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Photo: Felix Carroll
75 Years Dead, and Faustina Is Just Getting Started
By Chris Sparks (Oct 5, 2013)
Pilgrims descended upon the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy to join the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception in celebrating the holy life and incredible Divine Mercy mission of Sr. Maria Faustina Kowalska of the Most Blessed Sacrament on the 75th anniversary of her death.
Coming from the local area and places as far-flung as Oregon, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, more than 1,000 pilgrims prayed, sang, and venerated St. Faustina, a faithful daughter of God and obedient Apostle of The Divine Mercy.
View a photo gallery of the day.
"I just find when I speak about Divine Mercy, my parishioners listen," said Fr. Brendan Fitzgerald, pastor of Regina Coeli Parish in Hyde Park, N.Y., referencing Jesus's promise in the Diary of St. Faustina:
To priests who proclaim and extol My mercy, I will give wondrous power; I will anoint their words and touch the hearts of those to whom they will speak.— Diary, 1521
Turning to some of his parishioners who'd come on pilgrimage, Fr. Fitzgerald asked with a smile, "Don't they? When I mention St. Faustina, Divine Mercy, I just really feel something's happened to people who are listening. So I really believe firmly the message [and] that it's a great gift."
"Absolutely!" said Regina Coeli parishioner and catechist Linda Coluccio. She explained, "We're here on a pilgrimage with our youth faith formation [participants], just trying to get our young people more involved in their faith and thought this would be a nice pilgrimage to make and the timing was perfect."
Pilgrims got to celebrate the day with the regular shrine schedule of confession, Rosary and Eucharistic adoration, Mass, 3 o'clock Chaplet of Divine Mercy and other prayers, and veneration of first-class relics of St. Faustina.
Father Anthony Gramlich, MIC, served as principal celebrant at the feast-day Mass. He welcomed the pilgrims to Eden Hill, looking out over a crowd filling the seats and sitting on the grass at the Mother of Mercy Outdoor Shrine.
Father Anthony took a moment to discuss the meaning of St. Faustina's unique vocation in the service of God. "Jesus has a secretary," he explained. "She only has two years education, so Our Lord's ways are not our ways. It's through her Diary that we're given this transmission of the private revelation of Divine Mercy. As it says in the Catechism and the teachings of the Church, private revelation is always to lead us to public revelation. It's never to replace public revelation. And so this private revelation of Divine Mercy is to lead us to the public revelation of Divine Mercy: Divine Mercy as it is in the Gospels; as it is in the life of Jesus; as it is in the Old Testament and the liturgy and the Tradition of the Church. All the devotion to the Divine Mercy is to lead us to be instruments of God's mercy toward one another. And so we celebrate this day with joy and with love that God has raised up this wonderful saint from Poland and gives us an example of holiness and great love for her spouse Jesus Christ."
To see Fr. Anthony's introductory remarks and homily, view the video:
After the 3 o'clock prayer, Fr. Anthony blessed religious items and sacramentals for the assembled crowds.
Alongside the regular shrine devotions, pilgrims also had the unique opportunity to hear from Deacon Bob Digan and his wife Maureen, whose miraculous healing served as the required miracle for the Vatican to beatify Sr. Faustina on April 18, 1993. But Deacon Bob didn't just want to talk about the miracle. He wanted to explain to the pilgrims that St. Faustina is more than a powerful intercessor and friend in heaven. She's a model of what the Christian life is supposed to be like.
"You know, we're all called to be saints, every one of us," Deacon Bob explained, "because that's how you get to heaven, and once you're in heaven, that's what you are: a saint. There is a universal call to holiness that is given to us by the Second Vatican Council. Our Lord gives us the command to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.
"We are called to be holy as God is holy, to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect, as Christ taught us in the Gospels, and that is to live God's will in everyday life," continued Deacon Bob. "This life is one of pilgrimage to the Father's House. The way there is answering the call to be saints. Our good and loving, merciful God longs for us to be with him in the eternal joy of heaven, and that is what a saint is: A saint is one who lives an ordinary life in an extraordinary way. However, this may call for what is called a 'white martyrdom.' That is to live each day the Christian message by not giving in to our secularized world. To swim against the tide. To stand for truth, for life from the moment of conception through natural death. To live a prayerful and Godly life. Whatever we do, we do it for the love of God. A saint is one who is transformed by grace and makes Jesus' story, our story. Not their will, but God's will. St. Paul tells us, 'No longer I, but Christ lives in me.' [Gal 2:20]
"Saints are believable heroes," he concluded. "Being good and wise is not being holy. Holiness is something else. It is in loving God, and in loving our neighbors — even our enemies."
After Deacon Bob gave an overview of the life of St. Faustina, he introduced Maureen, who testified to the power of the faith and prayers of her husband and St. Faustina. "I was totally healed on March 28, 1981, at 9 o'clock at night praying the chaplet," shared Maureen. The Digan's story can be found here and here.
"If anyone needs anything, pray to Sr. Faustina," Maureen said. "Pray the chaplet of Divine Mercy. If you know anyone that's sick, pray for them, because if it wasn't for Bob praying for me through intercessory prayer, I woudn't be here today. And it doesn't mean God healed me from everything. I continue to suffer, not from Milroy's disease. That's gone. But I do continue to suffer because i still have to work my way through to heaven. So you don't complain, or you try not to. You offer your suffering up and you pray for someone that needs it. You don't need the prayers yourself? That's okay. Pray for someone else."
View a photo gallery of the day.
To learn more about St. Faustina's spirituality and the message of Divine Mercy, read her Diary, widely acknowledged as a spiritual classic. To contact the Digans about speaking at a parish or other event, write to:
Deacon Bob and Maureen Digan
Po Box 537
Lee, MA 01238