Friday, October 5, 2018

Twentieth Century Devotion

When we think of the Catholic Church and the 20th Century, we tend to think first of Vatican II. And on that subject, people feel very strongly, seeing it as either the best thing or the worst thing that ever happened to the Church. We can forget that there is an entire world of Catholics living the faith day by day, most going unnoticed. 

Among those, was a poor girl named Helena Kowalska. Born in 1905, she was so poor that she and uneducated that she had a difficult time finding a convent willing to take her. Her entire life was filled with rejections. What we now know as her devotion to Divine Mercy was for a time forbidden by the Holy Office, comsidered suspect, theologically. 

She lived only a short time on this earth, 33 years. Her childhood saw World War I and a world in which what we now called Poland was constantly being fought over by outside powers. In many ways, the time and place in which she lived showed the worst sides of human nature. And in that context, Jesus showed himself to her. 

The priest to whom she reported her visions wisely sent her to a psychiatrist, to be sure that she was not suffering from some mental illness. Assured that these were not hallucinations, Fr. Micheal became her great supporting in what would be an uphill climb to acceptance. 

Today the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and Divine Mercy Sunday are no longer thought of as strange innovations but as ordinary, perhaps traditional, parts of Catholic Spirituality. 

We may look at our world and think that it’s the worst mess ever, but St. Faustina lived in a much more difficult time and place. And yet, what she saw was Jesus and the great mercy of God.