In mid-1930, Saint Faustina Kowalska was sent to a Monastery in Płock, where she worked successively baking, in the kitchen and in the bakery shop. On February 22, 1931 – exactly today 90 years ago [February 22, 2021] - a revelation took place that left its mark not only on her life, but also on the history of the whole world. In the evening after fulfilling her duties, when she was in her cell - as she wrote in her Diary, Jesus came to her: “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. After a while, Jesus said to me, 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. 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”.(Diary 47-48 Plock, February 22, 1931) 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.” (Diary 327, Plock, February 22, 1931) This revelation initiated the devotion to the Divine Mercy. At that time, Faustina's mission, entrusted by Jesus to her to paint a picture that would be worshiped all over the world, in accordance with the details of the vision, was not an easy task. When the Sister told the confessor about everything, the confessor treated her confession with great reserve and took the Savior's command as to paint an image in the soul through good deeds. However, Jesus let her know that he wanted the image that he was talking about to be painted with a brush and blessed on the first Sunday after Easter, that is on the planned Feast of Mercy.Saint Faustina noted this fact in her Diary: “When I told this to my confessor, I received this for a reply: “That refers to your soul.” He told me, “Certainly, paint God’s image in your soul.” When I came out of the confessional, I again heard words such as these: My image already is in your soul. I desire that there be a Feast of Mercy. I want this image, which you will paint with a brush, to be solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter; that Sunday is to be the Feast of Mercy”. (Diary 49) When Sister Faustina was sent to Vilnius in 1933, Fr. Michael Sopoćko, her confessor, with the consent of the superior sister, asked the painter Eugeniusz Kazimirowski to paint an Image according to the instructions of sister Faustina. The painting was completed in June 1934 and was placed in the Bernardine convent at the church of St. Michael in Vilnius, where Fr. Sopoćko was the chaplain. In Vilnius Jesus explained what the rays meant: "The two rays," He said, "denote Blood and Water” (Diary 299). One of the essential constituents of the image are the words inscribed in the signature: "Jesus, I trust in You." Jesus talked about these words during His first apparition at Plock and later on as well in Vilnius. "Jesus reminded me... that these three words must be clearly in evidence: Jesus, I trust in You" [in Polish the motto consists of three words; Jezu Ufam Tobie], wrote Sister Faustina (Diary 327). Jesus drew special attention to one more of the details in the image. He said, "My gaze from this image is like My gaze from the cross" (Diary326). Father M. Sopocko thought Sister Faustina's vision of Christ corresponds exactly to the vision described by St. John (Jn 20:10-21). It is the resurrected Christ, as He appeared to the gathered apostles when He bestowed on them the power of the Holy Spirit for the redemption of sins. For this reason, Father M. Sopocko did not feel bound by the verdict of the Holy Office and he continued to proclaim the truth about Divine Mercy and veneratedthe Image of the Merciful Jesus. “The meaning behind this Image in the worship of Divine Mercy must be understood in the same way as any other image. That is, it is not the canvas or the frame that is honored, but the object Whom the image symbolizes. An image is not a sacrament. It is a sign referring to a defined reality. In this case, the importance of the inscription: "Jesus, I trust in You" because it shows the purpose of looking at the image. This purpose is the "awakening of trust in God through the Intermediary, Jesus Christ" (Fr. M. Sopocko). The image occupies a key position in the entire devotion to the Divine Mercy since it gives a visible synthesis of the basic constituents of the devotion. It recapitulates the essence of the devotion: boundless trust in God's goodness and the obligation of a merciful love of one's neighbor. The spirit of trust is referred to directly in the signature, "Jesus, I trust in You."In other words, veneration of the image rests in the combination of trustful prayer with the practice of works of mercy. Promises attached to the veneration of the Image There are three promises for which Jesus gave very clear definitions: 1. "I promise that the soul that venerates this image will not perish" (Diary 48) - in other words, Jesus gave a promise of eternal salvation 2. "I also promise victory over its enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death" (Diary 48) - this means the enemies of salvation, and the making of considerable progress on the road to Christian perfection 3. "especially at the hour of death I Myself shall defend it as My own glory" - this is the promise of the grace of a happy death. Jesus' generosity does not stop at these three particular graces. He said: "I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of Mercy" (Diary 327) This means that He set no boundaries either to the extent or to the magnitude of those graces and temporal benefits which may be expected by those who venerate the image of Mercy in a spirit of unwavering trust. As early as during her life, the Lord Jesus gave Sister Faustina an assurance that the image would draw many souls to God and that the Divine Mercy acts in souls through it: “When Mother [Irene] showed me the booklet with the Chaplet, the litany and the novena, I asked her to let me look it over. As I was glancing through it, Jesus gave me to know interiorly: Already there are many souls who have been drawn to My love by this image. My mercy acts in souls through this work. I learned that many souls had experienced God’s grace”. (cf. Diary 1379). In 1938, in April she wrote in her Diary: “Today I saw the glory of God which flows from the image. Many souls are receiving graces, although they do not speak of it openly. Even though it has met up with all sorts of vicissitudes, God is receiving glory because of it; and the efforts of Satan and of evil men are shattered and come to naught. In spite of Satan’s anger, The Divine Mercy will triumph over the whole world and will be worshipped by all souls” (Diary 1789).
