It has been awhile since I have posted about Helen!
It has also been awhile since I have done a Wednesday posting
for Saint Maria Faustina KoWalska (what else,)
with a brief reflection on the Divine Mercy of God!
And since it has been out of the ordinary…
let me first offer a quick “refresher” on this Saint,
who is also our Golden’s namesake!
Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, known today the world over as the “Apostle of the Divine Mercy,” is numbered by theologians among the outstanding mystics of the Church. She was the third of ten children born into a poor and pious peasant family in Glogowiec, a village in the heart of Poland. At her baptism in the nearby Parish Church of Swinice Warckie she was given the name “Helena.” From childhood she distinguished herself by her piety, love of prayer, industriousness and obedience as well as by her great sensitivity to human misery. She had hardly three years of schooling, and at the age of fourteen she left the family hearth to help her parents and to earn her own livelihood serving as a domestic in the nearby cities of Aleksandrow and Lodz.
When she was only seven (two years before her First Holy Communion), Helen
already sensed in her soul the call to embrace the religious life. When later she made her desire known to her parents, they categorically did not acquiesce in her entering a convent. Because of this situation Helen strove to stifle this divine call within her. Pressed on, however, by a vision of the suffering Christ and by the words of His reproach: “How long shall I put up with you and how long will you keep putting Me off?” (Diary, 9), she bagan to search for a convent to join. She knocked on many a convent door, but nowhere was she accepted. Finally on August 1, 1925, Helen crossed the threshold of the cloister in the convent of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy on Zytnia Street in Warsaw. In her Diary she declared: “It seemed to me that I had stepped into the life of Paradise. A single prayer was bursting forth from my heart, one of thanksgiving” (Diary, 17).
Upon her entrance to the Congregation Helen received the name Sr. Maria
Faustina. Her novitiate she spent in Cracow, and there, in the presence of Bishop Stanislaus Rospond, she pronounced her first religious vows, and five years later, she made her perpetual profession of the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. She was assigned to work in a number of the Congregation’s houses, fulfilling the duties of cook, gardener and doorkeeper.
To all external appearances nothing betrayed her extraordinarily rich mystical
life. She zealously went about her duties, she faithfully observed all the religious rules, she was recollected and kept silent, all the while being natural, cheerful, full of kindness and of unselfish love of neighbor.
Her entire life was concentrated on constant striving for an even fuller union
with God and on self-sacrificing cooperation with Jesus in the work of saving souls. “My Jesus” – she avowed in her Diary – “You know that from my earliest years I have wanted to become a great saint; that is to say, I have wanted to love You with a love so great that there would be no soul who has hitherto loved You so”(Diary, 1372,)
A portion of the original Preface to the Polish Edition, 1981.
Not your ordinary Saint, right????
There are many reasons why I love & admire St. Faustina.
And, of course, there are many reason why I love & admire this Helen too!
But on the July 4th holiday, which is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, (in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States,) I wish to instead offer homage to the self-determination of a beloved Saint.
Because I am so grateful to live in a country which provides me the opportunity to not only celebrate my patriotism, but also provides the freedom to practice a faith I love!
Even if it is the mere mediation on a life well lived by a Saint.
And so that is what I am doing for THIS fourth of July!
It may not be the ordinary thing to do, but I do know if I can obtain just one request from the prayer listed below; which was penned by Saint Faustina in her Diary, then I will have pursued a portion of what the Declaration of Independence promises…
“We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
+ O Most Holy Trinity! As many times as I breathe, as many times as my heart beats, as many times as my blood pulsates through my body, so many thousand times do I want to glorify Your mercy.
+1 want to be completely transformed into Your mercy and to be Your living reflection, O Lord. May the greatest of all divine attributes, that of Your unfathomable mercy, pass through my heart and soul to my neighbor.
Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge
from appearances, but look for what is beautiful in my neighbors’ souls and come to their rescue.
Help me, that my ears may be merciful, so that I may give heed to my neighbors’ needs and not be indifferent to their pains and moanings.
Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful, so that I should never speak negatively of my neighbor, but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all.
Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only good to my neighbors and take upon myself the more difficult and toilsome tasks.
Help me, that my feet may be merciful, so that I may hurry to assist my neighbor,
overcoming my own fatigue and weariness. My true rest is in the service of my neighbor.
Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful so that I myself may feel all the sufferings of my neighbor. I will refuse my heart to no one. I will be sincere even with those who, Iknow, will abuse my kindness. And I will lock myself up in the most merciful Heart of Jesus. I will bear my own suffering in silence. May Your mercy, O Lord, rest upon me.
happy fourth of July, along with the ordinary hugs n’ blessings – to all those who will refuse their hearts to no one!
Father of all nations and ages, we recall the day when our country claimed its place among the family of nations; for what has been achieved we give you thanks, for the work that still remains we ask your help, and as you have called us from many peoples to be one nation, grant that, under your providence, our country may share your blessings with all the peoples of the earth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Prayer from the Collect in the Dioceses of the United States, July 4.