“Eternal Father, I offer You the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ..” – prayer from the Chaplet of Divine Mercy
The Divine Mercy devotion is Eucharistic at it’s heart and in it’s essence – the great Feast of Mercy centres on the Eucharist; the Chaplet of Divine Mercy offers the Lord to the Eternal Father, as He offers Himself in the Sacrifice of the Mass; and the Image of Mercy represents the Risen and Glorious Lord, the same Lord Who remains with us “always, until the end of time”, abidingly present with us in the Blessed Sacrament, in every Tabernacle in the world.
Perhaps, then, it will come as little surprise that the great ‘Apostle and Secretary of Divine Mercy’, Saint Faustina, was also intensely focussed on the Blessed Sacrament.
In religious life, Saint Faustina – like all nuns – added a suffix to her name; she would be known as Sister Maria Faustina of the Most Blessed Sacrament. This choice reflected the deepest love of her heart – Jesus truly present in the Eucharist.
Her Diary, entitled ‘Divine Mercy In My Soul’, contains numerous references to the Blessed Sacrament and the true Presence of Jesus. In the later sections of the Diary, Faustina reveals precisely what the Blessed Sacrament has always meant to her –
“Hidden Jesus, in You lies all my strength. From my most tender years, the Lord Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament has attracted me to Himself .. All the strength of my soul flows from the Blessed Sacrament.”(‘Divine Mercy In My Soul’, para.1404)
For Faustina, the Blessed Sacrament was everything – the focus of her love, but also the Source of it; an irresistible force drawing her to the Lord and, indeed, the ‘engine’ powering her every action. She described how, at the age of seven, while at Vespers before the Lord exposed in the Monstrance, the love of God was imparted to her for the first time, filling her heart. And every day after that, her love for the “Hidden God”, as she called Him, grew constantly, to the point of closest intimacy. Indeed, on one occasion, speaking to her from the Monstrance, the Lord told Faustina –
“My daughter, know that your ardent love and the compassion you have for Me, were a consolation to Me in the Garden (of Olives)” (Diary, para.1664)
Her use of the phrase ‘Hidden God’ in describing the Blessed Sacrament is reminiscent of the children of Fatima, even though Faustina presumably knew nothing of Fatima, nor of the children there describing the Lord in the Eucharist as ‘the hidden Jesus’.
Even at those times when Faustina could not physically adore the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, she would do so in spirit, as she did during the Forty Hours Adoration which took place in her Convent in March 1937 (cf.Diary, para.1025). She recounted how –
“I spend all my free moments in conversation with Him. He is my Master.” (Diary, para.1404).
In her devotion to the Eucharistic Lord, she had the help of the one Person best placed to give it – the Blessed Virgin – as she recounts in an entry of her Diary written in December 1936, two days before Christmas –
“I am spending this time with the Mother of God and preparing myself for the solemn moment of the coming of the Lord Jesus. The Mother of God is instructing me in the interior life of the soul with Jesus, especially in Holy Communion.” (Diary, para.840)
Faustina saw that the Blessed Sacrament and her mission to proclaim the Divine Mercy were intimately connected -it is, after all, the same Lord. In this entry she reveals a supernatural experience she was granted on the Feast of Divine Mercy, in April 1935 –
“I asked God for mercy on the souls of sinners. Toward the end of the service, when the Priest took the Blessed Sacrament to bless the people, I saw the Lord Jesus as He is represented in the Image. The Lord gave His blessing, and the rays extended over the whole world.” (Diary, para.420)
For Faustina, the reception of the Lord in Holy Communion was a union of her soul with the Lord, “as a child to it’s Father” (cf.Diary, para.1818) –
“When I had received Holy Communion, I had a deeper knowledge of the Heavenly Father and of His fatherhood in relation to souls.. I want to be transformed, whole and entire, into the love of Jesus and to offer myself, together with Him, to the Heavenly Father.. During Holy Mass, I saw the Infant Jesus in the Chalice and He said to me – ‘I am dwelling in your heart as you see Me in this Chalice’“ (Diary, para.1819-1820).
These words echo the core sentiment of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, in which we offer the Lord to the Eternal Father, in reparation for sins. As the Chaplet and the Divine Mercy it speaks of, become a part of us, we echo the words of Saint Paul, who writes of it being ‘no longer us who live, but Christ Who lives in us’ (cf. Galatians 2:20).
Indeed, the final pages of Faustina’s Diary have the sub-heading of ‘Preparation For Holy Communion’ and they reveal clearly her love of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. For Faustina, the reception of Holy Communion and the adoration of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament was a unitive experience. And this, surely, is precisely what the Lord had in mind when He instituted the Blessed Sacrament at the Last Supper; that He would be with us always, and that we would, in this way, be able to unite ourselves to Him.
Today, as we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi and we contemplate the reality of the Lord truly present under the appearances of bread and wine where we receive Him at every Mass, and His abiding Presence in every Tabernacle throughout the world, may these words, sentiments and experiences of Saint Faustina move us with love and with the intention to unite ourselves to the Merciful Lord as perfectly as possible.