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John Paul II: The Great Mercy Pope


Rev. George W. Kosicki, CSB

Copyright © 2001 Rev. George W. Kosicki, CSB

All rights reserved.

ISBN 0-944203-60-4

Table of Contents

Mercy Gems from John Paul II 9

Preface 11

Foreword         15

Introduction      19

Part I Teacher of Mercy        21

Chapter 1         The Encyclical, Rich in Mercy    21

Chapter 2         Homilies and Addresses on Divine Mercy     36

Chapter 3         Divine Mercy in Various Writings       3

Part II Model of Mercy                      49

Chapter 4       Prayer for Mercy          49

Chapter 5       Forgiving and Asking For Forgiveness   54

Chapter 6       Radiating Presence: Holiness     59

Chapter 7       Ministry to the Sick and the Poor          60

Part III Mercy Themes                      61

Chapter 8       The value and dignity of each person     61

Chapter 9       Be not afraid     63

Chapter 10     The call to Holiness, Evangelization and Ecumenism 66

Chapter 11     Mary, Mother of Mercy            68

Chapter 12     The Jubilee Year 2000  75

Chapter 13 The Jubilee Year, the New Advent, the Third Millennium And the Coming of the Lord   77

A. The Encyclicals that describe the Jubilee Year     77

B. The Message of Divine Mercy is the message of the Third Millennium 79

C. Two prophetic streams about the Third Millennium  79

D. At the Beginning of the New Millennium  81

In Chronological Order:

Mother of Mercy in "Dives in Misericordia", November, 1981 83

The Jubilee Year in "Dominum et Vivificantem", May, 1986 85

The Easter Message of the Merciful Christ, April, 1991 88

Beatification of Sr. Faustina, homily, April 18, 1993 90

General Audience, April 19, 1993 92

Mary, Mother of Mercy in "Veritatis Splendor", August, 1993 93

Christ's peace is the triumph of Divine Mercy; Mercy Sunday, April 10, 1994 97

Divine Mercy Sunday for Poland; Vatican document, January, 1995 99

Be Apostles of Divine Mercy; John Paul II celebrates Mercy Sunday in Rome, April 23, 1995 100

New Life and Joy flow from Easter; Mercy Sunday, Regina Caeli, April 23, 1995 105

Shrine of Divine Mercy in Poland, June 7, 1997 106

Accept Divine Mercy with an open heart; Mercy Sunday, April 19, 1998 109

Silence the arms and return to dialogue; Mercy Sunday, Regina Caeli, April 11, 1999 110

Universal Prayer for forgiveness, March 12, 2000 112

Angelus, "Day of Pardon", Sunday, March 12, 2000 116

Canonization of St. Faustina, Mercy Sunday, Homily April 30, 2000 118

Canonization of St. Faustina, Mercy Sunday, Regina Caeli and Evening prayer, April 30, 2000 123


I have benefited from the priestly ministry and wisdom of Father George W. Kosicki, C.S.B. since I was a young priest, some thirty years ago. It was he who first introduced me to the valuable distinction between our soul and our spirit, which has proven to be of great service to me in many ways. From the mid-seventies to the early eighties, I derived great profit from my sojourns at Bethany House of Intercession where Father George and the other members of the core group welcomed all priests as their brothers and provided an atmosphere for prayer that was genuinely Catholic, wholesome and open to the impulses of the Spirit. For me ó and Iím sure I can also speak for many others ó Bethany furnished a real model of how to grow in priestly holiness by interceding for, serving and loving our brother priests.

It was during an extended period at Bethany, at the very beginning of the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, that I was spurred on by Father George and his brethren to consecrate myself to Our Lady, an act of incalculable importance in my life as a Christian and as a priest. It was during that same period at Bethany that Father George and Father Seraphim Michalenko, M.I.C. introduced me to the life and writings of Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska whose beatification on April 18, 1993 and canonization on April 30, 2000 I had the joy of attending. Their writings on Saint Faustina have proven to be a great enrichment in my own spiritual life.

