In 2017, our website, www.faustyna.pl, recorded almost 6,000,000 views and over 1,300,000 visitors – including almost 950,000 Polish-language version users, over 124,000 English-speakers, over 60,000 Spanish-speaking, 30,000 Italian-speaking, 45,000 French-speaking, 28,000 German-speaking, 2,300 Russian-language and 60,700 others. Thanks to our Contributors, IT specialists and Translators, updates were possible at all our language pages. The Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy would like to thank all the Cooperators, without whom this work could not be albe to grow, and all online Visitors, without whom this wonderful exchange in the provision of good could not take place and carry the message of Mercy and all spiritual heritage of Saint Faustina to the world. We wish you all that the New Year 2018 be rich in grace and mercy.
In 2017, our work Chaplet for the Dying included over 20,000 persons whose names we received by text on + 48 505 060 205 or our mailbox. We have gathered almost 2,000 participants who offered their help to the dying each day in a particular time zone by praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for the intention of a person whose name they received by a text message or email. The contributors also included donors, doctors, nurses, volunteers in hospitals and hospices and all those who provided the names of the dying. We would like to share our deepest gratitude for your merciful attitude towards individuals who found themselves in the hardest moment of human life, when we make the final and the most important decision here on Earth: the one concerning Eternity. Such deeds of mercy make us rich in the face of the Lord and beautiful in our humanity. All the participants are commended to the Mercy of God in our everyday prayers at the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Krakow-Łagiewniki. All those willing to join in the project are invited to fill the form available at www.faustyna.pl. Please choose only one time zone per day.
On January 8th, as on every eighth day of the month, the community of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Gdansk will support married couples praying for offspring. From February 2017, already over 300 married couples from Poland, Italy, France and the USA have enlisted for the prayer and 54 of them are already expecting children, including one couple with twins coming up. One child – the little Jakub – was already born on November 8th. Two children, a boy and a girl, were adopted. Intentions asking for prayer for this purpose (names of married couples) can be sent by email at: email@example.com or through the fanpage of the “Kobieta jest boska” (Woman Is Divine) formation group.
Sister Gaudia, Sr. Confida and Sr. Inga from the Washington and Boston communities of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy will participate in the SLS Conference organized by FOCUS (the Fellowship of Catholic University Students) in Chicago on January 2-6. It will bring together young Catholics who want to be more fully involved in the life of the Church and take or deepen their leadership for example, in organizing Bible meetings at their parish or university, teaching religion, going on missions, etc. The Conference will revolve around how to start this type of ministry, what is worth knowing, where to seek help, what kind of contacts are necessary and other practical advice. At the meeting, the Sisters will have a stand with a Merciful Jesus banner. They will accompany the youth, talk about St. Faustina and her spiritual heritage.
After Christmas, priests in Poland begin visiting their parishioners. This also includes sisters in convents. Although the dates for these visits can change from year to year, the priests traditionally visit the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy on the Solemnity of the Epiphany (Three Kings’ Day). On that holiday, priests acting as chaplains for the Congregation, accompanied by Christmas carolers, visit the convent’s assembly halls and other common areas, the sisters’ cells, workshops and guest rooms to bless them with holy water and incense, praying for God’s blessings for all the residents and guests in this next year of their apostolic ministry.
I too came down from heaven out of love for you; I lived for you, I died for you, and I created the heavens for you, said Jesus to St. Faustina, addressing these words to every human being as well. On the occasion of Christmas and the approaching 2018, we would like to express our heart-felt wishes to our collaborators, benefactors, donors, all those involved with various apostolic works of the Congregation (such as our Chaplet for the Dying and Perpetual Chaplet), online visitors to our website and members of the “Sanktuarium Bożego Miłosierdzia” Facebook group. May you continually discovery the presence of Immanuel – God with us – and recognize signs of His merciful love in all circumstances of your life. May you share your everyday life with Him. We also wish you all the temporal favors so that they bring you joy and lead you to an even greater love of God and fellow human beings. May the New Year be rich in God’s graces and human mercy provided to those in need. We embrace you all in our prayers. May God’s Mercy be praised in us and through us!
As is tradition, on December 31 at 9:00 pm at the Shrine of Divine Mercy, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament will begin in the chapel of the famous Divine Mercy image and the tomb of St. Faustina. Adoration this year will be led by the sisters and will conclude at midnight with the celebration of the first Mass of 2016. Those unable to come to the shrine can join us by watching our online broadcast beginning with vespers at 6:15 pm and continuing with adoration and Mass. Please visit www.faustyna.pl for more information.
Dobra Novina (Good News) is the name of Christmas caroling in Slovakia. In Nižny Hrušov, on December 26 at 1 pm, five groups of child carolers will be visiting people of their parish in their homes to share the great joy because of the birth of Jesus Christ just like the shepherds of Bethlehem did, and to honor Him with singing Christmas songs. The program of the carolers’ visits was prepared by the Sisters of the Hrušov community of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. The celebration will start at the local manse and the convent.
It is a tradition that a solemn Mass named Pasterka („Shepherds’ Mass”) is celebrated at midnight on Christmas Eve in Polish churches and chapels, including the ones of our Congregation. It is the first Eucharist of Christmas, which commemorates the expectation and prayer of the Bethlehem shepherds arriving to greet the Son of God born in flesh. A mystical experience of Sister Faustina described in her Diary brings us closer to the joyful mystery of Jesus’ coming to earth and living in clean hearts: As Holy Mass began, I immediately felt a great interior recollection; joy filled my soul. During the offertory, I saw Jesus on the altar, incomparably beautiful. The whole time the Infant kept looking at everyone, stretching out His little hands (Diary, 347). After Holy Communion, she writes elsewhere, I heard the words: I am always in your heart; not only when you receive Me in Holy Communion, butalways (Diary, 575). We would like to wish you all to experience the joy that comes from the presence of God in our souls during the Midnight Mass, throughout the holidays and on every day of the New Year!
The very word for “eve” in Polish, wigilia, comes from the word “vigil”. This particular vigil is filled with prayer, fasting and other mortifications undertaken out of love for Jesus, as a direct preparation for the celebration of His birth in the human form. According to Christian tradition, when the first star appears in the sky (referring symbolically to the Star of Bethlehem, which heralded the birth of Jesus), Poles sit down to supper in their homes, religious orders and various other communities. The wafer that Poles break with their dear ones as they exchange greetings provides an opportunity for forgiveness and reconciliation and creates an atmosphere of love in which God is present. Saint Faustina described several Christmas Eves in her Diary. She commented on her last one, which she experienced in 1937 in Krakow: Before supper, I went into the chapel for a moment to break the wafer spiritually with those beloved persons, so dear to my heart, though far away. First, I steeped myself in a profound prayer and asked the Lord for graces for them all as a group and then for each one individually. Jesus gave me to know how much this pleased Him, and my soul was filled with even greater joy to see that God loves in a special way those whom we love. After I had gone into the refectory, during the reading, my whole being found itself plunged in God. Interiorly, I saw God looking at us with great pleasure. I remained alone with the Heavenly Father. At that moment, I had a deeper knowledge of the Three Divine persons, whom we shall contemplate for all eternity and, after millions of years, shall discover that we have just barely begun our contemplation. Oh, how great is the mercy of God, who allows man to participate in such a high degree in His divine happiness! At the same time, what great pain pierces my heart [at the thought] that so many souls have spurned this happiness (Diary, 1438-1439). May God be invited to every home, every Christmas table and every human heart! Only in Him and His Mercy will the world ever find peace and man will find happiness!