It’s another Wednesday for Saint Maria Faustina KoWalska (what else,)
with a brief reflection on the Divine Mercy of God!
And I have a confession to make…
I’ve been watching an awful lot of movies these past 48 hours!
Mostly because I remain homebound on Doctor’s orders. And so it is that I must confess to taking advantage of this permission ‘to do nothing’ & have woven some mindless things amidst my lenten prayer time, such as a….
with sympathetic Helen by my side!
I have mainly chosen to revisit some of my all time favorite dramas to watch, for example: On Golden Pond (Norman is still ‘just an old poop’.) Terms of Endearment (I decided I still prefer Shirley MacLaine as Wheezer in Steel Magnolias…and then tried to figure out how did she ever get cast as Martha Levinson in Downton Abbey???) PS I love you (where a scene was filmed from Cuppycake & my favorite NYC restaurant, Ouest, which closed it’s doors June 2015 and made me all teary-eyed as that particular scene was playing with Harry Connick, Jr & Hilary Swank.) And then today, trying to build upon this movie marathon to pass still yet more time, I attempted to watch a family favorite, Return to Me, which for some odd reason would not play. (And I was really looking forward to some bicycle riding time with Minnie Driver & the habited Sisters through the streets of Italy!)
The movie is a drama on the life of Sister Faustina Kowalska, a member of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, based upon her experiences recorded in her spiritual diary. Faustina received from Our Lord the visions of Divine Mercy and was both Beatified and Canonized by Pope John Paul II. The first feature film of its kind in Poland, it is a beautiful artistic portrayal of her mystical life in high quality cinema.
Dorota Segada was voted top actress of the year by European film critics for her stunning portrayal of Sister Faustina.
And while this movie just scraped the surface of the mystical experiences of St. Faustina & her many Diary entries, this was still a wonderful portrayal of St. Faustina’s mission as directed by Christ. The focus of Faustina’s time spent in confession with her Spiritual Director, Father Sopocko, and the tender compassion he showed during those times was a beautiful expression of what the Sacrament of Confession can be for us.
St. Faustina herself wrote many times in her Diary of the beautiful gift we are given through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
(113) And again, I would like to say three words to the soul that is determined to strive for sanctity and to derive fruit; that is to say, benefit from confession.
First [word] – complete sincerity and openness. Even the holiest and wisest confessor cannot forcibly pour into the soul what he desires if it is not sincere and open. An insincere, secretive soul risks great dangers in the spiritual life, and even the Lord Jesus Himself does not give Himself to such a soul on a higher level, because He knows it would derive no benefit from these special graces.
Second word – humility. A soul does not benefit as it should from the sacrament of confession if it is not humble. Pride keeps it in darkness. The soul neither knows how, nor is it willing, to probe with precision the depths of its own misery. It puts on a mask and avoids everything that might bring it recovery.
Third word – obedience. A disobedient soul will win no victory, even if the Lord Jesus Himself, in person, were to hear its confession. The most experienced confessor will be of no help whatsoever to such a soul. The disobedient soul exposes itself to great misfortunes; it will make no progress toward perfection, nor will it succeed in the spiritual life. God lavishes His graces most generously upon the soul, but it must be an obedient soul. -Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul, Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska
Confession is a sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ in his love and mercy. It is here that we meet the loving Jesus who offers sinners forgiveness for offenses committed against God and neighbor. At the same time, Confession permits sinners to reconcile with the Church, which also is wounded by our sins.
Saint Faustina reminds us we need the sacrament of Penance because each of us, from time to time, sins. When we recognize that we have offended God who is all deserving of our love, we sense the need to make things right. Like the prodigal son in the Gospel, we long to know again the loving embrace of a forgiving father who patiently waits for each of us. Jesus himself has established this sure and certain way for us to access God’s mercy and to know that our sins are forgiven. By virtue of his divine authority, Jesus gives this power of absolution to the apostolic ministry. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “in imparting to his apostles his own power to forgive sins the Lord also gives them the authority to reconcile sinners with the Church” (1444).
We need to know that our sins are forgiven. There is something in our human nature that calls out for the assurance that our sins are actually forgiven. Confession is the visible manifestation of God’s mercy that provides us, in human terms as well, the clear awareness that God has forgiven us.
As Holy Week approaches may we consider the mercy that awaits us. There is no better drama to play out than what forgiveness has to offer us.
