Brendan's Island  

Devotion to
The Divine Mercy

In Sauk Centre, Minnesota

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Reflections on The Divine Mercy
During the Novena of Mercy 2003

Sixth Reflection

Mary's role in the
Devotion of Divine Mercy

Mary Mother of Mercy

Helena Kowalska was born the third child of ten, and from early on was considered a great blessing to the family in her willingness and in her ability to take charge and to be trusted. This Polish family wasn't that different from most families of the time. The family was very patriarchal, meaning the father was the head of the family. However, mother was very much the heart of the family.

There can be no doubt that Mary the Mother of God was well known to the family, as even when the children were babies the father would sing The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception. Even though mother would complain that he was waking the babies, he never the less continued the practice and this early in the morning before he went off to work. Often this Office was sung doing housework and when out in the fields. We can say then, that Helena had a relationship with Mary from her earliest days.

During the month of May the family would build a little shine in a pear tree standing along side their home. Decorated with holy pictures and flowers the whole family: and some of the neighbors would gather for communal prayers. Likewise, for the mouth of October the Rosary was prayed at home if they couldn't get to church. Most of the day was taken up in hard work around the farm, especially being that the father worked away from home, as well, to help make ends meet, but this also gave them the opportunity to pray as they worked. Not much seems to be recorded concerning Helena relationship to Mary at this time, directly that is. However, we can well believe that Mary and Helena had a very Healthy and Close, ongoing communication.

You would think that because Helena's Diary, titled, "Divine Mercy in My Soul", we would not hear of Mary. But this is not the case. When we see Mary as the Mother of Mercy, the one Who gives Mercy a Human body, then we also cannot separate Mercy, that is Christ, from His Mother, the Mother of Mercy. Where you have Christ, you have His Mother. Where you have the Mother you have Christ. The one overriding role of Mary in Her relationship to Her Son it is wrapped up in her statement at the Wedding Cana, "Do as He tells you." It seems to me that Helena at a very early age came to know that. And because of this knowledge she was prepared to become the Secretary of Jesus.

In the early paragraphs of her diary, Mary prepares her for what will become her mission, the salvation of Souls by the Power of the Merciful Heart of Jesus. After a time of great doubt and concern she [Helena] has a encounter with her Guardian Angel who orders her to follow him. She records in her diary the following, "In a moment I was in a misty place full of fire in which there was a great crowd of suffering souls. They were praying fervently, but to no avail, for themselves; only can we come to their aid. The flames which were burning them did not touch me at all. My Guardian Angel did not leave me for an instant. I asked these souls what their greatest suffering was. They answered me in one voice that their greatest torment was longing for God. I saw Our Lady visiting the souls in Purgatory. The souls call her "The Star of the Sea." She brings them refreshment. I wanted to talk with them some more, but my Guardian Angel beckoned me to leave. We went out of that prison of suffering. I heard an interior voice which said, My mercy does not want this, but justice demands it. Since that time, I am in closer communion with the suffering souls. It seems that it was visions such as this one that gave her the strength to persevere in her own suffering for Souls.


A few paragraphs later she records another encounter, "During the night, the Mother of God visited me, holding the Infant Jesus in Her arms. My soul was filled with joy, and I said, ‘Mary, my Mother, do You know how terribly I suffer?. And the Mother of God answered me, I KNOW HOW MUCH YOU SUFFER, BUT DO NOT BE AFRAID. I SHARE WITH YOU YOUR SUFFERING, AND I SHALL ALWAYS DO SO. She smiled warmly and disappeared."

Some of you may have seen the movie Divine Mercy, No Escape, and have seen depicted in the movie the attempt Sister Faustina made trying to climb a flight of stairs. Sister had TB and because of that had not the breath. I can empathize with her because when my asthma was the worst and before we had the medicine of today, that was also my attempt to climb stairs. You have no idea the weakness that comes over you when you can't get enough air. Sometimes the simplest effort is more then air intake will allow. I'm not trying to compare myself with her, but in this at least I can relate.

Mary was preparing her for even greater suffering. From the same paragraph as from above she records, "It seems as though hell had conspired against me. A terrible hatred began to break out in my soul, a hatred for all that is holy and divine. It seemed to me that these spiritual torments would be my lot for the rest of my life. I turned to the Blessed Sacrament and said to Jesus, ‘Jesus, my Spouse, do You not see that my soul is dying because of its longing for you? How can you hide Yourself from a heart that loves You so sincerely? Forgive me, Jesus; may Your holy will be done in Me. I will suffer silently like a dove without complaining. I will not allow my heart even one single cry of sorrowful complaint." How well She has learned from Mary, "Do as He tells you."

