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.
Photo: Felix Carroll
Trust: the Key to Faith
By Dan Valenti (Oct 23, 2012)
Through St. Faustina, people around the world began hearing about Divine Mercy, beginning from about the year 1939. Saint Faustina writes that our Lord made it clear to her that the veneration of His mercy is to be expressed, above all, by complete trust in Him as our Savior.
Trust, says Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, is the key to faith. The Year of Faith — declared by Pope Benedict XVI to run from Oct. 11, 2012 to Nov. 24, 2013 — provides a potent opportunity for Catholics to develop this necessary ingredient to a healthy spiritual life.
But what is trust?
Trust: the 'Confident Conviction that God Loves Us'
"Trust is understood here as that confident conviction that God loves us and deals with us only from the deepest motives of true love and compassion," says Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, one of the world's foremost authorities on the life of St. Faustina and the message of Divine Mercy. "That trust is based on the fact that Jesus, the God-man, willingly and eagerly offered up His life to take upon himself the punishment we deserve by sin, that is, by our rebellion against our all-wise and provident Father."
The Diary of St. Faustina contains many sections on trust, but one of the most moving, Fr. Seraphim says, is one that invokes trust indirectly. In this passage, the saint makes known her great suffering, and yet she will not ask God for solace. She does not do that because of her implicit trust in God's will, even in the midst of suffering. Here is that passage:
O Jesus, today my soul is as though darkened by suffering. Not a single ray of light. The storm is raging and Jesus is asleep. O my Master, I will not wake You; I will not interrupt Your sweet sleep. I believe that You will fortify me without my knowing it.
Throughout the long hours I adore You, O living Bread, amidst the great drought in my soul. O Jesus, pure Love, I do not need consolations; I am nourished by Your will, O Mighty One! Your will is the goal of my existence! It seems to me that the whole world serves me and depends on me. You, O Lord, understand my soul with all its aspirations.
Jesus, when I cannot sing You the hymn of love, I admire the singing of the Seraphim, they who are so dearly loved by You. I desire to drown myself in You as they do. Nothing will stem such love, for no might has power over it. It is like lightning that illuminates the darkness but does not remain in it. O my Master, shape my soul according to Your will and Your eternal designs! (195)
The Key to Growing Your Faith
That kind of radical acceptance of God's will for our lives, says Fr. Seraphim, provides us the key to gaining trust. Acceptance of God's will, he says, is surrender to God's will. Note that in Diary passage 196, Faustina does not ask for relief from her darkness. She doesn't complain about her suffering. Instead, she submits in acceptance of God's will for her life. To the extent that we can increase our acceptance of what God gives us — the good, the bad, and all in between — we shall grow in trust. When trust God grows, so does our faith.
Through His revelations to St. Faustina, Fr. Seraphim says, "Jesus, as The Divine Mercy, seeks to make His followers more keenly aware of the need for trust in Him, based upon the recognition of what He took upon Himself for us. Jesus told St. Faustina that this awareness is to be expressed in works of mercy toward one another out of love for Him."
According to Fr. Seraphim, through St. Faustina, our Lord is emphasizing that works of mercy are the way to honor and revere The Divine Mercy. "That is," he says, "certainly one of the strongest legacies that the saint left to us." Again, engaging in works of mercy reflect an acceptance of God's will for our lives on the basis of our trust in Him. It is not our own efforts that will save us and allow us to persevere, especially in adversity, but our trust in the Lord, as evidence in this poignant Diary passage:
"O my Jesus, You alone know what my heart is going through. O my strength, You can do all things, and though I expose myself to great sufferings, I shall always remain faithful to You because I am sustained by Your singular grace." (1071)
Divine Mercy Image Promises Spiritual 'Victory'
To keep this in the forefront of out hearts, minds, and souls, Jesus commissioned St. Faustina to paint an image of Himself, saying, "Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: 'Jesus, I trust in You.' I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel and [then] throughout the world. I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over [its] enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I Myself will defend it as My own glory" (Diary of St. Faustina, 47-48).
Father Seraphim says that the message of and devotion to Divine Mercy — which includes the image, the chaplet, the 3 o'clock Hour of Great Mercy, and Divine Mercy Sunday — is built around trust.
He points out that St. Faustina begins her Diary literally with a reference to the image of Jesus as The Divine Mercy, in the first line of a poem she composed ( see Diary, 1, 2).
From St. Faustina's words, Fr. Seraphim says, "we can see that she was careful about the source of her inspirations, including the painting of Jesus' image. Despite knowing that they were from God, she submitted them to spiritual authorities for discernment. She had to be sure, and as we know, the Church has subsequently embraced the message of and devotion to The Divine Mercy, especially through the long, grace-filled papacy of Pope John Paul II, the Great Mercy Pope."
The image Jesus asked for, therefore, "is to be a powerful means by which souls might learn one of the deepest of all mysteries: that Divine Mercy is God's greatest distinctive quality, especially in the relationship He has with those He was created."
In this Year of Faith, let us open our hearts to God's will. Let us soak in the meaning of the words underneath the image of The Divine Mercy: "Jesus, I trust in You!"