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"He is a priest after My own Heart;
his efforts are pleasing to Me (...) Through him it pleases
Me to proclaim the worship of My mercy" (Diary, 1256).

"As a result of his efforts,
a new light will shine in the Church
of God for the consolation of souls" (Diary, 1390).

 


THE BEATIFICATION OF FATHER MICHAEL SOPOĆKO

On September 28, 2008 the beatification of Father Michael Sopoćko took place in the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy in Białystok. Father Michael Sopoćko was the confessor and spiritual director of Saint Sister Faustina and the founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus. The beatification mass was presided over by the personal representative of the Holy Father, Archbishop Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The homily was delivered by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Metropolitan of Cracow (Poland).


Archbishop Angelo Amato declared Father Sopoćko blessed reading the decree
of Pope Benedict XVI issued on September 26, 2008 in Vatican.

"… We, with our Apostolic Authority grant permission that the Venerable Servant of God Michael Sopoćko, presbyter, who devoted his life to proclaiming the Divine Mercy, giving the example of the priestly sanctity, be henceforth Blessed and announce that His feast will be celebrated annually on February 15, on the day of His birth for Heaven, in the places and in the way determined by Law."



The participants in the ceremony included: Apostolic Nuncio to Poland Archbishop Josef Kowalczyk, Primate of Poland Cardinal Józef Glemp, Metropolitan Archbishop of Vilnius (Lithuania) Cardinal Audrys Juozas Backis, Metropolitan Archbishop of Minsk-Mogilev (Belarus)Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, Metropolitan of Foggia (Southern Italy) Archbishop Francesco Pio Tamburino, cardinals, over 100 bishops, about 500 priests from Poland and abroad, including Orthodox Ordinary of the Diocese of Białystok-Gdańsk Archbishop Jakub.





In attendance were numerous representatives of many women's and men's convents, including about 100 sisters from the Congregation of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus and 10 brothers from the Community of the Brothers of Merciful Jesus from Vilnius. Sisters from the Congregation of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus were followed by pilgrims from 12 countries where the houses of the congregation are present.




Participating in the ceremony were also: President of the Republic of Poland Lech Kaczyński, the last President of Poland in exile Ryszard Kaczorowski, Speaker of Polish Parliament, members of Parliament and local government, representatives of Polish Army, and representatives of the scientific community.





Moreover, the celebration was attended in person by about 80,000 worshippers of the Divine Mercy and - through the radio and television broadcasting - a countless crowd of the worshippers all over the world.






Scouts from Białystok’s schools handed out to the participants of the beatification ceremony about 100,000 sacred pictures with the Image of the Merciful Jesus - a gift from the Congregation of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus.




On September 2008, following his Angelus prayer from Castel Gandolfo, Italy,
the Holy Father greeted the participants of the beatification ceremony:



"I welcome Polish pilgrims present in Casel Gandolfo. In a special way I extend my greetings to the Białystok (Poland) participants of the beatification ceremony of the Servant of God, Father Michael Sopoćko - the confessor and spiritual director of Saint Faustina Kowalska. At his suggestion, Sister Faustina described her mystical experiences and apparitions of Merciful Jesus in her well known 'Diary'. Also thanks to his efforts, the image with the inscription 'Jesus, I trust in You' was painted and transmitted to the world. This Servant of God became known as a zealous priest, teacher, and promoter of the Divine Mercy devotion.
I extend my joyful thoughts to the Archdioceses of Białystok and Vilnius and to all the faithful around the world to whom this message of Merciful Jesus is dear. My dear predecessor, John Paul II, is undoubtedly pleased with this beatification. He was the One who entrusted the world to the Divine Mercy. Thus, I am repeating his desire: May the God who is rich in mercy bless all of you.



THE SPEECH OF THE REPRESENTATIVE OF HOLY FATHER,
ARCHBISHOP ANGELO AMATO,
PREFEKT OF THE CONGREGATION FOR SAINTS’CAUSES:

1. Your Eminencies, Your Excellencies, Distinguished civil, religious, and military authorities, Beloved Priests and Sisters, Ladies and Gentlemen. It was a great pleasure to preside over the beatification ceremony of Father Michael Sopoćko, this extraordinary example of priestly sanctity. In the Diary of Saint Faustina Kowalska these encouraging words of Jesus can be found: "Write that day and night my eyes are fixed upon him".
Whom were the eyes of Jesus fixed upon? Upon the Blessed Michael Sopoćko, an extraordinary Polish priest, an educator of youth, a confessor, a spiritual director, who is joining the community of great contemporary Polish saints, such as Saint Maximilian Kolbe and Saint Faustina Kowalska. His remarkably holy life, marked and enliven with trust, hope, and love – was already presented. Now, I would like to cast a light on some of the attributes of our Blessed, which continue to be relevant also today.


