We celebrate the feast day St. Faustina Kowalska (1905-38) on October 5. She grew up in poverty, lived a short and obscure life, and endured much suffering, including a difficult death from tuberculosis. However, she was rich in virtue and the love of God and was His chosen instrument to spread the message of Divine Mercy and the Divine Mercy devotion.
Faustina was part of a poor peasant family in Poland, the third of 10 children. Her father was a carpenter. From age 7, when she participated in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, she decided she wanted to be a nun. She was distracted from this desire while a teen, but had a vision of a suffering Jesus at age 19, and refocused on her desire to enter the convent. After being rejected by multiple communities, she was finally accepted by the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy at age 20.
Her life, like Christ’s, became a sacrifice lived for others. She offered her sufferings in atonement for sins, but always remained cheerful and humble. She encouraged others to trust in God, and to prepare to meet Him in the next life. She was devoted to the Eucharist, the Blessed Mother and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
In 1931, Jesus appeared to her as the Divine Mercy image, wearing white with rays emanating from His heart, one red and one pale. His hand was raised in blessing. Jesus asked her to have the image painted with the words “Jesus, I trust in You” painted below it. It was Christ’s will that people venerate the image throughout the world, so that they might know of the mercy God extends to repentant sinners.
Sister Faustina undertook having the image painted with the assistance of her spiritual director, Blessed Fr. Michal Sopoćko (1888-1975), and Eugeniusz Kazimirowski, an artist who was Fr. Sopoćko’s neighbor. Sopoćko was initially suspicious of Sister Faustina and insisted she be evaluated by a psychiatrist, but over time became convinced of her authenticity. The image took six months to complete, with Sister Faustina insisting many changes be made along the way.
Decades after her death, Archbishop of Krakow Karol Wojtyla took an interest in her story. In 2000, now as Pope John Paul II, he canonized her. St. Faustina’s remains can today be found below a Divine Mercy image in the convent chapel in Cracow-Lagiewniki in Poland.
The Divine Mercy devotion comes from St. Faustina’s 600-page Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul, her record of private conversations she had with Christ over the last four years of her life. It details the revelations she received about God’s mercy. It has a variety of components, including devotion to the image of Divine Mercy itself, Divine Mercy Sunday (the Sunday after Easter), the Divine Mercy chaplet, the Divine Mercy novena and the Hour of Great Mercy.
The Diary makes for wonderful reading. It contains many promises from our Lord to St. Faustina such as “fear nothing; I am always with you” (586) “the greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy.” (723)
We learn in our prayer and study to always ask for His mercy and to be merciful to others and completely trust in Jesus. Jesus told St. Faustina, “Souls that make an appeal to My mercy delight Me. To such souls I grant even more graces than they ask. I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion. (1146) Be for mercy for the whole world. (570) No soul who has called upon My mercy has ever been disappointed.
We learn from the Diary that Our Lord spoke to St. Faustina about teaching about acts of mercy: “I demand from you deeds of mercy which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse yourself from it…Even the strongest faith is of no avail without works.” (742) He also said, “If a soul does not exercise mercy in some way, it will not obtain My mercy on the day of judgment.” (1317)
We learn we are to be apostles and missionaries of mercy. “Proclaim to the whole world My unfathomable mercy.” (1142) “Souls who spread the honor of My mercy I shield through their entire lives as a tender mother her infant, and at the hour of death I will not be a Judge for them, but the merciful Savior.” (1075.) “Do whatever is within your power to spread devotion to My mercy. I will make up for what you lack. Tell aching mankind to snuggle close to My merciful Heart, and I will fill it with peace.” (1074)
The promises of the Diary of St. Faustina which the Lord Jesus Christ gave her are incredible. They are very comforting and greatly assist us in our prayer lives. They give us great hope, peace and joy. Here are more thoughts from the diary: Encourage souls to say the chaplet which I have given you. (1541) Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death. (687) When they say this chaplet in the presence of the dying, I will stand between My Father and the dying person, not as the just Judge but as the merciful Savior. (1541) Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet only once, he would receive grace from My infinite mercy. (687) I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in My mercy. (687) Through the chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with My will. (1731)
SERIES OF THREE DREAMS
I received a series of three dreams in 2019 that led me to incorporate the message of Divine Mercy into the apostolate I founded in 2014 to engage in evangelism, Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry. In each dream Our Lord told me to spread His Divine Mercy throughout the world.
