The Book That Sparked the Divine Mercy Movement The Diary chronicles God's message given through St. Faustina to the world to turn to His mercy. In it, we are reminded to t... Read more
A Matter of Trust
In this jaded age in which few things are taken at face value anymore, who among us hasn't been left standing in the wreckage of some form of broken trust?
Maybe it's trust broken in families, in friendships, in the government, in the criminal justice system, in the economy, or — yes — in the Church itself.
But when Pope John Paul II canonized Sr. Maria Faustina Kowalska in 2000, making her the "first saint of the new millennium," he presented to the world a mystic and powerful intercessor particularly suited to our wary times.
So who is this saint and modern-day prophet whose legacy we celebrated on Oct. 5, the 75th anniversary of her death?
With only a couple years of formal education and hailing from a poor farming community in Poland, Sr. Faustina was tapped by Jesus to become the great apostle of Divine Mercy. Jesus told her to write down His revelations of Divine Mercy and share them with the world. How could she possibly do that since she lived in a convent as a nun?
It was precisely in the crucible of fulfilling her mission that she learned to trust completely in the Lord Jesus, as He revealed Himself to her.
Chief among her great legacies is that she provides us with a deeper understanding of the very One we can trust unequivocally: Jesus Christ.
Who is He?
In terms that couldn't be any more concise, Jesus told St. Faustina during a series of revelations in the 1930s, "Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to My mercy" (Diary of St. Faustina, 300).
Let's talk about this matter of trust. We commonly understand the word to describe a firm belief in the dependability, truth, or strength of someone or something. But when we encounter Jesus in St. Faustina's Diary, another definition of trust seems to take precedence: Something or someone committed unconditionally into the care of another.
We are called to be that "someone." It is into Christ's care that we are unconditionally committed from the very beginning of our existence. He's the One who loves us first, and it is He who is most vulnerable to heartbreak. Therefore, the gulf separating many of us from Him is not of His making. It's manmade, dug with the diamond-hard teeth of doubt.
Indeed, St. Faustina writes, "Distrust hurts [Jesus'] most sweet Heart, which is full of goodness and incomprehensible love for us" (Diary, 595).
Still, such doubt or distrust is understandable, isn't it? In a world where come-hither consumerism and promises too good to be true have us surrounded, how are we to believe that Jesus is the Son of God who comes to save sinful souls rather than condemn them?
To help us understand who Jesus is, it helps to understand what He is not seeking from us or offering to us. Jesus doesn't want our money and doesn't promise us material comfort; He doesn't want our vote; He doesn't want to make us jealous or angry or unhappy.
Rather, He wants us only to surrender ourselves to His care. That is to say, He wants us to rid ourselves of the lie that we can flourish without Him. Thereby, He wishes to lavish upon us "an abundance of graces" (Diary, 1074).
Mercy: He gives it away.
Our Need for Proof
While Christ certainly extends special graces and tenderness to those who believe without seeing (see Jn 20:29), He also makes it abundantly clear that our need for proof — proof that He is who He says He is — isn't too much to ask for. Case in point: St. Thomas the Apostle, who notoriously dismissed accounts that Jesus had risen from the dead. Only when Jesus permitted Thomas to touch His wounds did Thomas believe (see Jn 20:25).
Through St. Faustina, Jesus takes great pains to show empathy for our own St. Thomas-like struggles. In words tailored to our wary age, He tells us through her, "[I]f you do not believe My words, at least believe My wounds" (Diary, 379).
Another way of putting it is that in our wounds, He invites us to discover His wounds. Indeed, for many of us, the wounds come first. Only through our wounds — our brokenness, despair, and distrust — can we begin to reach out to God. As Pope Francis says, "Sometimes in our life, tears are the glasses to see Jesus."
Indeed, for many in this wary age, only through our wounds can we come to understand Christ's wounds — and, by extension, His words.
Trust in God's Mercy
Moreover, Jesus takes an additional step to reach out to a mistrustful world. Part of the special task He gives St. Faustina is to be our recourse to "fight for the salvation of souls, exhorting them to trust in [His] mercy." Jesus tells her, "[T]hat is your task in this life and in the life to come" (Diary, 1452).
She is indeed our sister in heaven. As she writes in her Diary, she longs to help us by her prayers. "O doubting souls, I will draw aside for you the veils of heaven to convince you of God's goodness" (281). She has been doing that ever since her death, witnessed by the sheer fact that Divine Mercy is considered the greatest grassroots movement in the history of the Church — a movement of mercy apostles who, inspired by Faustina, show a childlike trust in God and love of neighbor.
By the way, another definition of trust is this one: a legal title to property held by one party for the benefit of another. God holds the "title" of hope for humanity. Upon our Baptism, He has set up this trust in our name.
Through St. Faustina, we can come to understand this trust as the most charitable imaginable. No fine print. No disclaimers.
No strings attached other than taking the following oath borne from personal witness: "Jesus, I trust in You!"