may be more justly attributed to St. Bruno, Bishop of Segni. The Preface of the Blessed Virgin has also been wrongly ascribed to him; it is long anterior, though he may have contributed to introduce it into the liturgy.
St. Bruno's distinction as the founder of an order was that he introduced into the religious life the mixed form, or union of the eremitical and cenobite modes of monasticism, a medium between the Camaldolese Rule and that of St. Benedict. He wrote no rule, but he left behind him two institutions which had little connection with each other--that of Dauphiné and that of Calabria. The foundation of Calabria, somewhat like the Camaldolese, comprised two classes of religious: hermits, who had the direction of the order, and cenobites who did not feel called to the solitary life; it only lasted a century, did not rise to more than five houses, and finally, in 1191, united with the Cistercian Order. The foundation of Grenoble, more like the rule of St. Benedict, comprised only one kind of religious, subject to a uniform discipline, and the greater part of whose life was spent in solitude, without, however, the complete exclusion of the conventual life. This life spread throughout Europe, numbered 250 monasteries, and in spite of many trials continues to this day.
The great figure of St. Bruno has been often sketched by artists and has inspired more than one masterpiece: in sculpture, for example, the famous statue by Houdon, at St. Mary of the Angels in Rome, "which would speak if his rule did not compel him to silence"; in painting, the fine picture by Zurbaran, in the Seville museum, representing Urban II and St. Bruno in conference; the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin to St. Bruno, by Guercino at Bologna; and above all the twenty-two pictures forming the gallery of St. Bruno in the museum of the Louvre, "a masterpiece of Le Sueur and of the French school".
Longo: Modern Rosary Saint
Madeline Pecora Nugent, SFO
Madeline Pecora Nugent, SFO
SINNER. SATANIST. SOCIAL worker. Saint. A strange progression taken by Blessed Bartolo Longo. On February 11, 1841, a sweet tempered physician's wife of Latiano, Italy, gave birth to a son whom she named Bartolo. Devoted to Our Lord and His Mother, she taught all her children to pray the Rosary daily and to visit and care for the poor, while Dr. Longo instilled in them a love of music and beauty. Bartolo would later describe himself as "a lively and impertinent imp, sometimes rather a rascal." The priests who educated him found Bartolo to be highly intelligent, cordial, and accommodating although prone to a fiery temper.
When Bartolo was ten, his mother died. Slowly Bartolo began to drift away from his faith. Eventually he studied law from a private tutor, then attended the University of Naples to complete his education. It wasn't the same University of Naples where St. Thomas Aquinas taught, but a dangerous place for Bartolo's young mind. Searching for meaning in life, Bartolo became emneshed in the political movements and spiritism so popular with college students at that time in Italy. Deeply involved with a satanic sect, Bartolo aspired to the satanic priesthood, so he entered upon a long preparation of studies, fastings, and mortifications. On the night of his ordination by a satanic bishop, the walls of the "church" shook with thunder while blasphemous, disembodied shrieks knifed the air. Bartolo fainted with fright and for a while afterwards was deeply tormented and physically ill. Despite this depression and nervousness, he exercised his satanic priesthood by preaching, officiating at satanic rites, and publicly ridiculing Catholicism and everyone and everything connected with it.
During these bleak years, the Longo family was besieging heaven for their wayward member. One day Bartolo seemed to hear the voice of his dead father begging him to return to God. Troubled, he paid a visit to one of his friends from Latiano, Professor Vincenzo Pepe, who was living and teaching near Naples. Shocked by Bartolo's appearance, Pepe exclaimed, "Do you want to die in an insane asylum and be damned forever?" When Bartolo admitted his mental confusion, Pepe took him under his wing. He introduced the troubled young man to many holy people who gave him support and counsel. One of these was a well-educated Dominican priest, Alberto Radente, who gave Bartolo a detailed course in the Catholic faith which included the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas. After much study, prayer, and a lengthy confession, Bartolo was again admitted to the sacraments. On the feast of the Annunciation, March 25, 1871, he was professed into the Third Order of St. Dominic and given the name of Brother Rosary in recognition of his favorite daily prayer.
