A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths

Św Maria Faustyna (St Maria Faustina Kowalska OLM of the Blessed Sacrament, Helena Kowalska) (1905-38). Feast Day for poor Polish Roman Catholic nun, virgin, religious, Christian mystic and Sister of Our Lady of Mercy. In 1924, Faustina experienced her first vision of Jesus, Who instructed her to go to Warsaw immediately and join a convent but, although she approached many different convents there, she was turned away every time due to her appearance and poverty. Finally, the Mother Superior for the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy decided to take in Faustina on the condition that she could pay for her own religious habit working as a housekeeper. In 1926, she finally received her habit and took the religious name of Sister Maria Faustina of the Blessed Sacrament and in 1928 she took her first religious vows as a nun and travelled to convents as a cook. In 1930, she began to show the first signs of her illness and in 1931 she was visited by Jesus, who presented Himself as the King of Divine Mercy, wearing a white garment with red and pale-coloured rays coming from His heart. She was asked to become the apostle and secretary of God’s mercy, a model of how to be merciful to others, and an instrument for reemphasizing God’s plan of mercy for the world. Jesus asked her to paint an image with the inscription: “Jesus, I trust in You,” which He wished to be solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter, that Sunday to be the Feast of Mercy. Faustina was refused help with the image by the Plock convent where she was working and it was not until 1934 that the first painting of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy that she had commissioned in Vilnius was created by Eugene Kazimierowski. In1935, the first sermon on the Divine Mercy was delivered, after Faustina had returned to Warsaw and taken her final vows in 1933 in Lagiewniki south of Kraków and become a perpetual sister of Our Lady of Mercy. In 1936, Faustina fell ill again and moved to a sanatorium to spend most of her time in prayer and in 1937 the first holy cards with the Divine Mercy image were created and Faustina provided instructions for the Novena of Divine Mercy, which she reported was a message from Jesus. Faustina’s health significantly deteriorated but the visions intensified and she was said to be looking forward to the end of her life, which came on October 5 1938. She was buried on October 7, a truly modern saint with her major shrine in the Basilica of Divine Mercy, Kraków where she was buried. She earned her title of Secretary of Divine Mercy at a time when many people viewed God as a strict judge but, like Pope Francis, St Faustina emphasised the mercy of God. Venerated in Roman Catholic Church. Patron of Mercy. Image: slideserve.com.

Der Selige Francis Xavier Seelos (Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos CSsR) (1819-67). Feast Day for German Redemptorist, religious and priest who worked as a frontier missionary in the United States of America. In his German diocesan seminary, he read in the Catholic newspaper Sion about the Redemptorist missionaries lamenting the lack of spiritual care for the thousands of German-speaking immigrants. He visited the Redemptorists in Altötting and decided to enter the congregation and ask to work as a missionary in the USA. In 1843, he sailed to New York and was ordained a priest in 1844 in the Redemptorist Church of St James in Baltimore, Maryland, working for 9 years in Pittsburgh as a curate and later as Superior and pastor, dedicating himself to preaching missions. His availability and innate kindness in understanding and responding to the needs of the faithful quickly made him well known as an expert confessor and spiritual director, so much so that people even came to him from neighbouring towns. His confessional was open to all: “I hear confessions in German, English, French, of Whites and of Blacks”. He practised a simple lifestyle, with a simple way of expressing himself. The themes of his preaching, rich in Biblical content, were always understood even by the simplest people. He had a generous heart, especially towards the needy and the marginalised. Towards the end of his life, he went to New Orleans to minister to victims of yellow fever and died on 4 October 1867 in New Orleans, after contracting the disease. Venerated in Roman Catholic Church, United States & Redemptorists. Optional Memorial in European Catholic Churches 12 October. Major shrine National Shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, St Mary’s Assumption Church, New Orleans. Image: waterstones.com.

Prayer God, who made Your priest Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos outstanding in love, that he might proclaim the mysteries of redemption and comfort those in affliction, grant, by his intercession that we may work zealously for Your glory and for the salvation of mankind through Christ our Lord. Amen

English - Scottish - Welsh - Irish Martyrs: Blessed WILLIAM HARTLEY,  Priest, 1588

Bl William Hartley (c1557-88). Feast Day for Derbyshire yeoman Martyr of England, an Anglican chaplain and minister before his conversion to Catholicism. Going to Reims, he received ordination in 1580 and went back to the English mission to aid St Edmund Campion print and distribute his books in England but was arrested in 1581 at Stonor Park in Oxfordshire and sent into exile in Reims in 1585. He made a pilgrimage to Rome in 1586, before returning to the English mission to be arrested in Holborn in 1588 on suspicion of apostatising. In the aftermath of the 1588 Spanish Armada, Hartley was executed by hanging at Shoreditch on 5 October 1588. His companions in martyrdom were: John Hewitt, the son of a York draper, who was re-arrested in Grey’s Inn Lane, London in 1587 and died under the adopted name of Weldon; Robert Sutton, a Paternoster Row tutor from Kegworth, Leicestershire who converted to Catholicism, was soon arrested and incarcerated and executed at Clerkenwell on 5 October 1588; John Harrison, aka Symons, who acted as a courier; and John Robinson from the North Riding of Yorkshire who entered the English College at Reims in 1584, was ordained the following year and then went on the English mission but on his way to the North of England put in at Yarmouth Roads and was arrested and sent to The Clink in Southwark for three years until the failure of the Armada brought him to the scaffold in Ipswich, to where he chose to walk before he was hanged, drawn, and quartered on 1 October 1588, his son being ordained five years later. Image: englishmartyrs.blogspot.com.