Tag: Divine Mercy

Spiritual Director Of St. Faustina, Confessor And Apostle Of Divine Mercy – Blessed Michal Sopocko. 

Spiritual Director Of St. Faustina, Confessor And Apostle Of Divine Mercy – Blessed Michal Sopocko. 

Michał Sopocko was born on November 1st, 1888 in Juszewszczyzna (known also as Nowosady) in Oszmiana district, Poland. After graduating municipal school in Oszmiana, he joined the Theological Seminary in Vilnius in 1910 and received the sacrament of his Holy Orders in 1914. His first parish was Taboryszki, where he performed his pastoral duties in the years 1914-1918. In 1918 he went to Warsaw to study moral theology at the Department of Theology of the Warsaw University. In 1923 he received his master’s degree and in 1926 his doctoral degree in theology.

In the years 1922-1924 he also studied at the Higher Pedagogical Institute while performing the duties of military chaplain. In 1924 Fr Sopoćko was appointed Head of the Military Chaplaincy for the Vilnius Region and returned to his own diocese where he remained until 1929. 

In 1927 he was also appointed spiritual father and confessor of the seminary In Vilnus and in 1928 he became the Head of the Department of Pastoral Theology at the Batory University. In 1932 he withdrew from his spiritual activities to devote himself to scientific work. He received his post-doctoral degree in 1934 at the Pastoral Theology Department of the Warsaw University. 

He received a positive opinion for the title of professor, however he did not get the nomination due to financial difficulties existing at the Theological Faculty of the Batory University. He carried on educational and scientific work up to the closure of the University and Seminary during World War II. His scientific achievements from this period revealed in numerous publications on pastoral theology, homiletics, catechetics and pedagogy. He also wrote numerous studies on popular religious and social issues.

During the German occupation, he managed to avoid arresting and for two and a half years was hiding in the vicinity of Vilnius. In 1944 after the resumption of activity of the Seminary in Vilnius he taught there until it was closed in 1945 by the Soviet authorities and was relegated to Bialystok. In the meantime, he was performing pastoral ministry at the church of St. John, catechized, secretly organized catechetical courses. Threatened with arrest for this activity, he left in 1947 to Bialystok. Here he gave lectures at the Seminary in his specialties: pedagogy, catechetics, homiletics, pastoral theology, ascetic theology. He also taught Latin and Russian. An important part of his post-war activities within the Anti-Alcohol Social Committee were his educational programmes promoting sobriety in a society. 

Then, in the years 1951-1958 he organized a series of monthly and annual catechetical courses for nuns and lay people, and in the 50s and 60s also organized public lectures on religion at the parish church in Bialystok. In 1962, he retired, but devoted himself to pastoral work at the chapel of the Missionary Sisters of St. Family in Poleska Street, which he had expanded in 1957. At that time he also made efforts to build a church in Wiejska Street in Bialystok. Almost to the end of his days he participated actively in the life of the diocese, worked scientifically and published his work. He died in the house of the Missionary Sisters in Poleska Street on February 15, 1975.

Father Michał Sopocko devoted his whole life to God and the Church. He was a man of extraordinary zeal for the glory of God which expressed in his numerous activities, rooted in a deep spiritual life. The diversity of his work was astonishing. He was a spiritual leader of a parish, a catechist, an organizer of education, a teacher, a lecturer at the University and Seminary, spiritual father, confessor of seminarians, priests and nuns, army chaplain, anti-alcohol activist, a builder of churches. 

However, in his life full of various activities, dominant and most beautiful path was the service to the idea of Divine Mercy., He is undoubtedly entitled to the honorable title of Apostle of Divine Mercy, beside St. Faustina Kowalska. As her confessor and spiritual director during the Vilnius period, inspired by her revelations, he devoted himself completely to spreading the truth and Divine Mercy cult. He published a number of works on Divine Mercy, sought to establish the feast, helped to paint the first picture of the Most Merciful Savior Jesus and co-founded the religious congregation of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus

Recognizing his extremely zealous service to God and the Church in the priesthood and the sanctity of his life, in 1987 Fr. Sopoćko’s beatification process was initiated on the diocesan level, which lasted until 1993. In 2002, the documentation of the process, along with an extensive biography of Fr. Sopoćko, compiled in the so-called „Positio”, was forwarded to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome. In 2004 the commission of theologians appointed by the Congregation positively assessed the Positio and then commission of cardinals affirmed the judgment of the theologians.