To complete his break with satanism, the new convert made one final visit to a seance, held up a medal of Our Lady, and cried out that he renounced spiritism because it was "a maze of error and falsehood." He then went to student parties and cafes, denouncing the "religion" he had formerly embraced and proclaiming his faith in the Catholic Church. This was a brave thing to do as the Catholic Church was, at that time, being suppressed. He considered becoming a priest but was discouraged by both friends and his spiritual director. After making a retreat, he discerned not to marry, but rather to devote himself unreservedly to God and Our Lady. He was later to write:
"I place myself, my God, in your hands; as a son I abandon myself to your fatherly embrace; roll and roll again this mud, it has nothing to say; it is enough that it serve your designs and not resist your will for which I was made. Ask, command, prohibit. What do you wish that I do, or that I not do? Lifted up, knocked down, suffering, dedicated to your works by sacrificing my will to yours, I can only say, as did Mary: 'Behold I am your servant. 0 Lord, let it be done to me according to your Word."
Friar Radente told Bartolo that he had to repair the damage he had caused to others, so he joined his pious friends in caring for the poor, sick, and needy. One of this pious group was the wealthy widow Countess Mariana di Fusco. The Countess commissioned Bartolo, who was a lawyer, to collect the rent from poor farmers on a vast tract of land she owned near the ancient city of Pompeii. She needed the money to support her five children. In 1872, Bartolo arrived in marshy Pompeii, accompanied by two armed escorts to protect him from bandits that overran the area. He was shocked and filled with pity at the ignorance, lack of faith, superstition, poverty, and moral corruption of the people. The aging priest in a decaying church rarely saw any parishioners. People and animals slept together in ramshackle, filthy quarters. How could Bartolo help? Bartolo later wrote,
"One day in the fields around Pompeii called Arpaia. . .1 recalled my former condition as a priest of Satan. Father Alberto had told me repeatedly never again to think of, or reflect on (this), but I thought that perhaps as the priesthood of Christ is for eternity, so also the priesthood of Satan is for eternity.
"So, despite my repentance, I thought: I am still consecrated to Satan, and I am still his slave and property as he awaits me in Hell. As I pondered over my condition, I experienced a deep sense of despair and almost committed suicide. Then I heard an echo in my ear of the voice of Friar Alberto repeating the words of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
'One who propagates my Rosary shall be saved.' These words certainly brought an illumination to my soul. Falling to my knees, I exclaimed: 'If your words are true that he who propagates your Rosary will be saved, I shall reach salvation because I shall not leave this earth without propagating your Rosary.' At that moment the little bell of the parish church rang out, inviting the people to pray the Angelus. This incident was like a signature to my firm decision."
Later he wrote, "What is my vocation? To write about Mary, to have Mary praised, to have Mary loved."
Bartolo lost no time. He made repeated trips to the Valley of Pompeii to teach the people how to pray the Rosary. Beginning in 1873, he organized a yearly Rosary feast, incorporating music, fireworks, races, and a lottery into it. In 1875, as part of a parish mission, he invited a group of priests to speak about devotion to the Rosary. To conclude the mission, he promised to display a painting of Our Lady of the Rosary, and the painting that he obtained has been the cause of numerous miracles of healing. He constructed a church to hold this image and then, around it, an entire city dedicated to helping orphans and the poor. He also wrote books about the Rosary and composed novenas and a prayer manual. In all of these works, he was assisted by the Countess. When evil rumors began to spread about the relationship between the widow and the handsome, intelligent lawyer, Bartolo and the Countess consulted their friend Pope Leo XIII, a great devotee of the Rosary. "Lawyer, you are free; Countess, you are a widow; get married and no one can say anything against you." So on April 7, 1885, they were married. In this chaste union, for Bartolo had taken a vow of chastity, the couple continued their charitable works until the Countess's death in 1924.
