Trouble Reading St. Faustina's Diary Straight Through?

By Marc Massery

Turn to any page of St. Faustina’s Diary, and you find spiritual gems. Like this one:

As I took the pen in hand, I addressed a short prayer to the Holy Spirit and said, "Jesus, bless this pen so that everything You order me to write may be for the glory of God." Then I heard a voice: Yes, I bless [it], because this writing bears the seal of obedience to your superior and confessor, and by that very fact I am already given glory, and many souls will be drawing profit from it. My daughter, I demand that you devote all your free moments to writing about My goodness and mercy. It is your office and your assignment throughout your life to continue to make known to souls the great mercy I have for them and to exhort them to trust in My bottomless mercy (Diary, 1567).

Do you love St. Faustina’s Diary but have trouble getting through it cover to cover?
 
This might be why. Not quite a year into St. Faustina writing her Diary, someone appeared to St. Faustina and told her that her writing was useless so she burned it. Father Michael Sopocko, her spiritual director, later told her that this had been a temptation from Satan. So, he ordered her to try and recreate what she had burned. While she was reconstructing her Diary from memory, she was also recording new apparitions she was receiving. 

So, it’s not exactly chronological. Some readers do not realize this and they get discouraged trying to read it straight through. Furthermore, St. Faustina didn’t have the most eloquent writing style. She had hardly three years of formal education. In fact, except for working as an au per briefly before entering the convent, she had few professional qualifications. She had the rank of a co-adjutrix in the convent. In other words, she spent most of her time performing various manual labors, such gardening, cooking, baking, and door keeping. 

Also, even though her spiritual director required her to write about her encounters with the Lord, she was given no special time to dedicate to writing. Saint Faustina wrote between breaks from work and at the expense of sleep. This is why above Jesus makes it clear, “My daughter, I demand that you devote all your free moments to writing about My goodness and mercy.” (Emphasis mine.) 

Since St. Faustina wasn’t expected by her superiors to write, her fellow sisters wondered why she was keeping a diary and what she was writing about. Several times in the course of the Diary, an entry ends with ellipses. This probably indicates that she was interrupted and had to close her book quickly to conceal her work from other sisters.  
 
Despite St. Faustina’s lack of education, despite the unusual circumstances under which she worked, despite burning her Diary and reconstructing a significant part of it from memory, her work has been cherished by hundreds of thousands of Catholics since its publication in 1987. This shows just how clearly her Diary was not so much a work of her own, but a work of God. 

So, do not read the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska like a work of art, an advanced theological discourse, or even a chronological narrative. Instead, read it for what it is: a mystical testimony showing how God works in souls, and a monumental document that has sparked the greatest grassroots movement in Church history. 

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