Until Tomorrow Fr. George Bobowski (The Lay Institute of Divine Mercy)
HISTORY OF THE FIRST IMAGE OF MERCIFUL JESUS
Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You.(Diary 47) Father Sopoćko commissioned the painting of the Merciful Jesus at the beginning of 1934 to a painter from Vilnius, Prof. E. Kazimirowski. Kazimirowski's apartment and studio were located in the same building where Fr. Sopoćko lived. Sister Faustina, who stayed in Vilnius the whole time while the image was painted, she was coming to the studio to provide details of the image's appearance. Father Sopoćko personally made sure that the image was painted exactly according to her instructions. The canvas on which he commissioned the painting was adjusted to the dimensions of the frame previously given to him by one of the parishioners. Painting the image took about half a year and when the painting was ready to hang, Fr. Sopoćko, wanted make sure how the inscription was to be placed on the painting, he asked sister Faustina to ask Jesus about it:“Once my confessor [Father Sopoćko] asked me where the inscription should be placed, because there was not enough space in the picture for everything. I answered, “I will pray and give you an answer next week.” When I left the confessional and was passing before the Blessed Sacrament, I received an inner understanding about the inscription. Jesus reminded me of what He had told me the first time; namely, that these three words must be clearly in evidence: “Jesus, I trust in You.” [“Jezu, Ufam Tobie.”] I understood that Jesus wanted the whole formula to be there, but He gave no direct orders to this effect as He did for these three words.” (Diary 327) The dictated inscription, which is an important element of the painting, Fr. Sopoćko made on an additional plate and placed it under the painting. Then, at the explicit request of Jesus, given by Sister Faustina, Fr. Sopoćko began efforts to hang the image in the church of St. Michael in Vilnius, where he was the rector. On April 4, 1937, with the consent of the Archbishop of Vilnius, Romuald Jałbrzykowski, the painting of the Merciful Savior, after the positive opinion of experts, was hung next to the main altar in the church of St. Michael, where the faithful for about eleven years held it in great veneration. The second commission of experts established in 1941 on the recommendation of the Metropolitan Archbishop, ruled that "The painting is made artistically and constitutes a valuable achievement in contemporary religious art." (Protocol of the Commission on the evaluation and conservation of the image of the Most Merciful Savior in the Church of St. Michael in Vilnius, dated May 27, 1941, signed by experts, prof. Puchaty and the conservator Fr. Dr. P. Sledziewski). In 1948, after the communist authorities closed the church of St. Michael, the painting (without a frame with an inscription on it) was secretly and illegally bought from a Lithuanian worker who was liquidating the church's furnishings. Two devotees of Divine Mercy (a Pole and a Lithuanian woman), aware of the consequences of the Soviet authorities, took a rolled-up painting from the church and hid it in the attic for some time to wait out the possible threat. After some time, the painting was donated to the church of The Holy Spirit, where all movable property from the liquidated church was previously deposited. The Pastor of the Church of the Holy Spirit, Father Jan Ellert was not interested in keeping the painting or displaying it - he hid it in the archives at the back of the church. Only in 1956, a friend of Fr. Sopoćko, Fr. Józef Grasewicz, who returned to Vilnius after being imprisoned in a Soviet labor camp for several years, decided to look for the painting. Before that, he contacted Fr. Sopoćko, who was upset by the fact that until then he could not learn anything from anyone about the fate of the image of Merciful Jesus. Father Grasewicz was allowed to return to pastoral work in Nowa Ruda. Before leaving Vilnius, he asked the parish priest of the Church of The Holy Spirit to return the painting to his parish. The parish priest did so willingly. Father Grasewicz took the painting to Nowa Ruda and hung it in the church, keeping its origin a secret. At the same time, Fr. Sopoćko considered the possibility of bringing the painting to Poland but stopped making efforts when it turned out that it would not be safe. Despite many changes in the administration of the church in Nowa Ruda, the painting remained there for about thirty years. In 1970, the communist local authorities in Nowa Ruda decided to make the church a warehouse. The equipment from the liquidated church was transported to another parish. For a seemingly trivial reason (lack of a sufficiently long ladder), the painting remained in the abandoned church. Father Sopoćko, concerned about this event, while living in Poland, could do nothing about it. Father Grasewicz was also unable to fulfill Sopoćko's request - to move the painting to another safe place. He had to leave the parish, and none of the priests in Belarus dared to accept the painting. The image of Merciful Jesus was left in an abandoned wooden church for many years, only thanks to God's providence, survived the dangerous time of communism. Uncertainty about the fate of the painting accompanied Fr. Sopoćko until the end of his life. He repeatedly sent confidential requests to bring the painting to Vilnius. The request to hang the painting in the Gate of Dawn in Vilnius, where it was first displayed for public veneration, was not submitted until 1982 (after the death of Father Sopocko). The then vicar of the Gate of Dawn, Fr. Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, who helped to bring the image from Belarus to Lithuania (today Archbishop Emeritus), considered this idea unrealistic and proposed to hang the painting in the church of The Holy Spirit, where the pastor was Fr. Aleksander Kaszkiewicz (today Bishop of Grodno). The priest reluctantly at first, but nevertheless agreed to hang the painting in the church. Therefore, Fr. Grasewicz decided to bring the painting back to Vilnius. In order not to provoke the communists about the unusual origin of the painting, on a November night in 1986, without the knowledge of the inhabitants of Nowa Ruda, who gathered to pray in an abandoned church, a previously prepared copy was hung in place of the original painting. With the help of the nuns of the Mother of Mercy (the Gate of Dawn), the image taken off the stretcher was rolled up and transported the same night to Grodno, and then to the church of The Holy Spirit in Vilnius. In the church of The Holy Spirit, at the behest of Fr. Kaszkiewicz, the painting was restored - damaged places have been painted over with a new layer of paint. This treatment significantly changed the appearance of the Lord Jesus' face. The painting has a red inscription JESUS, I TRUST IN YOU. Moreover, in order to fit the painting into the recess in the altar, its lower edge has been tucked in, and an additional oval part has been glued on to the top. These changes were not consistent with the artistic composition of the painting made by prof. Kazimirowski with the instruction of Sister Faustina and Father Sopocko. It was a brutal damage that seriously reduced the original value of the work. The painting placed in the side altar of the church of the Holy Spirit in Vilnius for many years did not arouse particular interest, neither of pilgrims nor church authorities. The lack of proper conditions of the image exposure contributed to unfavorable changes in its matter. Thanks to the kindness of the then pastor of the church of the Holy Spirit Fr. Mirosław Grabowski, in July 2001, the Congregation of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus started to create a new Home in Vilnius and took care of this unique, priceless image of Jesus the Most Merciful Savior, which was created in the atmosphere of God's miracle - the prayer and suffering of St. Faustina, with her presence and participation. Thanks to the efforts of a secular group of worshipers of the Divine Mercy in Łódź and the dedication of the Sisters, in April 2003 a thorough restoration of the painting was carried out in the chapel of the Religious House of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus in Vilnius. All paintwork and stains caused by moisture were removed from the painting, which have been previously attempted to remove with chemicals. Some damage to the canvas on which the image is painted could not be repaired. These are the traces of the painting being removed from the stretcher many times (holes left by the nails holding the painting) and the lower edge folded around four centimeters (in 1987 the painting was fitted to the altar recess in the Church of the Holy Spirit). These defects have remained, and although they are invisible when presenting the image, it is, among other things, a unique individual feature of this image. After a thorough renovation, the painting was returned to the church of The Holy Spirit - a parish church for Poles living in Vilnius, where Masses and services are held only in Polish. To create the right conditions for individual contemplative prayer - adoration of the image of Merciful Jesus, for everyone, at any time, regardless of national origin, the Metropolitan of Vilnius, Card. Audrys Juozas Bačkis decided to transfer the image of Merciful Jesus to a neighboring small church of The Holy Trinity, reconsecrated as the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy. The circumstances surrounding this event provoked controversial discussions in many media publications, and thus, inadvertently, caused a great positive promotion reminiscent of the existence of the first image of Merciful Jesus in Vilnius - the story of its creation resulting from the Message of Divine Mercy transmitted through St. Faustina. Since September 2005, the first image of Merciful Jesus has been venerated at the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Vilnius, where in the daily adoration of the Holy Image of the Savior, nuns and numerous pilgrims entrust the fate of the world to God's Mercy. The Metropolitan of Vilnius entrusted the service at this Sanctuary to the Congregation of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus. Dozens of pilgrims traveling with me had the opportunity not only to see this miraculous image, but also to entrust to Merciful Jesus themselves and their loved ones. Jesus, I trust in You.