Bartolo was tireless in his work. He founded a congregation of Dominican nuns to help educate the orphans in his city and also brought in the Christian Brothers for the boys. He urged people to learn the catechism and worked to have defined by Rome the doctrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. After laboring fifty years for his "Lady," Bartolo was the object of calumny and slander as lies spread about his mishandling of funds. He bore these with resignation and was cleared of all charges. In 1906, Bartolo turned all his property, including his own personal property, over to the Holy See. He then assisted the new head of the administration and continued to work in the city he had built, but only as a humble employee. He remained at his work at the Shrine until he was 85-years-old, ever promoting the Rosary and going to confession twice weekly.
Over the years his prayer had become so intense that one of those who saw him could say, "I often saw him with his arms outstretched and his eyes fixed on heaven or on the image of Our Lady, or even with his eyes half-closed, totally enraptured without being aware of those around or near him." Asked if he saw the Blessed Mother, Bartolo would answer, "Yes, but not as she is in heaven." During his last hours on October 5, 1926, he prayed the Rosary, surrounded by the orphans whom he so loved. "My only desire is to see Mary, who has saved me and who will save me from the clutches of Satan," he said with his final breath. On October 26, 1980, Pope John Paul II pronounced Bartolo Longo Blessed, calling him the "Man of Mary." Shared from PiercedHearts - Image source Google
1905 - 1938
Also known as: Elena Kowalska; Faustina Kowalska; Helena Kowalska; Maria Faustina Kowalska; Sister FaustinaHelena Kowalska was born as the third of ten children on the 25th of August 1905 in a small Polish village called Glogowiec. Her parents were Stanilaus and Marianne Kowalski. They were poor, but happy, because they were with God. At home, prayer was connected with work in harmonious way. Her very real feelings for the Lord were very noticeable just like her care for the poor, even when she was a little girl. She started to go to school when she was twelve and when she was sixteen she went into service in order to earn money for her maintenance and to help her parents.
Saints Day: October 5
Saints Day: October 5
When she was seventeen years old, she recognized her destiny: she wanted to sacrifice her life for service for God in a convent. As a young girl, she preferred to spend all her free time at the Blessed Sacrament instead of with her friends. Being on service, she reserved for herself a possibility to attend in Holy Mass every day and to visit the persons who were sick or dying.
On 1st August 1925, Helena Kowalska entered the Congregation of Our Blessed Lady of Mercy in Warsaw, at 3/9 Żytnia Street. This Congregation was founded in Poland by Teresa Potacka in 1862, for breeding the girls and women who needed deep moral change. In an atmosphere of separation from influences of the world, through prayer and work, the Sisters’ foster-children were rebuilding a sensation of own dignity, they studied a profession in order they could come back to life in the society and to earn money for their maintenance in dignified manner.
In 1926, during the ceremony of the taking of the veil, Helena Kowalska received the name: Sister Maria Faustina, and now she is known in the whole world under this name. In 1928 she took her first vows: of chastity, poverty and obedience, which she repeated during 5 years in order to take perpetual vows in the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy.
Sister Faustina worked in several different homes of the convent, doing jobs such as a kitchen-help, a gardener and a porter. Outwardly she did not differ from her fellow nuns, she was faithful to the rule of the religious order, in which she saw the will of God, she was full of trust to God and an active love of a neighbour. Under commonness, an intense religious life was hidden that impressed many people. Her contact with the supernatural world – meetings with the Lord Jesus, the Holy Mother, the angels, Saints, the souls who were in purgatory – was such real, simply and ordinary as the world perceived by senses. Already, during her firsts weeks in the Congregation, she had a vision of purgatory, then a vision of Heaven and hell. She received many, extraordinary graces, like apparitions, a gift of the ability of the reading in souls of other people, bi-location (it is an ability to be in two places at the same time), hidden stigmata, or so called mystical engagement and marriage with Jesus. The theologians include her into a circle of the most distinguished mystics in the history of the Church. In her spiritual “Diary”, which she wrote on the order of the Lord Jesus, on order of the priests-confessors and because the superiors agreed, she described not only extraordinary meetings with supernatural reality, but also her grey commonplaceness, which became beautiful and rich because of the fact that it was experienced with union with God.
