Fr. Mark Cyza discusses the spiritual life of St. Faustina and the devotion to the Divine Mercy. He will help us to not only incorporate the Divine Mercy into our prayer, but also to every other aspect of our lives.
Sister Faustina was a young, uneducated nun in a convent of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Poland during the 1930s. She came from a poor family that struggled during the years of World War I. She had only three years of simple education, so hers were the humblest tasks in the convent, usually in the kitchen or garden. However, she received extraordinary revelations — or messages — from our Lord Jesus. Jesus asked Sr. Faustina to record these experiences, which she compiled into notebooks. These notebooks are known today as the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, and the words contained within are God’s loving message of Divine Mercy.
Though the Divine Mercy message is not new to the teachings of the Church, Sr. Faustina’s Diary sparked a great movement, and a strong and significant focus on the mercy of Christ. Saint John Paul II canonized Sr. Faustina in 2000 making her the “first saint of the new millennium.” Speaking of Sr. Faustina and the importance of the message contained in her Diary, the Pope call her “the great apostle of Divine Mercy in our time.”
Today, we continue to rely of St. Faustina as a constant reminder of the message to trust in Jesus’ endless mercy, and to live life mercifully toward others. We also turn to her in prayer and request her intercession to our merciful Savior on our behalf. At the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, we include the following in our 3 o’clock prayers:
you told us that your mission would continue after your death and that you would not forget us. Our Lord also granted you a great privilege, telling you to “distribute graces as you will, to who you will, and when you will.” Relying on this, we ask your intercession for the graces we need, especially for the intentions just mentioned. Help us, above all, to trust in Jesus as you did and thus to glorify His mercy every moment of our lives. Amen
I wish solemnly to entrust the world to Divine Mercy. I do so with the burning desire that the message of God’s merciful love, proclaimed here through St. Faustina, may be made known to all the peoples of the earth and fill their hearts with hope.— –Pope John Paul II, Consecration homily at the International Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Laqiewniki, Poland.
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Wednesday, 8 December 2004
“Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” (Lk 1: 28).
We address the Virgin Mary several times a day with these words of the Archangel Gabriel. Let us repeat them with fervent joy today, on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, remembering 8 December 1854 when Blessed Pius IX proclaimed this wonderful Dogma of the Catholic faith in this very same Vatican Basilica.
I cordially greet those who are gathered here today, especially the representatives of the National Mariological Societies who have taken part in the International Mariological Congress, organized by the Pontifical Marian Academy.
I then greet all of you present here, dear brothers and sisters, who have come to pay filial homage to the Immaculate Virgin. I offer a special greeting to Cardinal Camillo Ruini. I renew to him my warmest wishes for the jubilee of his ordination to the priesthood and express to him my deep gratitude for the service that with generous dedication he has and continues to render to the Church as my Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome and President of the Italian Bishops’ Conference.
How great is the mystery of the Immaculate Conception that the Liturgy presents to us today! A mystery that never ceases to invite the contemplation of believers and inspires the reflection of theologians. The theme of the Congress that has just been mentioned: “Mary of Nazareth welcomes the Son of God into history”, has fostered a deep examination of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary as a presupposition for receiving in her virginal womb the Word of God Incarnate, the Saviour of the human race.
“Full of grace”, “κεχαριτωµευη”: in the original Greek of Luke’s Gospel, the Angel greets Mary with this title. It is the name that God, through his messenger, chose to use to describe the Virgin. This is how he had always seen and thought of her, ab aeterno (from all eternity).
In the hymn of the Letter to the Ephesians just now proclaimed, the Apostle praises God the Father “who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (1: 3). What a special blessing God addressed to Mary from the beginning of time! Mary was truly blessed among women (cf. Lk 1: 42)!
The Father chose her in Christ before the creation of the world, so that she might be holy and immaculate before him in love, preordaining her as the first fruits of filial adoption through the work of Jesus Christ (cf. Eph 1: 4-5).
The predestination of Mary, like that of each one of us, is linked to the predestination of the Son. Christ is that “seed” that was “to bruise the head” of the ancient serpent, according to the Book of Genesis (cf. Gn 3: 15); he is the Lamb “without blemish” (cf. Ex 12: 5; I Pt 1: 19), immolated to redeem humanity from sin.