Until Tomorrow Fr. George Bobowski (They Lay Institute of Divine Mercy)
HISTORY OF THE SECOND IMAGE OF MERCIFUL JESUS
Painter of Divine Mercy - Adolf Hyła The story of the Image of Merciful Jesus from Krakow- Lagiewniki is a remarkably interesting. The painting was made after the death of sister Faustina. In the first years of World War II, in the chapel of the Congregation of Our Lady of Mercy in Kraków-Łagiewniki, the Devotion to Divine Mercy began to develop, which was also attended by Adolf Hyła. He then decided to paint the image of Merciful Jesus as a votive offering for the graces received during the war and for saving his life. From Fr. Józef Andrasz, S.J., sister Faustina's confessor in Krakow, received a fragment from the Diary, describing the vision of the revelation of Jesus to sister Faustina in Płock on February 22, 1931, and a picture, a copy of the image of Merciful Jesus by Eugeniusz Kazimirowski. However, this first image of Hyła is not the one we all know. From the very beginning, the painter was accused that the Lord Jesus has a Semitic type of beauty, black hair, a transparent dress and a severity of gaze. It soon turned out, however, that the image of Merciful Jesus could not be placed permanently in the side altar due to the different dimensions of the altar recess. In this situation, Hyła decided to paint a second image of Merciful Jesus. On April 15, 1944, he delivered his new work, already fitting the shape of the altar retable, measuring 222 cm x 95 cm. The image of Divine Mercy presented the Lord Jesus as a Divine physician, going through the world to heal aching mankind and bestow mercy on it. This is how he understood the idea of the image of the Merciful Savior, Fr. Józef Andrasz SJ, who supervised the creation of the image. Therefore, the background of the painting was the landscape of the mountain region, and not a uniform, dark background, as in the case of Kazimirowski's work. The confessors of St. Faustina - Fr. Sopoćko and Fr. Andrasz - they were not unanimous about the painting itself. From the very beginning, Fr, Michał Sopoćko did not like the image of Divine Mercy painted by Adolf Hyła. The confessor did not find in his painting any resemblance to the vision of sister Faustina and strongly criticized the painter, accusing him that his depiction was non-liturgical and non-evangelical. The reservations mainly concerned the attitude of Christ in the image and the background. According to Fr. Sopocko, the painting should show Jesus appearing in the Upper Room to the Apostles, and the background of Hyła's canvas was the landscape of the mountain. The artist did not want to adapt to the comments of Fr. Sopocko and defended himself, citing the authority of Fr. Andrasz, S.J. However, because of strong pressure, Hyła - in 1952 - changed the background of the painting with the landscape, and replaced the fields, meadows and mountains with a stone floor and a dark background. This is how the third image of Merciful Jesus was created in Łagiewniki by Adolf Hyła. The image of Jesus was displayed on the wall on the right side of the chapel, but during the solemn services in honor of the Divine Mercy, held on the third Sunday of the month, it was moved to the left side altar, where from the beginning there was the image of the Heart of Jesus. In 1959, after the Notification of the Holy See forbidding the spread of the devotion in the forms provided by Sister Faustina. When the images of Merciful Jesus were removed from many churches, but in the convent chapel in Łagiewniki, thanks to the decision of Archbishop Eugeniusz Baziak, this image remained on the altar and thanks to the Divine Providence It is there to this day and is the most famous depiction of the Merciful Savior in the world. This is how the words of the Lord Jesus, spoken to sister Faustina during the first apparition of the image, were fulfilled: I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and [then} throughout the world (Diary 47). What are the basic differences between the images of Vilnius and Łagiewniki? The painting by Eugeniusz Kazimirowski was created in 1934 in Vilnius under the watchful eye of Sister Faustina, regularly - once or sometimes twice a week - who came to the painter's studio to share her observations and remarks. On the other hand, the image of Merciful Jesus by Adolf Hyła, as I have already mentioned, was painted after the death of the Apostle of Divine Mercy. The painter never met her. Kazimirowski's painting depicts Christ the Lord, dressed in a white robe of an ashen shade - light at the top, dark at the bottom - turning blue. The right hand of the Savior is raised shoulder-high for blessing, the left one reveals the robe on the chest, from where two intense rays emerge: red and pale. In Kazimirowski's painting, they are joined together to form a coherent whole. On the other hand, in the painting by Hyła, the rays coming from the tearing of the white garment on the chest are separated and directed to the sides. Another difference is Christ's gaze. In the Vilnius painting it is directed downwards - as if from a cross, embracing all sinners, while in Hyła's paintings Jesus looks directly at the viewer. According to the interpretation of Fr. Andrasz, S.J. is a gaze full of merciful love towards all people. In the Vilnius painting, the Savior has his right hand raised for blessing at the height of his shoulder, and in the Łagiewniki painting, Jesus is raising his hand to the level of his forehead. The question is: Are these differences intentional? Or is it an issue of the artist's interpretation? I think it is a matter of interpretation by both painters. It is worth remembering that Sister Faustina saw the one in Vilnius, the Krakow one - no. Before the devotion of the image of Merciful Jesus was allowed, Adolf Hyła had to make some arrangements in order for these images to appear in churches. How did he do it? From time to time, he applied some treatments to his paintings, adding to the heart and delicate rays departing from it, indicating this worship of the Heart of Jesus. And the inscription "Jesus, I trust in You" was attached to the painting later. However, nothing stopped Hyła's artistic activity. He did not stop even for a moment, because someone kept coming to him and ordering another and another painting, and the painter did not oppose and thus a new painting of the Divine Mercy was created. When he died in 1965, pictures of Merciful Jesus were hung in many Polish churches, similar to those in the convent chapel of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Łagiewniki. Adolf Hyła painted almost 240 pictures of Merciful Jesus. Today these paintings can be found on all continents. In Europe, they are Italy, France, Great Britain, Austria and the Czech Republic, in Africa they went to Uganda and Zambia, in Asia to the island of Flores in Indonesia, there are also in the United States and Canada, as well as in Melbourne and Carlton in Australia. Most of these paintings, however, can be found in Poland. It can be seen primarily in churches, chapels and monasteries. Some are privately owned. Most of the paintings were commissioned, because the news about the painter creating the images of Merciful Jesus spread quite quickly in various circles of the clergy, nuns and lay people. So, people came to Kraków, to Łagiewniki, to order a painting directly from the artist, often with a specific background. What kind of painter was Adolf Hyła? Although the painting he created is one of the most famous works in the world, we know little about the artist himself. I believe that Adolf Hyła is still one of the most undiscovered figures in Polish art history of the 20th century. It is worth mentioning that he studied painting with Jacek Malczewski. He also studied law and philosophy at the Jagiellonian University. During World War II, he settled in Kraków's Łagiewniki, near the convent of the Congregation of Our Lady of Mercy. He died in Krakow on December 25, 1965. Faith influenced his work. He was a practicing Catholic who did not hide his faith from others. His spirituality was influenced from the very beginning by his family home and parents, who took care to instill in their children the Christian spirit. Later, he deepened his faith by participating in the Jesuit formation. An important role in the spirituality of Adolf Hyła was played by Sister Faustina, her revelation of Merciful Jesus, and above all, God's Mercy itself. It was what set the direction of his artistic and painting search for a lifetime, which also translated into the multitude of paintings with the Merciful Savior. Hence, we can undoubtedly call Adolf Hyla the Painter of Divine Mercy. Let us return to the image "Jesus, I trust in You". Lord Jesus - as we know from the Diary of St. Faustina - he said that " 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. " (Diary 48). Why, did Jesus choose the image as a source of grace? The veneration of the image of the Merciful Savior is one of the ways of glorifying the Divine Mercy. We can speak of a double role of the image. First of all, it is an instrument that serves both Jesus and people. The Savior, through this very image, distributes His graces. But it is not the image that gives grace, because the image itself does not have such a driving force, independent from Jesus. For all of us, this image also serves as a vessel to which we can come to draw graces from the springs of Mercy. On the other hand, the image of Merciful Jesus is a sign reminding us, people, of the call to show mercy. We can do this in three ways: by deed, by word, and by prayer. This practice of concrete love towards another is something very essential and important in the devotion of the image of Merciful Jesus, which we must not forget. The Savior very clearly said about it to sister Faustina: “I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or absolve yourself from it.” (Diary 742) To the devotion of the image understood in this way, consisting in the attitude of Christian trust and mercy, the Lord Jesus attached a general promise of all graces and temporal favors, if they are in accordance with God's will. Also, He attached specific promises: the grace of eternal salvation, great progress on the path of Christian perfection, the grace of a happy death and all other favors that people will ask for with trust.
