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Sister Faustina was a young, uneducated, nun in a convent of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Cracow, Poland during the 1930s when she received extraordinary revelations from our Lord Jesus.

How Could He Appear to St. Faustina?

Dr. Robert Stackpole Answers Your Questions on Divine Mercy

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By Dr. Robert Stackpole, STD (Sep 5, 2007)
If Jesus ascended into Heaven, how could He appear to Sr. Faustina on Earth?

Some people reading today's question will be tempted to respond: "The answer to that one is easy: Jesus is God, so He can do anything!"

However, the matter is much more complex than that. First of all, it is not completely accurate to say that "Jesus is God," unless by that you mean "Jesus is God incarnate," in other words, Jesus is the divine Son of God who lived among us as a human being, in a fully human nature, crucified for us, and is now risen and in heaven with a glorified human body.

So it is still a good question to ask whether in His risen, ascended and glorified human nature, the divine Son of God can or would appear on earth before His promised return at the end of time.

Our questioner, named Jerry, actually put it this way:

In the Gospel, Jesus tells us that He ascended to heaven and left us the Holy Spirit. If Jesus is at the right hand of the Father and will return at the end of time, why would He appear to Faustina? Isn't that going against His own words?

Good question!

In the New Testament, however, we find that Jesus "appeared" to St. Paul on the Damascus road even though Jesus was already ascended into heaven:

As I made my journey and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone about me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" And I answered, "Who are you, Lord?" And He said to me, "I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting." Now those who were with me saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me. And I said, "What shall I do, Lord?" And the Lord said to me, "Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do." And when I could not see because of the light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus (Acts 22:6-11).

An interesting thing to note here is that this kind of "appearance" of the risen and ascended Jesus (in 1 Cor 15:8, Paul does say that Jesus literally "appeared" to him) is evidently very different from Christ's other ways of coming to earth. When the Son of God first came to earth, He came in limitation and weakness, as a tiny baby in Bethlehem and a penniless preacher and healer in Galilee, later to be nailed to a Cross in Jerusalem.

For His "Second Coming," He promised to come in glory and power, with all the angels, to complete His triumph over the forces of evil, and to judge the living and the dead at the end of time (see Mt 24: 29-31; 25:31-46).

His "appearances" to Paul — and Faustina — are evidently very different than these two forms of His "coming" to earth. To be sure, there is a mystery here that our limited, earthly minds cannot entirely fathom, but it seems that in His glorified and ascended state, Jesus can somehow "appear" to people on earth without leaving heaven (notice that St. Paul reported that the ascended Jesus appeared to Him in the midst of a "light from heaven"). Moreover, Jesus "appeared" to St. Paul precisely to call him to a special vocation, in service of the gospel.

That was just what He did with Faustina too. Jesus said to her: "Paint an image according to the pattern you see with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You ... I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and [then] throughout the world" (Diary of St. Faustina, 47). Thus, Jesus did not exactly "come to earth" to appear to St. Paul and St. Faustina. Rather, a window or doorway into heaven, so to speak, was briefly opened for them, so that they could "see" Him and converse with Him in His heavenly state.

This same underlying issue came up at the time of the Protestant Reformation. The Reformer John Calvin objected to Catholic belief in the "Real Presence" of Jesus in the consecrated bread and wine at Holy Eucharist precisely on the grounds that the risen and ascended Jesus is now in heaven, at the right hand of the Father, and therefore He cannot be present on earth at the same time — and certainly not on the altars of Catholic churches all throughout the world at the same moment!

Calvin taught that we have been given the Holy Spirit instead for our earthly pilgrimage, and that is all we need! It is only through the Holy Spirit that we can have any kind of (indirect) union with the heavenly Christ.

The mistake that Calvin made is in thinking of heaven as a "place" in the space-time continuum in the same way that our earth is a "place," or that a church building is a "place." Heaven is not a distant place on a map of the galaxies to which one could (theoretically) travel: it is more like another "dimension" of existence that can intersect with ours at any point in space and time.

