Faustina: The Mystic and Her Message

Follow the path of Faustina on her journey to sainthood! Discover new details... Read more


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Her Lesson in Living, Her Lesson in Dying

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By Felix Carroll (Oct 5, 2018)
This is what tuberculosis can do to you: Attack the lungs, kill tissue, and spread to the brain and the bones. Coughing becomes a given — sometimes mucus, sometimes blood. Breathing can become difficult. You may wheeze and feel chest pains and sweat excessively. You may become fatigued and feverish and lose weight such that you become a mere fragment of your former physical self.

Eighty years ago, on Oct. 5, 1938, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, the great apostle of Divine Mercy, died at the age of 33 from complications from tuberculosis and other ailments, which included internal hemorrhaging.

Firsthand accounts collected by biographers over the years attest to the fact Faustina suffered a physically agonizing death. Yet, just as Faustina shows us how to live — united to God's will — in her death, Faustina shows us how to die. She was prepared and unafraid.

Here is how Sr. Stella Kozlowska described the once-attractive Faustina just days before her death, as explained in Ewa K. Czaczkowska's Faustina: The Mystic & Her Message (Marian Press): "Her face was gaunt, and its shape had changed. Her skin was yellow, and her eyes were huge and sunken ... ."

Other sisters later said they found it painful to even look at her. Yet they reported that, all the while, Faustina remained stoic, even cheerful and smiling.

"Sister dear, you are not afraid of death?" Sr. Crescentia asked her, according to Maria Tarnawska in her now-out-of-print Marian Press book, Sister Faustina Kowalska — Her Life and Mission.

"Why should I be?" Faustina responded from her deathbed. "All my sins and imperfections will be consumed like straw in the fire of the Divine Mercy."

On the day of her death, Faustina, in agony, announced, "Today Jesus is going to take me with Him," writes Czaczkowska. Faustina said so, not only with confidence, but with longing. The sisters gathered around her for one last time and prayed for her as her mind began to dim. The future saint took her last breath at 10:45 p.m. In her last moments, she lay quiet and peaceful.

The sisters who visited her in her last days reported feeling God's presence in the room. Even those few sisters who showed ambivalence with regard to Faustina in her healthier days reported feeling they were in the presence of a saint.

Her pursuit of mystical union

Saint Faustina's now-famous Diary gives us a fuller picture of her state of mind as she approached death. As her physical pain and exhaustion grew in intensity, so, too, did her mystical union with Christ.

She details a three-day retreat less than four months before her death (see Diary, 1753-1779).

During the retreat (led by Christ Himself), He assured her of the sanctification and salvation available through the Sacraments, particularly the Holy Eucharist and Confession. He taught her to totally abandon herself to His will; to put her "self-love in the last place"; shun gossip "like the plague"; act kindly to those who sought to cause her harm; hide in His Heart whenever confronted by temptation and discouragement; trust He is always with her; pray for the sick and dying; and to always be adorned by the virtues of humility, purity of intention, and love.

But He also minces no words with regards to the sufferings ahead. He says He will "not delude" her "with prospects of peace," and tells her that her "body and soul will often be in the midst of fire."

"Although you will not feel My presence on some occasions," Christ says, "I will always be with you. Do not fear; My grace will be with You" (1767).

Jesus directs His words as much to Faustina as to us. Her recording of the retreat reads like a crash course geared to all who seek holiness.

An eternal ellipsis

Prepared thusly, Faustina's happiness, spiritual strength, and glorification of Jesus became all the more pronounced.

By then, she could no longer live a normal community life. Still, strengthened through the Holy Eucharist, she taught herself to put her sufferings to divine use, to transform them into a daily oblation for the salvation of souls.

Though undated, Faustina's final Diary entry is believed to have been in mid-June 1938. She no longer had the strength to continue. But by then, what else could she say? Save for a final Confession and Last Rites, she was fully prepared to die. In her final Diary entry, she writes:

Today, the Majesty of God is surrounding me. There is no way that I can help myself to prepare better. I am thoroughly enwrapped in God. My soul is being inflamed by His love. I only know that I love and am loved. That is enough for me. I am trying my best to be faithful throughout the day to the Holy Spirit and to fulfill His demands. I am trying my best for interior silence to be able to hear His voice ... (1828).

That's how the Diary ends — with an ellipsis. That's how St. Faustina died, too, with an ellipsis, so to speak, a dot, dot, dot indicating that the story continues. Yes, life everlasting has only just begun.

As it was for a saint, so it is for ourselves: When we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus' Merciful Heart, we should rest assured that someday, like Faustina, we will rest in peace.

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Loretta - Oct 9, 2018

St Faustina Please Pray with me and for me with Our Blessed Mother and St Joseph at the hour of my death , my husbands death my daughter and her families death my moms death and for each members of our families friends enemies and perscutors

Thank you

Jesus I Trust in You

Donna - Oct 4, 2018

St. Faustina, you taught us how to live and how to die, trusting in Jesus’ unfathomable mercy. Remember us who still live in this valley of tears, and pray that we, too, may aspire to love Jesus as you taught us by your example...

Matthew - Sep 9, 2018

Thank-you, St. Faustina, for presenting to us the Divine Beauty of the Merciful Heart of Jesus.

Geri - Sep 4, 2018

Trying to embrace my crosses joyfully with Divine Mercy in my soul. My beautiful hope.

Même - Sep 3, 2018

The Divine Mercy is a the most holy divine gift for us, human sinners.
Saint Faustina is a gift to us by her earthly life example of her communion with a Jesus, Our Lord, His Blessed Mother and saints. Her Diary is like a bible for daily living.Pray for us.

Maria - Sep 2, 2018

St Faustina, Always pray for us sinners. Amen

Cathy, trying to be a Eucharistic Apostle of Divine Mercy - Sep 2, 2018

Dear St. Faustina, help us to accept ALL the love and mercy, gifts and graces Jesus wants to bestow upon us that they may overflow our hearts and souls to our neighbors. Amen +

lynda - Sep 2, 2018

St. Faustina, pray for us please. We are such fortunate beings to know the secrets of living and dying. How foolish the world and some Christians are to let this time pass unused. Grace

Esperanza - Sep 1, 2018

Do everything in your power to be part of the Eucharistic Apostles of Divine Mercy Cenacle. What an incredible way to grow closer to our Merciful Lord.

Tom - Sep 1, 2018

Lord Jesus your MERCY is truly "unfathomable".Thank you my LORD. I love you Lord.Teach me to love You as You love me I beg of You.

Maria - Sep 1, 2018

The great Saint of our times - Faustina tells us how to live also in this present crisis of our Catholic Church..in the Heart of Jesus..with no fear..and prepare ourselves for Heaven.