St. Faustina’s Vision of Fr. Sopocko on 7th August 1936
(Extract from Diary – No. 675)
When I received the article about Divine Mercy with the Image on the cover, God’s presence filled me in an extraordinary way. When I steeped myself in a prayer of thanksgiving, I suddenly saw the Lord Jesus in a great brightness, just as He is painted, and at His feet I saw Father Andrasz and Father Sopocko. Both were holding pens in their hands, and flashes of light and fire, like lightning, were coming from the tips of their pens and striking a great crowd of people who were hurrying I know not where. Whoever was touched by the ray of light immediately turned his back on the crowd and held out his hands to Jesus. Some returned with great joy, others with great pain and compunction. Jesus was looking at both priests with great kindness.
Introduction to the Article
This article is one of the many holy and insightful articles which Bl. Fr. Sopocko wrote on the Mercy of God. As we learn from St. Faustina’s vision, his writings are very pleasing to Jesus. Fr. Sopocko was an esteemed theologian which is clearly evident in his extraordinary writings.
"Trust in God" by Blessed Fr. Michael Sopocko
The Virtue of Trust
The decisive factor in obtaining God’s Mercy is trust. Trust is the expectation of someone’s help. It does not constitute a separate virtue, but is an essential condition of the virtue of hope, and an integral part of the virtues of fortitude and generosity. Because trust springs from faith, it strengthens hope and love, and is, moreover, linked up, in one way or another, with the moral virtues. It may, therefore, be called the basis on which the theological virtues unite with the moral. The moral virtues, originally natural, become supernatural if we practice them with trust in God’s help.
Expectation of Help – Hope in the Lord of Mercy
Natural trust - the expectation of human help - is a great incentive in men’s lives. We have only to remember the sieges of Poland, in the wars against the Cossacks and Turks, when the besieged held out heroically against the most shattering attacks of the enemy, and endured every kind of privation, because they were expecting reinforcements and liberation. But to expect help from men often leads to disappointment. Those who trust God, on the other hand, are never disappointed. "Mercy shall encompass him that hopeth in the Lord" (Ps. 31:10)
The Last Order – To Trust
Finally, in His speech of farewell, delivered in the Cenacle after the Last Supper, Our Lord, having given His last orders to the Apostles, and foretold the afflictions that they would have to endure in this world, for His name’s sake, spoke of trust as the essential condition of perseverance, and of obtaining the help of God’s Mercy: "In the world you will have afflictions. But take courage, I have overcome the world" (John 16-33). This was the last utterance of the Saviour before the Passion, and was noted down by the beloved Apostle, who wanted to remind all the faithful, throughout the ages, how necessary is the trust which the Saviour not only commended, but commanded.
Why does God so strongly urge us to trust?
Why does God so strongly urge us to trust? Because trust is homage to Divine Mercy. Anyone who expects God to help him is thereby acknowledging that God is almighty and good, that He can help us, and wants to do so, and that He is, above all else, merciful. "No one is good but only God" (Mark 10:18). We must know God in truth, for a false knowledge of Him chills our relationship with Him and obstructs the graces of His Mercy.
Our Concept of God
Our spiritual life depends chiefly on the concept that we ourselves form of God. Between God and ourselves, there are certain fundamental relations which are inherent in our nature as creatures, but there are other relations which spring from our own attitude to God; and this attitude depends on our idea of Him. If we form false concepts of the Lord Most High, our relationship with Him will be wrong, and all our efforts to set it right will be in vain. If we have a distorted idea of Him, there are bound to be many gaps and imperfections in our spiritual life. If, on the other hand, our concept of Him is-as far as is humanly possible-true, our souls will, quite certainly, grow in holiness and light.
Our Trust in God must be Supernatural
The concept of God is, then, the key to holiness, for it governs our conduct in relation to God, and God’s attitude to us. God has adopted us as His children, but, unfortunately, we do not, in practice, behave like children. The son-ship of God is just a phrase, and in our actions we fail to show childlike trust in so good a Father. For lack of trust prevents God from lavishing His blessings on us; it is like a dark cloud impeding the action of the sun’s rays, or a dam cutting off one’s access to spring water.
