In Faustina, Saint for Our Times, Fr. George Kosicki, CSB, gives us an insightful look into St. Maria Faustina Kowalska's life, spirituality, and mission.
A New Doctor of the Church?
By Fr. George Kosicki, CSB (Dec 15, 2010)
Pray that our Holy Father Benedict XVI proclaims St. Faustina a Doctor of the Church!
Pray that the Lord inspire, challenge, and encourage Pope Benedict to make this bold proclamation now.
This bold and extraordinary step is needed now so that the world may know the mercy of the Lord, which St. Faustina spread through the witness of her life and her Diary. Some may not understand why, but God's mercy must be proclaimed now while it is time for mercy.
Pope John Paul II, already took bold and courageous steps, and I urge you to pray that Pope Benedict follows his lead:
1. John Paul presided over a "two-fold canonization" on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 30, 2000. He canonized St. Faustina and "canonized" The Divine Mercy message and devotion by declaring Divine Mercy Sunday as a feast for the universal Church.
2. John Paul quoted repeatedly from St. Faustina's Diary recording the words our Lord to her: "Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to My mercy" (Diary of St. Faustina, 300).
3. John Paul declared that the message of The Divine Mercy proclaimed by St. Faustina is the message for the third millennium (at the canonization of St. Faustina).
4. John Paul stressed that, especially now, in this time when there is a lack of peace in the hearts of people ("Niepokój", Dives in Misericordia 11) — mankind needs mercy.
5. John Paul proclaimed that we all need mercy in order to forgive and to bring about justice and peace (John Paul II, January 1, 2002). In the wake of the terrorism of September 11, 2001, this need is even more urgent.
6. John Paul asked the world: "Where, if not in The Divine Mercy, can the world find refuge and the light of hope?" (Beatification of St. Faustina, April 18, 1993).
7. John Paul called St. Faustina "the great apostle of Divine Mercy in our time" (Regina Caeli, Mercy Sunday, April 10, 1994).
8. John Paul said at the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Lagiewniki: "There is nothing that man needs more than Divine Mercy" and "The message of Divine Mercy has always been near and dear to me" (June 7, 1997).
9. John Paul announced at the Shrine of Merciful Love: "Right from the beginning of my ministry in St. Peter's See in Rome, I considered this message [of Divine Mercy] my special task. Providence has assigned it to me in the present situation of man, the Church, and the world. It could be said that precisely this situation assigned that message to me as my task before God" (November 22, 1981).
10. John Paul repeatedly chanted with the psalmist, "I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever" (Psalm 89:2), together with St. Faustina and with Mary, the Mother of Divine Mercy, "the first soloist of the choir of the Church." The Church and world must join you in this song of mercy.
11. John Paul took a great bold step on August 17, 2002 at the Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Lagiewniki, a suburb of Krakow:
Today ... in this Shrine, I wish solemnly to entrust the world to Divine Mercy. I do so with the burning desire that the message of God's merciful love, proclaimed here through St. Faustina, may be made known to all the peoples of the earth and fill their hearts with hope. May this message radiate from this place to our beloved homeland and throughout the world. May the binding promise of the Lord Jesus be fulfilled: from here there must go forth "the spark which will prepare the world for his final coming" (see Diary, 1732).
This spark needs to be lighted by the grace of God. This fire of mercy needs to be passed on to the world. In the mercy of God the world will find peace and mankind will find happiness! I entrust this task to you, dear Brothers and Sisters, to the Church in Krakow and Poland, and to all the votaries of Divine Mercy who will come here from Poland and from throughout the world. May you be witnesses to mercy!
12. John Paul makes the case that St. Faustina's spirituality is of universal importance. In his final book Memory and Identity, he wrote:
Sister Faustina became a herald of the one message capable of off-setting the evil of [nazism and communism], the fact that God is Mercy — the truth of the merciful Christ. And for this reason, when I was called to the See of Peter, I felt impelled to pass on those experiences of a fellow Pole that deserve a place in the treasury of the universal Church. (p. 6)
Later in the book, he continued:
Here I should like to return to what I said about the experience of the Church in Poland during the period of resistance to communism. It seems to me to have a universal value. I think that the same applies to Sister Faustina and her witness to the mystery of Divine Mercy. (p. 55)
Now we all need to pray for Pope Benedict's bold proclamation: the declaration of St. Faustina as a Doctor of the Church.
This would be the crowning of the bold steps John Paul II made. It would fulfill the wish of John Paul that he expressed in his homily at the dedication of the new Church to the mercy of God:
"O incomprehensible and limitless Mercy Divine,
To extol and adore You worthily, who can?
