The “Apostle of Divine Mercy” – St. Maria Faustina Kowalska – died on Oct. 5, 1938, in Cracow, Poland. Her Diary provides the Divine Mercy Chaplet, a devotional prayer recited daily by many Catholics. Its pages also recount Jesus conversing with souls which are in states of despair, suffering, striving toward perfection, and perfect grace. It is within such a conversational spectrum that individual men of faith can come, however hopeful or hopeless they may consider their own condition, to establish and deepen a loving relationship with Christ in his Divine Mercy.
The Divine Mercy conversations begin with Jesus asking a sinful soul to seek pardon and grace. The sinful soul is weak, doubtful, and fearful. But Jesus conquers and forgives the soul in such misery, confiding: “I never reject a contrite heart. Your misery has disappeared in the depths of My mercy. Do not argue with Me about your wretchedness. You will give me pleasure if you hand over to me all your troubles and griefs. I shall heap upon you the treasures of My grace” (Diary, 1485).
Jesus next addresses a soul shrouded in deafening darkness and despair. With a voice confident, clear, and charitable, Jesus says: “You have a special claim on My mercy. Let it act in your poor soul; let the rays of grace enter your soul; they bring with them light, warmth, and life.” Jesus also shows the soul a path forward: “Strive for meekness and humility; be merciful to others, as I am to you; and, when you feel your strength failing, if you come to the fountain of mercy to fortify your soul, you will not grow weary on your journey” (Diary, 1486).
Jesus then talks to a soul so weak it is silent initially because of a discouraging litany of sufferings. But the soul, through merciful comforts provided by the Divine Mercy, strengthens enough to eventually speak openly and completely. The conversations with this third soul reveal sanctification through suffering the way of the cross. Jesus explains how earthly persecution serves “as a sign that you are following in My footsteps faithfully” (Diary, 1487).
Soul Striving after Perfection
Jesus next talks to a soul often sad and depressed by habitual faults. The soul laments over temptations, doubt, irritation, and discouragement. Jesus teaches that such discouragement and anxiety are “the greatest obstacles to holiness” and “fruits of self-love,” and how a soul striving after perfection must “strive to make My love reign in place of your self-love” and “take the vessel of trust and draw from the fountain of life – for yourself, but also for other souls, especially such as are distrustful of My goodness” (Diary, 1488).
Lastly, Jesus speaks with a perfect soul, one thankful for its countless blessings. The soul confesses that its deepest and dearest secret is receiving him in the Holy Eucharist. Jesus responds: “In a soul that lives on My love alone, I reign as in heaven. I watch over it day and night. In it I find My happiness; My ear is attentive to each request of its heart; often I anticipate its requests” (Diary, 1489).
Since April 30, 2000, the Church around the world has recognized the Second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday. This week go to Jesus in the Divine Mercy, contemplate with him in prayer, and come to trust him whether you’re in the darkest valley or brightest peak of your own faith journey.
Jason Godin teaches United States history at Blinn College in Bryan, Texas.