Following this work of the Congregation on 20th December, 2004 at the Vatican, in the presence of the Holy Father the decree on the heroic virtues of the Servant of God was officially announced. In December 2007 at the Vatican, a miracle was approved through the intercession of the Servant of God. The solemn beatification of Fr. Michał Sopocko took place on the 28th day of September 2008 at the Shrine of Divine Mercy, where the mortal remains of the Blessed priest of God rest in peace.

-Bishop Henryk Ciereszko

How To Pray The Divine Mercy Chaplet – Step by Step Guide

How To Pray The Divine Mercy Chaplet – Step by Step Guide

Divine Mercy Image

Step by step guide on how to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy

During the 1930s, a Polish nun named Faustina Kowalska received several visions and messages from Jesus. During these private revelations a great emphasis was placed on the Divine Mercy of God.

One of the devotions that Jesus revealed to St. Faustina was the “Divine Mercy Chaplet.” He said to her, “At the hour of their death, I defend as My own glory every soul that will say this chaplet; or when others say it for a dying person, the indulgence is the same … When this chaplet is said by the bedside of a dying person, God’s anger is placated, unfathomable mercy envelops the soul, and the very depths of My tender mercy are moved for the sake of the sorrowful Passion of My son.”

He also said to her, “It pleases Me to grant everything they ask of Me by saying the chaplet … if what you ask for is compatible with My will.”

Below is a short beginner’s guide for those interested in praying this powerful chaplet.

The chaplet can be prayed using an ordinary rosary.

Each rosary (the string of beads) has a crucifix at the end of a short extension below the loop. Begin by holding the crucifix and making the Sign of the Cross.

At the start there is a brief set of optional prayers that can be prayed while holding the first large bead.

You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls,
and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world.
O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy,
envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us.

(Repeat 3 times) O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in You!

Next, moving your fingers to the three small beads, the prayers include an Our Father, Hail Mary and Apostle’s Creed.

Our Father

Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

 

Hail Mary

Hail Mary full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death Amen.

 

Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended into hell;
on the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.
Amen.

For the remainder of the chaplet, on each large bead pray the following prayer.

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

On each small bead, pray this prayer.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

After praying five decades, pray this concluding prayer three times.

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

And you may also pray this optional prayer at the end.

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.

At the very end, make again the Sign of the Cross.

The Polish Pope Who Restored The Divine Mercy Devotion.

The Polish Pope Who Restored The Divine Mercy Devotion.

​You probably already know about the Devotion to Divine Mercy in the Catholic Church. Divine Mercy images can be seen in churches around the world, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy is very popular, and Divine Mercy Sunday is an official feast day of the Church. The founder of the devotion, Faustina Kowalska, is even honored as a Saint.

But it wasn’t always this way. In fact, the whole devotion was actually suppressed for many years and almost lost for good. It only came back due to prayer, perseverance, and the hand of Divine Providence.

 
This is its amazing story.
Promising Beginnings.

The devotion to Divine Mercy as we practice it today came from St. Faustina Kowalska, a polish nun who lived in the early 20th century. Through regular visions of Jesus and the saints, Jesus himself gave her the details of the devotion. She wrote descriptions of what she saw and heard in her diary, which are now published in a book called The Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul.




Warning her fellow nuns that a great war was coming and that they should pray for Poland, she died at the age of 33 on October 5th, 1938.




A year later, Germany invaded Poland. Impressed by the accuracy of her prophecy, Archbishop Jałbrzykowski of Vilnius Poland allowed for public use of the Divine Mercy devotion for the first time. The devotion quickly spread through Poland and was a source of strength and inspiration during the terrible years of the war. By 1941, it was already spreading around the world and, despite the war, had made it all the way to the United States. St. Faustina’s spiritual director during her earthly years, Fr. Sopoćko [Now Blessed] who was a Polish Priest was inspired to start a religious congregation (something like a religious order) related to the devotion.

With the end of the war, the devotion spread even faster. By 1951, just 13 years after St. Faustina’s death, there were 150 religious centers in Poland dedicated to Divine Mercy. In 1955, a Polish bishop, with the approval of Pope Pius XII, started a religious congregation dedicated to spreading the devotion. 