Until Tomorrow Fr. George Boboski
HISTORY OF THE THIRD IMAGE OF MERCIFUL JESUS
Due to the post-war political situation, the first image by E. M. Kazimirowski remained inaccessible and little known in Poland. Thus, many images were created with iconography different from the revelation, presenting Jesus according to the painter vision. Therefore, the Polish Episcopate intervened in this matter. The reservations concerned the theological content of the image and the fact that the devotion arose from a private, yet unknown revelation. As a result, Fr. Michał Sopoćko, Spiritual Director of Sister Faustina, with the advice of Bishop Barda, the ordinary of the Przemyśl Diocese, announced in 1954 a contest for the image of Merciful Jesus. From among the works submitted to the contest, the Archbishop's Artistic Commission in Krakow on September 2, 1954 selected an image by prof. Ludomir Ślendziński, rector of the Cracow University of Technology, painted according to the instructions of Fr. Michał Sopoćko. The painting by Ludomir Sleńdziński was positively assessed in terms of artistic, dogmatic and liturgical. The painting, very similar to the work of Kazimirowski, shows the Savior entering the Cenacle through a closed door. His right hand blesses the beholder, and his left hand lifts the robe around the invisible heart, from where two rays emerge: pale and red. The theological message of the performance is as Faustina wrote in her Diary: The two rays denote Blood and Water. The pale ray stands for the water that makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls ... These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when my agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross. (Diary, 299). Father Sopoćko, following the teaching of the Fathers of the Church, sees it as a symbol of the Holy Sacraments. The pale ray is the justification in the sacrament of baptism and penance, while the red one signifies the remaining sacraments, strengthening and enriching God's life in the soul. The image in the main iconography presented appearing Jesus remained consistent with the vision of Sister Faustina. While the change in the content of the image was the appearance of Jesus to the Apostles after the Resurrection in the Upper Room, based on the Gospel of St. John (cf.J.20,19-23) as the moment of instituting the sacrament of Penance. The figure of Jesus is depicted against the background of the closed upper room door. The image of Ludomir Sleńdziński, with the iconography deepened by the evangelical message, facilitated the dissemination of the image for worship in churches, as approved by the Polish Episcopal Commission. The subject of Divine Mercy was no stranger to Sleńdziński, who, in the years 1947-48, painted images of the Merciful Jesus. After the adjudication of the contest for the image of Merciful Jesus and approval on October 5, 1954 by the Main Commission of the Polish Episcopate in Warsaw, the Image of Merciful Jesus by L. Sledzinski became the OFFICIAL ONE. Fr. Sopoćko, on October 31, 1954, commissioned L. Sleńdziński for another painting, which he called a copy of the competition painting. The painting was completed on January 6, 1955. It is an image of Merciful Jesus, oil painted on canvas, dimensions: 198 cm x 110,5 cm. The Image presented the figure of Christ walking inside of the Upper Room, en face, in a slight counterpoint. The right hand is raised in a gesture of blessing, the left hand is folded at the height of the chest, lifting the robe with the fingers in the place of the invisible heart, from where single rays radiate: red-amaranth and white-aquamarine, meaning Blood and Water, flowing from the side of Christ pierced on the cross. A long coat of light, warm yellow color with numerous reflections from rays, falling on bare feet. There are visible signs of wounds on the hands and feet. The folds of the robe are plastically prepared with the character's anatomy marked. An oval face with a calm expression and downward gaze, surrounded by brownish red stubble. Brownish red hair, parted in the middle, slightly wavy, falling down on the shoulders and back. Around his head a luminous and full nimbus. In the background, closed, planked doors flanked with columns, and a stone floor made of square panes. At the top, an inscription: Peace be with you, at the bottom: Jesus, I trust in You! The harmonious movements of the figures reflect the peace, frozen in the slight, gentle walking movement. A face with the features of goodness and gentleness. The interior of the Cenacle is soaked with an apparently imperceptible glow. The floor, columns, doors, even the shadow cast by the figure of Jesus, visible on the floor and the door, are saturated with luminosity. To present the stone elements of the interior, the painter used a warm gray-violet color tone, which shows brick-coral reflections from red rays to gray-olive, whitened by light pale rays. The gray-violet tone of the picture, calm in reception, especially of the background, is made up of countless colors placed next to each other. This general gray is made up of a great abundance of colors that can be seen up close, just like almost every element of the picture, e.g., robe or rays. In this painting, for the first time in L. Sleńdziński, the following inscriptions Peace be with you appear at the top, and at the bottom - Jesus, I trust in You! In 1958, Fr. Sopoćko placed a picture in the Monastery of Reformed Fathers in Krakow, in the chapel of Divine Mercy. In 1960, The Fathers moved the painting to a corridor where religion lessons were held. After six years, Fr. Sopoćko found a neglected painting there, covered with a layer of dust. That is why he then asked Ludomir Sleńdziński to renew the image. On April 14, 1973, the painting from Krakow was brought to Białystok, to the apartment of Fr. Sopoćko and has undergone conservation. On September 3, 1973, Bishop Henryk Gulbinowicz, the Administrator of the Archdiocese in Białystok, consecrated the restored image of Merciful Jesus, which on that day was hung in the Białystok pro-cathedral on the wall of the eastern transept of the church, next to the altar of St. Anthony. In 1986, during the renovation of the basilica before the 600th anniversary of the Archdiocese, the painting was temporarily moved to the chapel of Our Lady of Mercy - Ostra Brama, and then placed on the wall altar in the former chapel of St. Stanislaus Kostka, which from that moment became the Chapel of Divine Mercy. Finally, the painting was placed in the new altar, built in the Jubilee Year 2000. I hope that the pilgrims who visited with me Bialystok - the City of Mercy, remember this image. We must all remember Jesus' words to Saint Faustina: "Not in the beauty of the color, nor of the brush lies the greatness of this image, but in My grace" (Diary 313).