After the Lord gave me these dreams, I turned to prayer. The Lord came upon me and gave me these words, “Receive My agape and unconditional love. Forgive yourself and forgive others by turning to My mercy. Let My mercy fill your heart, soul and mind. In order to give others mercy, you must receive My mercy.”
So, in response to this request, in the period of less than a year, Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry held 22 seminars with an average of 130 people in attendance. The 2020-21 pandemic prevented us from holding in-person gatherings for a time, but now as I write we are preparing to launch a new initiative, “Jesus Thirsts for America.” We’ll have a Catholic crusade in 21 large American cities, including prayer, healing, teachings and a chance to receive the sacraments. Prominent in these presentations will be the message of Divine Mercy, of God’s love and His readiness to extend to us mercy and forgiveness.
BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL
We see God’s desire for mercy in the 5th beatitude in Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” The importance of mercy is seen in Luke 6:36, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” In the Old Testament we see in Exodus 34:6, “God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” The word mercy appears in Scripture 149 times.
One of the most powerful uses is in the beatitudes.
Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.”
This is similar to the words in the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” To the extent that we let mercy into our lives is the extent that God’s merciful grace will flow into us.
Mercy is at the core of forgiveness. To the extent we forgive is the extent we receive God’s mercy. We see God’s mercy in everything that He does for us. The Father is our role model.
Luke 6:36 “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
In the Old Testament, we see:
Exodus 34:6 “God [is] merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”
So, let us be grateful to God for presenting the message of Divine Mercy through St. Faustina. Let us strive to be holy and to be set apart. The Divine Mercy devotion will help you do that and grow in your love of Jesus. It encourages us to consecrate our lives to Jesus and His mercy, holiness and forgiveness. We become instruments of His mercy and forgiveness.
What an act of love from Jesus to us and a great act of love, forgiveness and mercy when we become “Divine Mercy evangelists.” Tell people about the special grace available that Our Lord revealed to St. Faustina regarding Divine Mercy Sunday.
When we receive Holy Communion on Divine Mercy Sunday, go to confession within 20 days of Divine Mercy Sunday, pray for the pope’s intentions and have a public devotion to Divine Mercy on Mercy Sunday, we have the equivalent of a complete renewal of baptismal grace in the soul which is complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. This makes our soul “whiter than snow.”
And finally, take the time to read St. Faustina’s Diary. We find the words of Jesus to her saying, “It pleases Me to grant everything they ask of me by saying the chaplet.” Jesus tells her over and over that even the most hardened sinners will receive mercy when they say the chaplet. Saying the chaplet at the hour of death will bring great mercy and grace to the person dying “for the sake of the sorrowful passion of my Son.”
Deacon Steve Greco wrote "Mercy and Family Healing", which appeared in Catholic Journal on August 30, 2022. Click here to read the article
Deacon Steve Greco wrote "Holiness and Mercy" for Catholic Stand which appeared August 29, 2022. Click here to read the article.
Deacon Steve Greco wrote "We are Called to Evangelize," a column which appeared in Catholic Journal on August 9, 2022. Click here to read the article.
Don't give up! Don’t give up! Don’t give up! Don’t give up on your family. God’s love and mercy are bigger than your family challenges!
No matter what your situation is with your family, whatever the circumstances, God is greater than your problems!
Jesus loves your family more than you can ever imagine. Our human love is but a drop in the ocean compared to the mercy and love of Christ!
Through His mercy, God wants to heal your family! In order to have this happen, we need to trust Jesus and surrender your family to Him. Then you will have peace that passes all understanding.
John 16:33, “I have said this to you, so that in me, you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage, I have conquered the world.”
How do we transform our families to embrace the love and mercy of Jesus? There are seven steps to help parents become the warriors that God wants them to be.
- Consecrate your family to the love and mercy to Jesus. Picture every member of your family individually and offer them up as “sweet incense” onto the Lord! In this way we plead to God’s mercy.