Pope Pius XII blessed a Divine Mercy image in 1956 and allowed many bishops throughout the world to give their blessing to writings about the devotion. Vatican Radio even started promoting the devotion in its programming.

Two Decades of Suppression.




But not everyone in the hierarchy approved of the devotion. Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, the head of the Holy Office (predecessor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith – the Vatican’s theological watchdog department), tried to persuade Pope Pius XII to sign a condemnation of St. Faustina’s works, but was rebuffed.

When Pope John XXIII was elected Pope in 1958, Cardinal Ottaviani had another chance. The Cardinal included her works on a list of books to consider banning soon after the new pope was elected. On March 6th, 1959, the Holy Office finally issued a document that forbad the use of “images and writings that promote devotion to Divine Mercy in the forms proposed by Sister Faustina.”


THE BAN

During the time of Pope John XXIII, the Supreme Congregation of the Holy Office, in a plenary meeting held on November 19, 1958, made the following decisions:

1. The supernatural nature of the revelations made to Sister Faustina is not evident.

2. No feast of Divine Mercy is to be instituted.

3. It is forbidden to divulge images and writings that propagate this devotion under the form received by Sister Faustina.

The second decree of the Holy Office was on March 6, 1959, in which the following was established:

1. The diffusion of images and writings promoting the devotion to Divine Mercy under the form proposed by the same Sister Faustina was forbidden.

2. The prudence of the bishops is to judge as to the removal of the aforesaid images that are already displayed for public honor.


It seemed like St. Faustina’s devotion to Divine Mercy might be over with.

A Second Look



The Polish people were crushed – including many of the clergy. One such person was Karol Wojtyła. A “rising star” in the church’s hierarchy, he was influential in the drafting of several key documents of Vatican II and was appointed Archbishop of Kraków at the relatively young age of 43 in 1964. Within a year of having his new position, and with approval from the Vatican, he started a fresh investigation into her works.

He discovered that the previous condemnation of St. Faustina’s works had been mostly a result of those at the Vatican reading her works not in their original Polish but via faulty French and Italian translations.

Then in April of 1978, after decades of work and prayer by the supporters of the Divine Mercy devotion, the Vatican reversed its previous ban on her works! Catholics around the world rejoiced! Just a few months later, the now-Cardinal Wojtyła, who had led the effort, was made Pope John Paul II.


LIFTING THE BAN


SACRED CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH.



Notification regarding the devotion to Divine Mercy in the form proposed by Sr. Faustina Kowalska.


Notification* 
The question has arisen from different regions, especially from Poland and from those in authority, whether the prohibitions contained in the “Notification” of the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, published in the AAS (1959), p. 271, regarding devotion to Divine Mercy in the form proposed by Sr. Faustina Kowalska, are considered still in force.

 
Having examined many original documents unknown in 1959, considering the circumstances that have profoundly changed, and having taken into account the opinion of many Polish Ordinaries, this Sacred Congregation declares that the prohibitions contained in the cited “Notification” are no longer binding.

From the Seat of the Sacred Congregation, April 15, 1978.



+ Franjo Cardinal Seper

Prefect 

+ Jérôme Hamer, O.P.,

Titular Archbishop of Lorium

Secretary.



Why The Devotion Was Banned In The First Place. 




This provides the clue as to why the devotion was banned in the first place. The fact is that the only translation the Vatican possessed of the Diary of St. Faustina in the 1950s was a faulty translation of the book into Italian, which included gross distortions of what Sister Faustina had written (for example, our Lord said to Sister Faustina, “I am Love and Mercy itself” in Diary 1074, but the Italian translation makes it appear that Faustina was making this claim about herself!). 

It was almost impossible for religious documents of any kind to be smuggled out of Poland to the Vatican in the 1950s because Poland was trapped behind the Iron Curtain, and Eastern Europe lay under the grip of Stalin. Thus, the Vatican placed a ban on the message and devotion largely because it was operating without the original documents, that is, on the basis of misinformation.

Cardinal Wojtyla
knew this, and when the opportunities arose later to get the correct information about Sister Faustina to the authorities in Rome, he and his confreres in the Polish episcopate did not hesitate to do so. Moreover, by 1978 the authorities in Rome also had on file the extraordinarily detailed theological analysis of Sister Faustina’s Diary written in French by Fr. Ignacy Rozycki, one of Europe’s leading Thomists and a member of the Pontifical Theological Commission.
 
