The first task in the school of St. Faustina’s spirituality is coming to know God in the mystery of His Mercy. The Apostle of Divine Mercy did it first by very simple means, such as meditation of the Word of God, spiritual reading, listening to conferences, reflecting on the mysteries of the rosary and the stations of the way of the cross, participating in days of recollection and retreats, profoundly experiencing the holy sacraments, the solemnities of the Church throughout the liturgical year. Not only did she come to know the mystery of Divine Mercy on the ground of the Holy Scriptures, Liturgy of the Church…, but she also tried to perceive the signs of His love in her own life. In daily check of conscience she asked: what has God done for me today? Such knowing the mystery of Divine Mercy caused that the mystery of God’s love was not abstract, something beautiful yet unattainable or out of reach; rather, it takes on concrete forms in the ordinary life of man.
In doing so, Sister Faustina saw that her entire life was immersed in the mercy of God. In it my soul bathes daily…, she wrote, There is not a moment in my life when do not experience Your mercy (Diary 697). It is like the golden thread running through our life, which maintains in good order the contact of our being with God. … My senses are transfixed with joy, she admitted sincerely, when God grants me a deeper awareness of that great attribute of His; namely, His unfathomable mercy (Diary 1466). Sister Faustina realised very clearly that the knowledge of the mystery of Divine Mercy is not attained by one’s own efforts alone but that the work of the human intellect must be strengthened by divine grace. Thus, she pleaded, 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 I will love You (Diary 1030; cf. Diary 1474).
Sister Faustina noticed also that it is possible to come to know God, not only by the intellect, but by the practise of love of neighbour, too. I have learned and experienced, she ascertained in the Diary, that souls living in love are distinguished in this: that they are greatly enlightened concerning the things of God, both in their own souls and in the souls of others. And simple souls, without an education, are outstanding for their knowledge (Diary 1191).
Such coming to know God in the life of Sister Faustina was strenghtened by the gift of acquired contemplation and through it she penetrated very deeply this mystery of our faith in order to let it know to the world. Through her records saved in the Diary we can know God better in the mystery of His merciful love towards man.
The supernatural virtue of faith, which is the gift of the Holy Spirit given in Baptism, enables us to know the mystery of Divine Mercy. Through it man is able to come to know revealed truths and among them merciful love of God towards man. The Congregation’s constitutions recommended that the sisters ponder frequently what God did for the salvation of souls in creation, what He did and suffered in the redemption, and what He is preparing for them in eter- nal glory. Faithful to this rule, Sister Faustina would reflect on the mystery of Divine Mercy and came to know it, by beginning to meditate on the work of creation, continuing with the work of redemption, and ending with man’s destiny in eternal glory. In her Diary, she wrote those meditations on the mystery of Divine Mercy, enriched by the gift of contemplation and mystical experience of God.
In her Diary, she left us original writings describing creation as the work of Divine Mercy. O God, she wrote, who are happiness in Your very self and have no need of creatures to make You happy, because of Yourself You are the fullness of love; yet, out of Your fathomless mercy You call creatures into being and grant them a share in Your eternal happiness and in Your life, that divine indwelling life which You live, One God in Three Persons (Diary 1741). Sister Faustina freely expressed that the sole motive for calling creatures from nothingness into being is Divine Mercy. God does not need anything to be happy. And so, if He calls something into existence, He does so only because He is Mercy, who wants to share the gift of existence, even allowing intelligent beings to share in His life. God, Sister Faustina wrote in another passage, who in Your mercy have deigned to call man from nothingness into being, generously have You bestowed upon him nature and grace. But that seemed too little for Your infinite goodness. In Your mercy, O Lord, You have given us everlasting life. You admit us to Your everlasting happiness and grant us to share in Your interior life. And You do this solely out of Your mercy. You bestow on us the gift of Your grace, only because You are good and full of love. You had no need of us at all to be happy, but You, O Lord, want to share Your own happiness with us (Diary 1743).
Sister Faustina saw that man is at the centre of creation. God calls the entire universe into existence for him. He even commanded the angels to guard him in all his ways (cf. Ps 91:11). This is why she delights in the merciful love of God for man and exclaims: O God, how generously Your mercy is spread everywhere, and You have done all this for man. Oh, how much You must love him, since Your love is so active on his behalf (Diary 1749).
