WITH JOHN PAUL II FOR A MEETING WITH MERCIFUL JESUS
This year’s preparations for the Feast of the Resurrection were filled with waiting for canonization of blessed John Paul II, embedded in the heart of the liturgical life of the Church – during the joy of Passover. We conducted an interview with bishop Jan Zając, a custodian of the sanctuary of Divine Mercifulness in Kraków-Łagiewniki
AGNIESSZKA KONIK-KORN: – Didn’t the preparations for canonization of the Pope overshadow our time of Easter and the Feast of Divine Mercifulness?
BISHOP JAN ZAJĄC: – The culmination of the Lent is Passover, Easter. Let’s remember that this celebration lasts seven days, and its completion is just the Feast of Divine Mercifulness. However, this feast is not a crowning nor a purpose of experiencing the Lent, but it results from the Mystery of Resurrection, It is its completion and a kind of opening, beginning of a road to holiness. The Holy Father was leading us, especially his compatriots to this Mystery for his whole life. Therefore, what is the most essential in the canonization of the Holy Father just on the Day of Divine Mercifulness is our personal decision to walk the road with which he achieved Heaven.
– The Holy Father even after his death shows people the significance of the Day of Mercifulness…
– John Paul II gave the Day of Divine Mercifulness to the whole world in the year 2000 during the canonization of St. Sister Faustyna. The special event of proclaiming blessed John Paul II a saint is going to be in the light of Divine Mercifulness, because holiness of the Holy Father is his fruit. However, our whole preparation for experiencing canonization is connected with experiencing the Easter. And we must not forget about it. We have been getting prepared for canonization for many years, especially here, in Łagiewniki. It started with the moment of passing away of the Holy Father to Father’s Home on the eve of the Day of Mercifulness. So, we emphasize the preparation for canonization of this Apostles of Mercifulness and we want His fruit to be our trustfulness to Jesus, so that we would become witnesses and apostles of Divine Mercifulness.
– For nine years we have been waiting for the fulfillment of the call: ‘Subito santo!’ It has taken so much time to get prepared for the canonization. What forms did it have?
– For this whole time in Łagiewniki and parishes of the archdiocese of Kraków we have met with the Holy Father during a prayer, experiencing the so-called Evenings of John Paul II on the first Saturdays in the month. At that time we were receiving heritage which he had left for us. These evenings were not only the time of prayer and reflection but thanks to these meetings their participants were getting more enthusiastic about becoming apostles of Mercifulness. We were symbolically carrying the Fire of Mercifulness to houses after each meetings. It was the fire lighted by John Paul II from an eternal lamp in Vatican in 2003 and brought to Łagiewniki. Today it is burning in the chapel of Perpetual Adoration in Łagiewniki. This fire was spreading in parishes and families, among convent and secular communities. Preparation for canonization also took place during the peregrination of the image of Lord Jesus the Merciful and relics of St. Sister Faustyna and blessed John Paul II. At that time there was a kind of spiritual ‘thorough plowing’ of the archdiocese. The message of Mercifulness reached to the hearts of all participants of these events in this way, during which the man could say to Christ: ‘Jesus I trust you!’ He could also respond to the call to become more merciful towards others.
– It has nearly been a year since the end of the peregrination of the image of Lord Jesus the Merciful and relics of St. Sister Faustyna and blessed John Paul II in the archdiocese of Kraków. Can Bishop speak about any particular fruits of this event?
– In the first year of the peregrination the number of vocations increased, as well as the cult to Divine Mercifulness, many new works of mercifulness were created. People also opened up charity help. Since the time of peregrination in most parishes the minimum once a month the divine service to Divine Mercifulness is celebrated. However, one cannot limit oneself only to outer signs. I think that the basic fruits of the peregrination are hidden in the human heart, and are revealed mainly in the human attitude. Holiness which we gain is the best fruit of the peregrination, the fruit of a meeting with Divine Mercifulness. But it happens between the man and God, and nobody has access to it.
– Łagiewniki took a very important place in the heart of the Holy Father…
– The Holy Father, still as a student used to arrive in Łagiewniki and pray to Divine Mercifulness here, although at that time the cult of the Image which we worship at present, was still forbidden. However, the Providence contributed to the abolition of this prohibition by the Holy Father Paul VI. Thanks to the actions taken by John Paul II, the fire of Mercifulness spread all over the world. Beatification and canonization of St. Faustyna and entrustment of the world to Divine Mercifulness in the basilica in Łagiewniki which was done by John Paul II, became milestones in the process of bringing Mercifulness to the world.
– How does Bishop perceive Łagiewniki as a custodian of the sanctuary of Divine Mercifulness?
– First of all, it is a place in which there is a meeting of the man with God in the Sacrament of Penance and Eucharist. Every day from the morning to night there is a possibility to come to confession, every day Holy Mass is celebrated. The ministry of priests in the sanctuary – in a confessional and at the altar – is for the need of people from all over the world. Every day about 1.5 million pilgrims arrive here.
