By Dr. Robert Stackpole, STD (Sep 2, 2012)
To mark the feast day of Bl. Dina Belanger (1897-1929) on Sept. 4, the following is an excerpt from Dr. Robert Stackpole's latest book, Divine Mercy: A Guide from Genesis to Benedict XVI (Marian Press):
Here are 10 examples of the remarkable similarities between the teachings of Bl. Dina Belanger and her near contemporary, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska.
(1) On suffering with Christ for the good of souls (reparative suffering), Bl. Dina wrote:
I have no words to express my thirst for suffering. ... Love is the unique motive of my desires; I would have Jesus crucified reproduced in me that I may resemble Him more closely, and then by Him, apply to souls His inexhaustible merits. Nonetheless, I submit my boundless desires to His good pleasure. As He wills, no more, no less! (Autobiography of Dina Belanger, Religious of Jesus and Mary, 1984 edition; p. 258).
On the same subject, St. Faustina wrote:
I united my sufferings with the sufferings of Jesus and offered them for myself and for the conversion of souls who do not trust in God. ...
O my Jesus, may the last days of my exile be spent totally according to Your most holy will. I unite my sufferings, my bitterness, and my last agony itself to Your Sacred Passion; and I offer myself for the world to implore an abundance of God's mercy for souls (Diary of St. Faustina, 323 and 1574).
(2) Blessed Dina wrote:
If the angels could desire anything, it seems to me that they would envy us our privilege of suffering, as well as the priceless gift of the Eucharist (p. 106).
Similarly, St. Faustina wrote:
If the angels were capable of envy, they would envy us for two things: one is the receiving of Holy Communion, and the other is suffering (Diary, 1804).
(3) Saint Faustina had a vision of the Risen Christ, His right hand raised in blessing, His left hand touching His garment at the breast, with red and pale rays streaming from the area of His Heart. This was the pattern she received for the painting of the great Image of The Divine Mercy (see Diary, 47-48).
Blessed Dina wrote:
At times it seemed to me that Jesus appeared laden with graces. They flowed out of His hands and from His Sacred Heart like impetuous torrents. It was His desire that I should apply these treasures to save souls (p. 120).
(4) Saint Faustina received from Christ the revelation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy:
Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ in atonement for our sins, and those of the whole world. ... For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us, and on the whole world (Diary, 476).
And Jesus promised to St. Faustina: "Through the Chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with My will" (Diary, 1731).
Now compare with this the form of prayer that God gave to Bl. Dina, on the other side of the world, just a few years prior to Faustina. Dina wrote:
When a soul in whom [Jesus] lives freely and divinely, offers Him to His Father for His glory, the Eternal Father can refuse nothing to His Son; moreover, He is satisfied with this offering. ... This is how I make the offering each time: "Eternal Father, through Mary and Thy Spirit of Love, I offer Thee the Eucharistic Heart of My Jesus (p. 293, 252-253).
(5) Jesus taught St. Faustina that He has a special compassion and love for the lost and the broken, in other words, for those who are most in need of His mercy. Jesus said to her: "My daughter, write that the greater the misery of a soul, the greater its right to My mercy" (Diary, 1182).
Now listen to what Bl. Dina wrote on the same subject:
If I could pour boundless confidence into all those poor souls who mistrust their heavenly Father! Infinite Mercy is exercised on our behalf in the measure that it finds us miserable and unworthy (p. 199).
(6) Jesus said to St. Faustina:
Oh, how much I am hurt by a soul's distrust! (Diary, 300).
Blessed Dina wrote in her autobiography:
To give God a chance to exercise His mercy by our repentance and confidence causes Him joy. Nothing wounds His Heart so much as a lack of trust (p. 199).
(7) The center of St. Faustina's spiritual way is the virtue of trust in The Divine Mercy. Jesus said to her:
You see what you are of yourself, but do not be frightened at this. If I were to reveal to you the whole misery that you are, you would die of terror. ... Because you are such great misery, I have revealed to you the whole ocean of My mercy ... you are a daughter of complete trust (Diary, 718).