I must also credit Father George with helping me to appreciate the Polish background of Pope John Paul II and to savor the richness and originality of so much of his prophetic teaching and example. In a certain sense, then, I am also indebted to Father George for helping to launch me on my own studies of the teachings of this extraordinary pontiff on Marian consecration as in so many other areas. Hence, I am pleased to have this opportunity to offer a word of commendation on Father Georgeís work on John Paul II, whom he aptly describes as ďthe Mercy PopeĒ.

It is well known that the Church never defines a doctrine or approves a devotion on the basis of a private revelation. In his monumental Encyclical Letter Haurietis Aquas on devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pope Pius XII was at pains to point out that the devotion to the Heart of Jesus is solidly grounded in the Scriptures and the Churchís millennial tradition and has not ďtaken its origin from some private revelationĒ, even if it cannot be denied that the revelations to Saint Margaret Mary in the seventeenth century provided the most powerful impetus for its promotion. As John Paul II himself put it in his letter to Father Hans-Peter Kolvenbach, the Superior General of the Jesuits, of 5 October 1986:

In fact, if the Lord in his providence wished that a powerful drive in favour of the devotion to the Heart of Christ, under the forms indicated in the revelations received by St. Margaret Mary, should go forth from Paray-le-Monial in the seventeenth century, at the threshold of modem times, the essential elements of this devotion belong in a permanent fashion to the spirituality of the Church throughout her history (emphasis mine).

The same holds true for the devotion to The Divine Mercy. Even if the greatest stimulus for the devotion comes from the Diary of Saint Faustina, it must be recognized that the bases are deeply rooted in Scripture and Tradition and clearly indicated in theology and the magisterium. The writings of Saint Faustina are a confirmation of the public revelation which has been entrusted to the Church, not its source. Hence John Paul IIís Encyclical Letter Dives in Misericordia of November 30, 1980 is rightly based on the sources of public revelation and not on the private revelations to Sister Faustina with which the Pope was already surely very familiar. The Pope wisely presented the Churchís doctrine on Divine Mercy and its vocation to be a messenger of mercy and intercessor for it with no explicit references to the writings of Saint Faustina. This provided a necessary dogmatic exposition of the mystery of Godís unfathomable mercy which would effectively verify the insights which the Lord gave to the Polish nun whose cause for canonization he had presented as Archbishop of Krakow and whom he raised to the honors of the altar as Pope.

Father Kosickiís present work is a notable contribution to the literature on this theme precisely because in it he makes available in one convenient volume the rich patrimony of the Holy Fatherís teaching on Divine Mercy as he has consistently taught and preached about it in the exercise of his ordinary magisterium (cf. the Second Vatican Councilís Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium #25) from the time of his election as Successor of Peter up until Divine Mercy Sunday 2001. Thus, this book is a veritable treasure trove for theologians as well as for all of the faithful. But it is not just a compilation. It is also a book rich in insights which are the fruit of Father Georgeís extended prayer and study and presented with his conspicuous gifts as a master teacher. It is a book which makes me grateful anew for Pope John Paul IIís Petrine teaching ministry as well as for the priestly ministry of Father George W. Kosicki.

Rev. Msgr. Arthur B. Calkins


In his book, John Paul II: the Great Mercy Pope, Father George Kosicki explores the message of Godís mercy in the writings and speeches of our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. While this book is about the present day Peter and his message to the world, it is really about the journey of a man of faith, prayer and illumination, which comes from contemplation, who, in his own life and the life of his native land of Poland, came to believe in and proclaim the mercy of God to the whole world. He has proclaimed Godís mercy in word and deed. Because of his universal appeal and because of the message of his pontificate, the message of Godís mercy which is Godís greatest attribute, John Paul II may one day be known as John Paul the Great.