The God picked out her as a secretary and apostle of the Divine Mercy. Through her, He delivered to the Church and the world, great message about the merciful love of God to every person. This great prophetic mission of Saint Faustina started in Plock, Poland on the 22nd February 1931. “When I was in my cell in the evening – she wrote in “Diary” - I saw Jesus dressed in a white robe. A hand was raised up to blessing, and the second hand touched His robe at the level of His heart. From His robe, which was slightly opened, two beautiful rays of light were visible, one was red and the other pale. Silently, I looked at THE LORD. My soul was afraid and yet full of joy. After a very short time, Our Saviour said to me: “Make a statue of Me, exactly as you see Me now, and under this statue you should place the words: 'Jesus, I trust You!' I want this statue to be worshipped, firstly in your chapel and then throughout the world. I promise that a soul who worships this picture, will not die. I promise also that already here, on the Earth the victory over enemies, and especially during the hour of death. I, personally will protect her as My glory” (Diary 47). Sister Faustina said about this to her confessor and he let her to paint this picture in her soul. But when she was going away from a confessional, the Lord Jesus said: “My picture is already in your soul. I desire that a feast of the Mercy will be. I want that this picture which you will paint by brush, was solemnly consecrated during the first Sunday after the Easter, this Sunday will be the feast of Divine Mercy.” (Diary 49). Sister Faustina did not know to paint, other sisters also did not, so a painting of the picture was delaying. And the Lord Jesus assured Sister Faustina that it was very important matter. “You need to know about it – said to her - that if you neglect the matter of painting this picture and the whole work of mercy, you will answer for a large number of souls during the day of the Judgment” (Diary 154).
In such situation Sister Faustina asked God for help. At first, she asked for it that a priest in the name of the Church confirmed that requests which she had heard from Jesus, were really from the God, and they were not any illusion. Such confirmation she received during retreats in 1932, and then a promise of a priest who would help her to fulfil the wishes of the Lord Jesus. The name of the priest was Michal Sopocko, whom Saint Faustina met in Wilno (Vilnius). He after examination that the matter came from God, engaged himself in an realisation of the mission, which mission the Lord Jesus delivered to Saint Faustina. At first, he arranged to do a painting of Merciful Jesus, by painter Eugeniusz Kazimirowski, who lived in the same tenement-house. Sister Faustina gave advices to the painter and asked the Lord Jesus for explanations concerning meaning of some elements of the picture, which her confessor did not understand. The Lord Jesus said at this moment that His glance from this picture was like His glance from the cross, that in inscription on the picture should be: “Jesus, I trust You” and the rays: pale and red mean water and blood. “These two rays – explained the Lord Jesus – mean blood and water. The pale ray means water, which clears souls; the red ray means blood, which is the life of souls. These two rays went out from the entrails of My mercy at that time, when My dying heart was opened by a spear on the cross. These rays protect souls from My Father’s angry. Happy is the person, who will live in their shadow, because the just God’s hand will not reach him. I desire that the first Sunday after the Easter, be the feast of Mercy”. (Diary 299).
When the painting was painted, Sister Faustina cried, because Jesus on this picture was not so beautiful as she had seen Him. But Jesus answered that not in the beauty of paint is power of this picture, but in His grace.
In the first Sunday after the Easter, in the planned feast of Mercy, the picture of Merciful Jesus was for the first time shown publicly in the Sanctuary of the Holy Mother of Mercy in Ostra Brama. Priest Michal Sopocko preached about Divine Mercy and Sister Faustina saw how many people received graces. When she came back from this feast to the convent, she wrote: “The whole multitude of devils blocked my way, who threatened me with terrible tortures – and it could be heard voices: She took away from us everything, what we worked during so many years. – When I asked them: From where there are such multitude of you? – These malicious shapes answered to me: From hearts of people, do not torment us. Seeing their terrible hatred for me, in this moment I asked the Guardian Angel for help. – And in one moment a bright and radiant shape of the Guardian Angel stood, who said to me: Do not be afraid, My Lord’s betrothed, these ghosts will not do anything wrong to you without His permission. These wrong ghosts disappeared immediately and the faithful Guardian Angel accompanied me in visible way to home.” (Diary 418-419).