And I must confess there is no greater drama to watch than our selves falling into the arms of Jesus as we allow Him to wash away our sins.
“As we exit the confessional, we will feel his strength which gives new life and restores ardor to the faith. After confession we are reborn.” Pope Francis
hugs n’ restored blessings as we sincerely, humbly, obediently proclaim…
I enjoy meeting people! I enjoy learning about them…their past, their present and what they hope for their future. But I really enjoy reading about the lives of the Saints! They inspire me, guide me, and in many ways encourage me to do ‘better’ in my own manner of living.
Have you ever met someone like that? Who inspires, guides and shows you; through the example of how they live/have lived their own life, the way to live your own?
I call these people, in particular these Saints, my IRONMEN as taken from Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
Recently the Church celebrated one such Ironman (or woMAN’s) Feast Day, St. Frances of Rome. I was exposed to the life of St. Frances of Rome 3 years ago, while helping to prayerfully discern a Patron Saint for our local 1:38 Women Organization.
As a girl, St. Frances thought she was called to be a nun. Instead, however, she lived forty happy years as a married woman. An exceptionally competent person, Frances conducted herself according to clear priorities. She expressed her commitment to Christ first in her affectionate care for her husband and children, then for her extended household, and finally for Rome’s sick poor. “Sometimes,” she said, “a wife must leave God at the altar to find him in her household management.”
At twelve, Frances married Lorenzo Ponziano, a nobleman who loved her tenderly. She drew close to Vannozza, her sister-in-law, who lived in the same house and shared her zeal. Together they tended the sick, seeking out Rome’s worst cases. In 1400, Frances gave birth to a son, the first of four children, all of whom she tended personally.
Frances made everyone feel like a best friend, and thus attracted many people, especially younger women who idealized her. In 1424, with Lorenzo’s full support, she organized a group of women as the Oblates of Mary. They lived at home under the Rule of St. Benedict without vows and shared Frances’s mission to the sick. But seven years later, Frances acquired an old building and called the women to live in community. A biographer reported her invitation, as follows:
“I am ready to do what the Lord wants. But without you, my sisters, what can I do? You are the foundations of the building, the first stones of the new spiritual house of Mary, his mother. You are the seed from which a plentiful harvest is to spring. Earthly cares, the temporal affairs of life, must no longer take up your time. He summons you to a retreat, where you will live in his presence, imitate his example and copy the virtues of Mary, where you will pray for Rome, and turn away his wrath from this degenerate and guilty city.”
Mary Magdalene Anguillaria, superior of the Oblates of the Tower of Specchi wrote of St. Frances: God not only tested the patience of Frances with respect to her material wealth, but, as I have said before he tested her in a variety of ways. And yet no one ever observed in her a tendency toward impatience. She never exhibited any displeasure when she complied with an order, no matter how foolish. Through the premature deaths of her sons whom she loved dearly, Frances proved her constancy. With peace of soul she always reconciled herself to the will of God and gave him thanks for all that happened. With the same constancy she endured the slander of those who abused and reviled her and her way of life. She did not show the least hint of aversion toward them, even though she knew that they judged her rashly and spoke falsely of her way of life. Rather, returning good for evil, she habitually prayed to God for them. God had not chosen her to be holy merely for her own advantage. Rather, the gifts he conferred upon her were to be for the spiritual and physical advantage of her neighbor. For this reason he made her so lovable that anyone with whom she spoke would immediately feel captivated by love for her and ready to help her. No one left her without being consoled, although she openly rebuked them for their sins and fearlessly reproved them for what was evil and displeasing to God.
After Lorenzo died in 1436, Frances joined the Oblates and became their superior. During the last half of her life she received frequent visions and ecstasies. It is said that for twenty-three years her guardian angel was visible to her, aiding her in her service. She died in Rome in 1440.
Frances of Rome should be named patron of wishes that don’t come true. By submitting faithfully to God, she received even morethan she had wanted—the blessings of both married and religious life.
I am grateful for meeting St. Frances. There are several important reasons why she has taken up residency in my heart, but I am most grateful for the lesson she has taught me regarding the constancy I need to strive for in my own life.
St. Frances of Rome, help us to see the difference between what we want to do and what God wants us to do. Help us to discern what comes from our will and what comes from God’s desire. Amen.
hugs n’ blessings for the constant quality of God’s love for us, which is often shown through the people that we meet!