That is why the bread and wine can become the body and blood, soul and divinity of the risen and glorified Jesus Christ without Him having to "exit" heaven to accomplish this, and why His heavenly body can be truly present on many altars and tabernacles all over the world, all at the same time: because, out of His merciful over for us, He miraculously "intersects" His heavenly existence with ours at those places in space and time, changing the substance of the bread and wine into His heavenly body and blood. That is why Jesus could promise that He will return in power at the end of time to Judge the world, but He also promised that He would be with His disciples always, in another way, even to the end of time (Mt 28:20). Pope Paul VI put it this way in his Credo of the People of God (1968):

The unique and indivisible existence of the Lord glorious in heaven is not multiplied, but is rendered present by the sacrament in the many places on earth where Mass is celebrated. And this existence remains present, after the sacrifice, in the Blessed Sacrament, which is, in the tabernacle, the living heart of each of our churches. And it is our very sweet duty to honor and adore in the blessed Host, which our eyes see, the Incarnate Word whom they cannot see, and who, without leaving heaven, is made present before us [italics mine].

So, to return to our main question: Is Jesus going against His own words by appearing to Faustina, despite His promise to return to earth only at the end of time for the final Judgment? No more than He was going against His own words by appearing to St. Paul on the Damascus road after His ascension! In both cases, He was "appearing" to them in a special way, without leaving heaven, because heaven is a supernatural dimension that can intersect with our space and time dimension at any point, whenever the Lord wills to do so, out of His merciful love for humanity.

Robert Stackpole, STD, is the director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy. Got a question? E-mail me at [email protected].

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Be a part of the discussion. Add a comment now!

Kimmie - Apr 16, 2012

Alexie if you have no beliefs, why waste your time on this blog. I feel sorry for you on judgment day. Keep on living in disbelief, but when your time comes "we told you so".

Roy - Nov 6, 2007

Tht Divine Mercy seems to be for catholics only. How can people from other relegions take it?

HeavenlySunshine - Sep 17, 2007

The lord is good in all his splendor. He is Jesus Christ our lord that lives in us! Forever and ever. Jesus hast healed me supernaturally of my left foot I had five planters warts cyst and ganglion and my Jewish doctor believes in Jesus as lord and savior, he said well I have to call the hospital and cancel the prosedure. This happend the healing happend on Sunday the day that the holy ghost assended on the apostles. Isnt the Lord so good. I am catholic I say taste and see that the lord is good. The Blessed Mother of God hast appeared to me too in 140 visions, hoping I calculated that right lol. She came to me in a 5 month period 7times the same day. Jan 13,14,15, Feb 13,14,15, March 13,14,15 and April also May the same days. Telling me how non catholics reject the lord and unwillingly dont believe Jesus is in the Holy Eucharist she also said for people to go and repent of there sins first before taking the body and blood of her son. God always knows what we need, and we need his mercy now, more than ever. What a beautiful gift!When I was first saved I was given a Multible visions of Angels of God, Saints, Jesus and Mary his mother. How lovely that is he has givin me a calling it is to become a nun and canonized saint too. Jesus is God HE IS ALIVE!! AND I AM A BELIEVER-NOT A DEBATOR! Satan has no place in the church of Jesus Christ! HE SATAN HAST TO LEAVE THIS WORLD AND Jesus hast to come in and make everlasting PEACE JOY AND ETERNAL LIFE NO DEATH SICKNESS OR POVERTY!

donna .e. - Sep 10, 2007

hey alexi, you just wait until your bell toles, you'll see, you'll see, i wish you all the best...may the good lord have mercy on your soul my dear.

deb - Sep 9, 2007

There are no crazies here..just believers. I can relate to both donna and Laura, we all have things we'd like to share,everyone is entitled to their opinion. God bless all.

Alexei - Sep 7, 2007

Close the door, the crazies are out. Those two with their clouds and communicating with dead people. You should go on Coast to Coast with Art Bell (although Bell has a replacement).

donna .e. - Sep 7, 2007

Hi Laura--that is so cool and no, no the cloud did not move and i remember it being the only cloud in the perfectly blue sky and it was huge for all to see, i just wonder if anyone else notices it was a perfect bird of peace ya know? or was it just between me and him? isnt he incredible? i mean he is such a truly deep friend, like no friend on earth, he is all powerful and living. oh let me tell you quick a dream of mine, i used to pray after my mom died for Mother Mary to give her a hug for me and tell her i love her, well i dreamt i was yacking with my sister and sister in law and out of nowhere, sitting on the couch beside me---she appeared in all her stunning beauty, skin like porcelain hands so beautiful eyes like pools of water and her blue mantel was like see through but not see through u no? and she didnt say one word, she just hugged me...and i cried like an infant, i though she was taking me home and guess i was scared to leave or i just felt so sin stained being so close to the Blessed Virgin Mother Mary, and i to this day know it was her, she came cause my mom asked her to return the favour, and im glad she did, i still remember it clear as a bell.

