Last night I had a date with a saint. The relics of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, a Polish sister who gave the world the famous image of “Divine Mercy,” were at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for veneration.
St. Faustina was charged with giving Jesus’ message of mercy to the world. In a vision, he told her, “I do not want to punish mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to my merciful heart.” St. Pope John Paul II canonized her in April of 2000, making her the first saint of the new millennium.
But that was about it. I honestly didn’t really know what the word “mercy” meant, either. It wasn’t until I started really talking to people about St. Faustina for the article, and heard the homily of Father Justin Cinnannte, a priest of the archdiocese, at the Young Adult Mass at St. Patrick’s last night, that the word at least started to make sense for me.
I won’t say I know exactly what mercy means—I’m still trying to figure that out—but I think I have somewhere to start now.
Father Justin told the story of a troubled boy who had been kicked out of high school. He later learned the boy was placed in a mental hospital. A while after he was let out of the hospital, this young man came back to Father Justin and asked for the sacraments of confession and anointing of the sick.
Father Justin said a phrase came to his mind: “By his wounds you are healed.”
The young man then showed Father Justin his arms, which were covered in scars from self-harm.
Father Justin said, “The reason why he was able to show his wounds to Jesus was because Jesus first showed his wounds to him.” He was referring to Jesus’ wounds on the cross.
I never before realized that mercy and healing are so closely related. No matter how scarred, or broken, or damaged we are, God wants to wrap us in his mercy and make us whole. He knows what we are going through and he wants to us to live in peace. That’s what his mercy is for, I think.
Starting today, I’m going to try to pray more often with the words that are on the bottom of the Divine Mercy image, which says, “Jesus, I trust in you.”