The Restoration of Trust
By Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC (Nov 5, 2008)
The following is taken from an article by Fr. Seraphim from the January-March 1980 issue of the Marian Helper magazine.
Through [St.] Faustina Kowalska of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Poland, people around the world began hearing again, from about the year 1939, that Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is claiming as His due, veneration — that is, affectionate religious respect — for His Mercy. Sister Faustina writes that Our Lord made it clear to her that this veneration of His Mercy is to be expressed, above all, by complete trust in Him as our Savior. Trust is understood here as that confident conviction that God loves us and deals with us only from the deepest motives of true love and compassion. That trust is based on the fact that Jesus, the God-man, willingly and eagerly offered up His life to take upon Himself the punishment we deserve by sin, that is, by our rebellion against our all-wise and provident Maker. Sin, basically, is willing our own way to reach the purpose for which God made us in preference to His perfect (and only workable) plan for us. Trust, the first adequate response in the face of divine mercy, allows God's glory to be manifested in His beloved creatures. Sr. Faustina quotes these words of the Lord to her: "Dearest to Me is the soul that believes in the power of My mercy — that has completely confided in me."
Through these most recent revelations to Sr. Faustina Our Lord appears now to be seeking to make His followers more keenly aware of this, that our trust in Him, based upon the recognition of what He took upon Himself for us, is to be expressed in works of mercy toward one another out of love for Him. Our Lord is emphasizing, in other words, that works of mercy: actions, words, and prayer directed toward our fellow human beings are the way due honor and reverence is given to the Divine Mercy. For, as the Lord is recorded by Sr. Faustina to have said after St. James, "...even the strongest faith is of no avail without deeds."
It is to bring all of this vividly to the attention of all (among other reasons), that Our Lord commissioned Sr. Faustina to paint a very particular image of Himself, saying, "By means of this image I will impart many graces to souls; it is to be a reminder of the demands of My Mercy..."
>>>>Fr. Seraphim continues discussing the image of Jesus, The Divine Mercy, in an article from 1980. After the Lord Jesus asked for an image to be painted...
Sr. Faustina tried to fulfill His wish, but she did not know how to paint. However, she did not give up, but looked for help among the sisters of her community, and when that failed, among her confessors. After a few years the superiors sent her to the Congregation's house in Vilno. There Fr. Michael Sopocko, who had become the Bernadine Sisters' spiritual director, did something about the matter. Eager to know what such an image would look like, he asked an artist whom he knew, Eugene Kazimierowski, to paint an image according to Sr. Faustina's directions.
And so it was that the first image of Jesus as the Divine Mercy was completed in June, 1934. It was hung in a corridor of the Bernadine Sisters' convent near St. Michael's Church in Vilno, where Fr. Sopocko was rector. The image was described in this way: The background is plain; Christ is shown as walking; His head is surrounded by a narrow halo; His eyes are slightly cast down — as though He were looking on us from above; the right hand is raised in blessing; the left hand appears to be drawing open the garment slightly in the area of the heart, which, however, is not visible; from that area on the breast, two bright rays are depicted coming forth — a pale one (that is, as though clear) on the beholder's right, and a red one to the beholder's left; the light of the rays appears to shine through the hands and the garment.
With her description of the vision in her Diary, Sr. Faustina records these words as having been spoken to her by Our Lord: "I desire that this image be venerated first in your chapel and [then] all over the world." This desire of Our Lord seems already to have been fulfilled. This image was and is still being venerated in the chapels of the convents of Sr. Faustina's religious Congregation, while copies of this image (and another version painted by professor Adolph Hyla), have been spread by the hundreds of thousands all over the globe.
The passage from the Diary referred to above further quotes Our Lord as saying, "I promise, that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise, already here on earth victory over enemies, but especially at the hour of death. I myself will defend her [that soul] as My glory."