The SSPX and the Divine Mercy
Taken from The Recusant - Issue 29 (September 2015)

The SSPX and the Divine Mercy
(With grateful thanks to and )

Some readers may be lucky enough never to have encountered the “Divine Mercy” devotion. Presumption of God’s mercy is one of the six sins against the Holy Ghost. However, lest what we say about this subject be taken to be prejudiced in any way, we will allow the SSPX itself to speak for us. Here is an extract from the Angelus Magazine in 2010, just five years ago, concerning Sr. Faustina Kowalska and the “Divine Mercy” devotion.

Q. What are we to think of the Divine Mercy devotion? 

A. Many people have certainly received graces from the devotion to Divine Mercy propagated by Sr. Faustina, and her personal piety was certainly most exemplary. However, this does not necessarily mean that this devotion is from God. It is true that Pope John Paul II promoted this devotion, that it was through his efforts that the prohibition was lifted on April 15, 1978, and that he even introduced a feast of Divine Mercy into the Novus Ordo. However, the fact that good and pious people receive graces and that Sister Faustina was pious do not necessarily mean that it is from heaven. In fact, it was not only not approved before Vatican II. It was condemned, and this despite the fact that the prayers themselves of the chaplet of Divine Mercy are orthodox.

Condemned by the Holy Office 

There were two decrees from Rome on this question, both of the time of Pope John XXIII. The Supreme Congregation of the Holy Office, in a plenary meeting held on November 19, 1958, made the following decisions: 

1. The supernatural nature of the revelations made to Sister Faustina is not evident.

2. No feast of Divine Mercy is to be instituted.

3. It is forbidden to divulge images and writings that propagate this devotion under the form received by Sister Faustina.

The second decree of the Holy Office was on March 6, 1959, in which the following was established:

1. The diffusion of images and writings promoting the devotion to Divine Mercy under the form proposed by the same Sister Faustina was forbidden.

2. The prudence of the bishops is to judge as to the removal of the aforesaid images that are already displayed for public honor.

What was it about this devotion that prevented the Holy Office from acknowledging its divine origin? The decrees do not say, but it seems that the reason lies in the fact that there is so much emphasis on God’s mercy as to exclude His justice. Our sins and the gravity of the offense that they inflict on God is pushed aside as being of little consequence. That is why the aspect of reparation for sin is omitted or obscured.

The true image of God’s mercy is the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance, crowned with thorns, dripping precious blood. The Sacred Heart calls for a devotion of reparation, as the popes have always requested. However, this is not the case with the Divine Mercy devotion. The image has no heart. It is a Sacred Heart without a heart, without reparation, without the price of our sins being clearly evident. It is this that makes the devotion very incomplete and makes us suspicious of its supernatural origin, regardless of Sister Faustina’s own good intentions and personal holiness. This absence of the need for reparation for sins is manifest in the strange promise of freedom from all the temporal punishment due to sin for those who observe the 3:00 p.m. Low Sunday devotions. How could such a devotion be more powerful and better than a plenary indulgence, applying the extraordinary treasury of the merits of the saints? How could it not require as a condition that we perform a penitential work of our own? How could it not require the detachment from even venial sin that is necessary to obtain a plenary indulgence? 

Presumption in the Writings of Sister Faustina 

The published Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska (Marian Press, Stockbridge, MA, 2007) also indicates several reasons to seriously question the supernatural origin of the more than 640 pages of voluminous and repeated apparitions and messages. The characteristic of any true mystic who has received supernatural graces is always a profound humility, sense of unworthiness, awareness and profession of the gravity of his sins. Yet this humility is strangely lacking in Sister Faustina’s diary. On October 2, 1936, for example, she states that the “Lord Jesus” spoke these words to her: “Now I know that it is not for the graces or gifts that you love me, but because My will is dearer to you than life. That is why I am uniting Myself with you so intimately as with no other creature.” (§707, p. 288). This gives every appearance of being a claim of being more united to Jesus than anybody else, even the Blessed Virgin Mary, and certainly more than all the other saints. What pride, to believe such an affirmation, let alone to assert that it came from heaven! 

In April 1938, Sister Faustina read the canonization of St. Andrew Bobola and was filled with longing and tears that her congregation might have its own saint. Then she affirms the following: “And the Lord Jesus said to me, Don’t cry. You are that saint.” (§1650, p. 583). These are words that most certainly no true saint would affirm, but rather his sinfulness and unworthiness of his congregation. This presumption in her writings is not isolated. She praises herself on several occasions through the words supposedly uttered by Jesus. Listen to this interior locution, for example: “Beloved pearl of My Heart, I see your love so pure, purer than that of the angels, and all the more so because you keep fighting. For your sake I bless the world.” (§1061, p. 400). On May 23, 1937 she describes a vision of the Holy Trinity, after which she heard a voice saying: “Tell the Superior General to count on you as the most faithful daughter in the Order” (§1130, p. 417). It is consequently hardly surprising that Sister Faustina claimed to be exempt from the Particular and General Judgments. On February 4, 1935, she already claimed to hear this voice in her soul: “From today on, do not fear God’s judgment, for you will not be judged” (§374, p. 168). Add to this the preposterous affirmation that the host three times over jumped out of the tabernacle and placed itself in her hands (§44, p. 23), so that she had to open up the tabernacle herself and place it back in there, tells the story of a presumption on God’s grace which goes beyond all reason, let alone as the action of a person supposedly favored with innumerable and repeated mystical and supernatural graces. 

