My story began a few years ago at school. Our teacher taught us to embroider. On Mother’s Day, we had to embroider the first letter of our mother’s name. It was through this I became very interested in embroidery. I really enjoyed it. I even bought embroidery magazines. So once in one magazine I came across a huge photo and asked my mom for advice. And mom says, “Maybe it’s not a bad idea at all.”
When I was 11, I was halfway done with that project. Then we drove with my family to the sea. It was the summer of 2005. One day my brother and I went for a swim. There were huge waves. I really enjoyed the waves. I was left swimming alone. I was overwhelmed by one wave, then another and after a while I thought this was the end of me. I will go to God. But then one of the best images I’ve ever seen – when I already thought I was going to die, and when I felt utterly helpless, I saw the lifeguard’s float drifting above me. Thanks to that lifeguard, I survived that day.
Then I wondered why God wanted me to stay alive. Sure, it might sound naive, but one reason – maybe he wanted me to finish embroidering that picture. And I continued to embroider, finishing that picture, it took over a year. The picture I talked about so much is the picture of the Jesus Divine Mercy.
A few years ago, my mother and I attended Mercy Week services. Then, you could say, I then returned to the path of faith.
My testimony of God’s Mercy, the sanctuary of God’s Mercy, and the image of the Merciful Jesus is very similar to love at first sight. This happened a good decade ago and looking back I realize it continues to this day.
Then, if I remember correctly, we participated in retreats in Antakalnis with the youth of Kaišiadorys diocese. The program included a visit to St.Faustina’s house, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy prayer and a visit to the Shrine. This is the first time I have heard of St. Faustina and her life, her infinite trust in God and such true closeness of the Lord to her, which was taking place here in Vilnius at that time.
After the prayer in the house we traveled to the shrine and carried the following thought in my heart: Lord Jesus, Your love and mercy are so close here and I WANT to be HERE! Of course, with such a disposition I did not have to wait long before arriving at the Shrine, although at that time there was no constant adoration, I experienced a strange feeling that visits me from time to time, I knew that this is the place where I want to stay.
I looked at the image of the Merciful Jesus and in prayer I probably reserved a place in my heart for the Merciful Jesus. We sang especially much with the youth at the time, it was one of our main ways of praying, and at that moment I truly knew that the Lord would give grace to serve in the sanctuary when the time came. 🙂 Since then, both the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and the gaze on the Merciful Jesus have become my refuge and shelter. I’m glad a lot of things change over time, but the desire to BE HERE never fades.
I “discovered” the Shrine of God’s Mercy in Vilnius about 10 years ago. At that time, it was not open around the clock. I joke that there is no “debate” about why I can’t come to the Lord. Friends know what it means when I say, “I’m going on a date.”
When I read Chapter 561 of St. Faustina Kovalska’s Diary: “All at once, I saw the image in some small chapel and at that moment I saw that chapel became an enormous and beautiful temple.(…)” – I realize it is here, as described includes unspeakable wonder and reverent silence. Sometimes I think that we underestimate this great grace for Vilnius, Lithuania and even the whole world. There are people who want to visit here at least once in their lives, and some are allowed to be almost on duty here. I remind myself not to get used to this miracle.
Traveling around the various shrines of the world, I find one or another copy of the image of the Merciful Jesus everywhere. When I see it, I immediately feel at home, even if I am in a distant country. I see this image of mercy becoming that thin red thread that connects the members of the Church. And it’s very beautiful.
Although at least a few ecclesiastical and monastic communities contribute to the formation of my spiritual views, the Shrine of Divine Mercy occupies a significant place among them. Together with the patient educators, the spirituality of this sanctuary began to carry a wonderful message into my life that the Lord is loving and good, and the relationship with him has become more and more friendly. Gradually, the image of God, a menacing punisher, was the image I had growing up, as was typical of the mindset of old times changed for me. After all, there is no love in fear, and we are punished only by our own misunderstanding. Today, I can’t imagine how God could be anything but Love. Any remnants of doubt dissolve, looking at the image of the Merciful Jesus, into those rays flowing generously from his Heart: ” (370)
The Prayer of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and the Hour of Mercy became a natural part of the rhythm of the spiritual life. I have more than once experienced the power of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy prayer, especially in critical situations and in accompanying the souls of the dead. Fulfillment of what Jesus said in St. Faustinas: “… Oh, what great graces I will grant to souls who say this chaplet; the very depths of My tender mercy are stirred for the sake of those who say the chaplet..” (Diary, 848) And so is the pardon granted by Pope Francis!
On the one hand, I realize that there is no need to be attached to any particular place or image, because faith is first and foremost in one’s heart. On the other hand, having certain “own” special places provides security on the way of faith. To all who create and sustain the Shrine of Divine Mercy, I thank you more and more for that opportunity to come quietly to adoration and contemplation. This is endlessly lacking in many other spaces. Sacraments, Holy Mass is no less important, but a lively, personal relationship with Jesus is especially revealed to me in silence, and then participation in adoration requires a completely different quality than at Mass. After all, “… if souls are to concentrate, God will speak to them at once, for distraction overshadows the word of the Lord.” (Diary, 452) While here, I sometimes write short creative thoughts, sometimes those notes turn into long sections of the diary, sometimes into hymns, and sometimes I just experience inner silence and the closeness of the Lord, which is His greatest gift and source of strength in my life.
I am learning to listen more and more deeply and trust that these are not just words, but my real life: “Jesus, I trust in you.” I wish that to all of us.