COLORADO SPRINGS. Mercy is an important theme in our Christian faith. We ask for it from God and he expects us to show it to others. Divine Mercy is the central theme of the live multimedia production “Faustina,” produced by Saint Luke Productions. A week before the Lenten season began this year, St. Mary’s High School students and area Catholic seventh- and eighth- graders learned more about the origins of the liturgical feast of the Divine Mercy through this production, which was hosted by St. Mary’s High School.
The production tells the story of Sister Faustina Kowalska, a Polish sister who began to receive regular mystical visits from Jesus in 1930. In it, Jennifer Pagano puts on a one-woman live performance and interacts with others through the use of multimedia. Sister Faustina’s visions of Christ are portrayed via multimedia, as are the stories of two modern day characters as the audience sees how Divine Mercy is at work in their lives.
Through her visions, Jesus asked Sister Faustina to spread devotion to his Divine Mercy. Sister Faustina wrote of her visions in her diary, which was later published as Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul. The Divine Mercy devotions based on Sister Faustina’s visions have three main themes: to ask for and obtain the mercy of God, to trust in Christ’s abundant mercy, and finally to show mercy to others and act as a conduit for God’s mercy towards them.
Faustina’s story is not an easy one. As the Saint Luke Production website states, “Her story is one of overcoming doubt to fulfill the will of God.” For Faustina, as for us today, that doubt came from both without and within. The consistent presence of Christ in our lives is a message that we need to be reminded of from time to time, said Anna Sanzo, St. Mary’s assistant principal.
“I feel that the greatest lesson we can learn from Faustina’s life is that no matter what challenges and suffering we experience, we do not face them alone and we must continue to trust in Jesus,” she said. “We can grow in our levels of trust for Jesus. It starts with prayer and small steps of action. When we experience difficult and dark times and when we sin, He will lead us through because God’s mercy is greater than our sins.”
Tena Jelinek, faculty adviser for St. Mary’s campus ministers, said the campus ministers and other students in leadership felt that they gained new information on Sister Faustina’s faith journey, her life and the history related to the Divine Mercy devotion. Sanzo said the production was a reminder to her to give Jesus her stresses, worries, problems and challenges.
“I need to let God be God, and me be me,” Sanzo said. “I feel that at the end of the day, personal reflection and evaluation is important in order to be a better person and be on the road of holiness. God continues to transform me and work through me. The performance reminded me of a prayer ‘May the mercy of God transform each of us every day as we continue our journey of personal conversion’.”
The St. Mary’s student leaders also appreciated Pagano’s heartfelt theatrical presentation of Sister Faustina, Jelinek said. They also felt that the use of multimedia was interesting in terms of theater and her interaction with the video characters provided a new perspective, she said.
Theatrical portrayals of the saints bring to life their stories and give insight to them as models for human excellence, Sanzo said. Their lives demonstrate how to live and die for Christ and help point us in the direction of where we want go and who we can be.
“They are practical and real examples that we can relate to,” Sanzo said. “We get so caught up in our everyday lives that we need to pause and take a deeper look inside someone else’s journey to remind us of our own. Students need to view themselves with mercy. They are going to have regrets and make mistakes, but by giving and trusting in God they will unite in his will. Nothing is impossible with God. Forgive the past and forgive yourself. We all need to allow Jesus to heal our injuries of the past with his graces and mercy. This is the only way we will be able to be healthy and of service to others. These portrayals are practical in giving us faith and hope.”
It wasn’t until after her death that Christ’s mission for Faustina was fulfilled. On April 30, 2000, Pope John Paul II declared the Sunday after Easter to be Divine Mercy Sunday and declared Faustina Kowalska to be the first saint canonized in the 21st century. This year, the liturgical feast of the Divine Mercy will be celebrated on Sunday, April 28.
(Amy G. Partain is director of communications for St. Mary’s High School.)