In Wilno (Vilnius) the Lord Jesus dictated prayer to Saint Faustina. We know this prayer as Chaplet of Divine Mercy. It was on 13-14 September 1935. Sister Faustina saw an angel who was to punish the Earth for sins. When she saw this sign of God’ anger, she started to ask the angel to suspend for a few minutes and the world will do penance. However, when she stood in front of the majesty of the Holy Trinity, she did not have courage to repeat this imploration. Only, when she felt the Lord Jesus’ power of grace, she started to pray by words which she heard internal and they were words of the Chaplet and she saw that punishment of the Earth was pushed away. On the second day, the Lord Jesus dictated her once again this prayer: At the beginning you will say 1 Our Father and 1 Hail Mary and 1 the Apostles’ Creed and next, on the beads of Our Father you will say following words: Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world; on the Hail Mary beads you will say: For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world. At the end you will say 3 times these words: Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world. (Diary 474). During the next apparitions, the Lord Jesus delivered promises which He connected to saying this prayer. He said that by saying this Chaplet, it was possible to ask everything what was concordant with God’ will and He promised also a grace of happy and peaceful death. This grace can receive only these people who will say this chaplet with trust and also dying people, next to whom other people will say this chaplet. “Even if a sinner was the most obdurate – said the Lord Jesus – if he only once will say this chaplet, he will attaine the grace from My infinite mercy. I desire that the whole world will get to know My mercy. I desire to give inconceivable graces to souls who trust My mercy”. (Diary 687).
Also in Wilno (Vilnius) the Lord Jesus returned to the matter of institution of the feast of Divine Mercy, saying the great promises. “during this day – the Lord Jesus was saying – the entrails of My mercy are opened, I pour out the whole sea of graces for a soul who will approach to a source of My mercy. A soul who will confess and receive the Holy communion, will obtain the complete remission of sins and punishments. During this day, all Divine sluices are opened, through which flow graces; let any soul does not be afraid to approach to Me, even if the sins of this soul were like purple”. (Diary 699). As a preparation to this feast is novena, which we do by saying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, during 9 days, beginning on the Good Friday. In order to benefit from the great graces, one needs to be after well done confession, without any attachment to sin, and should receive the Holy Communion during this day and should experience this feast in the spirit of trust to God (with desire of fulfilling His will) and in the spirit of mercy to the neighbours.In 1935 Sister Faustina heard also the Lord Jesus’ wish connected to an establishment of such congregation, which will proclaim and obtain by prayer, the mercy for the whole world. At the beginning, she was thinking that she needed to set up only one contemplative religious order, but the Lord Jesus gradually got her to know that it did not concern to only one congregation, but it concerned to great work in the Church, which will be done by many, men’s and women’s congregations, the enclosed religious orders and the active religious orders and by the great number of people living in the whole world. All of them will proclaim merciful God’s love through a testimony of life in the spirit of trust to God and an active love of a neighbour, through acts, words and prayer. Each – as wrote Sister Faustina – can belong to this “congregation” and make the merciful God’s love present in the world.
The basic way of proclaiming the messages of Mercy and the whole devotion to Divine Mercy is the attitude of trust in God, it means- fulfilling His will contained in the ten commandments, the duties of the position, the advices and blessings said in the Gospels or the recognized inspirations of Holy Spirit and an active love of a neighbour. “If I demand through you from people an adoration of Divine Mercy – the Lord Jesus was saying to Sister Faustina – it is you who first should be characterised by trust in My mercy. I demand from you the acts of mercy which originate from love to Me. You need to show mercy always and everywhere to the neighbours, you can not retire from it nor excuse yourself from it, nor exculpate. I am telling you three ways of making mercy to the neighbours: the first – acts, the second – word, the third – prayer; in these three steps, the fullness of mercy is concluded and it is the irrefutable proof of love of Me”. (Diary 742). The next way of proclaiming the messages of Mercy is an act, then a word and prayer. The task of proclaiming the messages of Mercy was gifted a great promise by the Lord Jesus. “souls who propagate the worship of My mercy – He said – I protect them through the whole life, as a tender mother her new-born baby and during the hour of death I will not be a Judge for them, but I will be the merciful Redeemer.” (Diary 1075). The Lord Jesus gave a special promise to the priests, as He said that when they would say about the merciful God’s love to a person, He would cause that the souls of the obdurate sinners would crush under their words, coming back to life in friendship with Him.