It is perhaps not accidental that Pope John Paul II promoted this devotion, for it is very much in line with his encyclical Dives in Misericordia. In fact, the Paschal Mystery theology that he taught pushed aside all consideration of the gravity of sin and the need for penance, for satisfaction to divine justice, and hence of the Mass as being an expiatory sacrifice, and likewise the need to gain indulgences and to do works of penance. Since God is infinitely merciful and does not count our sins, all this is considered of no consequence. This is not the Catholic spirit. We must make reparation for our sins and for the sins of the whole world, as the Sacred Heart repeatedly asked at Paray-Le-Monial. It is the renewal of our consecration to the Sacred Heart and frequent holy hours of reparation that is going to bring about the conversion of sinners. It is in this way that we can cooperate in bringing about His Kingdom of Merciful Love, because it is the perfect recognition of the infinite holiness of the Divine Majesty and complete submission to His rightful demands. Mercy only means something when we understand the price of our Redemption. 

Hence, the “Divine Mercy” devotion is arguably a Novus Ordo devotion, because the lack of need for expiation mirrors the change in the Novus Ordo Mass. But consider this: even if it were harmless enough (and even that may be going too far - if the devotion is not from Heaven, where else might it be from?!), it is still not a true devotion. As such the effect of its spread will always be to undermine the spread of things which are true devotions. As the Angelus answer notes, the true image of Divine Mercy is the Sacred Heart, crowned with thorns and dripping Precious Blood. As many Catholics who still have some contact with Novus Ordo parishes today will attest, the well-known “Divine Mercy” image has almost entirely replaced the Sacred Heart in many parts of the world today.

As has been noted by various priests in their sermons, in order to achieve victory the devil does not need to get us to do actively evil things all the time: he just needs us not to do the good which we should be doing. The same thing surely applies here. Like the so-called “Luminous Mysteries of the rosary”, even if there isn’t anything actively evil, the mere fact that it is a replacement for something good serves the enemy’s purpose. Hence it ought to be fairly clear that this is not something that Traditional Catholics want to be getting involved in. And it is certainly not something that would ever be promoted by a priestly Society which sees its duty as defending the Catholic faithful from the post-Vatican II wasteland. 

And yet, around the world troubling evidence is mounting which shows the promotion by the SSPX of this condemned, modernist devotion and of its the ascendency amongst the SSPX laity. The following four examples are merely what we happen to know about. As with all such things, one is left wondering how many other examples exist which have thus far gone undetected…

1. Poland
Back in 2013, the Polish SSPX Facebook page (!?), “FSSPX we Wrocławiu”, posted the an extract from the Diaries of “St.” Faustina. (“Diary 118” reads the part in red). The extract is rather long, so we will not quote it here: it does not add anything.

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What is clear is that no criticism or comment was posted with it: it was put there in a spirit of approval and promotion, not criticism, analysis or warning. It can still be seen online. In defence of this, it might be argued that this being a “Facebook” post, it might be only a mistakenly overzealous layman. It is Poland, after all, and was two years ago. However...

2. Asia

This poster from the SSPX Asia District was produced as recently as two months ago to promote a conference in the Philippines in mid-June 2015. It reads: 
Fraternitas Sacerdotalis Sancti Pii X The Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X.
The True Understanding of the Divine Mercy Devotion’ - A Doctrinal & Spiritual conference with Rev. Fr. Karl Stehlin, FSSPX, District Superior of Asia.” 
Lest there be any doubt about what the conference is really about, in the top left corner of the poster can be seen the picture (supposedly) of Our Lord which is usually associated with the ‘Divine Mercy’, the red and white rays coming from his chest. There is also, just below it, a picture of “St.” Faustina herself. 

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Can it be a mere coincidence that this came a few weeks after Bishop Fellay’s most recent Letter to Friends and Benefactors? Let us recall that Bishop Fellay concluded that letter with the following words:
Quote:“As for us, dear brothers and sisters in the faith, we must take advantage of this Holy Year [of Mercy] … Every district of the Society will inform you of the particular works to be performed in order to benefit from all th
e graces that Divine Mercy will grant us during this Holy Year.” 

3. USA
The extract taken from the Parish Bulletin of St. Mary’s Kansas as recently as December 2014, lists the relics of “St. Faustina Kowalska”, whose canonisation they appear to accept, and whose relics are thus offered for public veneration in the parish.

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4. Germany
In the catalogue of German SSPX publishing house ‘Sarto Verlag’, as far back as 2011, we find two books promoting the ‘Divine Mercy’, one of which is by “St.” Faustina herself (“Tagebuch” - “Diary” or “Journal”) the other about her , some sort of hagiography, (“Geschichte einer grossen Sehnsucht” - “A Story of Great Longing”). Strictly speaking, this catalogue is not only for Germany, but is distributed in all the other German-speaking countries, notably Austria and Switzerland. Those with keen eyesight will notice the prices given also in Swiss Francs.

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5. “Christian Warfare”
The SSPX devotional book “Christian Warfare” also includes the “chaplet of the Divine Mercy” prayers along side other prayers of devotion to the Sacred Heart. “Christian Warfare” was originally called “le Livre Bleu” (“The Blue Book”), the new title being given to its translation into English. It is in use in SSPX priories all over the Enull nglish-speaking world, notably in retreat houses and seminaries. From our friends in Australia, we learn that the 2006 edition does not include the Divine Mercy devotion, but the 2009 edition does.

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