Until Tomorrow Fr. George Boboski
THEOLOGY OF THE IMAGE OF MERCIFUL JESUS – part I
a) Function The image of Merciful Jesus, constituting a visual summary and presentation of the entire Devotion to the Divine Mercy, is primarily a call to trust in God's Mercy. The signature of the painting, Jesus, I trust in You, reveals a source of consolation and relief, hope and peace for all the suffering and tormented. Trust, being man's response to God's Mercy, opens people's hearts to receive the gifts of this Mercy and causes His action in us. It is trust which guarantees the trusting person not only eternal salvation, but also other graces, both salvific and temporal. Trust itself is already Devotion. Without trust, we cannot take advantage of its fruits, no external act of the Devotion will give the graces promised by Jesus unless it is an expression of trust and is performed with it. Hence, the veneration of the Image of Divine Mercy, even if it is the most spectacular, if it is not an external expression of trust, will in no way guarantee the graces that Jesus attached to the veneration of this image. The Image fulfills a double role in the Devotion. The first was defined in the revelation in the first half of 1934, in which Jesus called the image a vessel by which people can draw graces from the sources of Mercy. “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.” (Diary 327) The image is at the same time, as it was expressed in the revelation of December 1935, a tool - “By means of this Image I shall be granting many graces to souls; so, let every soul have access to it” (Diary 570) - with which Jesus himself grants graces. In the revelation of October 1936, Jesus described the image as a sign reminding people of the demand to perform mercy. Worshiping Divine Mercy through His image, without simultaneously performing works of mercy, would have more to do with idolatrous worship than with true Christianity. Four times in His revelations, Jesus added the categorical demand to practice mercy. He gave three ways of showing mercy towards others: the first is the act, the second is the word, and the third is prayer. By requiring the practice of mercy towards others, Jesus wanted to make the Devotion a kind of Christian life and to avoid the danger of a transformation into a superficial devotion. Sister Faustina noted the words of Jesus: “I am giving you three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbor: the first- by deed, the second – by word, the third – by prayer. In these three degrees is contained the fullness of mercy, and it is an unquestionable proof of love for Me. By this means a soul glorifies and pays reverence to My mercy. Yes, the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be acts of mercy, and I demand the worship of My mercy through the solemn celebration of the Feast and through the veneration of the image which is painted. By means of this image I shall grant many graces to souls. It is to be a reminder of the demands of My mercy, because even the strongest faith is of no avail without works.” (Diary 742) Jesus' words about the image, which is to remind the demands of my mercy, because even the strongest faith will not help anything without works, were taken from the Letter of St. James: " What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” (cf. Jas 2:14). Thus, the image embedded on the foundation of the Devotion, indicates the obligation to perform mercy, and on the other hand, it reminds us of the trust in God's Mercy, a visible sign of which is the image's signature: Jesus, I trust in You. For this image, Jesus demanded public worship. The revelations do not specify exactly what it is to consist of, hence it can be understood quite broadly. It was certainly Jesus' will that the image be blessed on the Feast of Mercy. On this day, God's Mercy should be glorified by honoring this image. b) The biblical context The theological analysis of the content of the image of Divine Mercy was conducted by Fr Michael Sopoćko, who explained the meaning of the image based on the texts of the Holy Bible and the Liturgy. He pointed to the inseparable connection of the image with the liturgy of the Second Sunday of Easter, also known as the White Sunday. On this day, invariably since the Council of Trent, a passage from the Gospel of St. John is being read, describing the coming of the Risen Jesus on the day of his victory over death to the Upper Room (cf. Jn 20:19-37). Christ, greeting the apostles, showed them His hands and side, and then spoke the words that we associate with the institution of the sacrament of penance. For this evangelical event overlaps in the image of the Divine Mercy’s second event also taken from the Gospel of St. John - opening the side of Jesus with a spear (cf. Jn 19:31-37). At that time, blood from the Heart and water from the pericardium flowed from the Savior's side, confirming Jesus' death. According to this text, the blood and water that flowed from the Savior's Heart have a symbolic meaning - mean the river that gives life, the source of life, foretold by Christ for all who will believe in Him. (cf. Jn 7:38) In the revelation of the first half of 1934, Jesus explained the meaning of the rays in a figurative sense, so they should be interpreted in accordance with the principles of metaphorical language. By saying that " These rays shield souls from the wrath of My Father. Happy is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him"(Diary 299), Jesus affirmed that the value of the Redemption through saving death protects us from God's wrath, that is, reconciling us with God. In revealing the Devotion, Jesus often spoke about the insides of His Mercy. Describing Blood and Water in a metaphorical way, he indicated not only where, but also when it came from. It happened when His Heart was pierced on the cross. It falls from the above that the insides of Mercy should be understood as the human Heart of Jesus. The Image of Divine Mercy combines two great salvific events - the passion on the cross, illustrated both by the rays of mercy and by the wounds on Jesus' body; and, secondly, Jesus’ appearances in the Upper Room on the day of the Resurrection, expresses in a very convincing way the central mystery of our faith - the Paschal Mystery. The image plays a special role in the devotion. Also, it is the key to understanding other forms of the Devotion, and at the same time constitutes their synthesis, since on White Sunday, in the liturgy of which the image is so firmly embedded, the Novena to Divine Mercy should end, which should have started on Good Friday, and the chaplet and prayer at the hour of the death of Jesus, refer to the saving passion in order to implore God's Mercy through it. This relationship with the Passion of the Lord was the subject of revelations several times, in which rays of mercy came out from the side of Jesus, nailed on the cross. Fr. George Bobowski (The Lay Institute of Divine Mercy)
THEOLOGY OF THE IMAGE OF MERCIFUL JESUS – part II Elements of the Extraordinary Painting of the Image of Divine Mercy
According to Fr. Michał Sopocko, who was present at the creation of the first painting of the Divine Mercy, so that it would be consistent with the revelation to St. Faustina. “In the vision, there was a dark background; the person of Jesus was dressed in a pure white robe, moving and coming towards her, then He stopped. His left foot forward, His right hand was at shoulder level, held there as if blessing, His left hand touching the robe at the point of His wounded heart from where the red and pale rays fell downwards spreading out over the ground beneath, His eyes gazing down, as from the Cross. Under the image must be the inscription: Jesus, I trust in You”(Diary off Blessed. Michael Sopocko) Two revelations - from Good Fridays 1935 and 1936, during which Faustina saw Jesus stretched on the cross at 3 p.m., provoked more thorough reflections. In the first of these revelations, the Savior expressed His will: "I desire that the image be publicly honored “(cf. Diary 414), and Faustina saw rays of mercy coming from the Heart of Jesus. A similar vision was in the following year: “Good Friday. At three o’clock, I saw the Lord Jesus, crucified, who looked at me and said, I thirst. Then I saw two rays’ issue from His side, just as they appear in the image”. (Diary 648) It seems that the words of Jesus, spoken in the first of these revelations, do not constitute a sufficiently convincing argument to be considered as an indication to celebrate the image of the Savior on the cross with two rays sprouting from His Heart. However, it should be emphasized that the death of the Redeemer and its saving value, which is the strongest evidence of God's mercy, would be more noticeable in this image. Hence, the image of the Lord Jesus stretched on the cross with two rays of mercy coming out of His chest, along with the signature Jesus, I trust in You, could be the object of worship and would probably enjoy the same promises as the image painted from the inspiration of Sister Faustina. Rays In the apparition of June 20, 1935, the Savior gave the rays of the image of Divine Mercy the name of the rays of mercy: “These rays of mercy will pass through you, just as they have passed through this Host, and they will go out through all the world” (Diary 441). Explaining their meaning in another revelation, he said that they meant the Blood and Water that flowed from His Heart after opening his side on the cross:“These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross “(Diary 299). In order for the image to reflect this truth, the color of the rays should be the same as described in the Diary of St. Faustina, i.e., one red ray and the other pale. It is a mistake, both verbally and artistically, to call the second ray as white. The revelation and the biblical context clearly speak of a pale ray. In the Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas interpreted the Blood and Water, symbolized by rays, referring them to the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist: “The sacraments of the Church take power from the passion of Christ and its power is united with us [and works in us] when we receive the sacraments. As a sign of this, water and blood flowed from the side of Christ hanging on the cross, one of which signifies Baptism and the other the Eucharist: the two most important Sacraments." Water and Blood are not just baptism and the Eucharist, but also extend their symbolic meaning to the other sacraments of the Church. Pale ray - means not only baptism, but also penance, called the sacraments of the dead, while the red ray means not only the Eucharist, but also Confirmation, Anointing of the sick, Priesthood and Marriage, called the sacraments of the living. In the above context, Jesus' explanation of the rays becomes understandable: “The two rays denote Blood and Water. The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls” (cf. Diary 299). The rays, expressed the value of Christ's redemptive death and have a special place in the Devotion. They symbolize the Blood and Water, which, according to Fr. Sopocko are the material object of the Devotion. Its worship and adoration are expressed in the act “O Blood and Water”, which Jesus taught Faustina and attached a promise to reciting it, although it was addressed only to the Trustee of Divine Mercy. Signature According to the will of Jesus, already expressed in the inaugural revelation, the painting should be signed with the signature Jesus, I trust in You!Fr. Sopocko suggested that it would be better to place under the painting the words: Christ, King of Mercy. The Savior, however, wanted the image to be signed with a signature, Jesus, I trust in You, although he did not make it an indispensable condition. The essence of the signature does not require these three specific words (Jezu, ufam Tobie), but a formula that would express the meaning of trust. Because the devotion is directed to the whole world, it is also necessary to definitely exclude the obligation to use the mentioned formula in Polish, which would in no way be in harmony with the spirit of the devotion. The signature of the image of Jesus, I trust in You, is to be a source of comfort and peace for all those who suffer and are tormented. However, it insistently emphasizes the need for trust associated with the practice of the Devotion.