Photo: Felix Carroll/Terry Peloquin
A 'Mercy' Cure for Smoking?
Machel Carol Pettingill used the Diary of St. Faustina to help her kick a decades-long cigarette habit. That was five years ago. Today, when temptation strikes, she doesn’t light up. She alights to the Diary. She said, “It helps me every time.”
by Machel Carol Pettingill
I had been a longtime smoker. In fact, for 39 years, I smoked cigarettes. The habit began to bother me. I knew that for health reasons I should quit, but there were also other considerations. I felt the money I spent on cigarettes could be used for something better, so I became one of the Marian Fathers' Friend of Mercy.
I was raised a Presbyterian. I always wanted to be a Catholic, though, and I am now in the process of converting. Through a divine chain of events, I was led to the Diary of St. Faustina. I bought the Diary at a garage sale, but I didn't read it until I started to quit smoking.
It's difficult for me to put into words why I was drawn to this book. I guess it was St. Faustina's picture on the cover. After I decided to quit smoking, I went "cold turkey." Whenever I had a craving for a smoke, I'd turn to Diary passage 1560 where Jesus gave St. Faustina five directives that I adapted to my own situation, and it helped me stay the course.
I could relate well to the writing, particularly the struggles of St. Faustina. The Diary became my refuge, "my deep, dark place of withdrawal" where I could find St. Faustina and Jesus, consoling me and giving me strength.
Smoking was an addiction. Addictions don't make sense. You know it's wrong, but you can't stop. You also lose your sense of objectivity. You make excuses for your behavior, and that enables you to continue even when you know you shouldn't.
I quit smoking because I wanted to be accountable for my actions. Prior to discovering the Diary, nothing helped keep me from lighting up — not my husband, not my children. Only Jesus and St. Faustina were able to help. Once I had them in my life, I didn't want to let them down.
I quit smoking March 5, 2003, on the first day of Lent. I still desire a cigarette now and then, and I suppose I'll have cravings for a long time. When that happens, I read the Diary, and it helps me every time. I know that I only accomplished this through the mercy bestowed by Jesus through St. Faustina when He gave her the privilege to distribute these graces.
One day, I was struggling with my desire for a cigarette. My resistance to the temptation was fading. I began praying to St. Faustina. As I was walking to work, I felt a veil dropping down around me. I knew it was St. Faustina helping me. You can imagine the comfort and joy I felt.
God is calling me to the Catholic Church. I have had an attraction to Catholicism for some time, but that, too, I resisted. The beauty of the Sacraments attracts me, especially the Holy Eucharist.
In gratitude, I pray for every smoker I see and ask St. Faustina's intercession on their behalf. They belong to the Future Converted Smokers of America!
I hope everyone will spend time with the Diary. It is a book that can change your life.
Machel Carol Pettingill lives in Metairie, La.