Faustina: The Mystic and Her Message

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Make Way for the Eucharist

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By Felix Carroll (May 27, 2016)
To mark the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ on May 29, we share the following:

As a tenet of our faith, we believe Christ is alive in the Eucharist. For guidance on this great mystery of our faith, we need only turn to St. Faustina, who took the religious name Sr. Faustina Kowalska of the Most Blessed Sacrament. You might even say that Jesus' Real Presence in the Eucharist is a truth into which she was born.

According to Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, who served as vice-postulator for the canonization cause of St. Faustina, an event two years before her birth may well have had an enormous impact on the young Helen Kowalska. During a celebration of 40 hours of devotion in her family's parish in rural Poland, two altar boys who were taking turns adoring the Blessed Sacrament reported a miracle. Gazing at the Host, they said they saw the face of Jesus with His head crowned with thorns. Word spread to the nearby villages, and crowds poured into the church inspired to adore Jesus in the Eucharist.

Whether what the altar boys saw represented a supernatural occurrence or a coincidental play of shadows was never resolved. Nonetheless, pilgrims continued to visit the church even during Helen's childhood.

"Witnesses who later spoke on behalf of her beatification speculated that St. Faustina must have been deeply affected by the story as a young girl," says Fr. Seraphim.

That might explain how, without fail — without doubt — Faustina seemed to intuitively conceive the Eucharist as the "source and summit of the Christian life," as Vatican II teaches. It may also explain the urgency with which she would later seek union with Jesus through Holy Communion.

One of St. Faustina's great legacies is in teaching us how we can continually seek and find strength through the Holy Eucharist. She remarks in her Diary that receiving the Eucharist brings her "to a depth of union where my love and God's love are fused together as one" (1334). At another point, she writes of how "Jesus concealed in the Host is everything" to her (1037). As she became terminally ill, she often remarked that were it not for Holy Communion, she would not be able to go on.

Father Seraphim shares how, after Faustina's death, one of the nuns with whom she served recounted an incident that highlights Faustina's abiding love of the Holy Eucharist. It was just before the feast of Corpus Christi, during which a procession would make its way from a nearby parish. Along the way, four altars were set up from which particular Gospel passages concerning the Eucharist would be read. One of the altars was in the courtyard of the Sisters' convent, and so Sr. Faustina was given the task to help in decorating that altar upon which the monstrance was to stand.

Faustina didn't undertake the task lightly. Instead of merely decorating the altar, she took a broom and commenced sweeping the entire courtyard.

"When one of the nuns saw what she was doing," says Fr. Seraphim, "that nun chastised her, telling her she was engaging in nonsense. But Sr. Faustina responded, 'The King of Kings is coming. The place has to be spick-and-span!'"

We, too, are called to recognize the Holy Eucharist as God's presence, as Christ, Himself, alive in our midst. Through the Eucharist, the King of Kings comes, giving Himself completely to us so that we — like St. Faustina — may completely dedicate ourselves to Him.

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Rabelzthemc - Jun 30, 2016

I like to pray using the form of Catholic HipHop. https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/mercy/id1091792500

in defense of good nuns - May 31, 2016

I think the many beautiful deeds of good nuns go unnoticed because they are hidden from attention, as many random acts of mercy are by anyone; but their reward will be great in Heaven. Plus, if both people in a conflict have good intentions, each of them might feel misunderstood? Also, there are many cases where Sr. Faustina herself chastised other nuns or the laity, so it's not necessarily a totally rotten thing, if it's done as fraternal correction, gently, kindly. I wonder if sometimes our interpretation of the "other" person who is encountered by Sr. Faustina, or Sr. Therese, automatically get a negative connotation by us because we know and adore these 2 saints and immediately take their side because we trust them... but they also were imperfect, and it's possible that the others they were relating to were not as terrible as it sounds like (who knows if sometimes the others were "strict" with a secret sense of humor, or if they were joking but taken seriously, or they just wanted to make a friend and had trouble knowing what to say?), and that since our 2 favorite saints did end up learning more virtues from the other encounters, that it was all for God's Will. If the roles switched places and Sr. Faustina had said the other thing and been in the other person's shoes, we'd still be on Sr. Faustina's side and we'd likely make excuses for her and see the bright side of whatever she said... even when she wrote in her Diary, she would give so many complaints about how others treated her, as for an example of how NOT to treat someone... sometimes I've worried that she wouldn't like me or i'd bug her too, but i hope now that she has passed through all earthly trials that she is less concerned about how she's treated and more concerned with intercession for our souls, although "God and souls" certainly was her main concern in her life, too. Interpersonal Communication is now a class, but nuns didn't necessarily all take that class before joining a convent, and we should give them a break. Sr. Faustina said that misunderstandings were common in religious life, probably even more so from the outside looking in.

Jack - May 28, 2016

Why are there so few nuns like Sr. Faustina and so many like the nun who chastised her?

Elizabeth - May 27, 2016

Thanks for this article. I never knew that St. Faustina's religious name is "St. Faustina Kowalsks of the Most Blessed Sacrament:. She obviously had a great love and devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament!