Dear John Paul II and Sr. Faustina,
This past summer I saw you both painted in Cracow, under the rain that gushes forth from the heart of Jesus in the painting of the Shrine of the Divine Mercy. You were actively collaborating in the spreading of the ocean of mercy that is reaching the entire world. Dear Faustina, Jesus Himself revealed to you that the showering of love and Sacraments is ongoing: “My daughter, write that the greater the misery of a soul, the greater its right to My mercy; [urge] all souls to trust in the unfathomable abyss of My mercy, because I want to save them all. [Let] the greatest sinners place their trust in My mercy. Souls that make an appeal to My mercy delight Me. I desire trust from My creatures. Encourage souls to place great trust in My fathomless mercy. Let the weak, sinful soul have no fear to approach Me, for even if it had more sins than there are grains of sand in the world, all would be drowned in the unmeasurable depths of My mercy.” How many times, Faustina, have you brought this timely message to sinners, the dying and the desperate!
Blood is the sign of love. Our hearts make blood flow within our bodies, but love lets it out, so that many can be fed. Whenever we suffer out of love we nourish those whom the Lord entrusts to us: every humiliation, failure, blunder, and all of our efforts, once offered to Jesus, become drops of blood that are transformed into love. You too, Faustina, felt inadequate when Jesus entrusted to you His message of mercy; you were thought to be crazy or prideful. Yet, though misunderstood and humiliated, through your Diary and devotions, you shed the “blood” that is now bringing the world a fruit that cannot be lost.
Time and again we feel embarrassed when we suffer, and we try to hide our vulnerable heart, willing only to show our strong heart (a stony heart) or even our immovable heart (a heart made of ice). Contrary to our approach, when Our Lady sees that we try and try again to give until it hurts, she respectfully whispers “She/he is bleeding again,” as she contemplates in us her Son’s heart (of flesh), in which she delights. We would love it if we were capable of answering “My pleasure!” to every “Thank You” we receive, but the truth is that choosing to love takes a lot out of us. When our love is rejected, criticized, misunderstood, ignored, useless, ridiculed, uneffective, we want to withdraw. However, every attempt we make is as precious as a holocaust (which in the original Greek means a burnt offering in which everything is burned). Do we fear to show that we care for someone? Or do we fear getting hurt, therefore saying, “I don’t care.”?
Jesus shows us something new: suffering adds value to the gift. Blood enriches the gift, instead of spoiling it. It is what makes the cross the material for the Resurrection. “Dear Jesus, please accompany us in our attempt to take a risk, free our hearts from the armour that prevents us from letting life-giving water (and blood) pour out to those around us. Give us joy in discovering that our wounded hearts resemble your Sacred Heart, which we venerate in a special way during this month of June.
Dear Faustina, this is what Jesus told you to write in your Diary: “My daughter, tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the First Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy.”
You persevered until Jesus’ desire was fulfilled. Every year in the Litugy of the First Sunday after Easter, the Gospel recounts that in His first appearance after the Resurrection, the Lord instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation in order to continue to offer us His forgiveness through His priests: He breathed on them and said to them: “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” (John 19:22-23)
Pope John Paul II, on April 30, 2000, in St. Peter’s Square in Rome, you proclaimed Sr. Faustina Kowalska a saint, and instituted the feast of Divine Mercy for the entire Church. You yourself called that day the most beautiful day of your life! Here you two are together again: Faustina, in the secret of spiritual direction and of your conversations with the Lord you received Jesus’ desire. And you, John Paul II, bringing with you from Poland this message for the New Millennium, spread the impact of Divine Mercy through the whole world. Just last month I heard testimonies of healing and consolation coming from India, Italy, and Kenya, coming from people who had only recently been exposed to the image and the chaplet of the Divine Mercy. Those stories confirm what we struggle to believe: God’s mercy is bigger than our hearts. Our hearts know only a little, and out of their littleness try to judge using human parameters. God’s love goes beyond, reaching what seems impossible.
Dear Karol Wojtyla, you were born exactly 100 years ago, and from the beginning you gave yourself completely to Mary, allowing her to use you as a docile instrument, fully in love with God and His thousands of grandiose plans. As a Pope you reached the entire world through your engaging way of communicating, your courageous choices, your passion for the youth and through your painful illness which you united to Christ’s passion for the redemption of humanity. As if this were not enough, the Lord chose to call you home from this earthly life on the Eve of the Divine Mercy Sunday in 2005. It was a Saturday night, and we had already entered the Sunday Liturgy. In the last homily that you wrote the night before you died, and that would be read the following day during the Regina Coeli, you left us your spiritual testament:
“This mystery of love is at the heart of the liturgy today, the Second Sunday of Easter, dedicated to the devotion of Divine Mercy.
As a gift to humanity, which sometimes seems bewildered and overwhelmed by the power of evil, selfishness and fear, the Risen Lord offers his love that pardons, reconciles and reopens hearts to love. It is a love that converts hearts and gives peace. How much the world needs to understand and accept Divine Mercy!
Lord, who reveal the Father’s love by your death and Resurrection, we believe in you and confidently repeat to you today: Jesus, I trust in you, have mercy upon us and upon the whole world.”
- I look at the image of the merciful Jesus, I place myself under the waterfall of His blood and water, and I let them wash away that one sin that I feel cannot be forgiven ________ (think of a particular sin). I receive with much gratitude the invitation to receive His mercy promising to go to confession on ________ (choose a specific day)
- I pray in front of the Sacred Heart with these words “Jesus, I am afraid to love ________ (name a person you would like to love) because ________ (name why you are afraid to take the risk to love him/her). Make my heart like yours: merciful and vulnerable.” Which drop of my blood can I offer to Jesus so that He can transform it into love ________ (write your offering)? I will bring it with me spiritually during the offertory at Mass, placing it by the altar along with the bread and the wine.