Jesus Enables Us to Trust in Him!

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. After all, 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 of His Parable, the one who went out to sow and scattered the seed everywhere (Mt. 13:3-9).

Secondly, with regard to Bl. Dina in particular, it may be that the Lord of Mercy has a special place in His plan for her, for if you compare Dina's autobiography with Faustina's Diary, you cannot help being struck by the vast literary difference between the two. Faustina, after all, had only three semesters of formal education. She was not a polished literary stylist, nor an educated intellectual: she was a devout Polish peasant girl, filled to overflowing with the Wisdom of God. Her writings are simple, direct, even childlike in style - and therefore accessible to all people, the world over.

However, the hardest people to reach with the message of God's mercy are surely, in our modern world, the Western intelligentsia, the literati, the intellectuals. They wear an almost impenetrable armor of skepticism and misinformation, blocking them from the possibility of believing and trusting in God's merciful love - and the French-speaking intelligentsia may be the most armor-plated of all. In Bl. Dina, however, the Lord has raised up from among them - I mean from among the well-educated, artistically sensitive Francophones - a purified soul, a clear witness to the merciful love of God. Her autobiography is a literary masterpiece: it is sincere, and springs from her heart, yet it is also intellectually reflective; she carefully analyzes the different types of mystical experiences that Jesus gives to her, and the spiritual insights into which He leads her. In short, Bl. Dina might be able to communicate the message of God's merciful love to those who are unable or unwilling to hear it in any other way. For those who need and who appreciate beautiful nuances of literary expression, and clear intellectual reflection on God's mystical union with the soul, well, Bl. Dina's writings may be just the right channel of grace.

Finally, I find Bl. Dina helpful because I believe she amplifies St. Faustina on a central point of Mercy-Spirituality. The essence of Mercy-Spirituality, after all, is complete trust in The Divine Mercy: "Jesus, I trust in You." It is a wonderful summary and simplification of the underlying response that Jesus asks of us so that He can pour His grace into our hearts. Trust: it is so simple to understand, and so simple to appreciate - and yet, let's be honest, it is not at all simple to live! To trust in Jesus in the midst of grief or sorrow, injustice or oppression, struggle or strife, debilitating disease or financial ruin - let's face it: trust in Jesus at times is an act of sheer spiritual heroism.

St. Faustina herself was well aware of this. She wrote in Diary entry 1489:

Jesus, do not leave me alone in suffering. You know, Lord, how weak I am. I am an abyss of wretchedness. I am nothingness itself; so what will be so strange if You leave me alone and I fall? I am an infant, Lord, so I cannot get along by myself. However, beyond all abandonment I trust, and in spite of my own feeling I trust, and I am being completely transformed into trust, often in spite of what I feel.

But Bl. Dina adds something to St. Faustina's realism here. First, she echoes that realism in her autobiography when she writes: "My Jesus, do everything Thyself, for Thou seest how hard it is." And yet, by speaking of the indwelling of Christ as a kind of mystical "substitution" of Jesus for the soul, she reassures us that trusting in Him is not something we have to do all on our own. On the contrary, Christ Jesus loves us so much that He Himself, dwelling within us, is the one who enables us to trust in Him for everything. As she explained in her autobiography:

If I can say: "I let Jesus have His way and concern myself only with Him," it is because, through trust, I count on Him alone so as to refuse Him nothing and to correspond always to his inspiration. And my trust in God is not a human trust - wavering, insecure, such as might spring from my weakness, certainly not; it is the trust of God Himself which I borrow, which I make my own.

Again, among the last words that Bl. Dina wrote were the following:

Divine Substitute forever! Keep my whole being, with all its frailty, and its weakness, annihilated in Thee, in Thy love and Thy mercy!

Let me close by putting Bl. Dina's teaching in my own words, in my own prayer:

"Lord Jesus, we know, through St. Faustina, that all we really need to do is trust in You - but You know, Lord, how hard that is for us, and that we cannot do it on our own. So, Lord Jesus, substitute Yourself for us, as You did for Bl. Dina; dwell within our hearts; and then live in us and through us, the very trust that we need to be Yours, and to belong to You forever. Amen."

(This series continues next week on the Divine Mercy spirituality of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska).

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We have seen so far that the New Testament does not substantially alter the Old Testament definition of Divine Mercy, but it does show us just how deep and all-encompassing God's merciful love for us really is.

Much of the message of Divine Mercy in St. Luke's gospel has its parallels in the other gospel accounts.

If the Son of God Himself is overflowing with merciful love, it is no wonder that the New Testament encourages everyone to place all their trust in Him, and in His heavenly Father.