Bl. Michał Sopoćko
The Diary of St. Faustina
Bl. Michał Sopoćko
St. John Paul II
BLESSED FATHER MICHAEL SOPOCKO
Blessed Michael Sopoćko was a Roman Catholic priest and professor at Vilnius University. He was the spiritual director of St. Faustina Kowalska.
Born: November 1, 1888, Vilnius, Lithuania
Education: University of Warsaw
Priestly Ordination: June 15, 1914 Vilnius, Lithuania
Military Chaplain: 1918-1932 in Vilnius and Warsaw
Died: February 15, 1975, a Saturday evening, Bialystok, Poland--the feast day of St. Faustinus, the patron of St. Faustina Kowalska.
Beatified: September 26, 2008, Fr. Michael Sopocko was raised from Servant of God to Blessed by Pope Benedict XVI in the Divine Mercy Church in Bialystok (Polonia).
In the beginning, St. Faustina struggled very much with the message that Jesus gave to her because she did not have a confessor who truly understood her soul. As St. Faustina states in her diary, "But the goodness of Jesus is infinite; He had promise me visible help on earth, and a little while later I received it...in Vilnius in the person of Fr. Sopocko. I had already known him before coming to Vilnius, thanks to an interior vision. One day I saw him in our chapel between the altar and the confessional and suddenly heard a voice in my soul say, "This is the visible help for you on earth. He will help you carry ourt My will on earth" (Diary, 53).
Divine Providence entrusted a very important role in St. Faustina´s mission to her confessor and spiritual director, Fr. Michael Sopocko. During Sister Faustina´s stay in Vilnius (Lithuania) in the years 1933-1936, he was for her an irreplaceable help in discerning interior inspirations and visions. Obedient to his orders, she wrote the DIARY, which is an now an extraordinarily valuable document of Catholic mysticism. In the DIARY of St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in MY Soul, one can also find evidence of Fr. Sopocko´s extraordinary character and his work in fulfilling the desires of the Lord Jesus.
Father Michael Sopocko was born in Nowosady, near Vilnius (Lithuania). He studied theology at the University of Vilnius between the years of 1910 and 1914. He then went on to complete his doctorate work (1926) in moral theology at the Pedagogical Institute in Warsaw. Afterwards he became the Spiritual Director of the seminary in Vilnius. He was tenured in 1934. He worked as lecturer of pastoral theology at the Theology Department of Stefan Batory University in Vilnius and at the Higher Theological Seminary in Bialystok (1928-1962). Between 1918 and 1932 he was a chaplain in the Polish Army in Warsaw and in Vilnius.
In his published research work, Fr. Sopocko laid down a theological basis for the new forms of devotion to the Divine Mercy, to which he was a dedicated apostle. He was deeply engaged in social work and the confessor for religious/lay communities. In his letters to the newly formed Congregation of the Divine Mercy, he helped to compose the constitution of the Congregation according to the thinking and proposals of St. Faustina. He composed prayers to the Divine Mercy based on her texts. He kept in contact with St. Faustina until the time of her death, and afterwards, took it upon himself to complete the tasks given to her in her apparitions. In the DIARY of St. Faustina there are testimonies bearing witness to the beautiful personality and inner riches of this holy priest.
"I was talking with my spiritual director. I had an interior vision of his soul in great suffering, in such agony that God touches very few souls with such fire. The suffering arises from this work. There will come a time when this work, which God is demanding so very much, will be as though utterly undone. And then God will act with great power, which will give evidence of its authenticity. It will be a new splendor for the Church, although it has been dormant in it from long ago."
"That God is infinitely merciful, no one can deny. He desires everyone to know this before He comes again as Judge. He wants souls to come to know Him first as King of Mercy. When this triumph comes, we shall already have entered the new life in which there is no suffering. But before this, your soul (of the spiritual director) will be surfeited with bitterness at the sight of the destruction of your efforts. However, this will only appear to be so, because what God has once decided upon, He does not change. But although this destruction will be such only in outward appearance, the suffering will be real. When will this happen? I do not know. How long will it last? I do not know" (Diary, 378).
