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Photo: Marian archives
Even She Had Fears
What people sometimes forget when they think of St. Faustina, says Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, is how much she had to suffer in obeying the request of Jesus that she be His "secretary" of Divine Mercy.
One of Faustina's greatest concerns, Fr. Seraphim says, is that she had no education beyond third grade and didn't consider herself a writer. She had grave doubts about her ability to carry out what she discerned God was asking her to do.
"At first, St. Faustina tried to escape this role as God's secretary for Divine Mercy," says Fr. Seraphim, a foremost authority on the life of Faustina and the message of Divine Mercy. "First, she felt completely overwhelmed. Next, she felt completely ill-equipped to do what Jesus was asking her to do. She didn't think she could write, and then, at another time, she wondered in all seriousness, 'What if I write too much?' She was afraid of exhausting the topic and also of being repetitive. Jesus gave her the answer when He replied, 'You can never write too much about My mercy.'"
Father Seraphim says when people learn of these doubts and difficulties, they are surprised but encouraged. They see how greatly God tests even the saints. People can then take courage when they face their own doubts and problems.
Father Seraphim says, "St. Faustina became frightful and tried to avoid internal prayer, in which she was pursued by the visitations of Christ. Saint Faustina went through a lot of suffering, more than we can know, to let the message of Divine Mercy come through to her. This took the type of courage that can only come from resolute faith."
That's why the life of St. Faustina continues to intrigue so many. Consider the facts:
• Her Diary is one of the great mystical encounters with Jesus in Church history.
• It was written by a young, inexperienced woman with a third-grade education.
• She lived a quiet, obscure life in remote convents in backwater Poland.
• She had only limited time to write.
• Writing was not one of her official duties at the convent.
• Her writing instruments were poor.
• She suffered from debilitating physical pain and illness.
• She endured the Dark Night of the Soul, a crippling condition that feels like hopelessness.
• Yet she persisted, recording the message of Divine Mercy in six large notebooks.
When these circumstances and actions are compared to the final result — establishment of a Feast of Divine Mercy for the universal Church, the message of and devotion to The Divine Mercy, plus sainthood — one cannot help being attracted to St. Faustina. In her battle against staggering odds, one finds inspiration and, in that, the hope to persist in one's own struggles.