“The sentiment‘ Jesus, I trust in You’ is a way of God’s attention, even this utterance be a source of healing for suffering and souls. It strongly emphasizes the necessity of trust associated with practicing the devotion to Jesus on the Cross, and because as His followers, Jesus also places His trust in us, offering prayers to the Father appealing for Mercy on the world.”(Fr. Michael Sopocko) A Gaze from the Cross In the first vision of 1931, Jesus described His gaze in the image to be the same as His gaze from the Cross. In the revelation of 1934, the Savior confirmed that His gaze on the image of Divine Mercy to be as a gaze from the cross: “Once, Jesus said to me, My gaze from this image is like My gaze from the cross” (Diary 326). Fr. Sopoćko, who, together with Sister Faustina, initiated the painting of the first image of the Divine Mercy, interpreted this term literally, i.e., downwards. Such a gaze really has the figure of Christ on the first image and in the next ones, which were related to the suggestions of Fr. Sopocko. Another interpretation of the term looking from the cross was given by the second spiritual director of Sr. Faustina - Fr. Józef Andrasz. In his opinion, the term should be understood as a gaze full of merciful love towards all people whom Jesus redeemed on the Cross. Based on this interpretation, a Krakow painting by Adolf Hyła and hundreds of other canvases around the world were created. Hands The left hand of the Savior, according to the inaugural revelation from Płock, lifted the robe on the breast, from which came out two rays of mercy, while the right hand was raised in a gesture of blessing. However, this case was not without controversy. In the first image, the Lord Jesus has his hand raised to the height of his shoulder. This is how Fr. Sopocko blessed to the end of his days. In the Łagiewniki painting by Hyła, Christ raises his hand to the level of his forehead, which for Fr. Sopoćko was unacceptable. Background The first painting has a uniform, dark background. At the suggestion of Fr. Sopoćko, a painting of Christ against the background of the Cenacle door would be equally acceptable, which would be in line with the pericope about the appearance of the resurrected Jesus and with the vision of Faustina from Płock. According to Fr. Andrasz, the Merciful Jesus goes through the world as a heavenly physician to heal sorrowful humanity. Based on this interpretation, over two hundred images of Divine Mercy by Adolf Hyła were created, depicting the Redeemer against the background of fields, meadows, mountains, sea, factories. This image will protect your home and cities from destruction During the Second World War, another promise was spread, related to the veneration of the image of Divine Mercy, which Jesus was to say to Faustina: "When punishments for sins shall come upon the earth, and your native land shall be in extreme abasement, the only salvation will be hope in Divine Mercy. I shall preserve the cities and homes in which this image shall be found; I shall protect likewise those persons who shall venerate and have confidence in My Mercy.”(Our Lords words to Saint Faustina not written down in her diary but was given to her spiritual director Father Sopocko. /Recent Revelations on the Mercy of God Devotion including the Novena to the Mercy of God booklet, Copyright 1945 by the congregation of Marian Fathers Eden Hill, Stockbridge, Mass/). The above text could not be found in the writings of Sister Faustina. The literary criticism of the text also confirms that the above promise was not recorded by the Saint. Conclusion The Image of Divine Mercy is one of the most unusual images in the history of the world. Christ's request to the simple nun, St. Faustina, to paint an image with the signature Jesus, I trust in You, found the way to fulfillment. Although she was not delighted with the resulting work, Christ pointed out that the greatness of the image is not in the beauty of the paints, but in God's grace; “Once, when I was visiting the artist [Eugene Kazimirowski] who was painting the image and saw that it was not as beautiful as Jesus is, I felt very sad about it, but I hid this deep in my heart. When we had left the artist’s house, Mother Superior [Irene] stayed in town to attend to some matters while I returned home alone. I went immediately to the chapel and wept a good deal. I said to the Lord, “Who will paint You as beautiful as You are?” Then I heard these words: Not in the beauty of the color, nor of the brush lies the greatness of this image, but in My grace”.(Diary 313)Another desire expressed by the Savior was also fulfilled. The image of Divine Mercy that was venerated in the Sisters' Chapel is known all over the world today and touches the hearts of millions of believers. Let this image remind us of the call to be witnesses of mercy towards others, and to be able to trust God in every situation of life, always saying: Jesus, I trust in You! Fr. George Bobowski (The Lay Institute of Divine Mercy)
MERCY IN THE SENSE OF THE ANCIENT PAGAN PHILOSOPHERS
One of the characteristic features of Catholic theological thought during the pontificate of St. John Paul II was a revival of interest in the subject of mercy in connection with papal teaching, especially the Encyclical Dives in misericordia and popularization of the devotion to Divine Mercy in the form conveyed by St. Faustina Kowalska. The abundant literature on this subject deals more with the issue of God's mercy than of human mercy. This division of topics alone shows that mercy as a theological term is considered in many aspects. It is not a purely Christian concept, and therefore requires reference to at least those ancient thinkers of pre-Christian times who influenced Catholic theologians. Basically, however, Christian mercy draws from the source of the Holy Scriptures, therefore its presentation cannot omit the biblical aspect. Already the Holy Scriptures, revealing God's mercy, which is of particular interest to dogmatics, call for mercy towards man, which is what moral theology deals with, and in the team dimension, Catholic social teaching. Mercy is also an important topic of the theology of spirituality, pastoral, liturgy and church law. Some aspects of mercy as a theological problem are revealed by Christian art and even psychology. Each of these areas looks at mercy in its own, but ultimately complementary way. It is not possible to present all the detailed aspects of mercy in these disciplines. Therefore, only the main directions of development of this term will be presented in the next few days. Mercy in the sense of the ancient pagan philosophers The term "mercy" appears in various contexts in the Greco-Roman culture. The Latin and Greek words used here have a certain meaning for theology because they were adopted to a great extent by Christian writers in the first centuries of the Church. Latin misericordia meant compassion and pity and works of mercy. The main source of the word is the combination of miser (miserable, poor) and cor (heart). In Greek culture, the word ελεος (eleos) had a similar meaning, meaning mercy, compassion and pity. From it comes alms giving (eleemosyne). The terms oiktirmos and splanchnon were also used, which are also found in the Scriptures. Philanthropy as kindness, benevolence, gentleness and courtesy was close in meaning to the word eleos. In Latin, related terms, signifying kindness to someone else's misfortune are humanitas and clementia. This was associated with generosity (liberalitas, beneficium, benignitas). When it comes to the very reality of mercy, the ancients show an evolution in their understanding from being very positive in Homer writing to treating it as a defect by Aristotle and the Stoics. Mercy was accepted as compassion for human suffering, especially in a hopeless situation, e.g., in a terminal illness. However, Plato already argued that a judge should not be guided by mercy. Aristotle was even more skeptical about it, for whom mercy was an emotional, and therefore immature, reaction. It was not a virtue, but a vice forgiven only for the elderly, women and children. In his opinion, a mature man should be guided by reason and control all emotional reflexes of nature. This approach to mercy was later argued by St. Thomas Aquinas, for whom it was a virtue. Meanwhile, the Stoics considered merciful compassion even a kind of disease of the soul (aegritudo animi). Cicero argued that misericordia is a vice rather than a virtue because it generates suffering. It was only to be shown to those suffering unfairly and wronged by the law. Sometimes, however, he praised mercy as a virtue of the highest admiration (Pro Ligario) and a sign of wisdom and morality (Pro Murena). Likewise, Seneca believed that misericordia, as an emotional state, upset the mind's balance and interfered with the correct decision-making of the righteous punishment of those at fault. He considered it a fault inherent in wicked people. However, he also has positive statements about it (De beneficiis). It should be added that as philosophers Cicero and Seneca considered mercy a defect, while as politicians in practical life they appreciated its role and saw the need to apply. It is also important not to make mercy something that is a specifically Christian element, which we will see in opposition to the theology of Judaism, the Old Testament or Muslims, of which God is just, severe and punishing or rewarding according to merit.