With a view to the saving death of the Son, Mary, his Mother, was preserved free from original sin and from every other sin. The victory of the new Adam also includes that of the new Eve, Mother of the redeemed. The Immaculate Virgin is thus a sign of hope for all the living who have triumphed over Satan by the blood of the Lamb (cf. Rv 12: 11).
Today let us contemplate the humble young girl of Nazareth, holy and blameless before God in love (cf. Eph 1: 4), in that “love” whose original source is God himself, one and triune.
How sublime an act of the Most Holy Trinity is the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of the Redeemer! Pius IX, in the Bull Ineffabilis Deus, recalls that the Almighty “by one and the same decree had established the origin of Mary and the Incarnation of divine Wisdom” (Pii IX Pontificis Maximi Acta, Pars prima, p. 559).
The Virgin’s “yes” to the announcement of the Angel fits into the reality of our earthly condition, with humble respect for the divine will to save humanity not from history but in history. Indeed, ever preserved free from all taint of original sin, the “new Eve” benefited uniquely from the work of Christ as the most perfect Mediator and Redeemer. The first to be redeemed by her Son, she shares to the full in his holiness; she is already what the entire Church desires and hopes to be. She is the eschatological icon of the Church.
Consequently the Immaculate Virgin, who marks “the very beginning of the Church, Bride of Christ, without spot or wrinkle, shining with beauty” (Preface), always precedes the People of God in the pilgrimage of faith, bound for the Kingdom of Heaven (cf.Lumen Gentium, n. 58; Redemptoris Mater, n. 2).
In Mary’s Immaculate Conception the Church sees projected and anticipated in her most noble member, the saving grace of Easter.
In the event of the Incarnation the Church encounters Christ and Mary indissolubly united: “he who is the Church’s Lord and Head and she who, uttering the first fiat of the New Covenant, prefigures the Church’s condition as spouse and mother” (Redemptoris Mater, n. 1).
To you, Virgin Immaculate, predestined by God above every other creature to be the advocate of grace and model of holiness for his people, today in a special way I renew the entrustment of the whole Church.
May you guide your children on their pilgrimage of faith, making them ever more obedient and faithful to the Word of God.
May you accompany every Christian on the path of conversion and holiness, in the fight against sin and in the search for true beauty that is always an impression and a reflection of divine Beauty.
May you obtain peace and salvation for all the peoples. May the eternal Father, who desired you to be the immaculate Mother of the Redeemer, also renew in our time through you, the miracles of his merciful love. Amen!
Fr. Mark Cyza discusses the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. He speaks of the radical intimacy of St. Francis and Jesus Christ and how it was born from the saint’s continuing conversion and how it was fueled by his relationship with Christ in prayer. How can his prayer be a beacon for our own: the center of our spiritual life must be focused on Christ….if it gazes on anything else we fall off track.
Biographies of him were written soon after his death, by people who knew him and by people who interviewed those who knew him. We have many near contemporary sources, aside from Francis’ own writings, through which we can come to know Francis.
The Little Flowers of St. Francis is the only one of these source documents commonly available on the web for reading free. There are several sources, which we give here for you to read this work, or listen to it, if you download the MP3s from CCEL.
Fr. Mark Cyza discusses the Angels. Guardian Angels and their purpose, as well as, how to pray with our Guardian Angel is part of the teaching he touches upon. He also touches upon the difference between the Holy Angels and the Fallen Angels, what is the proper understanding we should have concerning them.
328 The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls “angels” is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition.
Who are they?
329 St. Augustine says: “‘Angel’ is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is ‘spirit’; if you seek the name of their office, it is ‘angel’: from what they are, ‘spirit’, from what they do, ‘angel.'”188 With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they “always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven” they are the “mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word”.189
330 As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendor of their glory bears witness.190
Christ “with all his angels”
331 Christ is the center of the angelic world. They are his angels: “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him. . “191 They belong to him because they were created through and for him: “for in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.”192 They belong to him still more because he has made them messengers of his saving plan: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?”193
332 Angels have been present since creation and throughout the history of salvation, announcing this salvation from afar or near and serving the accomplishment of the divine plan: they closed the earthly paradise; protected Lot; saved Hagar and her child; stayed Abraham’s hand; communicated the law by their ministry; led the People of God; announced births and callings; and assisted the prophets, just to cite a few examples.194 Finally, the angel Gabriel announced the birth of the Precursor and that of Jesus himself.195
I am also thinking of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that we recently published, in which the Word of God is applied to our lives and the reality of our lives interpreted; it helps us enter into the great “temple” of God’s Word, to learn to love it and, like Mary, to be penetrated by this Word.
