Divine Mercy Image Explained

I nc l udes Enthronement Prayer s

Author’s Preface I’m overjoyed to write this booklet right at the time that my community, the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, is offering one of the most beautiful images of Divine Mercy. I mean this sincerely, and let me tell you why. Back in the year 2000, my community donated funds so the very first Image of Divine Mercy, painted under St. Faustina’s direction, could be restored to its original beauty. (The image had become severely darkened due to an accumulation of soot from votive candles.) Fortunately, the restoration was a great success. Unfortunately, the official photograph taken after the restoration wasn’t so great. Well, more recently, we’ve obtained a much higher quality photo of the image and commissioned a team of graphic artists to digitally adjust it to better match the glory of Faustina’s vision. The end result is absolutely amazing. In fact, everyone who has seen this new image, especially when it’s held up to the old one, comments on its breathtaking beauty. Now, as the director of the Association of Marian Helpers, I’m doing all I can to get this gorgeous, restored image to as many people as possible.1 My inspiration for this comes from Jesus’ own words to St. Faustina. Speaking about the image, he said Excerpt from Divine Mercy Image Explained. Click here to order

to her, “Let every soul have access to it,”2 and “I desire that this image be venerated … throughout the world.”3 Why would Jesus say such things? What’s so special about this image? And what can it mean for you and your family? That’s what you’ll discover in the pages that follow. Fr. Michael E. Gaitley, MIC Director, Association of Marian Helpers February 22, 2013 82nd Anniversary of the Revelation of the Divine Mercy Image Excerpt from Divine Mercy Image Explained. Click here to order

Introduction On February 22, 1931, one of the most famous apparitions in the history of the Catholic Church happened in the city of Plock, Poland.4 There, Jesus appeared to the great saint and mystic, Maria Faustina Kowalska, an experience that the young nun describes in her diary: In the evening, when I was in my cell, I saw the Lord Jesus 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. In silence, I kept my gaze fixed on the Lord; my soul was struck with awe, but also with great joy.5 After Sr. Faustina had remained for some time in this contemplative state of joyful wonder, Jesus spoke to her in the following words: 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.6 Excerpt from Divine Mercy Image Explained. Click here to order

Faustina obeyed the Lord’s command with the blessing and help of her spiritual director, Blessed Michael Sopocko. Using his own money, this holy priest commissioned an artist, Eugene Kazimirowski, to paint the image. Closely working with Sr. Faustina, Kazimirowski completed the painting after no less than 12 tries.7 Of course, since no painting can fully capture the glory of the Lord as he appears to his saints, it’s not surprising that after Faustina first saw the painting, she went to the chapel and wept with sorrow. At one point, in the midst of her tears, she cried to Jesus, “Who will paint You as beautiful as You are?” The Lord consoled her, saying, “Not in the beauty of the color, nor of the brush lies the greatness of this image, but in My grace.”8 “My grace.” What is this “grace” that Jesus speaks of, this grace that makes the Divine Mercy Image so great? That’s what we’ll explore in the next section. Then, in subsequent sections, we’ll look at the meaning behind certain aspects of the image and how you can enthrone it in your home. So, by the end of this booklet, you’ll have everything you need to know about a most important image for our time, an image of great grace and blessing, an image that brings Christ to your home — the Image of Divine Mercy. Excerpt from Divine Mercy Image Explained. Click here to order

The Grace of the Image Scriptural Foundation. The great grace of the Image of Divine Mercy is rooted in a passage from the Gospel of John, a passage that describes the very first Easter Sunday, a passage that’s read every year at Mass on Divine Mercy Sunday (the Second Sunday of Easter). Reflecting on this passage will help introduce us to the special grace of the Divine Mercy Image. Let’s prayerfully read the passage now: On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (20:19-23). Excerpt from Divine Mercy Image Explained. Click here to order