Hebrews 4:16 “Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
- Pray for your family’s salvation. One of the most important scriptures to “stand on” and believe is Acts 16:31, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household!”
Think about this verse. A family can all be saved through the prayers of the parents. Why? Because of the indescribable love and mercy of God and His desire that all be saved.
1 Timothy 2:4 “Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
As much as we want to have things go perfectly in this life, the most important thing is to have your family and loved ones with the Lord for all of eternity in heaven! Trust in the mercy and love of Jesus that He wants that much more than we do! Become even greater prayer warriors to obtain this eternal objective for your family!
Romans 8: 38-39 “For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
- Pray for an increase of faith to obtain mercy and blessings for your family. When we pray in faith, it is important that we believe that God has heard us and will provide mercy for the family and individual members. Reflect on this critical Scripture,
Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
It is faith that moves mountains! Matthew 17:20, “For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.”
We must believe and we will succeed!
Mark 11:24, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
We see this clearly in 1 John 5: 14,
“And this is the confidence which we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”
Let us pray, “Heavenly Father, increase our faith and that of our loved ones as we stand in the gap for our loved ones, to have the faith of a mustard seed. Thank you for your mercy and giving us a hundred fold increase of faith, in Jesus name. Amen.
- Use praise and thanksgiving to transform your family. In Psalm 22 we discover that God inherits the praises of His people. Why? We see the answer in Isaiah 43:21, “the people whom I informed for myself so that they might declare my praise.” How do we do this? Hebrews 13:15, “Through him then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.”
It is critical that we thank God for His love and mercy and praise Him for what He is doing in our lives! When our attitude changes, God super charges blessings to us. When we praise God for our family, we are saying we trust God and His mercy! We realize that we are all on a journey and that God, through His mercy, will watch over us and our family.
Please pray this prayer, “Heavenly Father, we thank and praise you for my spouse, my children, my parents, and all the people in my life that I love. Thank you for your love and mercy. Teach me to show them your love and mercy in Jesus name amen.”
- Lord, help me to see my family through your eyes. Read this Scripture out loud and insert every family member’s name in the verses.
Ephesians 1: 3-4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.”
Be an encourager! Build up and not tear down. Be merciful to your family. Say these words often and sincerely, “I love you! I believe in you!”
Say this prayer; “Heavenly Father, thank you for your mercy! I praise you for my family. I thank you for giving them every spiritual blessings in the heavens. I thank you for making them blameless. Thank you for giving me the gift of encouragement in Jesus name amen.”
- Pray for your family without ceasing.
Ephesians 6:18 “Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.”
Pray through the power of the Holy Spirit!
Romans 8: 26-27, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
Pray a family rosary. Pray with the Blessed Mother. Pray in the Spirit.
- Pray for other families. Make a list of people and families for whom to pray and intercede. You will never regret it! You will be blessed for praying and showing mercy to families! Show mercy by praying for family and friends in Purgatory.
God is healing your family through His never ending love and mercy!
Suffering and trials are difficult for most of us. We cry out to God to fix things: our family, job, health, marriage, relationships, finances, etc. But we think we know best how our lives should run. We don’t ask for God’s will; rather, we usually ask God to do our will.
- excerpt from Overcoming Adversity through Miracles, Deacon Steve Greco's 2018 book. Click here to visit the Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry online store to purchase a copy.
Deacon Steve wrote "The Holy Spirit and God's Great Mercy," a column which appeared in Catholic Stand on July 26. Click here to view the article.
Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry's newest initiative, JESUS THIRSTS FOR AMERICA, a 21-city U.S. revival, is set to kick off November 19 at Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove. The inaugural event is themed I THIRST ORANGE COUNTY and will lead the national movement that calls people everywhere to a metanoia experience and a renewal in Jesus Christ and the sacraments of the Catholic Church.
“We asked the Holy Spirit, ‘what do you want us to do next?’” said Deacon Steve Greco, president and founder of Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry. “During the St. Joseph Summit, God was revealing how hungry people are for the Holy Spirit of God. We heard God in our hearts encouraging us to bring the fire of the Holy Spirit in person to call people to a metanoia and an invitation to conversion as well as to provide tools on how to express their faith and have a reason to believe.”