Nothing gives such glory to Divine omnipotence as the fact that God makes those who trust Him omnipotent also. Yet, if our trust is never to be disappointed, it must have those characteristics of which the King of Mercy Himself spoke. In relation to God, our trust should be supernatural, complete, pure, strong and enduring. Above all, our trust should spring from grace, and be founded on God. Relying on God, we must not rely too much on ourselves, on our own talents, prudence or strength; if we do, God will withhold His help, and leave us to find out our inadequacy from bitter experience. In the things of God, we must learn to distrust ourselves and be persuaded that, of ourselves, we can only harm, or even wreck, God’s plans.
The Right Balance in our Approach
When we trust in God, we do not rely on human means alone, for in this world nothing - not even the greatest strength and riches - will avail unless God Himself supports, strengthens, comforts, teaches and protects us. We must, indeed, take any measures that we regard as necessary, but we cannot rely only on these; we must put our whole trust in God. This trust should be the golden mean between what is known as Quietism, and over-activity. The advocates of this excessive activity are in a continual state of turmoil, for, in all they do, they rely solely on themselves. Trust in God causes us to do our work conscientiously, down to the smallest detail, but it saves us from the unrest of those who never allow themselves a breathing-space. It would, on the other hand, be sheer laziness to leave everything to God, without trying to do our duty as well as we could.
Between Fear and Fearless
Trust in God should be strong and enduring, without doubts or hesitations. Such was the trust of Abraham, who was ready to offer up his son in sacrifice. And such was the trust of the martyrs. On the other hand, the Apostles, during the storm, were found wanting in this virtue, and Our Lord reproached them with the words: "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" (Matt. 8-26). If we have great trust, we must beware alike of pusillanimity and presumption. Pusillanimity is the basis of all temptations, for if we once give way to it, we lose the courage we need to persevere in the good, and fall headlong into sin. Presumption, on the other hand, leads us into danger (for instance, the occasions of sin), with the hope, at the back of our minds, that God will come to the rescue. This is tempting God, and such tempting usually ends tragically for the tempter.
Fear with Trust
In our case, trust should go hand in hand with fear, the fear that comes from knowing our own misery. Without this fear, trust turns to self-importance and fear without trust - meanness. Fear with trust becomes humble and brave, and trust with fear becomes strong and modest. For the sailing boat will sail, wind and the load which will dip it in the water, are necessary, that it will not capsize. So that is with us, we need the wind of trust and the load of fear. "the Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him: and in them that hope in his mercy" (Ps. 146 : 11).
Finally, trust should be accompanied by longing - the desire to see God’s promises fulfilled, and to be united with our beloved Saviour. The longing for God must be in conformity with His will, it should be humble, not only as regards feeling, but as regards the will, which should urge us on to unceasing labour and total surrender to God. For trustful longing, if it is not to be mere delusion, must be based on sincere penance for our sins. "Mercy shall encompass him that hopeth in the Lord" (Ps: 31-10).
Anchored to God
When, in a raging storm, a ship loses its mast, lines and helm, and the foaming waves drive it on to the rocks, where it is in danger of being wrecked, the frightened sailors turn to their last resource - they let down the anchor - to hold the ship fast and prevent it from being dashed to pieces. This anchor, to us, is trust in God’s help.
The Fruits of Trust
"Blessed be the man that trust in the Lord, and the Lord shall be his confidence. And he shall be as a tree that is planted by the waters, that spread out its roots towards moisture and it shall not fear when the heat come. And the leaf thereof shall be green, and in the time of drought it shall not be solicitous, neither shall it cease at any time to bring forth fruit" (Jer. 17:7-8).