Supreme attribute of Almighty God,
You are the sweet hope of sinful man" (Diary, 951).
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
Today I repeat these simple and straightforward words of St. Faustina, in order to join her and all of you in adoring the inconceivable and unfathomable mystery of God's mercy. Like St. Faustina, we wish to proclaim that apart from the mercy of God there is no other source of hope for mankind. We desire to repeat with faith: Jesus, I trust in You!
St. Faustina has all the qualities needed
Saint Faustina is eminently qualified to be a Doctor of the Church: a saint (as declared by her canonization), a great intellect, and useful to the Church:
• St. Faustina asked for a great intellect:
Merciful Jesus, I beg You fervently to enlighten my mind so that I may come to know You better, You who are the Infinite Being, and that I may get to know myself better, who am nothingness itself (Diary, 376).
O my Jesus, give me wisdom, give me a mind great and enlightened by Your light, and this only, that I may know You better, O Lord. For the better I get to know You, the more ardently will I love You, the sole object of my love. In You my soul drowns, in You my heart dissolves. I know not how to love partially, but only with the full strength of my soul and the total ardor of my heart. You Yourself, O Lord, have enkindled this love of mine for You; in You my heart has drowned forever (Diary, 1030).
I often ask the Lord Jesus for an intellect enlightened by faith. I express this to the Lord in these words: "Jesus, give me an intellect, a great intellect, for this only, that I may understand You better; because the better I get to know You, the more ardently will I love You. Jesus, I ask You for a powerful intellect, that I may understand divine and lofty matters. Jesus, give me a keen intellect with which I will get to know Your Divine Essence and Your indwelling, Triune life. Give my intellect these capacities and aptitudes by means of Your special grace. Although I know that there is a capability through grace which the Church gives me, there is still a treasure of graces which You give us, O Lord, when we ask You for them. But if my request is not pleasing to You, then I beg You, do not give me the inclination to pray thus" (Diary, 1474).
• St. Faustina asked to be useful to the Church:
Almost every feast of the Church gives me a deeper knowledge of God and a special grace. That is why I prepare myself for each feast and unite myself closely with the spirit of the Church. What a joy it is to be a faithful child of the Church! Oh, how much I love Holy Church and all those who live in it! I look upon them as living members of Christ, who is their Head. I burn with love with those who love; I suffer with those who suffer. I am consumed with sorrow at the sight of those who are cold and ungrateful; and I then try to have such a love for God that it will make amends for those who do not love Him, those who feed their Savior with ingratitude at its worst (Diary, 481).
O my God, I am conscious of my mission in the Holy Church. It is my constant endeavor to plead for mercy for the world. I unite myself closely with Jesus and stand before Him as an atoning sacrifice on behalf of the world. God will refuse me nothing when I entreat Him with the voice of His Son. My sacrifice is nothing in itself, but when I join it to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, it becomes all powerful and has the power to appease divine wrath. God loves us in His Son; the painful Passion of the Son of God constantly turns aside the wrath of God (Diary, 482).
I strive for the greatest perfection possible in order to be useful to the Church. Greater by far is my bond to the Church. The sanctity or the fall of each individual soul has an effect upon the whole Church. Observing myself and those who are close to me, I have come to understand how great an influence I have on other souls, not by any heroic deeds, as these are striking in themselves, but by small actions like a movement of the hand, a look, and many other things too numerous to mention, which have an effect on and reflect in the souls of others, as I myself have noticed (Diary, 1475).
Cardinal Deskur wrote: "... if one considers the contrast between St. Faustina's education and the loftiness of her theology, the contrast alone indicates the special influence of Divine Grace" (Preface to the original Polish edition of the Diary of St. Faustina, 1981, English edition, 1987).
Now what can you and I do?
Now my task and yours is to be a "witness to mercy" by our lives — radiating mercy by our trust in Jesus, by our works of mercy, by our prayer for mercy. Our "witness to mercy" will be the "spark" that will challenge and inspire the bold proclamation of St. Faustina as a Doctor of the Church — now, when we and the world need God's mercy:
"How greatly today's world needs God's mercy!"
"May you be witnesses to mercy" (John Paul II, August 18, 2002).
Father George W. Kosicki is a longtime collaborator with the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception in spreading the message of Divine Mercy. In 1987, he headed their Divine Mercy Department in Stockbridge, Mass., which was responsible for editing and proofing the English translation of the Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska.