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St. Faustina Kowalska reported seeing a merciful Jesus, with beams of red and white light shining from his heart. In her diary, the cloistered mystic described a 1935 vision in which she was told the write down this prayer as protection from divine judgment: "Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world; for the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world."
Some of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy thought the uneducated nun was unstable and the Vatican shunned her writings. But her visions impressed a young priest in nearby Krakow named Father Karol Wojtyla, who rose through the ranks from professor to bishop, archbishop and cardinal. Finally, he became Pope John Paul II.
The Polish pope was a champion of Faustina's "Divine Mercy" devotions. He testified: "The message of Divine Mercy has always been near and dear to me." In a sense, he said, it "forms the image of this pontificate." On April 30, 2000, John Paul II canonized her as St. Faustina.
It was in 1937, a year before she died of tuberculosis, the 32-year-old nun had another apocalyptic vision of Jesus.
She wrote: "As I was praying for Poland, I heard the words: I bear a special love for Poland, and if she will be obedient to My will, I will exalt her in might and holiness. From her will come forth the spark that will prepare the world for My final coming."
Should I eat or continue? All my friends at IHOP are rejoicing about breaking their 40-fast today. I have lost 25 lbs. during this fast as well as other things in my soul and flesh. But I have been a little distracted during this fast because we have had guest from Poland staying at our house the ENTIRE time. Iwona and I have been cooking meals for them, driving them around, spending a lot of late nights talking with them. I really enjoy them, but during an extended fast you really start to draw inwardly and want to spend more time alone and read a lot more. I was not afforded that luxury this time.
Today, I took some Poles to Sweet Tomatoes for lunch after taking them shopping. The salad and soup looked so good, I decided to have a salad and soup.
It did not satisfy me. I am hungry and thirsty for more of God. I decided to "Press Delete" on that meal and continue with my fast. How long will I go? I don't know right now. Maybe until I get a breakthrough. I yearn to be alone and alone with Him.
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth - for your love is more delightful than wine. Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the young women love You! Take me away with you - let us hurry! Song of Songs 1:1-4
Augustine, wanted to be a committed Christian, but he couldn’t get to resolve one issue in his life, which was the lust of the flesh. He was determined to leave his mistress, and to start a fully Christian life for some time, but he did not know how to break with this sin, which was captivating his life.
One day, Anthony’s friend, Simplicianus, came to visit, and shared a story about a famous Roman philosopher, Victorianus, who converted to Christianity, and publically acknowledged it. This impacted his life strongly, as some of the Christians in higher ranks of society were not public about their faith, fearing being ridiculed.
Soon afterwards another friend visited him, Ponticianus, who was a high official in the emperor’s court, a Christian. Seeing the apostle Paul’s writings on Augustine’s desk, he shared with Augustine news about Anthony, the Egyptian monk, who lived in a solitude in the desert and many others were following his lifestyle of prayer and fasting. He told him about two of his friends, “secret service agents” from the emperor’s court, who visited a Christian house and found a book talking about life of Anthony. Upon reading the stories form that book, they wondered:
“Tell me, I beg you, what goal are we seeking in all these toils of ours? What is that we desire?…Can our hopes in the court rise higher than to be ‘friends of the emperor’? …But if I choose to become a friend of God, see, I can become one now.”
They were so touched and changed just by reading this testimony of a hermit, that one of them exclaimed:
“… I enter into that service from this hour in this place.”
While Ponticianus was talking, Augustine felt an unusual urge to reconsider his life. He was fighting within himself, remembering his prayers and suffering. He somehow tried to compose himself by rejecting the grace which was falling upon him, but after Ponticianus’ departure, he went to his other friend and exclaimed:
“What is the matter with us? What is this? What did you hear? The uninstructed start up and take heaven, and we - with all our learning but so little heart - see how we follow in flesh and blood!!!”
He went outside to a garden and his soul was struggling within him to say the final FIAT to God, started to cry with tears and with his voice:
“Will You be angry forever? How long? How long? Tomorrow and tomorrow? Why not now? Why not this very hour make an end to my uncleanness?”
Suddenly he heard a voice of a child chanting over and over:
“Pick it up, read it”.
Quickly he opened apostles Paul’s writings and his eyes fell on the passage:
“Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.”
He was freed instantly. And that’s how the saint was born, know today as St. Augustine, one of the brightest minds and hearts of human kind.
Prayer on Finding God after a Long Search
Too late have I loved you, O Beauty so ancient, O Beauty so new. Too late have I loved you! You were within me but I was outside myself, and there I sought you! In my weakness I ran after the beauty of the things you have made. You were with me, and I was not with you. The things you have made kept me from you - the things which would have no being unless they existed in you! You have called, you have cried, and you have pierced my deafness. You have radiated forth, you have shined out brightly, and you have dispelled my blindness. You have sent forth your fragrance, and I have breathed it in, and I long for you. I have tasted you, and I hunger and thirst for you. You have touched me, and I ardently desire your peace.
all citations from “Confessions” by St. Augustine
Many spiritual writers offer suggestions concerning methods in prayer. Francis de Sales, very much influenced by his own experience of St. Ignatius's Spiritual Exercises, offers some suggested structures and formats for the practice of meditation and prayer. He suggests six steps as a guide to moving through a time of prayer.
- Place yourself in the presence of God. Remember that God is near, not for away. He is in the very depth of your heart, your spirit. "Begin all your prayers, whether mental or vocal, in the presence of God. Keep to this rule without any exception and you will quickly see how helpful it will be."
- Ask the Lord to help you pay attention to Him, to open yourself up to His Word and presence.
- Pick out a passage from Scripture, a scene from the Gospel, a mystery of the Faith, or a passage from some spiritual reading. If the subject matter you have chosen lends itself to it, picture yourself in the same place as the action or event that is happening. Use your imagination to place yourself in the midst of the scene near Jesus, with the disciples.
- Think about what you've chosen to meditate on in such a way as to increase your love for the Lord or for virtue. The purpose is not primarily to study or know more, but to increase your love for God and the life of discipline.
- If good affections should rise up - gratitude for God's mercy, awe at His majesty, sorrow for sin, desire to be more faithful, for example - yield to them.
- Come to some practical resolutions concerning changes you would like to make as a response to these affections. For example, resolve to be more faithful in prayer, or more ready to forgive, or more eager to share the faith with others, or more determined to resist sin, in as practical and concrete a way as you can determine.
Most of all, after you rise from meditation you must remember the resolutions and decisions you have made and carefully put them into effect on that very day. This is the great fruit of meditation and without it meditation if often not only useless but even harmful. Virtues meditated on but not practiced sometimes inflate our minds and courage and we think that we are really such as we have thought and resolved to be.
Francis recommends that we end the time of meditation-prayer with expressions of gratitude to God for the light and affections He has given us in our time of prayer; then, an offering of ourselves to the Lord in union with the offering of Jesus; and thirdly, a time of intercession for our self and others. At the same time, Francis doesn't intend that the structure or method he proposes be followed mechanically if the Holy Spirit draws us to something different.