God Is Mercy
DEEPER INTO THE HEART OF DOGMA
On October 5, 1938, Sister Faustina Kowalska, age 33, died of tuberculosis at her convent near Cracow, Poland. Sister Faustina had reported to her superiors and confessors since the early 1930s numerous encounters with Jesus Christ, mostly on the subject of Divine Mercy. She had been named “Apostle of my [Christ’s] mercy,” she said, and had been instructed to “proclaim to the whole world [his] unfathomable mercy.” And she wrote in the diary her principal confessor told her to keep: “I am perfectly aware that my mission will not come to an end upon my death, but will begin.”
The Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland took place the next year, so the time was not auspicious for any above-ground launching of Faustina’s “mission.” Nonetheless, the message spread rapidly throughout Poland, and penetrated conspicuously into the devilish concentration camps that spotted the country. There, copies of the image of Christ as The Divine Mercy, which Faustina had caused to be painted on Christ’s instructions, somehow came into prisoners’ hands. Similarly, the power of the devotion to The Divine Mercy seemed responsible for the carrying of Faustina’s message by Polish refugees to all parts of the world. Perhaps the most enduring contribution to the mission during this early period occurred after the communist conquest, in 1955, when Sister Faustina’s spiritual director published a compelling treatise on mercy that elaborated and explained the theological assumptions implicit in Christ’s revelations to her. The Rev. Dr. Michael Sopocko called his book God Is Mercy, and it stands today as a modern monument to the subject. However, Fr. Sopocko knew that Sister Faustina’s diary contained the prediction: “There will come a time when this work which God is demanding so very much [will be] as though utterly undone…. ”
On March 6, 1959, the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office in Rome announced that it had “examined the asserted visions and revelations of Sister Faustina Kowalska [and had] determined [that] the spreading of images and writings that propose the devotion of the Divine Mercy in the forms proposed by the same Sister Faustina is to be prohibited…” (emphasis in the original). No reasons were given, as is customary with such notifications.
To the prediction that her work will appear to be in complete ruin, Faustina had added: “and then God will act with great power which will give evidence of its authenticity. It will be a new splendor for the Church, although it [will have] been dormant in it from long ago.” She went on: “However, this destruction [will only appear to be so] because God does not change what He has once decided upon. But [because] this destruction will be such…in outward appearance, the suffering will be real. When will this happen? I do not know. How long will it last? I do not know.”
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