First Vows and Her Parents' Blessing

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

“You are My joy; you are My heart’s delight.” — Jesus to Sr. Faustina (Diary, 27)

This week’s spiritual exercise delves into some of the ups and downs during Sr. Faustina’s novitiate, as well as Sr. Faustina’s first vows and the wonderful blessing from her parents. We will also see that at one point, Sr. Faustina was even tormented by a terrible hatred for all things holy. What a struggle this must have been because Sr. Faustina simply desired to grow in holiness and to please God. The intense darkness, confusion, and uncertainties were all a part of God’s plan to purify her. It might be difficult to fully grasp the reasons that God operates in this way. Yet, if we study the lives of the saints, we will see that they all suffered as they carried their crosses, following Jesus. Let’s move on to see what unfolds.

Sister Faustina would stay at the convent in Krakow-Lagiewniki for the entire two-year novitiate. Earlier, we discussed how Sr. Faustina fainted upon receiving her veil, overcome with the future she would need to endure. After that, it seemed as if all hell had broken loose. The new novice was steeped in interior trials and even debilitating darkness, which included feelings of despair. At one point, as we discussed earlier, Sr. Faustina recalled, “A terrible hatred began to break out in my soul, a hatred for all that is holy and divine” (Diary, 25). She began to believe that this would be her lot in life, that the suffering would be continual, without relief. She made her way through her novitiate amid continual deep sufferings. Physical weakness added to her misery.

Deep suffering continued, but the young nun found much comfort in her Lord Jesus. During an evening Adoration on Good Friday, April 16, 1928, Jesus touched Sr. Faustina’s heart penetratingly and helped her to understand something profoundly sobering. Sister Faustina recalled in her Diary, “All of a sudden, the Divine Presence invaded me, and I forgot everything else. Jesus gave me to understand how much He had suffered for me.” It was brief, but it left her, as she described, with “an intense yearning — a longing to love God” (Diary, 26). Sister Faustina certainly gained much strength from this experience.

First Profession of Vows

Shortly after, Sr. Faustina professed her first religious vows on April 30, 1928. These were temporary vows, and would be in effect for one year. Sister Faustina’s parents, who had initially been against her entering religious life, came to her profession ceremony. It was the first time they had seen one another in four years. What a consolation this must have been to Sr. Faustina, and what a great joy to her parents to finally see their daughter. Because every guest room was filled, Stanislaus and Mariana stayed the night in the garden shed. They were up all night, not because they were uncomfortable, but because they were praying the entire night for their dear Helen.

The ceremony began in the convent, where the novices knelt down and officially asked Mother General Leonard Cielecka for permission to make their profession of vows. Holding lit candles, they processed to the chapel, where they asked the celebrant, the auxiliary bishop of the Krakow Archdiocese, Stanislaus Rospond, to accept their first profession of vows in the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. The bishop pronounced a special prayer and placed a black veil on each of the novice’s heads. Their crucifixes and long rosaries, which hung on their habits, were blessed. Each sister pronounced her first religious vows.

It is said that afterwards, Sr. Faustina’s father walked through the convent gardens with his Helen and asked if she was bored with the religious life. He didn’t understand the beauty and holiness wrapped up in the monotony of obedience. His newly professed daughter didn’t miss a beat. She said it wasn’t possible to be bored living under the same roof as Jesus! “You see, Daddy, the One to Whom I made my vows is my Husband and your Son-in-law.” Stanislaus and Marianna left for home, finally at peace with their daughter’s decision to enter religious life.

First vows officially completed Faustina’s novitiate. That day, she became a professed religious sister. Earlier, when Jesus showed her how He had suffered for her, Sr. Faustina was  filled with “[a]n ardent desire to empty myself for God by an active love, but a love that would be imperceptible, even to the sisters closest to me” (Diary, 27). This young sister strove to draw closer to Jesus. As she moved through the joys and difficulties of each day, she was moving ever closer to a blessed union with her Beloved.

However, another six months of darkness would permeate Sr. Faustina’s life. She didn’t yet have a spiritual director to help her stay the course, and the dark night was excruciating. One superior claimed that all of her experiences were illusions. Though she received the grace of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, her confessors were often ineffective as spiritual directors, and failed to relate to her that the dark uncertainties were part of God’s plan to purge and sanctify her soul. Sister Faustina advanced very quickly in the spiritual life, and no one seemed to understand her. That was a big part of the problem. However, after six months more of suffering, St. Faustina had one point of clarity during the stormy seas of murkiness. Sister Faustina’s darkness melted away instantly when “Jesus pervaded all my soul,” she explained. “I heard these words within me: ‘You are My joy; you are My heart’s delight’” (Diary, 27). From that very moment, she felt the Most Holy Trinity dwell in her heart. She wrote, “I felt that I was inundated with Divine light. Since then, my soul has been in intimate communion with God, like a child with its beloved Father” (Diary, 27). This would be the end of the first dark night for Sr. Faustina, who later wrote, “I would not have believed that one could suffer so, if I had not gone through it myself” (Diary, 104). Unbeknownst to her, she would be called to later endure another dark night.

Something to Ponder

We have pondered some of the ups and downs during Sr. Faustina’s novitiate. The young nun was even tormented by a terrible hatred for all things holy. What a struggle this must have been because Sr. Faustina wanted to grow in holiness and please God. The intense darkness, confusion, and uncertainties were all a part of God’s plan to purify her. It might be difficult to fully grasp the reasons that God operates this way. Yet, if we study the lives of the saints, we will see that many, if not all, suffered as they carried their crosses, following Jesus.

Take time this week to reflect on Sr. Faustina’s attitude and actions when enduring the pains of her suffering in the dark night. She chose to do her best to move forward in prayer. She also chose to trust God amidst the darkness. Jesus at times broke through with a consolation for Sr. Faustina, but for the most part, she suffered with great uncertainty. Think about your own reactions and responses to the contradictions in your life. How can you improve? If there is darkness, can you seek a spiritual director to help you navigate? Can you pray to persevere and continue to follow God?

A Merciful Action

Is there someone you know in your own family, whether in your immediate family or a distant relative, who might be struggling in some way? How can you reach out in love to them this week? A phone call or visit? Letting someone know that you care can be healing indeed. Pray for direction. Make it happen.

A PRAYER OF MERCY FOR THIS WEEK

(To be prayed each day this week.)

Dear Merciful Jesus, thank You for Your many blessings. Help me to be a blessing in the lives of everyone around me. Help me to seek You throughout every joy and every bit of darkness I might experience. Mother Mary, guide 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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