In Faustina, Saint for Our Times, Fr. George Kosicki, CSB, gives us an insightful look into St. Maria Faustina Kowalska's life, spirituality, and mission.
An Interview with St. Faustina
By Fr. George Kosicki, CSB (Feb 18, 2011)
Just imagine: interviewing St. Faustina about her sanctity and spiritual life based on her Diary ... Hmm ...
G. K.: You wrote in your Diary that you wanted to be a saint — not an ordinary saint but you wanted to be a great saint (see Diary, 1372). How would you describe what makes a saint? What is a great saint?
St. F.: Our Lord told me that "true greatness is in loving God and in humility" (Diary, 424, 427). The Lord taught me that He has no need of our work; He demands love. Love, love and once again, love of God. There is nothing greater in heaven or on earth. The greatest greatness is to love God; true greatness is in loving God; real wisdom is to love God (Diary, 990, 889).
One thing is needed to please God; to do even the smallest things out of great love; love and always love. This is the teaching of St. Thérèse. The Lord has given me to understand that there is but one thing that is of infinite value in His eyes, and that is love of God. Nothing can compare with a single act of our love of God (Diary, 778).
G. K.: Thank You, St. Faustina. That is a magnificent description of the power of pure love of God that makes a great saint. But, in light of the power of love of God, I must ask you what is love? How are we to love God?
St. F.: God made known to me what true love consists in and gave light to me about how, in practice, I am 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, in all our actions, even the least, must spring from our love of God (Diary, 279, 616).
God gave me an inner light and the understanding as to what sanctity is and of what it consists. My sanctity and perfection consist in close union of my will with the will of God. God never violates our free will. It is up to us whether we will cooperate with it or waste it (Diary, 1107).
G. K.: Please tell us more about our free will and God's will. We need to know what God's plan and desire is for us if we want to grow sanctity.
St. F: I grew up with a strong self-will. During a retreat in 1935, the Lord taught me about His will and gave me the strength to do His will always. He told me to write on a blank page of my Diary: "From now on, my own will does not exist" and then to cross out the page! I did just that. I made a big X from the top to the bottom of the page. He told me to write on the other side: "from today on, I do the will of God in everything always and in everything" (Diary, 372, 374).
That was the turning point in my life. The Lord gave me new strength to make an act of total abandonment to the will of God, which is for me, love and mercy itself (see Diary, 1264).
During my last common eight-day retreat the Lord led me to keep the eyes of my soul always fixed on His most holy will (Diary, 1327). I expressed that I am ready to accept God's will in every detail, whatever it may be (Diary, 1356, 1360). The Lord expressed to me: "This firm resolution to become a saint is extremely pleasing to Me. I bless your efforts and will give you opportunities to sanctify yourself" (Diary, 1361).
G. K.: Thank you, St. Faustina, for your description of your mission to glorify God's mercy. But did you ever feel inadequate and too weak for the task before you?
St. F: I sure did! I experienced my inadequacy and weakness. I had only three semesters of grade school; I had no spiritual director for a number of years; and besides, I contracted a chronic sickness. That drained me physically. Let me share an example of how the Lord strengthened me.
During the novitiate I was assigned to help in the kitchen. I had to drain a big pot of steaming potatoes. I just couldn't manage it without spilling half of them. I tried to avoid the task. Then I confided to the Lord about my weakness. I heard the words in my soul, "From today on you will do this easily; I shall strengthen you." That evening when it was time to drain the potatoes, I hurried to be the first to do it. I picked up the pot with ease and poured off the water perfectly. But when I took off the cover to let off the potatoes steam, I saw there in the pot, in place of the potatoes, whole bunches of red roses, beautiful beyond description! I had never seen such roses before. Greatly astonished, I heard a voice within me saying, "I changed such hard work of yours into bouquets of most beautiful flowers and their perfume rises up to My throne" (Diary, 65).
G. K.: That is a beautiful description of how the Lord strengthened you in your inadequacy and weakness, but did you ever experience your own misery?
St. F: Oh, I certainly did experience my misery and the Lord made it very clear to me what I should do with my misery.
On October 10, 1937, a year before my death I made an act of thanksgiving for the Lord's many graces. I offered all I could think of, my body and soul, intellect and will, all the sentiments of my heart and my religious vows. I gave everything to the Lord, and I had nothing more I could offer. Then Jesus said to me, "My daughter, you have not offered Me that which is really yours." I probed deeply into myself and found that I love God with all my soul and I was unable to see what it was that I had not yet given to the Lord. I asked, "Jesus, tell me what it is, and I will give it to You at once with a generous heart. Jesus said to me with kindness, "Daughter, give Me your misery because it is your exclusive property." At that moment a ray of light illumined my soul and I saw the whole abyss of my misery. In the same moment I nestled close to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus with so much trust that even if I had the sins of all the damned weighing on my conscience I would not have doubted God's mercy but with a heart crushed to dust, I would have thrown myself into the abyss of God's mercy. I believed that the Lord would not reject me, but would absolve me through the hand of His representative (Diary, 1318).
G. K.: Saint Faustina, you shared so clearly about your weakness and inadequacy and your misery. But, what about your suffering which was so much a part of your life? Suffering frightens us! Could you help us in our understanding and experience of suffering? Suffering fills us with fears and anxieties. Please help us to respond correctly to our sufferings.
St. F.: Oh, If only the suffering soul knew how it is loved by God, it would die of love and excess happiness! Someday we will know the value of suffering, but then we will no longer be able to suffer. The present moment is ours (Diary, 963). Jesus taught me to suffer and burn with the flame of His love in all circumstances. No greater joy is to be found than in loving God. Here on earth you can taste the happiness of those in heaven by an intimate union with God — a union that is extraordinary. One can attain this grace through simple faithfulness of soul (Diary, 507).
Love and suffering go hand in hand (Diary, 881). In the spiritual life suffering is the thermometer which measures the love of God in our soul (Diary, 774, 343). All of us can respond to suffering like St. Paul and join our sufferings to Christ's passion:
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's affliction for the sake of His body, that is, the Church (Col. 1:24).
All of us can offer our sufferings in union with Christ. Don't waste your sufferings. They are precious when united with the sufferings of Christ. Don't trash your sufferings, even the smallest ones. Rather recycle them for the salvation of souls. Entrust them to the Merciful Heart of Jesus, satisfying His thirst for the salvation of souls.
You, too can become a great saint. Our Lord told me that: "The greatest sinners would achieve great sanctity if only they would trust in Me" (Diary, 1784).
Father George W. Kosicki is a longtime collaborator with the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception in spreading the message of Divine Mercy. In 1987, he headed their Divine Mercy Department in Stockbridge, Mass., which was responsible for editing and proofing the English translation of the Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska.