Photo: Felix Carroll
Let's take a closer look at some of the Diary's "strange" passages.
What About the Diary's 'Strange' Passages?
Dr. Robert Stackpole Answers Your Questions on Divine Mercy
By Dr. Robert Stackpole, STD (Jul 4, 2013)
For the last few months I have been collecting questions from readers about what I call the "weird stuff" that can be found here and there in St. Faustina's Diary. There are certainly some strange, supernatural, and paranormal things in her book — some of which are difficult to understand.
Mr. Charlie Toye of Reading, Mass., asked: "In entry #1676 St. Faustina claims to have received Holy Communion from an angel. How can this be? How could an angel obtain a consecrated Host, unless he stole it from a tabernacle, which of course would be a sin?"
In general, I think we need to remember that while we are bound to respect the sacramental arrangements that God has made for us to distribute his sacramental grace, God Himself is not bound by these arrangements. He can distribute sacramental grace at any time and in any manner He wishes! We see this even in the New Testament. Ordinarily, God pours out His Holy Spirit upon the soul in baptism. The Church is bound to follow His directive to baptize people so that they can receive the Holy Spirit. But in Acts 10:44-48, God poured out His Spirit upon certain Gentiles prior to any water baptism in order to demonstrate that uncircumcised Gentiles can receive the Holy Spirit too, and therefore they should be baptized along with circumcised, converted Jews.
Similarly, God ordinarily consecrates hosts, making them become the Body and Blood of His incarnate Son, Jesus Christ, through the ministry of the ordained priesthood, which He established. But in an extraordinary circumstance, such as in Diary entry 1676, the Lord can create and consecrate a Host without the instrument of a priest, and place that Host in the care of an angel, to be delivered to a chosen soul on earth. As you may recall, this kind of special, angelic Holy Communion was also given to the three blessed children of Fatima. The Bible says that God can make sons of Abraham out of the very stones of the ground, if He needs to (Mt 3:9), so I am sure He can get a transubstantiated Host to an angel without thieving one from a tabernacle!
A woman named Nancy asked about Diary entry 118, where St. Faustina states that some souls of religious sisters were in hell because they did not practice silence.
Nancy asks: "How can this be? How can anyone have a chance (to get to heaven) if you can go to hell merely for being talkative?!"
Well, Nancy, that is a confusing Diary entry, but I think you may be taking St. Faustina's remark "out of context." Prior to that, in the same entry (#118), St. Faustina writes at some length of what she calls the importance of "inner silence," for without it we cannot hear God's voice, His inspirations and guidance. Surely, any soul, in the consecrated "religious" life or otherwise, who refuses to listen to God in their heart, is headed down the road to everlasting self-destruction. This is what she means there, I think, by those souls who are in hell for "not having kept silence." She is referring to that "inner silence" that enables us to hear God calling!
Finally, one very astute reader, Mr. Kevin Dello Iacono, asked about St. Faustina's comment that the Divine Mercy devotion would be the last means given to the world for salvation:
"Yet at Fatima, didn't Sr. Lucia say that the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was the last means given to the world?"
I am not an expert on the appearances of Our Lady at Fatima, so I will not comment on precisely what the Blessed Virgin said to the children in this regard. However, in general we need to remember that private or prophetic revelations, even those received by great saints, are not inerrant, either in content or in mode of expression, in a way equivalent to Holy Scripture. For example, at one point in her Diary, St. Faustina reports that Jesus told her that the Feast of Mercy is "the last hope of salvation" for souls who are perishing (entry 965).
As even the great Polish theologian Fr. Ignacy Rozycki pointed out in his theological analysis of the Diary for the Vatican: That cannot be true of a particular liturgical feast — and, in any case, it contradicts what Jesus stated or implied at other times, that trust in His mercy is the last hope for the salvation of humanity (e.g., entries 998, 1228, and 1784).
So Faustina must have misunderstood or misheard Jesus on the particular occasion recorded in entry #965, or perhaps she simply made a mistake in recording what He said. This has happened on other occasions with private revelations received by other saints and holy souls of the Church (e.g., there are clear errors in some of the revelations about the life of Mary recorded by the Ven. Maria of Agreda).
In general, we can trust everything that is found recorded in the private or prophetic revelations of the Catholic saints, blessed, and venerables that has been approved by the Church, or at least does not contradict the Faith of the Church, or the clear and indisputable findings of science. Especially, we can trust such testimony when it is corroborated by the testimony of numerous holy souls of the Church in many times and places.
The doctrine that trust in God's mercy is the only way to salvation is, of course, nothing more than the central message of the Gospel! As a matter of fact, it is also where the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary leads us. On this point you might consult the essay by Dr. Mark Miravalle on the relationship between these two devotions in our book Divine Mercy: the Heart of the Gospel (Marian Press, 1999).
Robert Stackpole, STD, is director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy. Got a question? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.