The Birthday of St Faustina Kowalska

Today, Thursday 25 August 2022, is the 117th birthday of St Mary Faustian Kowalska. As we all know, St Faustina was chosen by Christ himself to be the great worldwide apostle of the Divine Mercy. Upon reading her diary one would easily conclude that she can easily be considered as one of the great mystics of the Church.

St Faustina came from a humble and poor background, born on August 25, 1905, in Głogowiec. At her baptism she was given the name of the empress and mother of Constantine the Great, Helena. Her baptism took place in the parish Church of Ðwinice Warckie. Despite their humble origins her parents gave the little Helena and her siblings a sound Christian upbringing.

Even as a little girl, little Helena showed an extraordinary love for prayer, work, and obedience, and had a sensitive heart for the poor. When she was nine years old, Helena made her first Holy Communion. Such a moment was so special for her. God gave her the grace of living profoundly this moment in the presence of the Divine Guest that now was residing in her soul. Her educational preparation consisted only of three years at school. When she was sixteen years of age Helena, to support both her parents as well as herself, left her home and went doing housekeeping work in Aleksandrów, Lódz and Ostrówek.

From the tender age of seven the little Helena already felt the first wish to become a consecrated person to God. When the suffering Christ appeared to her on August 1, 1925, at the age of twenty, was the moment she decided to enter the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, and given the name of Sister Mary Faustina. In her thirteen years of living her consecrated life within this particular religious institute, Faustina lived and worked in Kraków, Płock as well as Vilnius. Her work was that of a cook, gardener and porter.

From the outside everything seemed normal with her. However, internally, she lived a great mystical interior life. Faustina ardently loved consecrated life. Her deep spirit of recollection and her natural, serene and generous kindness was inspiration for everyone to see. Her humility shone in the fact that she was able to hide her splendid union with God and yet remained a very down-to-earth person.

Her deep and profound union with God taught Faustina that when one seriously contemplates God’s mercy this, per se, leads to a child-like attitude trust in God, which is then translated to one’s neighbour. In her Diary, precisely in entry 1242, she wonderfully writes: O my Jesus, each of Your saints reflects one of Your virtues; I desire to reflect Your compassionate heart, full of mercy; I want to glorify it. Let Your mercy, O Jesus, be impressed upon my heart and soul like a seal, and this will be my badge in this and the future life (Diary 1242).

Her impressive love for the Church made her submit herself both to the guidance of her two spiritual directors, namely Blessed Michael Sopocko and Fr Józef Andrasz SJ as well as to the Church’s authorities in order that these revelations be scrutinized accordingly. Although such a process was, at times, painful for Faustina, she always complied with an incredible witness of living her vow of obedience. Fully sustained by this obedience to Christ through his Church, Faustina, as a faithful daughter of the Church which she treasured like a Mother, easily and joyfully cooperated with God’s mercy for the salvation of souls. Great were the wonders the grace of God worked through Faustina’s apparently insignificant, monotonous and dull life couched with her normal life like the other sisters in the convent.

In the following passage from her Diary one cannot fail but appreciate her profound union with God. It was in uniting her will to that of God which made Faustina realize what true holiness is all about. She writes: Neither graces, nor revelations, nor raptures, nor gifts granted to a soul make it perfect, but rather the intimate union of the soul with God. These gifts are merely ornaments of the soul, but constitute neither its essence nor its perfection. My sanctity and perfection consist in the close union of my will with the will of God (Diary 1107).

The most wonderful gift that St Faustina is giving to you and me, on her birthday, is that of submitting ourselves to the Will of God. Faustina’s holy life confirms what is written in Psalm 40: I delight to do thy will, O my God; thy law is within my heart (Ps 40:8). In every word and deed in her short life Faustina tried to comply in everything to the Father’s saving will. As she was struggling and practically sweating blood in one of those horrible periods of spiritual darkness after describing what she was going through, Faustina was magnificently adamant to live this phase of great spiritual pain in God’s Will. She says:

O my Jesus, despite the deep night that is all around me and the dark clouds which hide the horizon, I know that the sun never goes out. O Lord, though I cannot comprehend You and do not understand Your ways, I nonetheless trust in Your mercy. If it is Your will, Lord, that I live always in such darkness, may You be blessed. I ask You only one thing, Jesus: do not allow me to offend You in any way. O my Jesus, You alone know the longings and the sufferings of my heart. I am glad I can suffer for You, however little. When I feel that the suffering is more than I can bear, I take refuge in the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and I speak to Him with profound silence (Diary, 73).

Dear St Faustina, on your birthday, pray for us, help us, guide us, encourage us, to live our difficult situations with your great faith and abonnement in God’s most saving will. Amen.

St Faustina, model of fulfilling God’s will, pray for us!

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Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap was born in San Gwann on August 26 1972. After being educated in governmental primary and secondary schools as well as at the Naxxar Trade School he felt the call to enter the Franciscan Capuchin Order. After obtaining the university requirements he entered the Capuchin friary at Kalkara on October 12 1993. A year after he was ordained a priest, precisely on 4 September 2004, his superiors sent him to work with patients as a chaplain first at St. Luke's Hospital and later at Mater Dei. In 2007 Fr Mario obtained a Master's Degree in Hospital Chaplaincy from Sydney College of Divinity, University of Sydney, Australia. From November 2007 till March 2020 Fr Mario was one of the six chaplains who worked at Mater Dei Hospital., Malta's national hospital. Presently he is a chaplain at Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre. Furthermore, he is a regular contributor in the MUMN magazine IL-MUSBIEĦ, as well as doing radio programmes on Radio Mario about the spiritual care of the sick.