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
Photo: Curtis Bohner
Checkered Opening to Diary Was All in God's Plan
How the Devil Tricked Himself and Helped St. Faustina
Why does the first part of St. Faustina's Diary read so jumpily? We have the devil to thank, thank God. It's an amazing story, which includes the burning of the Diary by none other than St. Faustina herself.
Not long after she began writing her Diary, St. Faustina's confessor, Fr. Michael Sopocko, went away for a month-long pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
"During that time," says Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, "a brilliant angel visited St. Faustina. The angel told her to burn what she had written. She obeyed. When Fr. Sopocko came back and said it was time he looked at the Diary so he could judge the progress she was making, St. Faustina said she had burned it. Father asked her why, and she told him an angel told him to do it. At that moment, she realized it wasn't an angel; it was the devil in bright clothing."
Determined to overcome this setback, Fr. Sopocko told St. Faustina to start writing all over again.
"He told her to write whatever she could remember," said Fr. Seraphim. "She did that, and Fr. Sopocko in his witness says that she left out of the second version very much of what was in the first version, especially about her childhood. That's why in the first part of the Diary you have such a mixture of material and you cannot follow it chronologically."
Actually, said Fr. Seraphim, this contributes to its effectiveness. The Diary certainly reads differently than it would have had the original version been published. The devil's attempt to destroy St. Faustina's notebook, seemingly a success, turned into a colossal failure and a great victory for the message of Divine Mercy.
The proof of that is:
â€¢ Though dealing with tremendous personal suffering, St. Faustina completed her Diary, a monumental spiritual work encompassing six notebooks and nearly 700 pages — this from a humble young woman who never went beyond the third grade.
â€¢ Despite overwhelming obstacles, the Diary has since gone on to inspire what Fr. Seraphim and others have called the greatest grassroots movement in the history of the Church: Divine Mercy.
â€¢ The Church's official recognition of the Divine Mercy movement, sparked by Pope John Paul II. Literally from his first day in office, the "Great Mercy Pope" made it his personal mission to promote the cause of Divine Mercy.
When you read the first part of the Diary, you won't find the chronological order of a narrative but an inspirational order befitting a mystical testimony. Before the first 50 pages are finished, the reader has been presented a foundation of the world-shaking message St. Faustina relayed as secretary to Jesus.
In fact, she begins the first line of the Diary by referring to the image Jesus instructed her to paint:
O Eternal Love, You command Your Sacred Image to be painted
And reveal to us the inconceivable fount of mercy,
You bless whoever approaches Your rays,
And a soul all black will turn to snow (Diary, 1).
When you read the Diary, particularly its opening, reflect on how it came to be. The devil tricked St. Faustina into burning the first version only to have her produce a far superior work, so superior that it answered one of St. Faustina's most vexing questions.
She wondered how she, as a simple and sickly nun, could possibly fulfill Jesus' request to spread the message of Divine Mercy across the world. The answer came out of her pen. It shows how God can turn any situation into an advance of His will for us, which has no other objective than love.
How can anyone not trust?
Dan Valenti is senior editor and writer for Marian Helper magazine as well as other publications of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception.
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