Near the sanctuary a counseling office of Mercifulness has been functioning for many years, there are more new works created which are the result of a prayer opening human hearts to the needs of another man. However, nothing is happening without the presence of the Holy Spirit, without His inspiration. In proclaiming the Gospel and message of Mercifulness, God involves people using what is contemporary in order to reach to others more effectively. The most common means, like the Chaplet of Divine Mercifulness, lead to the core of the divine service, that is, the meeting with God who forgives, raises the human dignity and enriches the man so that he could share his gifts with others. However it is necessary to defend oneself so as not to treat these means in a magical way. An image or a rosary are neutral themselves. It is God who gives power, that through these simple tools we can meet with Him. In order to experience this meeting, we do not have to look for the very experiences and emotions, but we should go further into the deep. Our conversion cannot end only with experiences and emotions. The greatest miracles happen in human hearts and are much greater than all outer things. We must only entrust ourselves to Lord Jesus.
– However trustfulness in God is not easy at all. It requires a childlike attitude which we cannot always afford….
– Trustfulness is difficult but we must be aware that it is not gained only through our effort. It is also God’s gift which somehow depends on the man – it will be as much effective and fruitful as the man will be able to open up to it. We can trust only when we stand in the truth towards God and ourselves, with our whole weakness, infirmity, sin. If we confess it to Lord, we will enter the fire of His forgiveness. We will also enter His love. And then we will just start to love Him in another man. Merciful Jesus forgives and waits until His desires will be fulfilled in the life of people. It is faith, hope and love in every day ministry. The example of this road to holiness is blessed John Paul II, who first used to kneel before God, so as to kneel before the man later and serve him. Also now the canonization of blessed John Paul II brings an important message that we all are called to walk the road of blessed John Paul II in order to achieve the Heaven. This task was emphasized by the Holy Father with the words: ‘Do not be afraid of being saints!’. We are to bring the fire of Mercifulness to people. Prayer, deeds of mercifulness – all this is a road to holiness. Entering the full of Divine Mercifulness, the man receives not only forgiveness but also a task of being merciful. The Fire of Mercifulness purifies, tempers us and makes the human heart eager to share everything with others. And this active mercifulness is revealed in particular works.
– So, how can we get prepared better for experiencing the Passover and the Day of Mercifulness resulting from it? Can the canonization of the Pope help us, not overshadowing the most important matters?
– Following the voice of heart, we can get to the most essential experience of the canonization of blessed John Paul II, with whom we are so emotionally related. It will happen provided that we accept the teaching of our pope about the divine service to Divine Mercifulness, and especially about experiencing the Day of Mercifulness. On this day, according to the promises given to St. Faustyna by Lord Jesus, ‘the inside of My mercifulness, I pour out the whole sea of grace onto souls, who will come to the source of My mercifulness. The soul who comes to confession and the Holy Communion, will receive a complete forgiveness of sins and punishments .On this day all God’s indulgences are open through which graces are flowing’ (‘A diary’ no 699). Jesus insists on not wasting this chance. However, he demands obedience based on trustfulness. It is necessary to fulfill the conditions: full trustfulness in God, the state of sanctifying grace after a good confession, inviting Jesus to one’s heart through the gift of the Holy Spirit. The fruit of this attitude is complete rejection of sins and also fulfilling deeds of Mercifulness towards every man. The Blessed Pope teaches directly: ‘…..penetrating into God’s love. Looking at Him, uniting with His father’s Heart, we are getting more able to look at our brothers with new eyes, in the attitude of selflessness and solidarity. Mercifulness is just this all!’.
John Paul II chose just this way to holiness. Now he gets the glory of Heaven to which He entered in the light of Divine Mercifulness. The confirmation of this fact is also canonization of John Paul II on the Day of Mercifulness. In order to have a full joy about the canonization, we should celebrate this day also in the light of Divine Mercifulness, following the teaching of Pope of Mercifulness, fulfilling all necessary conditions in order to be engulfed by ‘the whole sea of graces of Merciful Love’, because the Holy Father taught us in this way. Only in ‘Divine Mercifulness will the world find peace and the man will find happiness’.
– So, canonization of the Holy Father is to freshen our view at what has been lasting in the Church for centuries?...
– Canonization of the Pope throws a new light at gifts and richness which the Church shows us through the ministry of John Paul II. The papal call for imagination of mercifulness shows that it is about not only giving alms but also identifying oneself with people whom we help, like St. Brother Albert. He shared his life with people for whom he devoted himself till the end. It is necessary to get mature for this kind of life. In order to make this happen, we must be very close to the Fire, close to Jesus. Christ accepts our call ‘Jesus, I trust you!’, as well as he wants to trust us that we will be faithful to commitments and we will fulfill the tasks which he entrusted to us. Therefore canonization of John Paul II is going to be an event properly experienced, if we go with John Paul II to meet with Merciful Jesus.