What is Divine Mercy?
A Brief History
from various sources
What is Divine Mercy?
The message and devotion to Jesus
as The Divine Mercy is based on the writings of Saint Faustina
Kowalska, an uneducated Polish nun who, in obedience to her spiritual
director, wrote a diary of about 600 pages recording the revelations she received
about God's mercy. Even before her death in 1938, the devotion to The Divine Mercy had begun to spread.
Who was Sister Faustina?
Faustina was born in Poland, on August 25, 1905. She was the third of ten
children. When she was almost twenty, she entered the Congregation of the
Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, whose members devote themselves to the
care and education of troubled young women.
The following year she
received her religious habit and was given the name Sister Maria Faustina, to which she
the Most Blessed Sacrament," as was permitted by her Congregation's custom.
In the 1930s, Sister Faustina
received from the Lord a message of mercy that she was
told to spread throughout the world. She was asked to become the apostle and secretary of God's
mercy, a model of how to be merciful to others, and an instrument for
reemphasizing God's plan of mercy for the world.
It was not a glamorous
prospect. Her entire life, in imitation of Christ's, was to be a
sacrifice -- a life lived for others. At the divine Lord's request, she
willingly offered her personal sufferings in union with Him to atone for
the sins of others; in her daily life she was to become a doer of mercy, bringing joy and
peace to others; and by writing about God's mercy, she was to encourage
others to trust in Him and thus prepare the world for His
Convinced of her own
unworthiness, and terrified at the thought of trying to write anything, she nonetheless
began keeping a diary in 1934 in obedience to the express wishes of
her spiritual director, and then of Our Lord Himself. For four years she recorded divine
revelations and mystical experiences, together with her own
inmost thoughts, insights, and prayers. The result is a book of some 600 printed pages that, in simple language,
repeats and clarifies the gospel story of God's love for His
people, emphasizing, above all, the need to trust in His loving action in
all the aspects of our lives. It also reveals an extraordinary example of how to respond
to God's mercy and manifest it to others.
Faustina's spiritual life was based on deep humility, purity of intention, and
loving obedience to the will of God in imitation of the virtues
of the Blessed
Her special devotion
and to the sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation
gave her the strength to bear all her sufferings as an offering to God on
behalf of the Church and those in special need, especially great sinners
and the dying.
She wrote and suffered
in secret, with only her spiritual director and some of her superiors aware that anything
special was taking place in her life. After her death from tuberculosis in 1938, even her closest associates
were amazed as they began to discover what great sufferings and deep mystical experiences
had been given to this sister of theirs, who had always been so cheerful and humble. She
had taken deeply into her heart God's gospel command to "be merciful even as your
heavenly Father is merciful" as well as her confessor's directive that she should act in such a
way that everyone who came in contact with her would go away joyful.
The message of mercy
that Sister Faustina received is now being spread throughout the world;
she has been recognized by the Church as Saint; and her diary, Divine
Mercy in My Soul, has become the handbook for devotion to The Divine Mercy.
She would not have been surprised, for she had been told that the message of God's
mercy would spread through her writings for the great benefit of souls.
In a prophetic
statement she had declared:
I feel certain that
my mission will not come to an end upon my death, but will begin. O doubting souls, I will
draw aside for you the veils of heaven to convince you of God's goodness (Diary 281).