While the pontificate of John Paul II gives him the world stage as his arena to proclaim the message of mercy, it is a message that reaches back to his youth. As a young college student in Krakow, he witnessed manís inhumanity to man during World War II in occupied Poland. He saw many people rounded up and sent to concentration camps and slave labor. In his home town of Wadowice, he had many friends of the Jewish faith who would perish in the holocaust. Death and danger surrounded the young Wojtyla. He experienced the need for Godís mercy and humanityís need to be merciful to one another.

It was during this horrible period in human history that the young Karol Wojtyla decided to enter Cardinal Sapiehaís clandestine seminary in Krakow. This decision further jeopardized his life, for he could be executed if caught. It was also during this time that another seminarian, Andrew Deskur, now a retired Cardinal at the Vatican, introduced Karol to the message of the Divine Mercy, as revealed to the mystic nun, now Saint Maria Faustina. Sister Faustinaís convent was in the suburbs of Krakow in an area called Lagiewniki. This mystic nun, a suffering soul, who died at the age of 33 in 1938, wrote a diary entitled ďDivine Mercy in My SoulĒ, in which she recorded the revelations given to her by Jesus about the greatness of Godís mercy. The message of Godís mercy, as recorded by Sister Faustina, would be a beacon of light and hope for the people of Poland during this dark time in their history.

In his future years as a young priest and later as Bishop and Archbishop of Krakow, now under the oppression of a communist regime, Karol Wojtyla would reflect and meditate upon the message of Godís mercy. He would often visit the convent in Lagiewniki where Sister Faustina was buried for private times of prayer and to lead the Sisters in reflective retreats.

Due to an erroneous translation of Sister Faustinaís diary, a Vatican ban was imposed upon ďthe spread of images and writings that propose the devotion of the Divine Mercy in the form proposed by the same Sister Faustina.Ē In 1965 however, because of popular desire, Archbishop Wojtyla conferred with Cardinal Ottaviani to have Sister Faustina raised to the honor of the altar. Cardinal Ottaviani urged the Archbishop to begin an investigation while there were still living witnesses to the sanctity of Sister Faustina. Archbishop Wojtyla immediately delegated Bishop Julian Groblicki to begin the informative process into the heroic virtues of Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska. On September 20, 1967, the Archbishop of Krakow, now Karol Cardinal Wojtyla, officially closed the first informative stage in the process for the beatification of the Servant of God, Sister Faustina Kowalska. The results of the informative process showed that earlier action taken by Rome regarding the message of Divine Mercy as proposed by Sister Faustina was taken on insufficient evidence. On January 31, 1968, the process of beatification of Sister Faustina was formally inaugurated. On April 15, 1978, the prohibitions by the Vatican were lifted. Six months later, on October 16, 1978, Karol Cardinal Wojtyla was elected as Pope John Paul II.

Pope John Paul II felt that the keynote of his pontificate was to spread the message of Godís infinite mercy. Father Kosicki very ably explores that message in both the writings and talks of our Holy Father. It is a message of hope for the new millennium. John Paul II not only proclaims this message, he lives it, and he calls the Church to live it. He lived the virtue of mercy when he forgave his would-be assassin, Ali Agca, in his prison cell on December 27, 1983; he continues to live the virtue of mercy in his care for the poor, the ill, and the down-trodden; and now he lives the virtue of mercy in his own personal suffering, which he offers for the salvation of souls.

On December 21, 1992, John Paul II had the privilege of publishing the Churchís acceptance of the miracle through the intercession of Sister Faustina which paved the way for her beatification on April 18, 1993, the first Sunday after Easter, the Sunday on which, as had been revealed to Sister Faustina by our Lord, the Feast of His Mercy (Mercy Sunday) was to be celebrated.

