The Suffering Secretary of the Divine Mercy

October 5th is the feast day of St Faustina Kowalska. This humble Polish nun was appointed by Jesus to be the Secretary of His unfathomable Mercy.

It was Jesus himself who told her so, as we marvelously find out in her Diary entry 1605: You are the secretary of My mercy. I have chosen you for that office in this life and the next lifeObviously, being his personal secretary, Faustina can help us delving deeper into the truth and beauty of the mystery of suffering.

For Faustina, we, who are the objects of God’s mercy, are endowed with great graces. The first one is that of receiving Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and the other one is to suffer for him. In her Diary entry 1804 she tells us: If the angels were capable of envy, they would envy us for two things: one is the receiving of Holy Communion, and the other is suffering. Moreover, God, the Author of mercy, allows a person to suffer to display the holiness of that person before him. God, who is Light itself, lives in a pure and humble heart, and all sufferings and adversities serve but to reveal the soul’s holiness (Diary, 573).

Faustina teaches us that suffering purifies love. Suffering is a great grace; through suffering the soul becomes like the Savior; in suffering love becomes crystallized; the greater the suffering, the purer the love. (Diary, 57). Jesus remains our unshakeable focal point in our suffering. She writes: When pain overwhelms my soul, and the horizon darkens like night, and the heart is torn with the torment of suffering, Jesus Crucified, You are my strength (Diary, 1151). For Jesus’ Mercy Secretary, suffering united her more and more with Jesus. Sufferings, adversities, humiliations, failures and suspicions that have come my way are splinters that keep alive the fire of my love for You, O Jesus (Diary, 38). That is why Faustina was naturally led to conclude: True love is measured by the thermometer of suffering (Diary 343).

When love becomes purer it stops being something that we suffer about. The purer our love becomes, the less there will be within us for the flames of suffering to feed upon, and the suffering will cease to be a suffering for us (Diary 303). Through suffering we come to appreciate more and more Jesus, our true friend. She says: Suffering is the greatest treasure on earth; it purifies the soul. In suffering, we learn who is our true friend (Diary, 342). For those who love authentically because they suffer for those whom they love, suffering becomes their daily food. Faustina teaches us: From the moment I came to love suffering, it ceased to be a suffering for me. Suffering is the daily food of my soul (Diary, 276). Suffering keeps us focused on God’s will in our lives. Sweeter to me are the torments, sufferings, persecutions, and all manner of adversities by divine will than popularity, praise, and esteem by my own will (Diary, 678).

Suffering, by itself, does not make sense if it is not conducive to love. Faustina writes: Great love can change small things into great ones, and it is only love which lends value to our actions (Diary, 303). Love, comprehended as mercy, is God’s greatest attribute. This courageous Polish nun affirmed: And I understood that the greatest attribute of God is love and mercy. It unites the creature with the Creator (Diary, 180). Love is the sole force that keeps us going on. Our beloved saint states: Love endures everything, love is stronger than death, love fears nothing (Diary, 46).

Love refreshes our spirit amid the suffering we go through in life. O my Lord, inflame my heart with love for You, that my spirit may not grow weary amidst the storms, the sufferings and the trials (Diary, 94). Love is mercy all the way long. Jesus confirmed this essential tenet in the spiritual life when he said to Faustina: Then I heard the words, I am glad you behaved like My true daughter. Be always merciful as I am merciful’ (Diary, 1695). The final teaching St Faustina gives us is that love is, in fact, a mystery which transforms anything into God’s beauty and favour. She states: Love is a mystery that transforms everything it touches into things beautiful and pleasing to God (Diary, 890).

 Thank you Lord that, through St Faustina, you teach us that suffering is not a punishment but a splendid opportunity to love with all []our heart, and with all []our soul, and with all []our might (Deut 6:5).

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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.