Thus, life becomes luminous and we have the basic criterion with which to judge; at the same time, we receive goodness and strength.
Mary is taken up body and soul into the glory of Heaven, and with God and in God she is Queen of Heaven and earth. And is she really so remote from us?
The contrary is true. Precisely because she is with God and in God, she is very close to each one of us.
While she lived on this earth she could only be close to a few people. Being in God, who is close to us, actually, “within” all of us, Mary shares in this closeness of God. Being in God and with God, she is close to each one of us, knows our hearts, can hear our prayers, can help us with her motherly kindness and has been given to us, as the Lord said, precisely as a “mother” to whom we can turn at every moment.
She always listens to us, she is always close to us, and being Mother of the Son, participates in the power of the Son and in his goodness. We can always entrust the whole of our lives to this Mother, who is not far from any one of us.
On this feast day, let us thank the Lord for the gift of the Mother, and let us pray to Mary to help us find the right path every day. Amen.
Fr. Mark Cyza discusses the witness of St. Therese, especially in the light of the suffering she endured during the later years of her short 24 year old life. He talks about not only her physical challenge, but also that suffering her “dark night” and how it can actually be transformed into an experience of joy when united to the Cross of Christ with the aid of Our Lady.
What attracts me towards our Heavenly Home is the Master’s call—the hope of loving Him at last to the fulfilling of all my desire—the thought that I shall be able to win Him the love of a multitude of souls, who will bless Him through all eternity.
I have never asked God that I might die young—that to me were a cowardly prayer; but from my childhood He has deigned to inspire me with a strong conviction that my life would be a short one.
I feel we must tread the same road to Heaven—the road of suffering and love. When I myself have reached the port, I will teach you how best to sail the world’s tempestuous sea—with the self-abandonment of a child well aware of a father’s love, and of his vigilance in the hour of danger.
I long so much to make you understand the expectant love of the Heart of Jesus. Your last letter has made my own heart thrill sweetly. I learnt how closely your soul is sister to mine, since God calls that soul to mount to Himself by the lift of love, without climbing the steep stairway of fear. I am not surprised you find it hard to be familiar with Jesus—one cannot become so in a day; but this I do know, I shall aid you much more to tread this beautiful path when I lay aside the burden of this perishable body. Ere long you will exclaim with St. Augustine: “Love is my lodestone!”
Fr. Mark Cyza discusses the witness of St. Francis and how he was transformed through his encounter with Christ.
Fr. Cyza reflects on the passage from the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis, when Brother Leo, the faithful companion of St. Francis, heard him cry : “Love is not loved, Love is not loved”. Leo asked: “Why are you crying, Brother Francis?” Francis did not reply, he simply continued to say, “Love is not loved, Love is not loved…”
Leo said to him: “But Francis, do you not think that you have done enough for Jesus by leaving you father and mother, your friends and a future of glory? And Francis answered: “No, it is not enough”.
“But Francis, – Leo continued to say -, does it not seem to you to be enough to have removed your clothes before everybody, to beg alms along the streets of the town, to embrace a leper… so that you are looked upon as a fool by your own?” “No, it is not enough”, responded Francis again.
For the third time Leo insisted: “Francis, does it not seem to be enough to suffer as you are suffering because of the stigmata, the rebellion of the Ministers, the illness of your eyes?” And once again Francis, this time in a loud voice, shouted: “No, it is not enough, it is not enough, it is not enough”. And he concluded saying: “Write it and remember it in you heart, Brother Leo, God is the never-enough”.
Fr. Mark Cyza discusses praying with Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. He speaks of the history of the devotion., as well as, the importance of spending time in contemplation of the saving mysteries of our salvation. Fr. Cyza explains why should welcome the opportunity to pray with Blessed Virgin Mary and how she walks with us in her great garden of prayer.