Photo: Marian Archives
How the Diary Helps Us to Appreciate Mary
By Br. Leonard Konopka, MIC (Oct 16, 2006)
In my column last week, I wrote about how St. Faustina developed a very close and intimate relationship with Mary from her earliest years. As I noted, her devotion to Our Lady carried her through many rough periods in her life.
But if you, like many people, didn't have the privilege of knowing Our Lady when you were a child, you need not be discouraged. You can start today. Saint Faustina can help. Through reading St. Faustina's Diary, you can begin to understand how Mary can serve as our own role model of virtue.
Indeed, St. Faustina helps us to appreciate what is so captivating about Mary.
Perhaps the attribute of Mary that most inspired St. Faustina was Mary's complete trust in God. This trust nourished Mary's soul to such a degree that obedience to God's will became the purpose for her existence. For instance, the scriptures tell us of her intuitive sensitivity at the wedding feast of Cana when, in response to Jesus, she told the servants, "Do whatever He tells you" (Jn 2:5). Without hesitation, Mary obeyed Jesus.
Mary invites us all to become similarly obedient to our Lord's call. It's a challenge — perhaps the greatest challenge that Mary offers us. Saint Faustina shows how drawn she is to this attribute of Mary when she writes of her: "There was not a stir in Her heart, but for what God wanted" (Diary, 1710; see also 1437).
By her obedience, Mary not only played a supportive, pleasant, and very rewarding Motherly role in the life of Jesus. She took a lead role in our salvation when she said "yes" at the Annunciation. Here, her obedience begins with a choice — her choice to cooperate in God's plan. In obedience, she conceived God's only Son, by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, making God's will her own will for her life.
Still, the most courageous example of her obedience was exhibited when, in conformity with God's will, she "stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, joining herself with his sacrifice in her mother's heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim, born of her..." (Lumen Gentium, 58).
Mary was led to Calvary to say "yes" while she bravely stood and observed the atrocious death of her Son on the cross.
Saint Faustina writes about this: "Except for God, no one knows of Your suffering. Your soul does not break; it is brave, because it is with Jesus" (Diary, 915). Saint Faustina draws a lesson from Mary's experience at Calvary. She goes on to write in that passage: "Sweet Mother, unite my soul to Jesus, because it is only then that I will be able to endure all trials and tribulations, and only in union with Jesus will my little sacrifices be pleasing to God."
The lesson that St. Faustina provides us is, that without a life of union with Jesus — such as she achieved, and such as Mary achieved — obedience to His will is extremely difficult.
In Diary passage 279, St. Faustina writes: "God made known to me what true love consists in and gave light to me about how, in practice, to give proof of it to Him. True love of God consists in carrying out God's will. To show God our love in what we do, all our actions, even the least, must spring from our love of God."
And in Diary passage 1244, she writes: "It is impossible for one to please God without obeying His holy will." Then, the Mother of God tells her: "My daughter, I strongly recommend that you faithfully fulfill all God's wishes, for that is most pleasing in His holy eyes. I very much desire that you distinguish yourself in this faithfulness in accomplishing God's will. Put the will of God before all sacrifices and holocausts. While the heavenly mother was talking to me, a deep understanding of this will of God was entering my soul."
Saint Faustina also draws our attention to the various other virtues of Mary. For example, she greatly admired and valued Mary's purity and humility (see Diary, 161) as well as her silence and recollected spirit (see Diary, 1398). Saint Faustina also noted that Mary, through her unity with Jesus, collaborates with Him in saving souls. At one point, she was led to pray:
"Mother of God, Your soul was plunged into a sea of bitterness; look upon Your child and teach her to suffer and to love while suffering. Fortify my soul that pain will not break it. Mother of grace, teach me to live by [the power of] God" (Diary, 315).
It is precisely here we gain the insight that, without His power — i.e., grace and energy — we are stymied in some of the more difficult experiences in our lives. The result is burnout, fear, and anxiety, since we, too, often rely only on our own abilities. Rather than relying on Him and His amazing grace to which we need to be more attuned, we are drained of energy, not only through our misplaced activities, but misguided perceptions of our own subjective worldview.
We can pray with St. Faustina:
O sweet Mother of God, I model my life on You;
You are for me the bright dawn;
In You I lose myself, enraptured.
O Mother, Immaculate Virgin,
in You the divine ray is reflected,
Midst storms, 'tis You who teach me to love the Lord,
O my shield and defense from the foe (Diary, 1232).
Brother Leonard Konopka, MIC, is on the staff of the Marian Seminary in Washington, D.C. He also provides spiritual direction, retreats, and seminars. Brother Leonard has a leaflet available that has a series of meditations on the five wounds of our Lord. The meditations are intended for use while praying the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. Click here to order Contemplate My Wounds. He also has a CD available with the meditations on the five wounds, interspered with the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. Click here to order A Musical Interlude.