“Secretary of Mercy”
Feast: October 5
Patronage: Mercy RECOLLECTION On a cold February night in 1931, Jesus Christ appeared to a simple Polish nun with a message of mercy for the world.
The nun was Sister Faustina Kowalska. As with many saints this young woman had noth- ing that would single her out for greatness, much less to be worthy of receiving the greatest apparition of the 20th century.
As a baby girl, she was christened with the name Helena, and grew up in a poor but devout peasant family of 10 children. She received the most menial education, only go- ing to school for three years. At the age of 7 she felt a call to the religious life. Her par- ents were not in favor of this so she pushed it our of her mind the best she could.
Years flew by, and as with all true callings, hers caught up with her. She was attending a social dance with her sister, having a fun time like any 16 year old would, when Jesus appeared to her.
He came to her in the state of his Passion, and asked, “How long shall I suffer and how long will you keep deceiving me?” It was like a moment from a movie, in that the whole room went silent and everyone seemed to disappear around Helena, so that she and Jesus stood there alone. Moments later when things returned to normal, Helena slipped out of the dance and ran to the nearby Cathedral of Saint Stanislaus Kostka to pray. There she fell prostrate before the Blessed Sacrament and received the following audible instruction,
“Go at once to Warsaw, you will enter a convent there.”
After bidding good by to her sister, she set off for Warsaw. There were several convents there, so she went door to door seeking admittance and was finally accepted by the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. Upon entrance she was full of joy. She took the name Sister Mary Faustina and after five years professed her final vows.
Although Faustina was thankful to be living her vocation, convent life was not free of trials. She experienced the “dark night of the soul” after her first year and endured many temptations and sufferings. She also received the humblest work assignments, working in the kitchen, the garden or being the doorkeeper. She remained resilient be- cause she was a cheerful soul and willingly fulfilled all her obligations, even to the point of jeopardizing her health.
After several years of convent life, Jesus came to her in the first apparition of the Divine Mercy.
She records what the first visit was like:
"In the evening, when I was in my cell, I be- came aware of the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From the opening of the garment at the breast there came forth two large rays, one red and the other pale. In silence I gazed intently at the Lord; my soul was overwhelmed with fear, but also with great joy. After a while Jesus said to me, 'paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the inscription: Jesus, I trust in You.'"
Jesus would come many times after this, and she filled a diary with all the things he told her. He showed her a vision of hell and told her what people needed to do to obtain salvation, saying,
“You are the secretary of My Mercy.”
Eventually she contracted tuberculosis which took a great toll on her and led to her premature death at 33 years.
She was canonized in the Jubilee Year 2000, by a fellow Pole, Pope St. John Paul II. It was then he declared the Feast of Divine Mercy Sunday to be celebrated annually on the second Sunday after Easter.