After being shot and miraculously surviving, St. John Paul the Great was among the first to read the newly edited and approved “Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska” as well as the sealed secrets of Fatima.
Faustina wasn’t yet officially a saint when John Paul read her full diary but he knew of her soon after her death when he was a young university student and as a chemical worker during World War II. As a bishop in the 1960s, he initiated the investigation into her cause for sainthood and as Pope, he would make her the first saint of the 21st century.
The three word Gospel from Jesus: At her former convent during the worst of World War II, Wojtyla first saw the Divine Mercy Image that Jesus Himself asked Faustina to commission along with the three words He wanted the world to know: “Jezu Ufam Tobie,” or “Jesus, I Trust in You.”
A young John Paul prayed there for answers and today that convent is the Divine Mercy Sanctuary and next door is the John Paul II Center where his work is honored and studied by people from around the world.
Catholic scholars believe St. Faustina foresaw the rise of John Paul as she spoke with Jesus, writing: ““As I was praying for Poland, I heard the words: ‘I bear a special love for Poland, and if she will be obedient to My will, I will exalt her in might and holiness. From her will come forth the spark that will prepare the world for My final coming.’” (Diary 1732)
“Today is the happiest day of my life,’’ John Paul said after he canonized St. Faustina.
A key passage from her Diary:
The Lord said to me, ‘I want to give Myself to souls and to fill them with My love, but few there are who want to accept all the graces My love has intended for them. My grace is not lost; if the soul for whom it was intended does not accept it, another soul takes it.’” (Diary, 1017).
In other words, if you reject a gift from God (everything except your own sin is a gift), someone else can take those graces. Imagine children around a dinner table: the one who leaves before all the courses are served typically misses out while the one who stays to clean the platter gets more.
John Paul, the world’s most recognized saint, and his friend and partner Ronald Reagan were both happy to take those graces others didn’t want. They were shot (spared) six weeks apart leading joyous lives filled with good graces. As St. Faustina wrote in her Diary:
“If the angels were capable of envy, they would envy us for two things: one is the receiving of Holy Communion, and the other is suffering.’’ (Diary, 1804).
Part of a Divine Plan. Both JPII and Ronald Reagan believed in and studied the 1917 messages of Our Lady of Fatima, which helped inspire The Divine Plan they followed to win the Cold War.
Both stories are featured in new films debuting over the next month: “Love and Mercy — Faustina” (St. Faustina’s story) debuts in a special one night nationwide showing October 28 while “The Divine Plan” (the story of the John Paul and Reagan miracles) will advance to our own time with nationwide showings November 6.
Ripple Effect: One miracle inspires more graces, joys and wonders like throwing a rock into a quiet lake where one ripple inspires another and another:
St. Maria Faustina Kowalska was a 33-year-old barely educated, little known and ill nun when she died 81 years ago on October 5, 1938. She inspired the Divine Mercy movement, compiling 700 pages of conversations with Jesus, writing “I feel certain that my mission will not come to an end upon my death, but will begin.” (Diary, 281).
Faustina was the first saint canonized in the 21st century. The Divine Mercy Chaplet she gave the world is now said on death beds. She taught us about Divine Mercy Sunday, approved by John Paul. Celebrated the week after Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday is much like restoring your iPhone to factory settings, a merciful chance to be forgiven for all.
Six month after being shot, JPII declared: “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. It could be said that precisely this situation assigned that message to me as my task before God.”
First Saturdays and Fatima. This October 5 happens to be the first Saturday of the month yet few Catholics know the great graces promised by Our Lady of Fatima if we follow the First Saturday Devotion. St. John Paul believed the Fatima miracles saved his life from an assassin’s bullets that took half his blood.
Why First Saturdays matter. Our Lady said: “I promise to assist at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess; receive Holy Communion; recite five decades of the Rosary; and keep me company for 15 minutes while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me.”
Our Lady of Fatima also warned about the “errors of Russia” that would be spread around the world, World War II and the shooting of a pope (the third secret JPII did not share with the world until the year 2000). Reagan and JPII paid attention with JPII repeating telling Mary “totally yours” after he was shot.
Less than 11 months after Faustina’s 1938 death, her native Poland was invaded by Germany — World War II had begun. A 19-year-old university student named Karol Wojtyla was one of the faithful who began showing up at Faustina’s convent.
Wojtyla and other visitors heard of her mission to spread the Divine Mercy, which included a Divine Mercy Image, Novena and Chaplet — an amazingly hopeful message of hope for all.
During this worst war of all time, Poland lost 20 percent of
its population but the miracles were spreading.
Suffering + Love = Mercy. Wojtyla suffered greatly, having lost all his family by age 20. A truck hit him and he nearly died but a Nazi officer miraculously chose to mercifully pick his lifeless body from the street and get him to a hospital where a tailor from his church helped him recover — healing his spirit and steering him from being an actor toward becoming an amazing young priest, poet, prophet and pope.
How did John Paul or Faustina change your life? The world is filled with people who have similar stories: Their suffering drove them to their knees and somehow, some way, they encountered Jesus or at least one of His disciples or messages.
No one in the past century spread the love of these messages on how to love and be loved in return better than the Divine Mercy Disciples, St. John Paul and St. Faustina.