On October 5, 1995, the feast day of Blessed Faustina, I experienced a total healing of my severely damaged heart after praying for her intercession. During the investigative process regarding my healing, I had the privilege of meeting Pope John Paul II on two different occasions. I can personally say that he is a man of deep prayer who emanates sanctity and deep compassion. On December 20, 1999, Pope John Paul II accepted my healing as the miracle for the canonization of Blessed Faustina. On April 30, 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized St. Maria Faustina Kowalska as the first saint of the new millennium. He also proclaimed Mercy Sunday as a universal feast for the Church. He held up St. Faustina and her message of and devotion to The Divine Mercy as a model for the Church. At a dinner following the canonization ceremony, Pope John Paul II told Dr. Valentine Fuster, a pre-eminent cardiologist who studied my case for months and who served on the team of medical consultants for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, ďthis is the happiest day of my lifeĒ.

It was through a simple Polish nun, called to be the Apostle and Secretary of The Divine Mercy, that the world has been called to pray for mercy, be merciful and have complete trust in the Lord. It was a message first for Poland, and then for the whole world.

It is because of many years of prayer and contemplation on Godís great mercy, that the first Polish Pope has been able to proclaim the same message in word and deed. As a former drama student and now as Pope, Karol Wojtyla became, in many ways, the greatest actor on the world stage at the end of the twentieth century. His greatest contribution to humanity, however, is the fulfillment of our Lordís wishes to St. Faustina, namely, that the message of the Divine Mercy be spread around the world. St. Faustina began this mission. Pope John Paul II has continued it. He led the Church into the new millennium, which he sees as a new Pentecost, with two messages of wisdom: ďFear not!Ē and ďTrust in the LordĒ. That is why John Paul II may one day be known as John Paul the Great: the Mercy Pope.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.

Give thanks to the Lord for He is merciful.

Rev. Ronald P. Pytel


Pope John Paul II has accomplished so much during his pontificate that he may one day be given the title ďJohn Paul the GreatĒ by the Universal Church. He has been seen by vast numbers of people around the world, gathering the largest single assembly of people in human history, ó over 5 million in the Philippines ó gathering millions of the young and electrifying them. He has written and taught by numerous encyclicals and apostolic documents on Jesus Christ, the truth of the Gospel, the creed, natural law, human reason, sacredness of life, and social justice. He has published best selling books; initiated the Catechism of the Catholic Church; he inspired the non-violent liberation of Eastern Europe from communist oppression; he has guided the Church through the celebration of the Jubilee Year 2000.

One of the outstanding achievements of John Paul II, according to his biographer George Weigel, the author of Witness to Hope, is the popeís use of the ďLaw of the GiftĒ ó the total self-gift of love of the Father and Son in the Spirit that gives life. Out of this total love, God created man in His own image, male and female (see Genesis 1:27), in order that we may receive His love and give love to one another and so give new life in the image of God. Godís plan is to have families that share in his very love and life. This teaching of John Paul II on human sexuality and marriage could revolutionize family life in the modern world, returning it to its roots in the divine plan.

When man rebelled and spoiled Godís plan, God promised an alternate plan. Out of His infinite, merciful love, God sent His only Son to offer His life and love for the forgiveness of our sins, for our redemption and for our eternal life. This mercy is Godís love poured out upon us and is a special expression of the ďLaw of the GiftĒ. This is the great mercy that John Paul II has conveyed in his writings and proclaimed in his preaching.

In this book, John Paul II: the Great Mercy Pope, we will see how the Holy Father has not only taught about Godís mercy, but also how he has lived out the message of mercy by the witness of his life. In his writing, teaching, preaching, and by his prayer, his forgiveness, his radiating presence and his ministry to the sick and poor, he reflects Godís mercy. The very themes of his pontificate are mercy themes: his challenge, ďDo not be afraid!Ē his call to holiness, to evangelization, to ecumenism; his entrustment to The Divine Mercy and to the Mother of Mercy; the Jubilee Year of mercy; his continued emphasis on the value and dignity of every human being. For all these things, John Paul II has shown himself to be the Mercy Pope. His whole life, therefore, should be an example for the world and a challenge to each individual to be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful.

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Copyright ©; 2001 Rev. George W. Kosicki, CSB

Version: 4th December 2002

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