Laura - Sep 6, 2007

OMG!!! How awesome that must have been!!!! That is so beautiful! You must have had chills all over!!!

OMG... I just realized... That's a cloud story! I have a cloud story too and I have shared it with a few friends and just the last week in my novena I have been asking God now and then - and I just said it again this morning, "God, would you please let me know if that was you or not?" I wasn't sure because I'm not sure what it means.... and here you are telling a cloud story!! Is this the answer? Yes it was me????? I've got goose bumps.

Did you have a camera? I didn't have a camera and I was checking out everyone around me looking for a camera to catch this. Can I ask you, did the cloud move with the wind? You know how the shape changes? Because mine didn't move with the wind!!! I hope you answer before I leave he he he!!!

donna .e. - Sep 6, 2007

laura--thank you so much for taking the time to say such a sweet thing to me in response to my "witness" i just wish i could tell alllll of the amazing facts to my witnessing it would absolutely floor you!!! another thing that happened i was walking out of my bedroom and it was as if he was standing to my right and heard verrry clearly "you will see the bird of peace" and i said what? huh? how? a dove? when, where and how? and am i going nuts here or what? a few days later i said well i havent seen any doves lately??!! and i went and got a coffee, got back in my car, as i looked out the window- laura as i live and breathe i looked up in the "CLEAR BLUE SKY" not 1 cloud in it! well maybe one--in the perfect form of the bird of peace and whiter than any cloud ive ever seen!!! i sat there with my jaw on the floor -again!! and to this day still cannot believe how huge and perfectly shaped its wings and beak and everything!! i thought it impossibe but no!! noway hosay! all things are possible with him-glorious wonderful amazing him.

Laura - Sep 6, 2007

The people who say that Jesus couldn't have appeared... do they also think that It's not possible for Mary to have appeared or our dead relatives or the saints as has been well documented? Because if they believe in Fatima and say Jesus couldn't have appeared... they need to read Patricia Treece's stunning book, Apparitions of Modern Saints. Treece is a journalist and only included extremely well documented cases of people from heaven showing up on earth.The visits share the same characteristics of Jesus' visit except maybe the light wasn't so bright. (Interesting that Jesus' light was so bright it almost blinded Paul!) The visits were largely to Catholics but also to Protestants, which must be flustering for those who don't believe in the visits. If people from heaven would just stick with Catholics it would be ok. But my protestant girlfriend's father who was a saint, no doubt, and who suffered greatly showed up in his nephew's dreams and she believes in these appearances as a result.

How blessed you were donna! What a pure heart you must have to merit a visit from Jesus. It is an incentive to continue work on mine to make it more pleasing.

donna .e. - Sep 5, 2007

deep, very deep. fantastically put, thank you. When i was first saved i was given a vision after i told jesus i was an open book for him & i layed down and closed my eyes and heard the word "no" (gently)and i saw the book i was picturing in my mind laying open and it closed lifted up and slowly shrunk down to an impossibly small size and floated and disappeared into the very folds of my heart (my eyes were closed and i was in amazement that i was seeing this) and i opened my eyes and thought what in the world was that???? i then opened my bible immediately he showed me these words of psalm 119 first "I have hidden your word in my heart that i might not sin against you". i sat there with my jaw on the floor and i said "jesus"! "your here" and then i heard "i will always be with you" and i knew he was there, right beside me about 2-3 feet off the ground but i couldnt see him, i could only hear him, but i knew it was him, right there, ivisible but not to my soul- 100% there and i felt i could touch him but at the same time couldnt see him, and to this day i remember it like it was yesterday, many other similar things happend to show me he was "there".

of course he can transend space (earth-heaven- and time etc.) my goodness, it amazes me the lack of "true faith" that some "believers" hold. a person of faith knows in their heart of hearts that the Messiah can do all things through the Father that sent him, HE IS ALIVE!! AND I AM A BELIEVER-NOT A DEBATOR!

deb Rhode Island - Sep 5, 2007

How much Love our Lord has for us in our limited human ability. Giving us a visual, a beautiful picture, allowing us to feel how close he is to our presence here on earth, how much hope and joy, and knowledge of his incredible Mercy. God always knows what we need, and we need his mercy now, more than ever. What a beautiful gift!