A Saint of Our Time

Sts Faustina and Therese of Lisieux

Tuesday is the feast day of a saint whose first class bone relic we are privileged to house in St. Edward’s church alongside the Divine Mercy image of our Lord.  Saint Faustina, an uneducated Polish nun, wrote a diary recording the revelations she received from Christ himself about God’s mercy.  The message of The Divine Mercy is simple – that God wants us to recognise that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we may call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others.

St Faustina was born in 1905, the third of ten children, and entered the religious life at age 18.  In the 1930’s, the Lord entrusted to Sr. Faustina His message of mercy which she was asked to spread across the world “to continue to make known to souls the great mercy I have for them and to exhort them to trust in My bottomless mercy”.

Canonized by Pope John Paul II on Divine Mercy Sunday in 2000, she became the first saint of the new millennium.  As a saint of our time it is easy for people today to identify with St. Faustina.  Through her, Jesus has offered channels for graces which are new in form although they proclaim the timeless message of God’s merciful love and draw back to the Sacrament of Mercy and the Eucharist. These new forms revealed by the Lord are: The Image, The Chaplet, the Hour of Mercy and remembrance of Christ’s Passion, Novena before the Feast of Mercy and the Feast of Divine Mercy Sunday itself.

What were some of St. Faustina’s virtues?  From her great love of God flowed her love of neighbour. She understood that we are to be merciful and do things out of love of God. She understood the importance of kindness and a forgiving heart, emphasising that just as the Father loves us and forgives us, we are to love and forgive each other.  She wrote, “We resemble God most when we forgive our neighbours”.  Saint Faustina was often rejected and humiliated and suffered physically with TB until she died aged 33.  She wrote in her Diary that God Himself allowed these sufferings in order to offer reparation for the infants dying as a result of abortion. Yet, she realised that she could unite her sufferings to Jesus’ sufferings on the Cross and wrote “Suffering is a great grace; through suffering the soul becomes like the Saviour; in suffering love becomes crystallised; the greater the suffering, the purer the love”.

The message of Divine Mercy is completely in accordance with the teachings of the Church and is firmly rooted in the Gospels.  Properly understood and implemented, it will help us grow as genuine followers of Christ.  Spend time to learn more about the mercy of God, learn to trust in Jesus, and live your life as merciful to others, as Christ is merciful to you.   Maybe listen to this 30-minute crash course by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC.

o – o – o – o

This last Friday was the feast day of another Saint who similarly suffered and similarly left us a tremendous legacy because of the simplicity and practicality of her approach to the spiritual life.   St. Therese of Lisieux was born in January 1873 but experienced a dreadful blow when, at the age of four, she lost her mother.  At age 15 she became a cloistered Carmelite nun and, like Faustina, died from TB aged only 24.   She is known for her “Little Way” of being small and doing the smallest things with great love.  It is the way of those who are not rich and famous, and who want to serve God their loving Father through their littleness, simplicity and love.   We can see this in the following inspirational quotes from her:

“Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word …. and doing it all for love.”

“Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be and becoming that person.”

“Without love, deeds (even the most brilliant) count as nothing.”

“Holiness consists simply in doing God’s will, and being just what God wants us to be.”