Through the intercession of Mary, Sister is granted a great grace. She writes, "During Holy Mass, before Communion, we had the renewal of vows. When we had left our kneelers and had started to recite the formula for the vows, Jesus appeared suddenly at my side clad in a white garment with a golden girdle around His waist, and He said to me, I GIVE YOU ETERNAL LOVE THAT YOUR PURITY MAY BE UNTARNISHED AND AS A SIGN THAT YOU WILL NEVER BE SUBJECT TO TEMPTATIONS AGAINST PURITY. Jesus took off His golden cincture and tied it around my waist. Since then I have never experienced any attacks against that virtue, either in my heart or in my mind. I later understood that this was one of the greatest graces which the Most Holy Virgin Mary had obtained for me, as for many years I had been asking this grace of Her." She goes on to say how since that time she had even greater devotion the Mother of God. She adds that Mary taught her to love God interiorly and how also to carry out His holy will in all things. She continues by praying, "O Mary, You are joy, because through You God descended to earth and into my heart."

At the Shrine of Czestechowa she once again records an experience with the Lord Jesus. In part because it was her day to keep watch before the Lord and it was her duty to make amends to the Lord for all offenses and acts of disrespect and to pray also that on this day no sacrileges be committed against Him. She likewise records that her spirit was aflame with a special love for the Eucharist. So when it came time to receive her Lord in Holy communion a second host dropped into her hand, unknown to the priest. When the priest returns to her she raised the host for him to put back in the chalice. But she said that while holding the Host in her hand she could feel such power of love that for the rest of the day she could neither eat nor come to her senses. She goes on to say that she heard these words from the Host: 'I DESIRED TO REST IN YOUR HANDS, NOT ONLY IN YOUR HEART. And at that moment I saw the little Jesus.. But when the priest came she saw only the Host.

I'm telling you this story because at this same Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa two other people you know spent time in prayer. They being Father Maxamilen Kolba and our present pope, John Paul II. How much these three people have in common in the school of our Lady, Do as He tells you!

In paragraph 620, she credits Mary as her Instructress, who is ever teaching her how to live for God. "My Spirit brightens up in Your gentleness and Your humility, O Mary," She adds in prayer.

In 1935 she was struggling with the thought of having to leave this congregation dedicated to Mary. While at Mass Sister records, "Then I saw the Blessed Virgin, unspeakably beautiful. She came down from the altar to my kneeler, held me close to herself and said to me, I AM Mother to you all, thanks to the unfathomable Mercy of God. Most pleasing to me is that soul which faithfully carries out the will of God" She gave me to understand that I had faithfully fulfilled the will of God and had thus found favor in His eyes. And then as if speaking to all of us she adds, BE COURAGEOUS. Do not fear apparent obstacles, but fix your gaze upon the Passion of My Son, and in this way you will be victorious. Do in all things what ever He tells you.

Delivered Wednesday, April 23rd, by Deacon Lawrence Kaas at St. Paul's Church, Sauk Centre, Minnesota
Mary's role in the Devotion of Divine Mercy

An expanded version of this reflection was used as a homily on Mercy Sunday, April 27, 2003.

1st Reflection | 2nd Reflection | 3rd Reflection | 4th Reflection | 5th Reflection
6th Reflection | 7th Reflection | 8th Reflection | 9th Reflection

Devotion to The Divine Mercy
Chaplet of The Divine Mercy | Novena to The Divine Mercy
Reflections on The Divine Mercy, 2003 | The Divine Mercy: a homily (Mercy Sunday 2002)
Getting There | The Merciful Jesus Carving at St. Paul's Church

A Walk on the Catholic Side

The Devotion to The Divine Mercy | St. Faustina Adoration Chapel | Catholic Events

Brendan's Island home page
I Love It Here! (life in a small town) | A Walk on the Catholic Side
Brian's Attic | Attack of the Amateur Photo Album
Brendan: A Monk, A Boat And a Legend
Brendan's Island Guest Book | Visitor Information Center

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Brian H. Gill is the webmaster for Brendan's Island and this page.

More by Brian H. Gill:

A Catholic Citizen in America
Following Catholic beliefs and practices in America: One man's experience

Sauk Centre Journal Blog
Small town life, the way it is in this central Minnesota town