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Photo: Melanie Williams
Hundreds Come to Celebrate the Feast of St. Faustina
By Melanie Williams (Oct 5, 2016)
It was not just an ordinary day on Eden Hill today. It's the Feast of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938), and more than 800 pilgrims came to the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy to celebrate the life and spirituality of the saint whose Diary has sparked the modern Divine Mercy movement.
At 6:45 a.m. the Marian Fathers prayed their morning prayer in the stillness of a quiet fall Northeastern morning. The Shrine was mostly empty. A couple people made a visit to the chapel of St. Faustina to venerate her relic. Then, all within just a few hours, the Shrine was packed and Eden Hill was filled with excited visitors who have made pilgrimages from near and far.
Lou Schultz of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, came with 47 people from St. Joseph Parish and St. Katherine Drexel Church, including his pastor and a newly ordained priest.
"We are beginning our day with the Consecration to Merciful Love, praying the Way of the Cross, then the events of the day," he said. "This is a very special trip, especially since it's in the Year of Mercy!"
At 11 a.m., Fr. Thaddaeus Lancton, MIC, gave the following talk on St. Faustina:
Father Thaddaeus spoke on the goal of every Christian life, which is to come into union with God. Known as the "secretary of Divine Mercy," St. Faustina provides us with instructions on how to build this union, Fr. Thaddaeus said.
Addressing Jesus, St. Faustina wrote in her Diary, "I want to become a sacrificial host before You, but an ordinary wafer to people" (483). She lived her life as a holocaust, a whole burnt offering, to God. She wrote, "I unite myself closely with Jesus and stand before Him as an atoning sacrifice on behalf of the world" (483). She offered everything in love for Jesus — her prayers, works, and sufferings — and we are called to do the same.
"Holiness consists in union with the will of God," Fr. Thaddaeus said. "You are called to be a saint, and you can grow to a great level of holiness if you repeat, 'not my will, but Your will be done'" (see Lk 22:42).
Our Father in Heaven knows what you can do, and by His grace He made Faustina a saint, and he can make each of us a saint, beginning today.
Saint Faustina, a simple, barely educated Polish nun, became a saint because she burned with the virtues of faith, hope, and love. Father Thaddaeus said that we, too, can follow a similar path:
1. Faith: from the knowledge that comes from a deep relationship with the Father and knowing His heart.
2. Hope: from placing all of our trust in Jesus and the goodness of God who will fulfill all of His promises.
3. Love: from the fire of God's love, which enables us to love God with our whole heart, mind, and soul, and our neighbor's with His love.
Father Thaddaeus said, "Without love, we have nothing. To her sisters, St. Faustina was an ordinary sister — a gardener, a cook — but inside, she burned with love for God. That's why we are all here today, because each day she offered everything for love of God. What impact will you and I have on this world if we do the same?"
He explained that we can do this in our everyday lives by, for example, praying for those who cut us off in traffic, being patient in long lines at the store, spending time with others, and doing everything with love. We must continually examine our lives. What are our goals? Do we do everything for love of God? Do we seek to delight His Heart with our words and actions? Do we seek union with Jesus through the Blessed Sacrament?
We are all called to be a light in the darkness of this world, just as St. Faustina was a light, burning with God's love, in the darkness.
Pilgrims came from near and far to be at the National Shrine today. Volina Molina took her vacation time from work to come all the way from Honduras to visit the Shrine, specifically to celebrate Faustina's feast day.
"I have always seen the Shrine and heard about it," Molina said, "but I wanted to come for myself. I want to be a part of this. I want to spread Divine Mercy too."
Sister Susan Bagli, FMA, came with some of her sisters of the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians. After hearing Fr. Thaddaeus' talk, she and her sisters were excited to share the life of St. Faustina and her witness as a holocaust of love with the rest of their community.
In addition to the talk, the feast day celebration included Mass, the Rosary, Confessions, Eucharistic Adoration, and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
Check out the homily delivered by Shrine Rector Fr. Anthony Gramlich, MIC:
May we all offer our lives as a burning holocaust of love to the Father, as St. Faustina did, and be a light and witness to the world today!