Monday, 11 January 2016

Blessed Father Michael Sopocko - spiritual director of sister Faustina

"This is the visible help for you on earth.
He will help you to carry out My will on earth" (Diary, 53).
"His thought is closely united with 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).

In Saint Sister Faustina's mission, Divine Providence entrusted a special role to her confessor and spiritual advisor - Father Michael Sopoćko. He was of crucial assistance to Sister Faustina during her stay in Vilnius (back then Vilnius belonged to Poland) during the period of 1933-1936, helping her to understand her inner experiences and visions. At his request she wrote the DIARY, which is a document of Catholic mysticism of extraordinary value. The DIARY also presents the sanctity of Michael Sopoćko’s priestly life and his contribution to fulfilling the desires of the Lord Jesus.

Blessed Father Michael Sopoćko
"He is a priest after My own Heart;
his efforts are pleasing to Me
(...) Through him it pleases Me to proclaim
the worship of My mercy" (Diary, 1256).
"As a result of his efforts, a new light will shine in the Church
of God for the consolation of souls" (Diary, 1390).

Painting the image of the Merciful Jesus and its exposition for public worship, spreading the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy, initiating the efforts to establish the feast of the Divine Mercy, and establishing a new religious Congregation - all of this was accomplished in Vilnius thanks to the efforts of Father Michael Sopoćko. Since then, the joint efforts paid for through prayer and sufferings have been emanating throughout the whole world.
"Seeing Father Sopoćko’s sacrifice and effort in his work, I admired his patience and humility. This all cost a great deal, not only in terms of toil and various troubles, but also of money; and Father Sopoćko was taking care of all the expenses. I can see that Divine Providence had prepared him to carry out this work of mercy before I had asked God for this. Oh, how mysterious are Your ways, O God! And how happy are the souls that follow the call of divine grace!" (Diary, 422).
“That beautiful soul who is spreading this work of Divine Mercy throughout the world is, by his deep humility, very pleasing to God” (Diary, 1083).
Father Michael Sopoćko was born in Nowosady in the Vilnius region. During the years 1910-1914, he studied theology at the university in Vilnius and then in Warsaw, where he also completed studies in the Institute of Pedagogy. After obtaining his doctorate in moral theology in 1926, he became a spiritual father in the seminary in Vilnius. He obtained his habilitation in 1934. He worked as a lecturer of pastoral theology in the Department of Theology of the Stefan Batory University in Vilnius and the Seminary in ‎Białystok (1928-1962). During the years 1918-1932 he served as a chaplain for the Polish Army in Warsaw and in Vilnius. (see Biography)
In his published research works, Father Sopoćko laid down the theological basis for the new forms of the Divine Mercy devotion (see Fragments) which he fervently promoted through his engagement in evangelization and social activities. He wrote formation letters, and then drafted constitutions for the first congregation of sisters, which became the root of the established Congregation of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus, according to the thoughts and suggestions of Sister Faustina. He wrote and published the prayers to the Divine Mercy based on Sister Faustina's texts.
"O my Jesus, You see how very grateful I am to Father Sopoćko, who has advanced Your work so much. That soul, so humble, has had to endure all the storms. He has not allowed himself to become discouraged by adversities, but has faithfully responded to the call of God" (Diary, 1586).
"Once I was talking with my spiritual director, I had an interior vision (…), of his soul in great suffering, in such agony that God touches very few souls with such fire. The suffering arises from this work. There will come a time when this work, which God is demanding so very much, will be as though utterly undone. And then God will act with great power, which will give evidence of its authenticity. It will be a new splendor for the Church, although it has been dormant in it from long ago. That God is infinitely merciful, no one can deny. He desires everyone to know this before He comes again as Judge. He wants souls to come to know Him first as King of Mercy. When this triumph comes, we shall already have entered the new life in which there is no suffering. But before this, your soul (of the spiritual director) will be surfeited with bitterness at the sight of the destruction of your efforts. However, this will only appear to be so, because what God has once decided upon, He does not change. But although this destruction will be such only in outward appearance, the suffering will be real. When will this happen? I do not know. How long will it last? I do not know" (Diary, 378).
"Jesus, this is Your affair, so why are You acting this way toward him? It seems to me that You are making difficulties for him while at the same time ordering him to act. Write that by day and by night My gaze is fixed upon him, and I permit these adversities in order to increase his merit. I do not reward for good results but for the patience and hardship undergone for My sake" (Diary, 86).
"There will be as many crowns to form his crown as there will be souls saved by this work" (Diary, 90)

