Cardinal Dziwisz Visits National Shrine of Divine Mercy

Longtime friend of St. John Paul II recalled the saint's devotion to Divine Mercy in a homily May 21 at Massachusetts shrine.

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, longtime secretary to St. John Paul II, visits the National Shrine of Divine Mercy on Eden Hill in Stockbridge, Mass., May 21.
Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, longtime secretary to St. John Paul II, visits the National Shrine of Divine Mercy on Eden Hill in Stockbridge, Mass., May 21. (photo: Felix Carroll)

STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow and longtime friend of St. John Paul II, visited the National Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass., May 21.

There, the cardinal celebrated Mass with the Marians, who promote the Divine Mercy message so loved by John Paul II.

“Among many titles that St. John Paul II received, one is especially very close to us,” Cardinal Dziwisz said in his homily. “It is the title of the 'Pope of Divine Mercy.'”

As the cardinal pointed out, “On the one hand, God selected a simple and humble nun, St.  Faustina, to remind the world that he — our Creator and Our Lord — is a merciful God. God looks upon the fate of each human being. He wants to lead us through the dark valley of sins, evil and death and bring us to his eternal kingdom of life and love. On the other hand, Divine Providence selected the Pope from Krakow to spread the message of God's mercy throughout the Church.”

As John Paul II’s secretary during the Holy Father’s 27-year pontificate, and before that for 12 years in Krakow when the saint was serving there as Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, Cardinal Dziwisz recounted how John Paul II “actively promoted the message of St. Faustina” during his papacy.

Cardinal Dziwisz enumerated some of the major mercy-related milestones of the pope: writing the encyclical Dives in Misericordia (Rich in Mercy); beatifing Sister Faustina and then canonizing her as the first saint of the new millennium; and further spreading the message of God's mercy by proclaiming that the Sunday after Easter would be celebrated throughout the entire Church as Divine Mercy Sunday.

The cardinal especially noted how, on Aug. 17, 2002, John Paul consecrated the Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Krakow and entrusted the entire world to Divine Mercy. He quoted the Holy Father, who “prayed passionately: ‘God, merciful Father ... grant to all the people on earth, that they may experience your mercy. In you, the Triune God, may they ever find the source of hope.’ The Holy Father also asked [God] to hand over to the world the fire of mercy.”

The cardinal singled out the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Stockbridge for its work in “this great apostolic and spiritual current, which addresses the situation and issues of the modern world.”

“The special mission of this shrine,” he said, “is to pass on the fire of mercy throughout this great land.”

“In this shrine resonate St. Peter's words about God, who ‘in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’” (1 Peter 1:3-4).

Cardinal Dziwisz expressed how he was “very thankful to the Marian Fathers for their great commitment in promoting and inspiring people towards the truth about God, who is rich in mercy.”

Affirming how the Bible testifies about this truth, he turned to the day’s Gospel, with Jesus’ words during the Last Supper.

“It reminds us that the most precious gift from our crucified and resurrected Lord is his friendship,” noted Cardinal Dziwisz. “He himself names us as his friends: ‘I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you’" (John 15:15).

“Thus, becoming our friend, Jesus asks us only for one thing: ‘You are my friends if you do what I command’ (John 15:14). And he commands us to love each other: ‘My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you’" (John 15:12).

Our positive response and answer to God’s love for us, the cardinal said, “is the secret and the essence of the Christian life.”

“St. John Paul II knew exactly the secret of Christian life,” Cardinal Dziwisz affirmed. As one who worked closely with the saint for 39 years, he confirmed that “Jesus Christ was the love of his entire life.”

The question the resurrected Lord asked Peter at the shore of the Lake of Gennesaret ("Do you love me more than these?" from John 21:15) was alive in the Holy Father’s heart, the cardinal said.

“St. John Paul II knew that, as the Shepherd, he must love his brothers and his sisters more and more — this was the way of serving Christ in his Church,” the cardinal said, making clear that the “mystique of John Paul II was the mystique of service. His prayer was leading him to action, and his tireless apostolic work was bringing him closer to his Master from Nazareth. It continued to the very end. We were witnesses of this every day.”

In essence, John Paul II’s canonization on April 27 — Divine Mercy Sunday and the 75th birthday of Cardinal Dziwisz — affirmed the “clear signs of holiness in the Divine Mercy Pope.”

“He brought closer the ideal of holiness,” the cardinal said, “which, in fact, is not only for the chosen few, but for all disciples of Jesus Christ, regardless of who we are.”

Because John Paul II’s canonization brought forth gifts to enrich everyone, we should bear fruit in our lives, too, “through our service, our love to God and our neighbor,” he reminded those gathered at Mass.

Cardinal Dziwisz concluded by asking for the “gift of peace for our troubled world,” especially in Ukraine.

“We ask for God’s peace in our hearts,” he said. “Peace is a gift from our resurrected Lord. Let us open our hearts, our families and our communities to him, so we can be credible apostles of God's peace and God's mercy. Amen.”

                                                                   Joseph Pronechen is a Register staff writer.