Patience and Perseverance

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

“At this very moment the superiors are deciding which sisters are going to take perpetual vows.” — Jesus to Sr. Faustina (Diary, 165)

Patience is difficult to master. Perseverance requires much effort. But as trying as it is, all that effort is for the good! This week’s spiritual exercise delves into patience and perseverance. We also look at how those virtues came into play as Sr. Faustina’s spiritual life unfolded when she approached her perpetual vows. Let’s take a look!

Many a time, as she united her own sufferings to God, Sr. Faustina recalled St. Paul’s words in his Letter to the Colossians: “I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church” (Col 1:24). Sister Faustina had been struggling with doubt and discouragement after Jesus revealed the Divine Mercy Image in her vision in Plock. Her third probation, a five-month period of time before she would make her perpetual vows, was coming up, and Sr. Faustina resolved to put an end to her doubts before professing her perpetual vows. But, as she tried to dispel all doubts, things got worse. A sister blurted out, “Sister, you will not be going for the third probation. I myself will see to it that you will not be permitted to make your vows” (Diary, 165). Sister Faustina held her pain inside. She didn’t react, but felt deeply wounded. Some of the perpetually professed sisters had judged Sr. Faustina to be hysterical, possessing an unhealthy imagination. Prayer and perseverance would be lifesavers for this young sister.

Jesus comforted Sr. Faustina’s heart a few days later in the chapel. He said, “At this very moment the superiors are deciding which sisters are going to take perpetual vows. Not all of them will be granted this grace, but this is their own fault. He who does not take advantage of small graces will not receive great ones. But to you, my child, this grace is being given” (Diary, 165). Sister Faustina was joyfully surprised to learn this from her dear Savior. The sting from the sister’s cutting words a few days earlier completely dissipated. Sister Faustina noted that her heart “beat with joy at the thought of such an immense grace, that of perpetual vows.” She immersed herself in a prayer of thanksgiving and heard these words in her soul: “My child you are My delight, you are the comfort of My heart, I grant you as many graces as you can hold. As often as you want to make Me happy, speak to the world about My great and unfathomable mercy” (Diary, 164).

Sister Faustina happily left for Warsaw in November of 1932 to begin her third probation. There she would be engaged in spiritual formation and with light work in the vestiary, where clothes and linens are kept. After following the proper protocol in meeting with her fellow sisters, Sr. Faustina went straight to the modest chapel to meet with Jesus. She felt God’s presence fill her soul and heard these words: “My daughter, I desire that your heart be formed after the model of My merciful Heart. You must be completely imbued with My mercy” (Diary, 167).

Jesus’ words soothed her heart and soul, but this saint in the making would endure suffering once again. Some older nuns were distrustful and critical of her. Sister Faustina again suffered in silence and offered up her sufferings, uniting herself to Jesus Crucified. At other times, she was thankful to “recognize the great virtues of some sisters,” she wrote, “who always asked for the poorest things from the vestiary.” She “admired their spirit of humility and mortification” (Diary, 179).

When Mother Directress Margaret realized that Sr. Faustina had not attended a retreat that year, she quickly made arrangements for her to leave immediately for Walendow to take part in an eight-day retreat already in session. Sister Faustina would partake in three of the days. However, though the mother was arranging for her to go, Sr. Faustina overheard that a certain sister was opposing it. It seemed certain that she would not be going. Sister Faustina slipped into the chapel after dinner to make a  five-minute adoration. She suddenly saw Jesus! He filled her in. “My daughter, I am preparing many graces for you, which you will receive during this retreat which you will begin tomorrow.” Sister Faustina told Jesus she thought she wouldn’t be going. Jesus said, “Get ready for it, because you will begin the retreat tomorrow. And as for your departure, I will arrange that with the superiors” (Diary, 167). Jesus then disappeared. Sister Faustina was puzzled, but quickly rejected doubts and prayed instead. When she left the chapel to start her duties, Mother General Michael called to her. “Sister, you will go to Walendow today with Mother Valeria so that you can start the retreat tomorrow” (Diary, 167).

Two hours later she was there! She marveled at how “Only Jesus can arrange things in such a way” (Diary, 167). The convent in Walendow was in a tranquil, secluded farm setting on more than 700 acres, with fish ponds and pretty views of God’s creation. Horses, pigs, sheep, cows, chickens, ducks, guinea fowl, and a few barns and a mill dotted the property, along with a house for the sisters. At the time of Sr. Faustina’s arrival, a church was being built. The sisters who lived or visited worked hard to keep all running smoothly.

Sister Faustina caught a glimpse of the sister who had opposed her going to the retreat. Surprised eyes opened wide, the sister then shot her a look of dissatisfaction. Nonetheless, Sr. Faustina greeted her affectionately and paid no heed to the negativity. Off she went to visit Jesus in the chapel, where He gave her instructions for the retreat:

You shall strive to maintain a profound peace in respect to your communings with Me. I will remove all doubts in this regard. I know that you are at peace now as I speak to you, but the moment I stop talking you will start looking for doubts. But I want you to know that I will affirm your soul to such a degree that even if you wanted to be troubled, it will not be within your power. And as a proof that it is I who am speaking to you, you will go to confession on the second day of the retreat to the priest who is preaching the retreat; you will go to him as soon as he has finished his conference and will present to him all your doubts concerning Me. I will answer you through his lips, and then your fears will end. During this retreat, observe such strict silence that it will be as though nothing exists around you. You shall speak only to Me and to your confessor; you will ask your superiors only for penances (Diary, 169).

Sister Faustina was overjoyed that Jesus would show her “such kindness and lower himself so much for my sake” (Diary, 169). Equipped with words from Jesus, Sr. Faustina desired to make a good and holy retreat. However, keeping complete silence is difficult for anyone. Sister Faustina’s first temptation to break silence would arise very quickly.

Something to Ponder

Things don’t always go as planned — even, and maybe we should say especially, in the spiritual life. Some say, “Make plans and God laughs,” which is a lighthearted way to underscore that fact. God desires that we will be happy with Him forever in Heaven. However, many times our path to Heaven is a crooked one. I speak about that in my memoir The Kiss of Jesus (Chapter 9). God draws good out of our sufferings and challenges, and He allows certain contradictions, doubts, and pains to help us to become holy and grow closer to Him. Take time this week to meditate upon your life. Where is it going? Are you seeking God’s will to the fullest? Do you turn to prayer immediately when things go awry? Can you strive to offer every single thing to God?

A Merciful Action

Carry out a deed of mercy for someone you don’t necessarily care for — someone who has not been kind to you. Yes, this will be difficult, but God will supply the grace. Ask for it! Pray for that person each day during the upcoming week. Don’t forget to smile!

A PRAYER OF MERCY FOR THIS WEEK

(To be prayed each day this week.)

Dear Merciful Jesus, teach me to be more patient with everyone I meet. Please let Your love shine through me to them. Mother Mary, please 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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