"(…) I received a letter from Father Sopoćko. I learned that God’s work is progressing, however slowly.(...) I have come to learn that, for the present, so far as my participation in the work is concerned, the Lord is asking for prayer and sacrifice.(...) I have learned from this letter how great is the light which God grants to this priest. This confirms in me the conviction that God will carry out this work through him despite the mounting obstacles. I know well that the greater and the more beautiful the work is, the more terrible will be the storms that that rage against it" (Diary, 1401).
"God, in his unfathomable decrees, often allows it to be the case that those who have expended the most effort in accomplishing some work do not enjoy its fruits here on earth; God reserves all their joy for eternity. But for all that, God sometimes lets them know how much their effort please Him. And such moments strengthen them for further struggles and ordeals. These are the souls that bear closest resemblance to the Savior who, in the work which He founded here on earth, tasted nothing but bitterness" (Diary, 1402).
"Jesus gave me to know of how everything is dependent on His will, thus giving me profound peace regarding the security of His work. Listen, My daughter, although all the works that come into being by My will are exposed to great sufferings, consider whether any of them has been subject to greater difficulties than that work which is directly Mine - the work of Redemption. You should not worry about adversities. The world is not as powerful as it seems to be; its strength is strictly limited" (Diary, 1643).

Father Sopoćko kept in touch with Sister Faustina until the time of her death and consequently worked on the tasks assigned in the revelations thereafter.
Father Sopoćko wrote in his DIARY: "There are truths that are know and often heard, but not understood. It applied to me with regard to the truth about the Divine Mercy. So many times I spoke about this truth in my preaching, thought about it during retreats, repeated in church prayers - especially in psalms - but I neither understood its meaning nor buried myself in its essence - the highest attribute of God's external activity. It was only the ordinary nun Sister Faustina from the Congregation of the Sisters of Mary Mother of Mercy (Magdalens), who, following her intuition, told me about this truth, repeating it briefly and often, activating me to research, study and think about it frequently. (...) at first, I was not sure what it was, I listened, distrusted, contemplated, researched, sought advice from others - just a few years later I understood the significance of this work, the greatness of this idea, and I became convinced about the effectiveness of this old, but neglected, life-giving devotion calling for its renewal in the present world. (...) Trusting in the Divine Mercy, spreading the devotion to this Mercy among others, and unconditionally devoting to it all my thoughts, words and works - will be the main principle of my further life, with the assistance of this immense Mercy.”

Until his death, Father Michael Sopoćko engaged himself with a fervent priestly zeal by studying and spreading the mystery of the Divine Mercy. He died on February 15, 1975 in Białystok in the aura of sanctity, on the feast day of St. Faustin - the patron saint of Sister Faustina.
The house where Father Sopoćko spent the final years of his life presently belongs to the Congregation of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus. A memorial room was established in the apartment of Father Michał Sopoćko to his memory.

The house where Father Sopoćko spent the final years of his life and died is located in Białystok, Poleska Street 42.

On September 26, 2008 by virtue of a papal bull, Pope Benedict XVI conferred upon Father Michael Sopoćko, the founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus, the title of Blessed.

"At the feet of Jesus I saw my confessor, and behind him a great number of the highest ranking ecclesiastics, clothed in vestments the like of which I had never seen except in this vision; and behind them, groups of religious from various orders; and further still I saw enormous crowds of people, which extended far beyond my vision. I saw two rays coming out from the Host, as in the image, closely united but not intermingled; they passed through the hands of my confessor, and then through the hands of the clergy and from their hands to the people, and then they returned to the Host..." (Diary, 344).

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