'Our Lady Will Never Let Us Down'
By Dan Valenti (Sep 7, 2011)
Father Donald Calloway, MIC, Marian Fathers' vocation director and spiritual director, begins his book Purest of All Lilies: The Virgin Mary in the Spirituality of St. Faustina with a biographical sketch of the saint. Father Donald notes that despite Helen Kowalska's third-grade education, she "learned the most important things in life from her parents."
Father Donald isolates a crucial aspect of Helen's upbringing: her father's Marian devotion. Despite having to work long hours at farm work and carpentry, Stanislaus Kowalski rose early each morning to sing the traditional "Little Hours of the Immaculate Conception."
Father Donald notes, "This public manifestation of Marian devotion would have a big impact on Helen. For example, when on one occasion during her childhood she awoke early in the morning to take the cows out for pasture so that her father did not have to work so hard, she was heard singing ['Little Hours'] in imitation of her father's morning rituals."
Helen Kowalska grew up with the influence of Mary all around her young life. Her family prayed the Rosary together, and as a country, Poland was known for its unwavering devotion to Our Lady.
Later, when Helen became Sr. Faustina and began writing her Diary at the urging of her confessor, we can read how fundamental Mary became to the future saint's spirituality. In fact, this relationship between the Blessed Mother and her devotee forms the basis of Fr. Donald's book. Purest of All Lilies makes exceptional reading for the month of October, known in the Church as the month of the Rosary.
Given the hardships everyone faces in life, it's notable that Fr. Donald pays particular attention to the manner in which St. Faustina relied on Mary to help her through her sufferings, especially after the saint began living her "desire to become sacrificial like the Eucharist." Mary is our example.
Saint Faustina often reflected on the sufferings and sorrows experienced by Our Lady. Father Donald gives us an example from vespers on Nov. 30, 1936. On that day, St. Faustina experienced a "piercing pain in her soul." Our Lady then appeared and told her:
Know, my daughter, that although I was raised to the dignity of the Mother of God, seven swords of pain pierced my heart. Don't do anything to defend yourself; bear everything with humility; God Himself will defend you (Diary of St. Faustina, 786).
"The lesson for all of us," writes Fr. Donald, "is that the Blessed Mother can be that same source of strength as we experience our own difficulties in life. ... Many things in life fail us," Fr. Donald says, "but Our Lady will never let us down."