In a certain sense, this scene is the Image of Divine Mercy. For just as Jesus suddenly appears here to the apostles who were filled with fear, shame, and sin, so also, in the Divine Mercy Image, he suddenly appears to each one of us in the midst of our own darkness. Just as Jesus here brings the apostles his peace, joy, and forgiveness, so also, in the Divine Mercy Image, Jesus brings us his saving grace. Finally, just as Jesus here breathes on the apostles and says to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” so also, through the rays of the Divine Mercy Image, Jesus sends us the same gift of the Spirit when we respond with the prayer, “Jesus, I trust in you.” In a beautiful address to the women of St. Faustina’s own community, the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, St. John Paul II offers a commentary on the Image of Divine Mercy that reiterates some of the themes from the above Gospel passage. He says: Anyone can come [and] look at this image of the merciful Jesus, his Heart radiating grace, and hear in the depths of his own soul what [St.] Faustina heard: “Fear nothing. I am with you always” (Diary, n. 412). And if this person responds with a sincere heart: “Jesus, I trust in you!”, he will find comfort in all his anxieties and fears. In this dialogue of Excerpt from Divine Mercy Image Explained. Click here to order

abandonment, there is established between man and Christ a special bond that sets love free. And “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 Jn 4:18).9 This is actually kind of interesting. Here, the Pope weaves together Scripture (see 1 Jn 4:18), the Image of Divine Mercy, and words from St. Faustina’s Diary. But why does he bother to bring in the latter two? Why doesn’t he just stick with Scripture? Why bring up the image and Faustina? It’s because the Pope well knew that one of the great treasures of Catholicism is that we not only have the gift of the Bible but also that of Sacred Tradition, and through such Tradition, the Holy Spirit continues to bless and enrich the Church with the truth of Christ.10 Two channels of this Sacred Tradition are sacred art and the prophetic witness of the saints. Let’s look at both of these in turn and see how they relate to the Image of Divine Mercy. Tradition: Sacred Art. From the very first centuries of Christianity, Christ’s disciples have sought to communicate the mysteries of the faith through art. For example, sacred symbols and various images depicting events in the life of Christ cover the graves of countless Christians in the ancient catacombs of Rome. Because such sacred art is a longstanding Excerpt from Divine Mercy Image Explained. Click here to order

tradition in the Church, the full-size version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church includes sacred images from different periods of the Church’s history as an integral part of its presentation of the faith. Why are sacred images so important to the Church? Perhaps it’s because, in a certain sense, the very nature of art is Christian. Here’s what Imean: Our faith is about the Word become flesh in Jesus Christ, and sacred images are, in a way, the Word become flesh in sacred art. As such “enfleshed Word,” sacred art can move the heart to an experience of Christ in a way that words cannot always do. For example, it’s one thing to simply hear that Jesus died for our sins yet quite another to behold him bruised, bloodied, and broken on a handcrafted crucifix. Because of this uncanny power of art, the Church has been the patron of some of the greatest artistic masterpieces in the world, from the stunning mosaics of ancient churches to the fantastic frescos of the Sistine Chapel. Now, one area of Christian art that’s particularly important, though not as prevalent in the Western Church as in the Eastern, is the religious art form known as iconography or the “writing” (painting) of icons. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, holy men and women write icons to communicate grace and provide “windows” into the mysteries of the faith. In other words, as the viewer prayerfully peers into Excerpt from Divine Mercy Image Explained. Click here to order

one of these holy images, they’re moved beyond the materials of paint and wood to encounter the mystery of Christ as a living reality. In fact, as we gaze “with unveiled face” on the glory of the Lord reflected in an icon, we find ourselves “changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor 3:18). Of course, St. Paul was here talking about contemplative prayer.11 But that’s what icons teach us! Let me put it this way: Anyone who has visited a Byzantine Catholic Church or an Orthodox Church adorned with their rich array of icons will surely recognize that these are no ordinary images. Indeed, amidst the flickering flames of votive candles and the wafting puffs of incense, one gets the unmistakable impression that such images “breathe” and truly deserve to be called “living images.” As living images, they draw the viewer in, inspiring faith-filled contemplation. While the artists of such divine images surely are human, they prepare themselves through prayer and fasting with the hope of becoming instruments of grace. As they begin their sacred work, they call on God, the Holy Spirit, to mercifully write the icon through them so as to bless humanity by means of it. Of course, the Lord is happy to oblige, which is evidenced by the stunning works of iconography found in so many churches throughout the world. Excerpt from Divine Mercy Image Explained. Click here to order