The Hour of Mercy – 15.00. In 1936 Sister Faustina came back to Krakow to spend there the last years of her life. The Lord Jesus appeared to her a next new form of worship of Divine Mercy, which we call the Hour of Mercy. It does not mean that we need to pray during the whole hour, but we need to honour the moment of the Lord Jesus’ death on the cross. The Lord Jesus said to Saint Faustina: “I remind you, My daughter that how many times you will hear as a clock repeats the third hour, dip the whole yourself in My mercy, admiring and praising it; call its omnipotence for the whole world, and especially for the poor sinners, because in this moment mercy is opened broadly for every soul. During this hour you will obtain by prayer everything for yourself and for others; at this hour, the grace for the whole world happened – mercy won justice. My daughter, try to do the way of cross, if your duty will allow you to do it; if you can not do the way of cross, go at least to a chapel for a few minutes and worship My heart, which is full of mercy in the Most Holy Sacrament; and if you can not go to the chapel, sunk in prayer there where you are through few minutes”. (Diary 1572). Prayer at that time (15.00) should be directed to the Lord Jesus and in implorations we need to appeal to the value and merits of His sorrowful Passion. It is the privileged time of each day, during which, by connecting with the Lord Jesus dying on the cross, we can obtain by prayer everything if it is concordant with God’s will and if we ask for it with trust, attaching to prayer the acts of mercy done for our neighbours.
The Lord Jesus not only delivered the new forms of worship of Divine Mercy to Saint Faustina (a picture with inscription: Jesus, I trust You, the Feast of Mercy, Chaplet of Divine Mercy, the Hour of Mercy, a propagation of worship of Mercy) to which He attached the great promises, under the condition of solicitude for attitude of trust (performing the God’s will) and the active love of a neighbour, but also He allowed to know the depth of mystery of the Divine Mercy. Her “Diary” was called by Pope John Paul II: a “Gospel of mercy written in XX century”, as the message is such wonderful way shows the merciful love of God for a person during the whole perspective of the history of the world: since the moment of creating, through incarnation and birth of God’s Son, His life and teaching, Passion, death and Resurrection by the union of the Church, who is the Mystical Body of Christ and invitation to the Glory of Heaven. A cognition of the mystery of Divine Mercy, led Saint Faustina to a discovery of God in her own soul. That is why, she did not look for a God somewhere far, but in the depth of her heart, in order to experience together with Him her commonplaceness. She wrote that she went with Jesus to work, she took a rest with Him, she prayed with Him and suffered with Him. Jesus always kept her company and from a human soul He was driven out only by a mortal sin. “Diary” of Saint Faustina allows to know better the true face of the God and the true faith of a person, created from love and destined to the union of life with God already here on the Earth and through the whole eternity.
Sister Faustina was also a faithful daughter of the Holy Mother of Mercy. Mary was for her not only the Mother of God’s Son, but also her Mother and the Mistress of spiritual life. She taught her a contemplation of God in her own soul, an attitude of trust in relation to Him, it means- fulfilling His will in a perfect way, cherishing the cross, a love of a neighbour and also a practise of virtues which condition such attitude. A vision of the Holy Mother and Her instructions harmonized with the mission, which the Lord Jesus gave to Saint Faustina. The Most Holy Mother enlightened her, how a great role in God’s plans, the messages of Mercy will play, messages which she received from the Lord Jesus. Holy Mother strengthened her in fulfilling her mission. She said to Sister Faustina: “I gave the Redeemer for the world and you are to say to the world about His great mercy and to prepare the world for His repeated (91) coming, who will come not as the merciful Redeemer, but as just the Judge. O, this day is terrible. It is decided the day of justice, the day of God’s anger, the angels tremble before of this day. Say to souls about this great mercy, by the time of mercy; if you are silent now, you will answer during that terrible day for a great number of souls. Do not be afraid of anything, be faithful by the end, I sympathize with you”. (Diary 635).
