Marian Helper Spring 2023

“He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly” (Lk 1:52) — in her Magnificat, the Blessed Virgin Mary summed up God’s modus operandi for the saving work of His Son. And in the 20 th century, when God purposed to renew the trust of humanity in His merciful love, He adopted the very same strategy with St. Faustina. Helena Kowalska came from very humble beginnings. Born in 1905 in a poor Catholic farming family in rural Poland, she grew up in the war zone of the Eastern front during World War I. As a result (with schooling largely suspended), she received barely three semesters of formal education. Nevertheless, little “Helenka” was naturally bright and energetic, diligent about all her duties at home, and exceptionally devout. From childhood, she exhibited a sincere love for the poor, for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and for Mary Immaculate. Call in her heart As a teenager, Helena discerned a call in her heart to the religious life. After a period of intense inner struggle, and despite her parents’ reluctance to give their consent, with hardly a penny to her name she boarded a train to Warsaw to search for a convent that would welcome her as a postulant. After a few years serving as a domestic servant and mother’s-helper for Catholic families in the area, she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy and received the religious name “Sister Maria Faustina,” adding her chosen epithet “of the Most Blessed Sacrament.” Many of those reading this article will know the rest of the story well: how in 1931 Jesus appeared to her in the evening in her cell, “clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in the gesture of blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From beneath the garment, slightly drawn aside at the breast, there were emanating two large rays, one red, the other pale.” After a while, Jesus said to her, “Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You. I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and [then] throughout the world” (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 47). Our Lord also told her of His desire for a Feast of Divine Mercy to be established on the Second Sunday of Easter in the universal calendar of the Church, and By Dr. Robert Stackpole The great Apostle of Divine Mercy 20 Marian Helper • Spring 2023 • Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska