How St. Faustina and Her Friends Taught Me About Divine Mercy

What a loving and merciful gift we have in divine mercy and the sacrament of reconciliation.

Dana and Damien Scallon (r) with the CD cover of their Chaplet of Divine Mercy recording
Dana and Damien Scallon (r) with the CD cover of their Chaplet of Divine Mercy recording (photo: Courtesy Photo)

I was an exhibitor at a Catholic trade show in the mid-1990s. It was lunchtime, and most people had already gone to eat when I looked up and, to my amazement, I saw Sister Faustina Kowalska gilding toward my table — at least I thought it must be her, as I’d never seen anyone else wear that distinctive habit, apart from Sister Faustina herself, in a photograph I’d seen.

Obviously, I was mistaken. The unsuspecting sister spoke to me in a very definite Polish accent. She was an abbess, I assumed in the convent in Poland where Sister Faustina had received her beautiful image of Divine Mercy.

My amazement at seeing her was surpassed by my amazement at what she said next. She said that, in prayer, the Lord had told her that I was to put the Divine Mercy to music. I explained that I had had a similar thought, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do it until I understood Divine Mercy. She then asked if I’d read Sister Faustina’s diary; and when I replied that I hadn’t, she nodded and said she’d come back after lunch.

When she returned, she handed me Divine Mercy In My Soul, the diary of Sister Faustina. I thanked her, as I looked with trepidation at the size of the book. I had been an avid reader before the births of our four beautiful children, at that time age 5 to early teens. I then found that, by evening time, my energy level was so low, my books usually remained unopened on my bedside table. I just knew I’d never be able to read this enormous book. It was a tome.

When Damien and I returned to our home in Birmingham, Alabama, I felt I should at least read the Introduction. I found that the co-incidences, or “God-incidences,” were so many, that I was truly taken aback. I also had a clear understanding of how God had already shown us his mercy in a powerful way regarding a very difficult situation in our lives at that time.

I immediately knew that I had to read this book, and I knew that my husband had to read it with me. Over the coming weeks, each night, we took turns reading from the diary. As we read, it seemed that God was speaking directly to us, teaching us. We also grew closer and closer to Sister Faustina, so much so that, as I closed the book on the final page, I wept, for I felt I was saying goodbye to a dear and much-loved friend.

I didn’t receive any inspiration as to how I should put the Divine Mercy message to music, but our hearts were deeply touched and our lives were changed through reading the diary. We also began to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy daily.

A year or so later, Mother Angelica and I were taking part in the same conference, and she shared a delightful story of how God taught her about his divine mercy, in particular regarding the forgiveness of our sins (included in this biography).

She recalled that she was walking along a beach with her sisters, and she began commanding the gentle waves to come to her. She then commanded them to return to the ocean. Suddenly, out of nowhere, an enormous wave soaked her from her head to her feet. The wave retreated as fast as it had come, leaving her with a shining drop of seawater on the back of her hand.

She then said that she heard God ask her this question, “If she were to throw the drop of water back into the ocean, could she find it again?” When she replied that she couldn’t, God explained that when she confessed her sins, they were like that drop, thrown into the Ocean of His Mercy, never to be found again, so why was she still searching for them?

I was fascinated and deeply moved by this story. It explained how God’s mercy is like a mighty ocean; and when we make a good confession, our sins are forgiven and forgotten, like a drop thrown into the mighty Ocean of His Mercy. What a loving and merciful gift we have in the sacrament of reconciliation.

On the flight home to Birmingham that night, Mother’s words fell on to music in my head. I was recording a music and interview series for EWTN at that time, and the next program I was to record was on Mother's birthday. So, as a birthday gift, I sang Ocean of Mercy, the song inspired by her story. Thankfully, she really liked it.

It was almost 14 years after reading Sister Faustina’s diary that I was finally able to put Divine Mercy to music. It was the Monday after Easter Sunday. I woke up, and I just knew exactly how it should be done. I also knew that my husband should be the one to lead the chaplet and the meditations. When I told him this, he flatly refused. He’d had a stammer as a young boy, and it still recurred when he felt under pressure. He felt he couldn’t go into a recording studio or lead the Divine Mercy Chaplet in public.

However, God had his own plans.

At the end of that week, on Divine Mercy Sunday, I was to sing in a church in upper New York state. I assumed that the chaplet would be prayed that day, but the priest explained that he didn’t know it and asked if I could do so. That was the first time I shared the sung prayers I’d received just a week earlier — and, yes, Damien led us in the chaplet. Not long after that, we recorded the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and I defy anyone to detect any hesitation in Damien’s speech.

There were many other “God incidents” as we learned to understand more deeply God’s mercy. We decided to reread our precious copy of St. Faustina’s diary, given to me almost 30 years ago, and we look forward to hearing her speak to us again of the fathomless love and mercy God has for each one of us.

As St. Faustina says: “All Grace flows from Mercy and the last hour abounds with mercy for us. Let no one doubt concerning the goodness of God; even if a person’s sins were as dark as night, God’s mercy is stronger than our misery” (Diary, 1507).

My Jesus, I trust in you!

The Divine Mercy image is displayed April 19, 2019, in Daley Plaza in Chicago.

Divine Mercy Sunday 2023 (April 15)

This weekend the Universal Church celebrates Divine Mercy Sunday. Pope John Paul II dedicated the Second Sunday of Easter to ‘The Feast of Mercy’ in 2000 at the canonization of the Polish religious sister St. Faustina Kowalska and since then devotion has grown tremendously. Today on Register Radio, Register writers Matt McDonald and Lauretta Brown talk about the growth of the Divine Mercy devotion as well as some ways to partake in this feast day’s greatest offerings.