Similarly, Bl. Dina wrote:
I am penetrated with my nothingness, I feel myself poor, weak, and powerless. But because of this, my confidence in Jesus is like a shoreless ocean, engulfing the abyss of my misery. I spring up with faith and love into the regions of infinite Mercy, the goodness of God being my firm assurance and my unalterable peace (p. 231).
(8) Through St. Faustina, we learn that during His Agony and Passion, the soul of Jesus was consoled by His prevision of all devout souls of all future generations. Jesus said to her in the Novena he taught her:
Today bring to Me all devout and faithful souls, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. These souls brought Me consolation on the Way of the Cross. They were that drop of consolation in the midst of an ocean of bitterness (Diary, 1214).
And Bl. Dina wrote:
I long to console my Jesus: oh, what suffering was His in the Garden of Olives. ... What a mysterious privilege to be specially chosen to console Him. ... [And Jesus said to her]: Very few souls wish to compassionate My Agony. ... I confide precious secrets to souls who are willing to console Me in My agony (p. 242-244).
(9) Saint Faustina learned from Jesus that His Heart rejoices especially when He is able to indwell and sanctify human souls:
How very much I desire the salvation of souls! My dearest secretary, write that I want to pour out My divine life into human souls and to sanctify them, if only they are willing to accept My grace. ... My delight is to act in a human soul and to fill it with My mercy. ... My kingdom on earth is my life in the human soul (Diary, 1784).
Jesus said to Bl. Dina:
My happiness is to reproduce Myself in the souls that I created through love. The more a soul allows me to reproduce Myself truly in itself, the more happiness and repose I feel in it. The greatest joy a soul can give Me is to let Me raise it to the Divinity. Yes, My little spouse, I feel an immense pleasure in transforming a soul into Myself, in deifying it, in absorbing it entirely in the Divinity (p. 307).
(10) Finally, both St. Faustina and Bl. Dina died of the same disease — tuberculosis [and both in their early 30s]...
Now what are we to make of all this? Clearly, Jesus Christ communicated a remarkably similar treasury of spiritual wisdom to these two women of prayer, Bl. Dina and St. Faustina, religious who were almost contemporaries of each other, living on opposite sides of the world, and who were completely unknown to each other.
I see three lessons for us here.
First of all, when God has an extraordinary, prophetic message to give to the world, He usually does not entrust it to just one great mystic, but often, in varying degrees, He entrusts it to several mystics and spiritual writers in the same era — just to make sure that the message permeates the Church as much as possible. We see this in the history of devotion to the Sacred Heart, when, in the late Middle Ages, the revelations given to St. Gertrude the Great were, in a sense, corroborated and amplified in the writings and meditations of a whole series of religious, especially of Carthusian monks and spiritual writers, for the next few centuries.
Perhaps we can discern the hand of divine providence at work in a somewhat similar way here. As we shall see in our next chapter, St. Faustina was given a new way to proclaim to the world the ageless Gospel of Divine Mercy. Through her, we receive from God a clearer focus on the merciful love of God, and new forms for entreating and experiencing that mercy: the Image, the Chaplet, the Feast, and the Hour of Great Mercy. Through Faustina, therefore, the Gospel of Divine Mercy has been proclaimed to the modern world in a way that people of all nations and cultures seem to be able to comprehend and embrace. The international spread of this message and devotion is proof enough that this is so.
And yet, about the same time, Jesus communicated a similar message to the world through Bl. Dina. Of course, Bl. Dina was not destined to have the same central role in God's plan as St. Faustina, but her witness corroborates and amplifies what we find in St. Faustina. To those who might not know of St. Faustina, or who, for some cultural or psychological reason, are not moved by The Divine Mercy message and devotion, it just may be that these souls will be touched and refreshed by similar teaching reaching them through Bl. Dina. After all, Christ is the sower in His parable, the one who went out to sow and scattered the seed everywhere (see Mt 13:3-9). ...
Read more about Bl. Dina and the message of Divine Mercy by purchasing Divine Mercy: A Guide from Genesis to Benedict XVI. Robert Stackpole, STD, is director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy, an apostolate of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception.