And a very Happy New Year to all my fellow Catholics! Yes, Catholics have three chances, not one, to celebrate New Year’s. On the First Sunday of Advent, you will customarily hear parishioners wishing one another a “Happy New Year!” Non-catholics are generally surprised or confused to hear this, until they discover we follow a liturgical year as well as a calendrical one, and the first Sunday of Advent is the start of another annual cycle!
The second New Year’s Day for Catholics is, of course, January 1. When we can join the rest of the world, have a drink, look back with thanks, and look forward with hope and hopefully set off a few fireworks! On this day we will also celebrate again the birth of the Lord, andthe dawn of our redemption by honoring Mary the Mother of God.
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.
Minions remind me to laugh despite the chaos & difficulties of life.
And right now there is an awful lot of chaos amuck in the world!
Laughter is a good thing. Scientists tell us that laughter, humor and joy are an important part of life. Laughing lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, and increases muscle flexion. It increases the circulation of antibodies in the blood stream and makes us more resistant to infection.