Such are the fruits of trust, given by the Holy Spirit. Trust is, above all, homage to God’s Mercy, which, in exchange, bestows on those who trust the strength and courage they need to overcome even the most formidable difficulties. Trust in God drives away all sadness and depression, and fills the soul with great joy, even when circumstances are at their worst. Trust makes the miracles because it has the God’s almightiness to its services. Trust gives us inner peace, such as the world cannot give. Trust opens the way to all the virtues.
Trust saves us from Despair
According to a legend, the virtues once resolved to leave this earth, stained as it is by so many sins, and return to their heavenly country. When they came to the gates of Heaven, the doorkeeper admitted them all, with the exception of trust. Trust was excluded, that the wretched people on earth, surrounded as they were by temptation and suffering, might not fall into despair. The legend tells us that trust had to return to earth, and all the other virtues returned with it.
Trust Comforts the Dying
Above all, trust comforts the dying, who, in their last moments, remember all the sins of their lives and are sometimes driven to despair. Appropriate acts of trust should, then, be suggested to the dying, for it is not everyone who, at such a time, can make them for himself. The dying should be reminded of their true home, now no longer distant, where the King of Mercy joyfully awaits all who trust in His Mercy. Trust assures us of a reward after death, as we know from many examples in the lives of the Saints. We need only think of Dismas, the thief dying on the cross beside Our Lord, to whom, in his last moments, he turned with trust, to hear the blessed assurance: "This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23 : 43).
The Mistake of Trusting in your own Strength
“Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the Lord. For he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes, but will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, a land of salt without inhabitant” (Jer. 17: 5-6). This is a picture of the contemporary world, which trusts so entirely in itself, in its own wisdom and strength, and in the inventions which, instead of bringing it happiness, fill it with fears of self-destruction. Inventions are undoubtedly a good thing, and in accordance with the will of God, who said: "Fill the earth, and subdue it" (Gen 1:28), but we must not trust wholly to our own reason, forgetting the Creator, and the honour and trust that are His due.
Seeing Ourselves in God
Man’s distrust of God is the result of a foolish and baseless misunderstanding. It comes from transferring our own faults and weaknesses to Him, and attributing to Him what we see in ourselves. We imagine God to be as changeable and capricious as we are - as stern and gloomy as we are - and so on. Such faults and behaviour are an insult to God and do us great harm. Where should we be now, if He who guides our destinies were as capricious, as vengeful, as quick to take offense, as we sometimes imagine? Our mistaken concept of God and our tendency to impute our own shortcomings to Him, are due to our weakness and sadness, our ceaseless fears and our inner anxiety-human failings which exist almost everywhere.
Trusting God in All Things All the Time
Trust, then, may be compared with a chain hanging from Heaven and to which we attach our souls. God’s hand draws the chain upward; as it ascends, it carries with it all who hang on tightly. Let us, then, cling to this chain in time of prayer, like the blind man of Jericho, who, sitting by the roadside, cried out with a loud voice: "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Let us trust God in all our needs, temporal and eternal - in all our sufferings, dangers and derelictions. Let us trust Him, even when it seems as though He Himself has abandoned us; when He withholds His consolations, leaves our prayers unanswered, crushes us beneath a heavy cross. It is then that we should trust God most, for this is the time of trial, the testing time, through which every soul must pass.
A Prayer of Trust by Blessed Fr. Michael Sopocko
Holy Spirit, give me the grace of unwavering trust when I think of Our Lord’s merits, and of fearful trust when I think of my own weakness. When poverty comes knocking at my door: Jesus, I Trust in You, when sickness lays me low, or injury cripples me. Jesus, I Trust in You, when the world pushes me aside, and pursues me with its hatred. Jesus, I Trust in You, when I am besmirched by calumny, and pierced through by bitterness. Jesus, I Trust in You, when my friends abandon me, and wound me by word and deed. Jesus, I Trust in You, Spirit of love and Mercy, be to me a refuge, a sweet consolation, a blessed hope, that in all the most trying circumstances of my life I may never cease to trust in You".