Viewing an episode of Women of Grace on EWTN recently, I was made aware of someone and something I did not know before with regard to the Divine Mercy observances.
The host, Johnette Benkovic was speaking with her guest, Vinny Flynn, author of the book, the 7 Secrets of Divine Mercy. It was a very interesting and informative discussion, but when I heard Johnette mention the name, Fr Michael Sopocko and spoke about his role in the establishing of the devotion, my focus shifted and so I researched to find out more about this individual.
He was a priest and confessor and spiritual director of Sr Faustina, the nun to whom our Saviour Jesus Christ entrusted the assignment of spreading the devotion to His Divine Mercy.
As Sr Faustina shared her spiritual experiences with Fr Sopocko, he instructed her to write them down and so her “diary” began, thus providing the information he needed to peruse and put into motion, the requests made by Jesus to Sr Faustina for the spread of the devotion to His Divine Mercy.
He devoted a lot of his life to this work, encountering many obstacles along the way, even a ban to stop the spread of the devotion. St Pope John Paul II, during his tenure, lifted the ban and beatified Fr Sopocko who had died in 1975. He was conferred the title, patron of Divine Mercy.
As the author Vinny Flynn shared, God has a plan and a purpose for our lives. We are not just random creatures of creation but children of a loving, merciful God whose ultimate plan is for us to dwell with Him in eternity, and since we are made in His own image and likeness, we are called to be filled with love and mercy just like Him.
This is part of the holiness to which we are called. Flynn remarked, “Holiness is when we become ‘wholly’ like Him.”
Blessed Fr Michael lived his life, striving to be obedient, trusting in the mercy and love of our God on whose promises he stood. If we put our trust in God, we too, at the right time will accomplish what God has planned for us.
As Flynn said, we must say ‘yes’ to allow God’s will to be done in our lives. This, through obedience to His commands, is what He desires of us.
In her diary, Sr Faustina shared the revelations Jesus gave to her about Blessed Fr Michael. “He is a priest after my own heart, his efforts are pleasing to me. Through him, it pleases me to proclaim the worship of my mercy” (1256) and, “As a result of his efforts, a new light will shine in the Church of God for the consolation of souls” (1390).
Based on the acceptance, growth and spread of the Divine Mercy Devotions (both novena and chaplet) we can see the fulfilment of Jesus’ promise to Sr Faustina as He used Fr Michael to fight for this devotion.
Johnette shared a story of her mother’s experience. Her mother, during her early stages of Alzheimer’s gazed at the Divine Mercy portrait hanging in Johnette’s home and commented, “He’s beautiful, isn’t He.” Realising that her mother, even in that state, was being touched, she took the portrait to her mother’s home. The mother would gaze at it every day.
She asked her one day, “What happens when you look at Him?”. Touching her forehead, the reply was, “He kisses me right here.”
In her childlike state, she was a living testimony of the tender, loving, God of mercy we serve.