2. Most of all, he is a strong example of the eternal beauty of "the follower of Christ", "sequela Christi". To be a Christian means to live in truth, in freedom, and in joy; it means to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Whatever circumstances we find ourselves in and whatever we do, our lives are "the imitation of Christ", "imitation Christi", which mirror His goodness and mercy. This is how Michael Sopoćko did.
We can ask ourselves: how do we follow this Blessed in practising the virtue of mercy? The answer is simple. In families, there is need for mercy every day. Every day a wife must be compassionate with her husband and vice-versa, continually reconfirming their reciprocal fidelity. Every day parents must be magnanimous in forgiving their children, in experiencing their disobedience and their mistakes. But children, too, must be patient with their parents; they should follow a good example of the parents and listen to their admonitions. As you can see, everyone - in the family, at work, in society, everywhere and always - can exercise mercy, forgiveness and understanding. Our society needs honest, good, generous, compassionate citizens.


3. There is, however, a message that Blessed Father Sopoćko in particular addresses to priests. Let them be unwavering in their pastoral zeal. Let their hearts be good and merciful, and let them be patient, tender and hearty, as well as persistent in catechizing children, youth and adults. Father Sopoćko also encourages priests to devote their time to serve through granting the absolution during the indispensable sacrament of reconciliation.
Today, more than ever, the faithful have the need to open their souls to a confessor to hear words of consolation, forgiveness and benediction. The deepest joy of a heart comes from sacramental forgiveness. Let the confessional become the most important pulpit of preaching. Dear priests, be generous in forgiveness, as Blessed Micha‎el Sopoćko was. This way he was able to restore the joy of life in many human souls.


4. Our Blessed deserves the credit for leading the young nun Sister Faustina Kowalska to sanctity. An indispensable task of every priest is to spread God's mercy over the human misery; another task is also to lead and direct the souls of people, consecrated or lay, on the road to Christian perfection. In the ocean of various views, the priest is called today to nourish himself with the word of Jesus in order to offer the faithful the truth about God and the future of the mankind. In the world of endless opinions, it has been difficult to recognize truth as no one has been showing it in a clear and trustworthy manner.
The priests are responsible for showing to our lost humanity the truth of Gospel. They are responsible for leading the youth all over the world in the light and truth – Jesus Christ, so they can become good Christians and honest citizens. The Gospel is not an obstacle to the human happiness. On the contrary - it is a book of joy, a book of life that defeats the death; it is a light that scatters the darkness.
In the complexity of a modern culture, Church needs priests who know how to be masters of a spiritual life, experienced leaders in wise recognition of what is good and what is right. Today, the young and adult need wise persons who would guide their freedom toward the choices compliant with the Gospel. In the world of false prophets, who promote shallow receipts for life, a priest must humbly and persistently fulfill his mission of the sheppard of human souls, through practicing a true, spiritual fatherhood. While parents give physical life, spiritual directors give, nurse, and promote spiritual life. A man is not born a Christian but he becomes one. "Woe to him that is alone when he falleth: for he hath not another to help him up" (Ecclesiastes 4:10). Spiritual leaders are experienced guides who lead the faithful to merits and show how to evade faults. We need spiritual fathers more than ever in this modern, secularized world.


5. Confession and spiritual leadership - these are the priestly tasks which the blessed Michael Sopoćko was heroically fulfilling throughout his lifetime. And because of his tireless works, in his funeral homily he was called: "Titan of work, hero, and madman of God" (I, 535). His zeal in striving to save souls pushed him to try to become everything for everyone. His eagerness to promote the Divine Mercy devotion kindled his heart and mind. It was his masterpiece. It was not unwise or careless zeal, however, but zeal used carefully and open to reflection.
To this wise zeal we owe a spiritual treasure - "the Diary" of Saint Sister Faustina Kowalska. It may be interesting to recall how "the Diary" came into existence. From 1932 to 1942 our Blessed was the confessor of sisters from the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. There, in 1933 he met sister Faustina as his penitent. During her lengthy confessions Sister Faustina confided in him her private revelations concerning the Divine Mercy devotion. Her confessions were often prolonged and tested the patience of other nuns who were waiting for their turn to confess, thus blessed Father Sopoćko asked Faustina to be more concise, to write down her experiences, and to pass to him her notes. That is how "the Diary" was written.

At first, our Blessed did not believe in the supernatural type of the experiences written down by Sister Faustina. After prolonged and careful thinking and precise theological examination of her experiences, he became convinced about their truthfulness. But that was not all. He devoted himself to spreading the Divine Mercy devotion founding the Congregation of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus.
This way the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, full of Mercy, shaped two Disciples of God's love: Saint Sister Faustina Kowalska and Blessed Michael Sopoćko. Heart of Jesus encourages also each of us to spread the forgiveness - the offered and the received – with the feeling of gratefulness for those two saint Apostles, who have spread the word of Gospel not only in their noble homeland, but also in the whole Church and all over the world.I wish all of you present all the best on this special and holy day.




The sarcophagus with the relics of the Blessed Michael Sopoćko
in the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy in Bialystok.


 

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