Sister Maria Faustina
December 8, 2015
Today, on this glorious feast of the Immaculate Conception, the Church begins
the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, a time when God’s merciful love will be
pouring out upon the world in a special way. How significant, then, that on this
very day, our Christie Anna will receive the name of the saint whom the Church
invokes as “the Apostle of Mercy”. She will become
Maria Faustina of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus and the Sorrowful Heart of Mary.
Bearing this new name, Christie Anna will live among us as a constant reminder
of a mission that all of us have. Now, what do I mean by this?
Well, we know of course that St. Faustina was not a Passionist Nun. Yet, she exemplified in her life so much that is most precious in our own spirituality. In our hidden lives of prayer and sacrifice with Mary at the foot of the cross, all of us are called to be apostles of mercy. When we think about it, even our holy founder, St. Paul of the Cross, could have been named by the Church as an “Apostle of Mercy,” for indeed he spent his whole life bringing the merciful fruits of the Passion of Jesus to others. And he founded a Congregation that would do the same. So many words that flowed from his heart could have been written by St. Faustina, as for instance this excerpt from his diary: “I felt sorrow to see him (God) offended. I told him I would willingly be torn to pieces for a single soul. Indeed, I felt that I would die when I saw the loss of so many souls who do not experience the fruit of the Passion of my Jesus.” These are certainly words of an apostle of mercy!
Today let’s reflect on a few ways in which St. Faustina can help us also to be apostles of mercy.
Jesus Taught St. Faustina the Sanctifying Power of Meditation on His Passion
The call to meditate on the sorrowful Passion of Jesus and the Sorrows of Mary runs like a golden thread throughout St. Faustina’s diary. Once Jesus said to her: “My daughter, meditate frequently on the sufferings I have undergone for your sake, and then nothing you suffer for Me will seem great to you. You please Me most when you meditate on My sorrowful Passion. Join your little sufferings to My sorrowful Passion, so they may have infinite value before My Majesty.” Jesus promised “great graces to souls who meditate devoutly” on His Passion. He said that by this meditation, these souls would acquire a distinct beauty. There is also this striking passage: “There is more merit to one hour of meditation on My sorrowful Passion than there is to a whole year of bloody scourging; the contemplation of My painful wounds is of great profit to you and it brings Me great joy.” All of these words illuminate the importance that meditation and contemplation of Our Lord’s life, Passion and Death plays in our Passionist spirituality.
St. Faustina Was the Faithful Bride and Confidant of Christ’s Agonizing Heart
Through meditation as well as her sharing in Christ’s sufferings in the midst of profound trials, St. Faustina became Christ’s faithful bride and the confidant of the secrets of His Agonizing Heart. She received, like St. Paul of the Coss, an infused understanding of the Passion of Jesus, as well as His Passion continuing in the members of His Mystical Body today. Infused understanding of the Passion of Jesus is a grace at the very heart of our Passionist charism. Jesus does share the secrets of His Heart with those who persevere in meditating on His mysteries. In fact, this infused understanding is a grace He longs to give souls. He wants us to know Him deeply, He wants us to experience His love and to take on the dispositions of His Heart. Think of the way He shared His Heart with His apostles when He told them privately: “My Heart is moved with pity for the multitude for they are like sheep without a shepherd.” Or again, think of those heart-piercing words in Gethsemani: “My soul is sorrowful unto the point of death. Stay here and keep awake with Me.” The Church teaches that the adoration, love and reparation we now offer our Suffering Lord truly did console Him in the hour of His agony and death. This is a cause for amazement and love.
St. Faustina Was Christ’s Helpmate in Extending to Souls the Fruits of His Passion
On many occasions, Our Lord asked St. Faustina to be His helpmate in saving souls. Jesus allowed her to share deeply in His infinite thirst for the salvation and sanctification of every human person. Jesus said to her, “My daughter, help Me save souls.” “The flames of mercy are burning Me. I desire to pour them out upon human souls.” After revealing to her that the loss of each soul plunges Him into mortal sadness, Our Lord told her that the prayer most pleasing to His Heart is prayer for the conversion of sinners–a prayer, He added, that is “always heard and answered.” As cloistered Passionist Nuns, we too have heard His call “My daughter, help Me save souls,” and therefore, we too offer unceasing prayer and joyful penance for the salvation of every human person. By our Passion vow we are truly called to be His helpmates in extending the fruits of His Passion to souls.
Jesus Taught St. Faustina How to Use the Saving Power of His Passion
We know so well that the Divine Mercy Chaplet is a profoundly Passionist prayer. As we pray it, we join with the Church in heaven and on earth in a perpetual oblation of the Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus to the Father in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world. Jesus told St. Faustina she would die if she saw just the sins committed in one day’s time, so great is the magnitude of evil and its devastation of the human person and whole societies. Jesus never wants us to forget that every day souls created to share the divine life of the Trinity, are in danger of losing their immortal souls. If we keep this in mind, we will truly live as contemplative apostles of mercy. We will keep in mind that the Church in heaven and on earth is profoundly engaged in the ongoing oblation of the Divine Victim who alone can redeem immortal souls for God. We will beg our Heavenly Father to pour out mercy for the sake of the Sorrowful Passion of His Son—that is, we will beg for the Holy Spirit to come and change every human heart.
Jesus told Faustina that when she was praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, she was bringing the entire world closer to Him. The Eternal Father too wanted her to know the power of offering the sorrowful Passion of His Son, for He told her that when she did so, He envelops with unfathomable mercy all those for whom she prayed, and that the very depths of His mercy are moved for the sake of the Passion of His Son!
Because the prayers of the Mercy chaplet are a continuation of the Mass, they form in us a profound interior attitude of prayer, a living liturgy of the heart. Once we really grasp the importance of what we are doing as we pray the chaplet, then we realize how this ongoing work of mercy has the potential of changing the whole world. Especially if we pray it in union with Our Mother of Sorrows who is always pleading the Passion of her Son, because she is always sharing her Son’s agony over the loss of immortal souls. This is a powerful way of allowing the Holy Spirit to impress upon our hearts the continual memory of the Passion – the most overwhelming and magnificent mystery of God’s Merciful Love for sinners! This is the “great work” to which Passionists dedicate their lives! Indeed, this is the greatest work going on in our world today–the redemption of human souls.
From all I have said, we can perhaps better understand the unique importance of the following words of our holy founder to Mother Mary Crucified: The Passionist Nuns are to “have much at heart the conversion of sinners, heretics and infidels, the sanctification of their neighbor, the freedom of souls from purgatory, and the exaltation of Holy Mother Church. Let them pray also for the Sovereign Pontiff, other superiors and evangelical workers. To this end, let them frequently offer to the Eternal Father the Passion and Infinite Merits of Jesus Christ, this being the very end of the Institute of the Daughters of the Cross and Passion of Jesus Christ.”
The very end of our institute—to be ceaselessly offering the Passion of Jesus! We see the great work of mercy before us. This holy Year of Mercy is a wonderful time to recommit ourselves once again to be contemplative apostles of mercy for our world today! So let’s do so today as we continue the vestition ceremony of Postulant Christie Anna!