This weighty tome by Fr. Rozycki exonerated Sister Faustina of all suspicions of heterodoxy, and must have been another factor that led the CDF to lift the ban. 

Saint Faustina and Saint John Paul II.

Although they never met on earth, although both stayed in Kraków Poland for two months at the same time, they are joined by something more profound and more powerful: by spiritual ties, sensitivity to the mystery of Divine and human Mercy, the style of life and ministry in this spirit and the message of Mercy, transmitted by Jesus in the 1930s. Sister Faustina transcribed it faithfully in her Diary. Jesus told her: 

“Be at peace, My daughter. This Work of Mercy is Mine; there is nothing of you in it. It pleases Me that you are carrying out faithfully what I have commanded you to do, not adding or taking away a single word” (Diary 1667). 

In turn, Holy Father John Paul II as Pope, showed it to the world along with the life of Sister Faustina as “God’s gift for our times” and transmitted for the third millennium of faith. 
The image of the Divine Mercy, features the characteristic pale and red rays and the caption: Jesus, I trust in You. On the one hand the image shows God’s merciful love for man, demonstrated to the fullest in Christ’s life, death and resurrection. On the other hand, the image reminds us of the Gospel urge for trust in God and active love of the neighbour, the most adequate response of man to God’s prevenient love. 

Karol Wojtyła [Later Pope John Paul II] began to discover this message of Mercy already during the Second World War, when as a worker in the Solvay factory he would visit the chapel of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy [St. Faustina’s Convent Chapel] in Kraków-Łagiewniki, with a venerated image of the Merciful Jesus. 

After receiving the Holy Orders, Fr. Wojtyła celebrated here devotions to the Divine Mercy, commenced by the spiritual advisor to Sister Faustina towards the end of her earthly life, Fr. Józef Andrasz SJ. It was then that he got acquainted with the message of the Apostle of Divine Mercy. 
Convinced about the need of sharing this gift with the world and having made sure that the Notification of the Holy See forbidding the spread of Divine Mercy worship in the forms transmitted by Sister Faustina was lifted, he commenced the procedure aiming at raising her to the glory of the altars. The chapel, where the earthly remains of the Apostle of Divine Mercy was relocated in 1968, was entered on a list of shrines of the Diocese of Kraków. 
“Right from the beginning of my ministry in St Peter’s See in Rome, I considered this message my special task. Providence has assigned it to me in the present situation of man, the Church and the world” (Collevalenza, 22 November 1981). 

As Pope, he beatified Sister Faustina (18 April 1993) and canonised her (30 April 2000). 

“Today my joy is truly great in presenting the life and witness of Sr. Faustina Kowalska to the whole Church as a gift of God for our time. Jesus told Sr. Faustina: Humanity will not find peace until it turns trustfully to divine mercy (Diary, 300). Through the work of the Polish religious, this message has become linked for ever to the 20th century, the last of the second millennium and the bridge to the third. It is not a new message but can be considered a gift of special enlightenment that helps us to relive the Gospel of Easter more intensely, to offer it as a ray of light to the men and women of our time”. – Pope St. John Paul II.



St. Faustina herself predicted the spread and growth of this devotion before her death, She states in her diary – “I feel certain that my mission will not come to an end upon my death, but will only begin…” (Diary 281).



 

For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world!

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Feast Of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska – Oct. 5

Feast Of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska – Oct. 5

Early Life


Sister Faustina, Helena Kowalska the world-renowned apostle of Divine Mercy and one of the greatest mystics of the Church was born on August 25, 1905, in the village of Glogowiec, in Lodz, Poland. At her baptism, in the nearby parish church of Świnice Warckie, she was given the name Helena. During her childhood she distinguished herself by acts of devotion, her love for prayer, hard work, obedience and a tremendous sensitivity to human misery.

At the age of sixteen (16) she left her family home for the nearby city of Aleksandrów and then moved to Łódź, where she worked as a servant (house keeper) to support herself and to help her parents. During this period the desire to join a convent was gradually growing inside her. Since her parents were against it, young Helena tried to deaden God’s call.


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