In the creation of man and the universe, Sister Faustina perceived not only God’s perfection, power, and wisdom but above all His mercy – the most profound motive of His work. God, moved by mercy alone, called everything into existence out of nothingness. Everything that has come from the Creator’s hand, wrote Sister Faustina, is contained in this inconceivable mystery; that is to say, in the very depths of His tender mercy. When I meditate on this, my spirit swoons, and my heart dissolves in joy (Diary 1553).
The contemplation of the mystery of Divine Mercy in the work of redemp- tion brought Sister Faustina even greater delight. She praised God for the gift of the Incarnation of the Son of God, who came to earth to amend Adam’s fault and to lift up fallen humanity, plunged into sins. Mercy has moved You, she professed in conversing with Jesus, to deign to descend among us and lift us up from our misery. God will descend to earth; the Immortal Lord of lords will abase Himself. …and the inconceivable miracle of Your mercy takes place, O Lord. The Word becomes flesh; God dwells among us, the Word of God, Mercy Incarnate (Diary 1745). This abasement of God in taking on human nature is the expression of His mercy, the excess of His love at which heaven is amazed (Diary 1745). For at that moment, God becomes very close to man, as He shares his earthly life in everything except sin.
The mystery of Divine Mercy is revealed most fully in the Paschal mystery of Christ. God, reflected Sister Faustina, You could have saved thousands of worlds with one word; a single sigh from Jesus would have satisfied Your justice. But You Yourself, Jesus, purely out of love for us, underwent such a terrible Passion. Your Father’s justice would have been propitiated with a single sigh from You, and all Your self–abasement is solely the work of You mercy and Your inconceivable love (Diary 1747). Meditation on the Paschal mystery led her to penetrate ever more deeply into the mystery of Divine Mercy; therefore, the Lord Jesus encouraged Sister Faustina many times to meditate on His passion (cf. Diary 149, 159, 267). I desire, He said, that you know more profoundly the love that burns in My Heart for souls, and you will understand this when you meditate upon My Passion (Diary 186, cf. Diary 1663). Sister Faustina herself admitted that by meditating on the Lord’s Passion much light fell upon her soul (Diary 267). She came to know God better, and particularly His merciful love, bending over every person, especially the sick in soul, for such a person is in greatest need.
As she contemplated the mystery of Divine Mercy in the order of salva- tion, Sister Faustina recognised God’s mercy in the foundation of the Church, in the Word of God, and in the holy sacraments, particularly in the sacra- ments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. I can never help being amazed, she avowed, that the Lord would have such an intimate relationship with His creatures. …Every time I begin this meditation, I never finish it, because my spirit becomes entirely drowned in Him (Diary 1523). She understood that man has received from God’s mercy everything he possesses, starting with his existence and ending with the smallest grace. The greatness of this mercy revealed itself to her in a special way when she considered it in relation to sinners. O My Jesus, she prayed, Your goodness surpasses all understan- ding, and no one will exhaust Your mercy. Damnation is for the soul who wants to be damned; but for the one who desires salvation, there is the inexhaustible ocean of the Lord’s mercy to draw from (Diary 631).
As a result of the work of creation and salvation, man shares in the glory of God. This is a gift of the Divine Mercy as well. During meditation, wrote Sister Faustina, the Lord gave me knowledge of the joy of heaven and of the saints …they love God as the sole object of their love, but they also have a tender and heartfelt love for us. It is from the face of God that this joy flows out upon all, because we see Him face to face. His face is so sweet that the soul falls anew into ecstasy (Diary 1592).
The systematic penetration into the mystery of Divine Mercy awakened in her heart a longing: The more I know You the less I comprehend You; but because I cannot comprehend You, I better comprehend Your greatness (Diary 278). Sister Faustina experienced the truth that God is a mystery, in- comprehensible to human reason. And yet, the knowledge that is accessible to man through reason enlightened by faith already suffices for Sister Faustina to affirm: I have come to know You, O God, as the source of mercy that vivifies and nourishes every soul. Oh, how great is the mercy of the Lord; it surpasses all His other qualities! Mercy is the greatest attribute of God; everything that surrounds me speaks to me of this (Diary 611).
sr. M. Elisabeth Siepak C.O.L.M.
„The Spiritualty of Saint Sister Faustina”
Translated by sr. M. Nazareta Maleta, C.O.L.M.
sr. M. Caterina Esselen, C.O.L.M.
Prepared by sr. M. Diana Kuczek, C.O.L.M.