Until Tomorrow Fr. George Bobowski (The Lay Institute of Divine Mercy)
How was Mercy understood in the Old Testament?
The fact that God is merciful should not surprise us. The Holy Bible has over 400 direct references to the Mercy of God. There are many more indirect references. Fifty-five of the Psalms praise God's Mercy. Belief in a Merciful God became one of the characteristics of the Jewish religion. We could almost call the Holy Bible the DIARY OF GOD'S MERCY toward mankind.
The Hebrew language knows five terms for mercy. They are: Hesed, Rahamim, Hanan, Hamal and Hus. Each of these terms indicates a slightly different meaning associated with mercy.
The most common Old Testament term specifying friendly feeling expressed in helping is the word Hesed. It describes the attitude of kindness that characterizes relation between two people. In interpersonal relations, this expression means mutual kindness, to which relatives, loved ones and friends are obligated to, and in relation to God - filial love. Hesed also means grace and love, but on the basis of a commitment to faithfulness, therefore, if hesed refers to God, it always connects to the Covenant that He made with his people. For people, this covenant is a gift and grace, for God - a legal obligation. God in this Covenant, unlike in the case of man, is changeless, just as His faithfulness is immutable and irrevocable. Therefore, hesed turns into a giving and forgiving love. Someone who has the attribute of hesed is someone you can always count on, someone who never lets you down.
In a remarkable endnote to his encyclical Dives in Misericordia (Rich in Mercy), Pope John Paul II teaches that hesed contains the meaning of faithfulness to oneself, to one's own promises and commitments to others.
When in the Old Testament the word hesed is used of the Lord, this always occurs in connection with the covenant that God established with Israel. This covenant was, on God's part, a gift and a grace for Israel God had made a commitment to respect it ... [this divine hesed] showed itself as what it was at the beginning, that is, as a love that gives, love more powerful than betrayal, grace stronger than sin (cf. DM no. 52).
Another word for expressing mercy is Rahamim. It comes from a root word rechem, which means a mother's womb. The word literally means the guts, the heart as the seat of the most delicate feelings of love and mercy. At the same time, this term also includes the readiness to forgive sins, the fulfillment of hope, a promise, and liberation from all dangers. Rachamim - tender, compassionate love, a love that springs from pity. Rahamim includes a certain compulsion of the heart to love and to forgive sins. It is a mercy that will later be rendered in Latin using the word misericordia. Someone who has rahamim is someone who feels for your plight and is moved with compassion to help you. Rachamim is often used in conjunction with hesed. Thus, there is a special intimacy and responsiveness about this kind of love, and a special concern for the sufferings of others. The Holy Father Saint John Paul II sees hesed as, in a sense, a masculine form of love (steadfast, dependable, righteous, being true to oneself and to one's promises), while rachamim is more feminine (tender, responsive, compassionate, like a mother responding in love to the sufferings of her child).
The term Hanan, expresses God's kind and gracious disposition towards man and it is synonymous with the word mercy. Another term containing the content of mercy is the Hebrew Hamal, which has two aspects. It means sparing the enemy - a gesture of mercy in a negative sense, for the sake of saving from evil, as well as an act of mercy - pardon and forgiving him the guilt, that is, acting positive, for his benefit. These two aspects are interconnected in different cases, but to a different extent. The last term for mercy in the Old Testament is Hus, a word that expresses pity and compassion, primarily in an emotional sense. It occurs very rare in the Scriptures.
These terms in the Old Testament make it clear that mercy was not reserved only for the chosen people but was universal. Such an Old Testament approach to mercy exceeded the framework of Jewish nationalism, opening at the same time to the entire pagan world. We can see that in the Old Testament there is a continual clash between God's justice and His mercy, and yet mercy always prevails over the justice, as long as people are converted. Old Testament mercy refers to the forgiveness of sins, preserving from suffering, caring for people, saving from enemies. The main object of this mercy is temporal goods, both spiritual and material. Eternal goods are not excluded, but they are not emphasized so significantly.
Divine Mercy is the heart of the Bible. If we really look at how God has revealed Himself in, we discover afresh how mercy is essential to understanding His message of love and salvation. Until Tomorrow Fr. George Bobowski (The Lay Institute of the Divine Mercy)
How is Mercy understood in the New Testament?
