Daily Cross

The following is an excerpt from the Marian Press book 52 Weeks with St. Faustina by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle:

“I fervently beg the Lord to strengthen my faith, so that in my drab, everyday life I will not be guided by human dispositions, but by those of the spirit.” — Diary, 210

This week’s spiritual exercise teaches us how to carry our daily cross and seize opportunities to grow in holiness. Let’s take a look at the splinters of the Cross in Sr. Faustina’s life and her response to grace, starting with Jesus’ instructions to the faithful. Jesus clearly instructed that if we desire to be His followers, we must deny ourselves, pick up our crosses, and follow Him (Mt 16:24). He never led us astray. He let us know that our lives as Christians wouldn’t be beds of roses. The Cross comes with a deep and abiding joy because Jesus loves us and promises us eternal life. Let’s take a look at the splinters from the Cross in Sr. Faustina’s life.

Every day we are given countless opportunities to grow in holiness and give our “yes” to God once again. The modern world seduces us with allurements, inappropriate pleasures, and sin. “You-know-who,” as I call the evil one, wants to knock us off track. He uses all kinds of distraction tactics to pull our focus elsewhere. We absolutely need to keep our eyes on the prize — Heaven! We must pray for the grace we need in order to continue each day to put one foot in front of the other to walk in faith and do God’s holy will.

Sister Faustina wrote, “I fervently beg the Lord to strengthen my faith, so that in my drab, everyday life I will not be guided by human dispositions, but by those of the spirit. Oh, how everything drags man towards earth! But lively faith maintains the soul in the higher regions and assigns self-love in its proper place; that is to say, the lowest one” (Diary, 210). This sister knew all too well how human dispositions can tug at one’s heart, how criticisms and complaints can wear one down, and how worldly attractions can distract a soul from its holy purpose. A prayerful soul can offer the daily crosses of life to God so that He might transform them into something beautiful to be used for the good.

Splinters from the Cross and God’s grace

Even as a child, Sr. Faustina experienced splinters from the Cross due to the difficult and austere conditions that arose from her family’s poverty. These splinters included such challenges as not being able to go to Sunday Mass every week, since the sisters had to take turns wearing the only child’s dress the family owned. On Sundays when she was not able to attend Mass, little Helen would find a quiet area to read the Mass in a prayer book. Later on, when Sr. Faustina was in spiritual formation in Warsaw, she was assigned to clean for a couple of the elderly nuns. One particular nun was never satisfied with Sr. Faustina’s meticulous work. Each time Sr. Faustina tidied up her room, the disgruntled nun pointed out problems or mistakes — a tiny stain here or a speck of dust there. In her eyes, Sr. Faustina could do nothing right — she was too slow and careless. Sister Faustina never complained. She wrote in her Diary under “General resolutions,” “To see the image of God in every sister; all love of neighbor must flow from this motive” (Diary, 861).The constant nitpicking, criticisms, and demands weighed upon her, but she strove to see the image of God in that sister. Sister Faustina knew that there was a divine purpose in it. The persnickety nun even took her grievances to the Mother Superior. What did Sr. Faustina do then? Well, she paused to ponder what Christ would do in such a case.

The saint in the making discovered that she could become a true martyr for the Lord through the daily crosses of her life. Sister Faustina strove more earnestly to offer all of the contradictions and suffering she faced up to the Lord for His glory and the good of souls. There were many instances of daily crosses. For instance, there was Mother Janina Bartkiewicz, who distrusted Sr. Faustina. The pain of being distrusted when she was as sincere as could be was a thorn in Sr. Faustina’s side. Mother Bartkiewicz told Sr. Faustina that God doesn’t have close contact with sinners like her; He is only close with the holy ones.

When one is striving for holiness in the convent, one would hope for support and even love from one’s fellow sisters. However, in all places, adversity exists, and it is a true opportunity to grow in the love of God and holiness. Adversity and contradiction seem to be a common thread throughout the lives of the saints. As Sr. Faustina grew in holiness, she was happy to offer all of the inconveniences, challenges, and difficulties to our Lord in order to be united to His suffering in a spiritual way. She must have often recalled St. Paul’s words: “I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my  flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s af ictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church” (Col 1:24). Sister Faustina wrote, “Oh, how pleasing are the hymns owing from a suffering soul! All heaven delights in such a soul, especially when it is tested by God” (Diary, 114). She also advises that a “soul that is determined to strive for sanctity and to derive fruit” should “benefit from confession.” This should be accomplished, she advises, through “complete sincerity and openness ... humility ... and obedience” (Diary, 113).

Something to Ponder

The reason for our very existence is to become holy and make it to Heaven one day to live in eternal happiness with our Lord! We are to love God and our neighbor. Each day we are to work out our salvation here on earth in such a way that we will also help to pave the road for others to get to Heaven, too. However, pain, suffering, and sacrifice — our daily crosses — are guaranteed. We might ask ourselves, “Am I above my Master who suffered in an excruciating way because of my sins?”

Like St. Faustina, we should also pray and beg the Lord for increased faith. Take time today and throughout this week to ponder the need for great faith. Strive to make a daily examination — sometime around the middle of the day and again in the evening before bed. Make a mental note about how things are going during the day. At night, mentally look over your entire day and ask God for forgiveness for your shortcomings and graces for an increased faith tomorrow.

A Merciful Action

Can you go out of your way this week to make life better for a person who has been a “thorn in your side”? Think about St. Faustina and how she continued to do her tasks, unruffled, even though she was criticized. This doesn’t mean that Sr. Faustina did not feel attacked or hurt inside. Pain still exists in these circumstances. But she strove to offer up all of the pain and contradiction to God. Can you offer up all of your difficulties and even pray for the person or people who have criticized you?

A PRAYER OF MERCY FOR THIS WEEK

(To be prayed each day this week.)

Dear Merciful Jesus, help me to be more generous and loving. Please take care of the people in my life (name them) who have hurt me. Mother Mary, thank you for mothering me. Saint Faustina, please pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You! Amen.

You can order 52 Weeks with St. Faustina by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle here:

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