I have been blessed this week to read Divine Mercy: A Guide from Genesis to Benedict XVI by Robert Stackpole, STD. Stackpole has done an admirable job of tracing the “theological history” of Divine Mercy through scripture and personal revelations to individuals throughout the centuries. As one might expect, he explores the writings of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, a Polish mystic to whom Jesus revealed the image of Divine Mercy and many teachings on the subject. It is through her visions and the efforts of her confessor that has led to much of the present-day devotion to Divine Mercy. To his credit, Stackpole also introduces his readers to a lesser known voice of Divine Mercy.
Like her counterpart St. Faustina, Blessed Dina Belanger of Quebec lived only thirty-three years and died of tuberculosis. Her short life was dedicated to Jesus Christ. She was blessed with good Christian parents. This fact cannot be overstated. Like St. Therese of Lisieux, she was able to grow in a fertile garden of faith. Blessed Dina herself acknowledged her great debt to them: “To prove my gratitude, I am duty bound to become a saint . . . Only thus can I make a fit return for their past and present solicitude. Yes, I will become a saint. I will become holy in the degree God has marked out for me. Thus may I repay [them] for the pains they have taken for my education, and console them in their grief over our separation.”
At the young age of thirteen, she “consecrated her whole life to Jesus through the Blessed Virgin Mary.” She had great natural musical talent and at age 19 she began to study music at a conservatory in New York. While there, she lived at a convent of the Religious of Jesus and Mary where she would spend many light nights in Eucharistic Adoration. She made a habit of praying before her musical exercises. Also like St. Faustina and St. Therese, when she asked to enter the convent she was told to wait. She was disappointed, yet in hindsight she saw God at work in this delay. She felt it was God’s will that she remain in the world and with her parents for a while longer. She had already begun to be granted the blessings of mystical experiences. At age 24, she was granted her great wish to enter the Religious of Jesus and Mary. She took the name Marie Sainte-Cecile of Rome after the patron saint of musicians. The sisters were teachers, and Blessed Dina worked as a music teacher. She loved teaching and the students entrusted to her care.
Jesus spoke to her more and more. She learned to recognize the authenticity of His voice: “His voice is soft, so soft that in the soul all must be hushed; it is a melodious voice, while that of the devil is noisy, abrupt and discordant, and his words are uttered in the midst of agitation and tumult.” Jesus told her that through her writings she would do much good. She thought He was referring to her poetry, but it was actually her autobiography that she writing under obedience to her Mother Superior that would be this force of good in the world.
Blessed Dina’s motto was “To Love, and Let Jesus Have His Way.” She emphasized “the indwelling of Christ in the soul that brings the soul into the life of the Blessed Trinity, and that leads the soul to undertake a life of reparative suffering, in and with Christ.” Jesus gave St. Faustina the words of the Divine Mercy Chaplet: “Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son.” Just a few years earlier, Jesus gave Blessed Dina a similar prayer, “Eternal Father, through Mary and Thy Spirit of Love, I offer Thee the Eucharistic Heart of My Jesus.” Blessed Dina also wrote of God’s great mercy: “Infinite Mercy is exercised on our behalf in the measure that it finds us miserable and unworthy.” She also spoke of the importance of trust in Jesus while acknowledging that such complete trust is difficult. “My trust in God is not a human trust – wavering, insecure, such as might spring from my weakness, certainly not; it is the trust of God Himself which I borrow, which I make my own.”
Blessed Dina was considerably more educated than St. Faustina. Her writings appeal to intellectuals. Her words may speak to those who, for whatever reason, may not be touched by St. Faustina’s writings. Blessed Dina’s words both complement and enhance those of St. Faustina. While her role in promulgating the message of Divine Mercy has not been as large as St. Faustina’s, Jesus gave her a role in this for a reason. She was beatified on March 20, 1993. Her feast day is September 4th. Thank you, Dr. Stackpole, for bringing her to our attention.