In the New Testament, we deal with three groups of synonymous for mercy. The first semantic group is the verb eleein and its derived eleos and eleemon. They are mainly found in Synoptics. The verb eleein translates into English as pity, help out of pity, have mercy on someone. Whereas since the times of Homer, the noun eleos means emotion in the face of misfortune that befell another human being and the deed resulting from this feeling. The adjective eleemon is rendered merciful in English. Finally, eleein and its derivatives refer to the respect that is required by God, that people should feel for themselves. Interpersonal relationships should be based on mercy, compassion, forgiveness and kindness. The pattern of such behavior is provided by Jesus Christ in the teaching of the Gospel: I want mercy rather than sacrifice (cf. Mt 9:13). The second group of meanings for mercy in the New Testament are: the noun oiktirmos (Rom 12: 1; 2 Cor 1: 3; Phil 2: 1; Col 3:12; Heb 10:28) and words derived from it, namely the verb oikteirein (Rom 9:15) and the adjective oikthirmon (Luke 6:36; Jas 5:11). Oiktirmos means affection and compassion. It is translated as mercy, compassion. The verb oikteirein means to show mercy, to have pity. On the other hand, the adjective oiktirmon is translated as merciful. These terms are derived from oiktos, meaning lamentation, a mournful cry over some misfortune. Therefore, this noun means compassionate lamentation, compassion, pity. Oiktirmos and its derivatives are most often used in the New Testament to denote God's Mercy, and less to denote human mercy. Words: esplanchnisthē (Mt 9:36; 14:14; 15:32; 18:27; 20:34; Mk 1:41; 6:34; 8:2; 9:22; Lk 7:13; 10:35; 15:20) meaning to be moved, have mercy and splanchnon (Lk 1:78) - guts, constitute the third semantic group that describes mercy. The verb esplanchnisthē in Jesus' parables means mercy, goodness, forgiveness. Based on the above analysis, the concept of the gospel on mercy can be defined. Its content is compassion flowing from the divine or human interior to alleviate the suffering and misfortune of someone else. In this situation, a person tries to enter the state of the other, feeling sorry for him/her in what happened to him/her. Full of emotion, she/he is ready to deal with it through a specific act. Something necessary to be merciful is this co-compassion, co-participation, co-suffering, personal encounter with the misfortune of another human being. When we look at the terms defining the essence of mercy in Scripture, we notice that they are dominated by a feeling of compassionate love, sensitive to human misery. Such love seems to be most necessary for man. Human nature, tainted by original sin, prone to fall. Therefore, man needs merciful love on the part of God. In the encounter with evil, and in particular with human sin, it manifests itself precisely as mercy. The New Testament, keeping the Old Testament, general concept of mercy, will give it a much richer, broader content. Mercy in the New Testament is expressed in the person and action of Jesus Christ. He takes up the Father's saving plan and fully fulfills it. In the New Testament mercy is understood universally: no one is excluded from it, unless he himself opposes the grace that comes from God. This mercy is shown, first of all, in forgiving sins by God, although His providence concerns all matters of people and even the whole world. The mercy shown by Christ always leads to the salvation of man and also to his inner transformation. Jesus first saves from physical evil, then heals the spirit. The New Testament emphasizes the importance of mercy as an attribute to which humanity owes salvation and sanctification through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. A typical example of the salvific character of Jesus' mercy is the parable of the prodigal son. The image of mercy known from the Old Testament is deepened here. Although the word mercy does not appear directly in the text of the parable, its essence is expressed by indicating the reason that prompts the father to forgive his son. This is emphasized by the use of the expression moving the bowels, which is the equivalent of the Hebrew raham. In this parable, mercy takes the shape of perfect love - agape, which is capable of leaning over every human being. Summarizing the main truths about God's Mercy in the New Testament, the following conclusions can be made: God is a compassionate love, the Father of mercy, rich in mercy. The source of mercy is God's love for man who has sinned and departed from Him. However, “for God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (cf. Jn 3:16). The fruit of God's Mercy manifested in Jesus' mission is: God's forgiveness, salvation, sanctification of man and glorification of God. And the means by which God accomplishes this is the washing that regenerates and renews in the Holy Spirit.
Until Tomorrow Fr. George Bobowski (The Lay Institute of the Divine Mercy)
Divine Mercy in my Soul
The time of Lent is for us a time to prepare for Easter and the Feast of Divine Mercy. Therefore, over the next few days I would like to share with you the reflections on Divine Mercy. What is Divine Mercy? Do we know the answer? Did Jesus’ disciples know the answer? All we know for sure is that there is no other reality which touches the heart of mankind so much. So, what is mercy? Is it an optimistic, naive, attitude of kindness: “Everybody is good? Everybody is nice?” What does it give us? And what does it ask of us? In order to learn what mercy is, there is only one person to ask and that is Jesus. “Jesus, tell us what your mercy is all about, not what we imagine it to be, but what You, You intend by Mercy, You who are Mercy, what is it?" Dear friends, dear Apostles of Divine Mercy! It is a touching moment for me to contemplate together this call, this powerful and special invitation to mercy that Jesus gave us. Allow me, before entering into the subject to tell you few words that are a bit more biographical and personal, about my own discovery of Divine Mercy. It was a long process. My First step - On this journey there was a moment when I met Blessed Fr. Sopocko – Confessor and Spiritual Director of Saint Faustina I met Father Sopocko on many occasions, because I was born and raised in a rectory, where my Uncle was the pastor, my Father the organist and my Mother was the housekeeper and parish nurse. Father Sopocko was coming to us very often. In 1974 – one year before he died, as a seminarian, I met Fr. Michael Sopocko for the last time. He was a priest, who could really tell you what you needed and where you were at in your life without even asking you. He said: "Get into Divine Mercy full time." I did not forget about that, but I still did not understand Divine Mercy. My Second step - The necessary humility. I have to admit that when I first heard about the private revelations of Sister Faustina, as a young seminarian, I was rather skeptical, and I was undoubtedly not the only one who found the whole thing a little questionable. But one probably have to make an apprenticeship of humility. I found a paragraph on humility by Sister Faustina which greatly impressed me because it is a complete Thomism. “I never cringe before anyone. I cannot bear flattery, for humility is nothing but the truth. There is no cringing in true humility. Although I consider myself the least in the whole convent, on the other hand, I enjoy the honor of being the bride of Christ. Little matter that often I hear people say that I am proud, for I know that human judgment does not discern the motives for our actions.” (Diary 1502) Humility is nothing but the truth. I think it is a very important word for - humility is nothing but the truth. So little by little I took into account and perhaps into the truth of what happened in Plock, Vilnius and in Lagiewniki. My Third step - Discovery of the universality of the message. Everywhere I visited; I came across this image and found the people praying in front of it. That impressed me a lot. That touched me a lot. But even more so, it was my own poverty, or should I say, my own misery which made me begin to read the “Diary” of Saint Faustina. I found therein powerful nourishment which immediately spoke to my heart. It was only through the Diary that I understood what John Paul II said in Lagiewniki “there is only one hope for the world, and that is the mercy of God”. If there is only one hope for the world, then there is only one hope for me too, and that is the mercy of God. My Fourth step – Saint John Paul II and his teaching. The fourth important point was, when I was blessed to meet Pope John Paul II. There was a point when the Holy Father was kneeling and praying, and I could just about reach out and touch him. I tried to pray, too. But I was so distracted. I wanted to know: "What's he praying for?" Then, later, I heard him say: "I pray unceasingly, 'have mercy on us and on the whole world “. When I heard that, I said, "Way to go, Holy Father. You're right on!" John Paul II gave a message on August 17th, 2002 in Lagiewniki which struck me deeply as a powerful call to the whole Church: “Be witnesses to Mercy!” He said, quoting this astonishing phrase of Jesus to Sister Faustina “It is from this place that the spark which will prepare my last coming will take fire.” Without giving any revelations or speculation on the return of Christ, this message tells us that Jesus is close, not in a chronological sense but close with his mercy, with his love. That is why this call to be witnesses of mercy struck me with so much force without exactly knowing how all that could happen. But I am sure that this call must be heard because Saint John Paul II was not someone who launches such appeals in a “romantic” way. It is very serious. Until Tomorrow Fr. George Bobowski (The Lay Institute of Divine Mercy)
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