St. Faustina was surprised at how Fr. Michael Sopocko suffered and she said, "Jesus, this is Your affair, so why are You acting this way toward him? It seems to me that You are making difficulties for him while at the same time ordering him to act."
Jesus said to St. Faustina, "Write that by day and by night My gaze is fixed upon him, and I permit these adversities in order to increase his merit. I do not reward for good results but for the patience and hardship undergone for My sake." (Diary, 86)
"There will be as many crowns to form his crown as there will be souls saved by this work." (Diary, 90)
"I received a letter from Father Sopocko. I learned that God’s work is progressing, however slowly.(...) I have come to learn that, for the present, so far as my participation in the work is concerned, the Lord is asking for prayer and sacrifice.(...) I have learned from this letter how great is the light which God grants to this priest. This confirms in me the conviction that God will carry out this work through him despite the mounting obstacles. I know well that the greater and the more beautiful the work is, the more terrible will be the storms that that rage against it." (Diary, 1401)
"God, in his unfathomable decrees, often allows it to be the case that those who have expended the most effort in accomplishing some work do not enjoy its fruits here on earth; God reserves all their joy for eternity. But for all that, God sometimes lets them know how much their effort please Him. And such moments strengthen them for further struggles and ordeals. These are the souls that bear closest resemblance to the Savior who, in the work which He founded here on earth, tasted nothing but bitterness."(Diary, 1402)
"Jesus let me know how everything is dependent on His will, so as to give me profound peace regarding the security of His work. Listen, My daughter, although all the works that come into being by My will are exposed to great sufferings, consider whether any of them has been subject to greater difficulties than that work which is directly Mine - the work of Redemption. You should not worry about adversities too much. The world is not as powerful as it seems to be; its strength is strictly limited." (Diary, 1643)
Father Sopocko writes in his diary: "There are the truths which are known and often heard and spoken but not understandable. It was like that with me, concerning the truth of Divine Mercy. So many times I mentioned this truth in my sermons and thought about it during the retreats. I repeated it in church prayers - especially in Psalms - but I didn’t understand the meaning of this truth, and I didn’t get to the core of its essence, that it is the highest attribute of God’s external activity. It was only this simple nun, St. Faustina from the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy (Magdalens), who, by telling me this truth in simple terms and often repeating it, stimulated me to examine, study, and think about this truth.
(...) in the beginning I didn’t know what the problem was; I listened, distrusted, thought, studied and sought advice from others - but only several years after did I understand the greatness and importance of this work. Only then was I convinced about the effectiveness of this old, but hugely neglected life-giving devotion, and the neccesity for its renewal in or times. (...) Trust in God’s Mercy, and the spreading of devotion to His Mercy among others will be the general principle of the rest of my life. With the help of His immeasurable mercy, I will devote of all thoughts, words and deeds to it, without a shadow of myself".
"The message of the Gospel does not depend on proclaiming that sinners should become good, but rather that God is good for sinners" (Father Michael Sopocko)
Father Michael Sopocko died in Bialystok on February 15, 1975 and was considered by most everyone to be a saint. We see a forshadowing of his sanctity in the DIARY as St. Faustina wrote...
"At the feet of Jesus I saw my confessor, and behind him a great number of the highest ranking ecclesiastics, clothed in vestments I had never seen before, except in this vision; and behind them, groups of religious from various orders; and further still I saw enormous crowds of people, which extended far beyond my vision. I saw two rays coming out from the Host, as in the image, closely united but not intermingled; they passed through the hands of my confessor, and then through the hands of the clergy and from their hands to the people, and then they returned to the Host..." (Diary, 344).
On September 28, 2008, the Servant of God, Fr. Michael Sopocko, was beatified in the Divine Mercy Church in Bialystok (Polonia) and raised forever more to Blessed.
Pray that he will be made saint.