In fact, sometimes the Lord himself is so eager to bless us with sacred images that he doesn’t wait for a pious monk to begin his prayers and fasts. Sometimes, God himself “writes” sacred art, creating miraculous images. We see this, for example, with the Shroud of Turin, which is revered as the burial cloth of Christ or with the tilma of St. Juan Diego, which bears an image of Our Lady not made by human hands. Such God-given images are in many ways more sacred and Spirit-filled than even the world’s greatest icons. Now, while the Image of Divine Mercy is not miraculous in the sense of being written by God himself, it does have a supernatural origin, as we read about in the beginning of this booklet. Moreover, in the case of the Vilnius version of the image, St. Faustina herself explicitly and painstakingly directed the artist after she was commanded to do so by the merciful Christ, whom she saw with her own eyes. Thus, especially in the Vilnius version of the Image of Divine Mercy, we behold a particularly graced work of art that comes from God himself. In fact, one could even say that this grace-filled image serves as a kind of completion of the holiest image of all: the Shroud of Turin. One could say this because, whereas, the Shroud gives emphasis to the Passion and death of our Savior, the Divine Mercy Image emphasizes the other half of the Paschal mystery, the Resurrection. Excerpt from Divine Mercy Image Explained. Click here to order

Moreover, someone recently discovered that if you superimpose the face of the Shroud of Turin on the face of Jesus in the Vilnius image, they are nearly identical — yet, amazingly, St. Faustina had no access to an image of the Shroud! The Divine Mercy Image, therefore, and especially the Vilnius version, is truly a “living image,” filled with the Spirit, and of supernatural origin. Yet, there’s even more to its merciful grace. This “even more” has to do with something called “prophetic witness,” which we turn our attention to now. Tradition: Prophetic Witness. A terrible punster once said, “Prophets are not just for business.” Well, they’re not just for the Bible either. In fact, the Bible itself talks about the charism of prophecy, which continues within the life of the Church. (See Eph 2:20; 4:11-12; 1 Cor 14:1-5, 22-25, 29-32.) In other words, just as God raised up prophets in the Old Testament, so also, he gives his prophetic gift of the Spirit to holy men and women throughout the history of the Church, even up to our own day. What does it mean, though, to be a prophet? According to one of Pope Benedict XVI’s favorite books on prophecy, a prophet is someone who has a powerful experience of God that he is then called to share at a given time for the strengthening and Excerpt from Divine Mercy Image Explained. Click here to order

edification of the Church.12 Now, sometimes the prophet’s experience of God comes through extraordinary mystical experiences, such as in the case of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and the revelations of the Sacred Heart. At other times, his experience comes through the silent, hidden action of the Holy Spirit, such as in the case of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Whatever the nature of his experience of God, if a prophet is authentic — of which only the Church has the authority to make a final, definitive determination — then his experience becomes a gift for the people of his time. One woman’s experience of God has become a particularly powerful gift of mercy for the people of our time. Of course, I’m talking about St. Faustina and her experiences of the merciful Jesus, which constitute what’s now known as the Divine Mercy message and devotion. (See the booklet Divine Mercy Explained, mentioned at the end of this booklet, for more information.) Part of this prophetic message involves extraordinary promises of grace that God offers us today, since modern humanity is especially in need of God’s grace and mercy. Because here we’re talking about the Image of Divine Mercy, though, I’d like to focus solely on the promises that God offers through it. By focusing on these promises, we’ll better understand why the Image of Divine Mercy is so full of grace. Excerpt from Divine Mercy Image Explained. Click here to order

I think the best way to discover the promises of grace attached to the Image of Divine Mercy is simply to let Jesus speak for himself through the Diary: I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over [its] enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I Myself will defend it as My own glory. 13 I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy. That vessel is this image with the signature: “Jesus, I trust in You.”14 By means of this Image, I shall be granting many graces to souls; so let every soul have access to it.15 Let the rays of grace enter your soul; they bring with them light, warmth, and life.16 What amazing promises! Not only will the Lord specially protect, defend, and prevent from perishing those who venerate the Image of Divine Mercy, but through it, he repeatedly offers us grace upon grace.17 I myself have experienced these powerful graces and have heard countless testimonies from others. (You Excerpt from Divine Mercy Image Explained. Click here to order

Jesus, I Trust in You © © 2012 Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M.

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