The JESUS THIRSTS FOR AMERICA movement is deeply sacramental and will have a powerful call to action inviting attendees to publicly commit, or re-commit, to Jesus Christ. The movement comes alongside the U.S. bishops’ initiative for Eucharistic revival and provides a way for the local church to embrace a custom-made, old-fashioned revival that will provide a means for people to encounter Jesus Christ. Local events will include:
- Gatherings with powerful evangelists and the local Church and the opportunity to experience the power of the Eucharist and Mass.
- Opportunities for repentance and Confession
- Tools to better pass on the faith as an evangelist in these challenging times
I THIRST ORANGE COUNTY is the first city in the JESUS THIRSTS FOR AMERICA revival tour. The day-long experience will include Mass, all-day Confessions, live worship, evangelization through witness, and a call to commit. I THIRST ORANGE COUNTY speakers include Bishop Timothy Freyer, auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Orange; Deacon Steve; Father Robert Spitzer, SJ, president of the Magis Center; Barbara Heil, founder of From His Heart Ministries; Deacon Larry Oney, founder of Hope and Purpose Ministries; and more.
JESUS THIRSTS FOR AMERICA will take place in cities across the United States and plans are underway for other locations in California and Alabama and everywhere in between. As cities are added they will be announced here. Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry is developing a 12-month follow up in order to continue to provide attendees ongoing community, catechesis and tools to frequent the sacraments and become better witnesses of the teaching of the Catholic Church.
To find out more about JESUS THIRSTS FOR AMERICA including to register for I THIRST ORANGE COUNTY, to bring I THIRST to your city, to volunteer or to donate, please click on the “I Thirst” tab at www.spiritfilledevents.com.
Deacon Steve Greco wrote "Transformed by God's Mercy", an article for Catholic Journal which appeared July 14. Click here to see the article.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, God is Love, but “because we are dead or at least wounded through sin, the first effect of the gift of love is the forgiveness of our sins. The communion of the Holy Spirit in the Church restores to the baptized the divine likeness lost through sin.” (733-724)
So, in baptism, we receive the mercy of God through the Holy Spirit and our sins and the punishment due to them are taken away. If we are baptized as an infant, that means the Original Sin we inherit from Adam is taken away, if we are older it means our personal or actual sins are taken away. In place we are given the gift of Sanctifying Grace, which the serious Christian seeks to increase throughout his life so that as he approaches the end of his time on earth he may possess an abundance in the life of grace and go confidently to meet his Lord.
The Catechism goes on to speak about this abundant life:
“He, then, gives us the ‘pledge’ or ‘first fruits’ of our inheritance: the very life of the Holy Trinity, which is to love as ‘God [has] loved us. This love (the ‘charity’ of 1 Cor. 13) is the source of the new life in Christ, made possible because we have received ‘power’ from the Holy Spirit.”
“By this power of the Spirit, God’s children can bear much fruit. He who has grafted us onto the true vine will make us bear ‘the fruit of the Spirit: … love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (735-736)
We “love by the Spirit” and we “walk by the Spirit.”
We see the mercy, love and power of the Holy Spirit working through the lives of the saints, transforming them in the love of Christ. Among the best examples is the life of St. Peter, the head of the apostles and who Catholics believe is the first pope.
Peter was a fisherman who lived in Galilee. He was married, although Scripture never tells us about his wife and he may have been widowed when he joined the company of Christ. Peter, then called Simon, became totally devoted to Our Lord after witnessing the miraculous catch of fish. Christ called him to His side with the words,
“Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17)
Peter had a great love for the Lord, but was impetuous and often embarrassed himself. Such a time occurred when Christ came walking on water to the apostles. Peter volunteered to walk on water, too, but in just a few steps his faith failed and he began to sink. Jesus rescued him, leading the apostles to declare,
Matthew 14:33 “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Peter also witnessed a miraculous scene at the Transfiguration, and rather than remaining in silent contemplation, he had to call out,
Luke 9:33 “Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
Peter initially refused to let Christ wash his feet at the Last Supper, “You shall never wash my feet.” (John 13:8). He pledged to die with Christ, (Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you.” Matthew 26:35) but, when the guard came, after a brief scene of wildly swinging a sword and cutting off the ear of a servant, he soon ran away with the others:
John 18:10 “Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus.”