In February 1938, several months before her death, Sister Faustina had a vision of The Blessed Virgin Mary: “In a great light, I saw the Holy Mother in white dress, with a golden belt, the stars, also golden ones were on the whole Her garment and the sleeves were covered with gold. The overcoat was sapphire, lightly flung, on the head She had flung a transparent veil, hair were flowing, beautifully arranged and a crown of gold, which had small crosses at the ends. On the left hand She held the Infant Jesus. Such Holy Mother I did not see yet. Suddenly, she looked at me graciously and said:
I am the Priests’ MotherThen She laid Her child on the ground, raised her right hand to Heaven and said:
God, Bless Poland, bless the priestsAnd She said again to me:
Tell to the priests what you have just seen.I decided to say about it, at the first opportunity of seeing with a father, but I personally can not understand this vision”. (Diary 1585).
Sister Faustina in her life left to us the pattern of complete trust to God, about whom she talked that He was Love and Mercy. When she suffered very much, she came in a front of the tabernacle and said: “The Lord, even if you kill me, I will trust You”. In another place she wrote that even if the earth would disappeared under her foot, she will not stop trust Him, because she understood that He was only kindness. She admired of God’s merciful love so much that she wanted to change her life into mercy. During prayer she asked the Lord Jesus to change her eyes, ears, tongue, hands, legs and the first of all the heart in such way, as they could render Him love in other person. She wanted that Divine Mercy would pour out on the whole world, through her life. She prayed and did sacrifices not only for people who were around of her, but also for the whole world and especially for sinners, because they need mercy the most. On the request of the Lord Jesus she gave her life as sacrifice for them, that is she promised to receive all fears and torments which the sinners feel and to give them all her consolations which came from the close communion with God, in order to obtain for them a grace of conversion and to save for eternal life.
Sister Faustina, exhausted by illness (she was sick on tuberculosis), by sufferings which were connected to a prophetic mission of Mercy and the sacrifices done for the sinners, died in the convent in Krakow-Lagiewniki, on 5th October 1938, being only 33 years old. The informative process was started in Krakow Diocese by cardinal Karol Wojtylla in 1965. One year later, worldly remains of Sister Faustina were moved to a convent chapel. After the ending of process in diocese, the documents were sent to Rome and there since 1968 the process of beatification was continued. They investigated a heroism of virtues and miracle attributed to her intercession. On the first Sunday after Easter, on 18th April 1993, Pope John Paul II beatified Sister Faustina and on 30th April 2000 he canonised her and he proclaimed the first Sunday after Easter as the feast of Divine Mercy. At that time, the gift of messages of Mercy he gave to the Church for third millennium.
The convent of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Krakow-Lagiewniki, where Sister Faustina lived and died, became the world capital of worship of Divine Mercy. There, in the convent chapel are her worldly remains and there is the miraculous painting of Merciful Jesus, famous in the whole world, on which the words of the Lord Jesus, said to Sister Faustina, were fulfilled: “I desire that this picture be worshipped at the beginning in your chapel and then in the whole world”. People from the whole world pilgrimage to this place, among of them was Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. From this place, the messages of Mercy are spread on the whole world in order to give people a light of hope and to prepare them to the repeated coming of Christ. Only in Divine Mercy – as Pope John Paul II said – “the world will find peace and a person – happiness”.
The mission of Sister Faustina is proclamation of messages about the merciful love of the God to people, by a testimony of life, in the spirit of trust to God and mercy in relation to the neighbours, through acts, words and prayers, especially through a practice of Devotion of the Divine Mercy in forms handed down by her (the picture of Merciful Jesus, the feast of Divine Mercy, Chaplet of Divine Mercy and prayer at the hour of dying the Lord Jesus on the Cross, called the Hour of Mercy). To each of these forms as well as to a proclamation of the Divine Mercy, the Lord Jesus attached the great promises, under the condition that they will be practised well, it means it will be solicitude for an attitude of trust (fulfilling the God’s will) and mercy in relation to the neighbours.
Text from the Marypages