By Kristine Schroeder
I first heard of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska four years ago when I began my weekly hour of Adoration. I am unsure as to who first mentioned her name, but it seemed to pop up often in conversations. I also was made aware of her diary. Perusing it a few times, I initially thought it odd. I mean, who was this young Polish nun who wrote copiously about interior conversations she had with Jesus? I was skeptical, and the 600 pages were also a deterrent. I passed.
In January, my Walking with Purpose group chose to watch the 10-part series I mentioned in my last column, “The Second Greatest Story Ever Told.” The documentary was fascinating and informative, focusing on Saint Faustina’s diary and the three secrets of Fatima. Now I was intrigued. A friend loaned me her copy St. Faustina’s diary just before the quarantine. Since time faded as an excuse, I decided to read it. I was hooked.
Having read countless memoirs over the years, I find there is something fascinating about viewing events and ideas from another person’s perspective. St. Faustina’s diary, however, is in an entirely different category.
As a mystic, she was in close communion with Christ. He once told her, “I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish mankind, but I desire to heal it.” He also told her to record His message of mercy, “You are the secretary of My mercy. I have chosen you for that office in this and the next life.”
In other words, if we desire to understand how to receive His graces, become a saint and ultimately join Him in heaven, St. Faustina's diary is a helpful guide. Her diary is not meant to diminish the power of Scripture but to be an additional resource to understanding the words of the Bible.
In this short column, it is impossible to do justice to her entire message. Therefore, I will share some of what I found to be profound up to this point (I am halfway through. My goal is to finish by the year’s end.) Reading all or part of it will allow each person to glean from her writings the messages Jesus wishes to impart individually.
St. Faustina saw visions of both purgatory and hell at different times in her life. Of the souls in purgatory, she wrote, “They were praying fervently but to no avail.” She heard an interior voice (Jesus) say, “My mercy does not want this, but justice demands it.” Later in her diary, she said, “Now I can see how much power intercessory prayer has before God.” It was clear that we here on earth and those in heaven must pray for the souls, known and unknown in purgatory.
After witnessing the tortures of hell, she said, “I am writing this at the command of God, so that no soul may find an excuse by saying there is no hell … But I noticed one thing: that most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a hell.”
On another note, she wrote, “I understand that apart from God there is no contentment anywhere.” Speaking of the Divine Mercy image itself, Jesus told her, “I promise that the soul who will venerate this image will not perish.”
About prayer, she said, “There is no soul which is not bound to pray, for every single grace comes to the soul through prayer.” Speaking of love, she said, “True love of God consists in carrying out God’s will,” and “Pure love is capable of great deeds.” Those two statements are reminiscent of the lives of the saints who strove to do what God intended of them.
Through St. Faustina's diary, we were blessed with the Divine Mercy Chaplet, which Jesus dictated to her word for word. Jesus guarantees that devotion to this powerful prayer can change the direction of our world. Jesus, I trust in You.