Mark 14:40 “And they all forsook him, and fled.”
He followed Christ at a distance to the place of His passion, but famously denied Christ three times when the servants identified Him. (Matthew 26:69-74, Mark 14:66-72, Luke 22:55-62 and John 18:15-18)
But despite his lengthy list of failings, he had his beautiful moments in the Gospel, too. In John 6, when Christ speaks explicitly of eating His body and blood in the Eucharist, many walked away because they could not accept this teaching. Jesus looked to the apostles to see if they would leave as well, and Peter marvelously responded for himself and the others (Judas excepted),
John 6:68-69 “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
Also in Matthew 16, when Jesus queries His apostles asking, “Who do men say that the Son of Man is?” it was Peter who was able to make his magnificent response,
Matthew 16:16 “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
It is then that he receives Christ’s blessing and the keys of the papacy in the Church.
Matthew 16:17-19 “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Peter was called, along with St. Paul, to be one of the first great evangelists in the early Church. Christ personally formed him for three years, and now that Christ has died, risen and ascended into heaven, it is time for the Holy Spirit. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit comes upon the apostles in the form of tongues of fire.
Acts 2:3 “And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them.”
And, these men who had previously been weak, fearful and inconstant, were now lions for the faith. Peter preached his first two sermons, and 5,000 joined the Church. Would that we had numbers of even a fraction of that today!
Peter still made mistakes, but it was the abundant life of the Spirit that guided Peter back to true and clear thinking and finally gave him the courage to witness to his faith with his martyrdom.
WE MUST WANT ABUNDANT LIFE
We’re not the apostles, so how do we get this abundant life that motivated Peter and the others to go out and convert the world? We must want it with all our hearts. We must ask for it as Jesus instructs us in Luke’s Gospel.
Luke 11:9-13 “And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
We must want the Holy Spirit. We must ask, seek and knock for the Holy Spirit to enter our lives in a powerful way. We will receive His mercy, His love and His power. When we do, then we are “Baptized in the Holy Spirit.”
Fire, power, purpose, love, joy and peace are the essence of a Christian’s life. When you have that, you can expect and experience miracles.
MIGHTY WORKS OF GOD
The Catechism concludes,
“Because the Holy Spirit is the anointing of Christ, it is Christ who, as the head of the Body, pours out the Spirit among his members to nourish, heal, and organize them in their mutual functions, to give them life, send them to bear witness and associate them to his self-offering to the Father and to his intercession for the whole world … these ‘mighty works of God,’ offered to believers in the sacraments of the Church, bear their fruit in the new life in Christ according to the Spirit.” (739-740)
So, we are to bear fruit in the new life of Christ according to the Spirit. We have the sacraments to help us, particularly the two we can receive frequently, Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist. In Reconciliation we experience the mercy of God, and in the Eucharist He gives us spiritual food for our journey through life.
So, let us be grateful to God for the gift of our baptism and the start of the life of the Spirit within us. If we have lost this gift by serious sin, let us make a good confession and start anew. Let us also be like Peter, letting the Holy Spirit gradually transform us in the love of Christ. And finally, let us make regular use of the sacraments as a way to increase the Holy Spirit’s presence and influence in our lives.
Deacon Steve Greco wrote The Saints and Mercy for Catholic Stand. Click here to view the article.
Deacon Steve Greco: Lord, Help Me Always to Speak the Truth
Excerpt from Deacon Steve Greco's 2014 book 365 Days of Praise for April 19:
Proverbs 12:22 “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD,/but those who are truthful are his delight.”
Have you ever lied? How did you feel in your spirit and soul? I know, you thought you had a good reason. It was to protect the innocent or some other rationalization that sounded good at the time. However, deep down you knew the truth, but you didn’t have the courage to “speak” the truth. Was there a time when you did speak the truth, and you felt the peace of the Lord? You felt His presence and love?
Lord, help me always to speak the truth, no matter the cost. I praise You for being the God of truth, for You are the way, the truth and the life.
When do you feel weak and tell lies or half-truths to those in your life? In your personal life? At work?
365 Days of Praise is available through the ministry bookstore.Click Here to Visit the Ministry Online Bookstore