Stay Open to Divine Mercy
Praying for Grace
God will never give you the grace to do the things you want to do, only the grace to do the things He wants you to do. When in her convent in Cracow, Poland, St. Faustina prayed to the Lord for the grace of a spiritual director. She expected an immediate response, but it wasn’t until years later, after she went to Vilnius that the Lord felt she was ready for that grace.
“I prayed ardently that the Lord would give me that great grace – a holy spiritual director. But my prayer was answered only after my perpetual vows when I went to Vilnius. The priest was Blessed Father Michael Sopocko. God had only allowed me to see him in an interior vision before I came to Vilnius”. (St. Faustina’s Diary – Par.34)
Meeting Fr. Sopocko
Blessed Fr. Sopocko was the confessor to a number of nuns and monks in Vilnius for several years before he met St. Faustina for the first time in 1933. As St. Faustina recorded in her Diary, God had chosen him as her spiritual director and gave her a vision of him long before she came to Vilnius. Having met him, St. Faustina immediately knew that God had made the perfect choice for her.
Visions of Fr. Sopocko
Before arriving in Vilnius, she had seen her future spiritual director in two separate visions. The first took place in Warsaw, during her third probation and the second in Cracow much later. (St. Faustina’s Diary, Parg. 53 & Parg. 61) At a later date in her Diary, she recorded that Blessed Fr. Sopocko showed her the road to perfection and was the one who carried out the requests made of her by Jesus.
Creating the Diary
It was at Blessed Fr Michael’s request, as her spiritual director, that the Diary was created. As he did not have time in the confessional to listen to all her experiences and revelations, he asked her to write them down in notebooks so he could read them in the evenings when he had time. So she recorded all of her experiences in notebooks for him to discern. These were eventually put together after her death into one book and it became known as her Diary.
Encouraging St. Faustina to write the Diary
He consistently encouraged her to write down her own thoughts but more importantly the words spoken to her by Jesus. As a result of this, St. Faustina treated Blessed Fr. Sopocko as the co-author of her Diary. With guidance from Jesus, she knew that he was the one chosen to tell her what to do and that he would carry out the mission entrusted to her by Jesus.
As St. Faustina’s spiritual director, Blessed Fr. Sopocko requested that she carefully underline in her diary everything that came from God and in particular, everything that related to the institution of the Feast of Mercy and the establishment of a new religious community.
Inspired by Divine Mercy
Meeting this unusual religious sister, a woman who was claiming mystical meetings with Jesus and who said she was in a continuous dialogue with Him, required more than simple discernment and wisdom on Blessed Fr. Sopocko’s part. It had to be because he himself had a deep personal relationship with God which bestowed on him an immensely developed understanding of Divine Mercy. It seems evident that Fr Sopocko’s spirit must also have met and experienced Divine Mercy.
Fr. Sopocko’s life guided by Divine Mercy
There were words recorded in his personal writings, that seemed to come directly from God to him, but at no time does he claim or refer to any mystical relationship with God, in any of his writing or journal entries. But he was the first to believe in St. Faustina and to understand the revelations. He truly understood that the salvation of the world was dependent on God’s Divine Mercy.
Some insights into Blessed Fr. Michael Sopocko come from his personal writings. He wrote “Looking back to the time of my childhood I can see evidence of immeasurable times when Divine Mercy played a part… And what I am mostly in debt to Divine Mercy for, is its influence in my priestly vocation, which I sensed quite early in my life. And despite many difficulties and many trials that tested this vocation, any of them would have led me to fail, if it had not been for Divine Mercy intervening again and again from above … So, I would be the most callous person if I thought my life belonged to me and that all my thoughts and inspirations came from myself. Trusting in the Divine Mercy that is still to come, spreading its devotion among others to the sacrifice of my own thoughts and deeds, understanding all of this and without looking for myself in any of it, became the general rule of my life, while at all times putting myself in His hands, and relying on His immeasurable Mercy”.
Leave ourselves open to Divine Mercy
If only we, like Blessed Fr. Sopocko, could leave ourselves open to Divine Mercy, to intervene and influence our lives, but our human nature seems constantly to ignore it and we too often act on our own very limited earthly intellect to guide our lives.
We pray to Divine Mercy, asking for graces to do what we want to do but we will never get graces from God for what we want to do, we will only get them from Him for what He wants us to do. We can see this in the words of Jesus to St. Faustina about Fr. Sopocko. Jesus told her, “His thoughts are closely united to mine so be at peace about what concerns my work. I will not let him make a mistake, and you should do nothing without his permission“. (Diary, 1408) “He will help you carry out My Will on earth“. (Diary, 53)
All the above words are words that Jesus spoke to Saint Faustina about her confessor and spiritual director Blessed Fr. Michael Sopocko and needless to say, they are words of blessing and special choice. But at the same time Saint Faustina must have been surprised to hear this from Jesus as she thought she had been chosen and would receive the graces to carry out His work on earth. But alas that was not God’s plan for her.
The world of Blessed Fr. Michael Sopocko was marked at all times by continuous signs of God’s intervention in his life and although Saint Faustina did not know it, he was also chosen to be part of this work to bring the message of Divine Mercy to the world. Led by Providence, he was chosen to be the confidant of Saint Faustina’s soul and from that he himself became the main motivator of the work and the mission entrusted to Saint Faustina.
As an ardent apostle of devotion to God’s Divine Mercy, Blessed Sopocko was chosen to be the one to bring it to the attention of the world. The mystery of Divine Mercy imbued his whole life and gave shape to his soul. And like Saint Faustina we should not be disappointed if we don’t get the graces to do something that we expected God to give us to do. God’s plan is not our plan, but it is always the best plan.