Work

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

“Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only good to my neighbors and take upon myself the more difficult and toilsome tasks.” 

Diary, 163

In this spiritual exercise, we discuss how work fit into St. Faustina’s life, and how it fits in our own lives. Even in her work, Sr. Faustina trusted our Lord. She didn’t hesitate to pour her heart out to Jesus when, for instance, she couldn’t manage the heavy pots of potatoes she drained in the kitchen. She was concerned because she desired to fulfill her responsibilities to please our Lord and get the job done well to satisfy others. Let’s now take a look at Sr. Faustina at work.

Sister Faustina was a hard worker. There should not have been a single doubt about that. But there were some sisters who occasionally questioned Sr. Faustina’s occasional inability to do heavy work when she was ill and feeling frail. They thought she was faking. Yet Sr. Faustina wholeheartedly desired to follow and abide by every rule of her religious order, knowing that it would be pleasing to Jesus. She never shirked from her duties, either — whether it was domestic work, answering the door, working in the gardens, or helping in the kitchen. However, when Sr. Faustina’s health was failing, she at times lacked the necessary strength for some of the work. Her superiors lessened her workload to accommodate her.

During Sr. Faustina’s novitiate, she was assigned to work in the kitchen. There was one huge problem looming over her: The massive pots and pans were much too heavy, especially when they were filled with water and boiling vegetables. She had the most trouble draining the huge pots of potatoes. A convent filled with sisters required massive amounts of food to be cooked for meals. Potatoes were a mainstay because the Polish soil supported them. Many times, as Sr. Faustina tried to balance a huge pot of potatoes to drain off the boiling water into the kitchen sink, the cooked potatoes and scalding hot water ended up all over the linoleum floor — and, at times, on anyone standing nearby!

This predicament distressed poor Sr. Faustina, so much so that she spoke with her Mother Directress. She didn’t want to continue wasting food and making a big mess, not to mention inconveniencing everyone. Other sisters were more suited for the job. Sister Faustina hoped she could properly convey that assessment to her superior. But what did the Mother Directress say? Simply that the novice would eventually acquire the necessary skill. That was it.

In Her Weakness, Jesus Provides a Miracle

We can opine that Sr. Faustina’s heart must have sunk for a quick moment. She knew that she lacked the strength, and it was becoming near impossible for her to drain the potatoes and do other heavy work. On top of that, she was quite certain she wouldn’t just “acquire” the skill to handle them. It didn’t make sense. Her frailty was not considered — not one bit. Sister Faustina seemed to get weaker each day. She felt forced to avoid the heavy work. She got dirty looks from a few of the sisters and heard some murmuring going on around the convent. But God had a plan!

After speaking with her superior, Sr. Faustina shared her feelings with Jesus in her examination prayer. She shared with Him simply that she just couldn’t do the required work because she lacked the strength. She immediately heard very clearly: “From today on you will do this easily; I shall strengthen you” (Diary, 65). What a consolation! Music to her ears, for sure! That evening, fully confident in Jesus’ encouraging message to her, Sr. Faustina was exceedingly eager to rush over to the huge pot before anyone else. She quickly grabbed the potholders, lifted the pot straight off the stove, and drained every last drop of piping hot water down the drain without a single problem! When she lifted the pot cover to release the steam and peered inside, Sr. Faustina nearly fell over. This time, it wasn’t because of the weight of the pot.

Instead of cooked potatoes, an abundance of the most beautiful red roses this sister had ever seen perfectly filled the pot! The mystic was completely taken by surprise. For one brief instant, Sr. Faustina could not comprehend the miracle’s meaning. Suddenly, a distinct voice within her revealed the answer. “I change such hard work of yours into bouquets of most beautiful flowers, and their perfume rises up to My throne” (Diary, 65).

We can only imagine the renewed confidence Sr. Faustina felt about accomplishing her work with ease and her eagerness to continue to do her work after seeing the gift of the miraculous roses and hearing how pleased Jesus was with her efforts. What strength she experienced through His words! We can experience that strength, as well. We can learn from Jesus, realizing that He is pleased with our work when it is done lovingly and offered to Him.

After that amazing experience, Sr. Faustina strove to help the other sisters with arduous tasks, as well as to do her own. Later on, when she was extremely ill, she wrote a prayer (which you can see at the end of this chapter) about being merciful, doing good deeds, and assisting her neighbors, even when she herself was exhausted or weak.

Loving Dedication and Prayer Transforms Souls

Sister Faustina prayerfully immersed herself totally in every task. Later, when she was at the convent in Walendow (near Warsaw) in March 1936, Sr. Faustina was assigned to domestic duties, such as cleaning the refectory. Some of the sisters observed that Sr. Faustina did not change out of her habit into work clothes. When questioned about this, the mystic simply explained that she did not enter a religious order so as to take off her habit. Because of this, Sr. Faustina acquired a couple of nicknames, such as “woman of fashion” and the like. She was wholeheartedly dedicated to her vocation and all that her habit represented.

After staying in Walendow, Sr. Faustina was sent to the congregation’s residence in Derdy, only about a half mile away. It was set back away from civilization and, in Sr. Faustina’s words, was “like a house out of a fairy tale.” It was set up as a rest center for the sisters and girls from the Warsaw house on property donated to the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in 1881 by Countess Maria Tyzenhauz-Przedziecka. Eventually, a separate house was built there, called the House of Mercy, which housed several dozen school girls.

In Derdy, Sr. Faustina would again work in the kitchen, cooking meals for seven sisters and for the more than 30 girls living there. Each day, weather permitting, she would pray the Rosary and do some spiritual exercises in the outdoor “cathedral” of the forest, breathing deeply the fresh, crisp air. Sister Faustina was also required to take a two-hour rest each afternoon.

The cooking responsibilities were not too difficult for Sr. Faustina, who was suffering from tuberculosis. And while she was at work in the kitchen, Sr. Faustina’s holiness began to make an impression on a certain unruly girl assigned as her assistant.

She was a “neophyte of a very disagreeable disposition with whom no one, anywhere, wanted to work,” explained Mother Serafina Kukulska, the superior of the convent in Walendow at that time. She added, “It was precisely that same girl, who worked with Faustina, who changed beyond recognition. Such was Sr. Faustina’s quiet but godly influence on that sinful soul.” So we learn that we too can have an influence on others in our work. This is why we must remember that we are the “aroma” of Christ wherever we are. God wants us to be a radiant example of His love.

Another time, while living at the convent in Lagiewniki, Sr. Faustina was assigned to gardening work. She spent much of her time in the greenhouse. No doubt as she toiled away in the soil, nurturing plants to good health, she prayed and meditated on Jesus’ requests of her, including starting a new congregation and everything about Divine Mercy. Sister Faustina was happy with whatever work she was assigned, pleased to do the will of God. Sister Faustina’s work produced much fruit — literally! Even when she was in declining health, Sr. Faustina’s plants churned out great abundance. The nuns harvested copious amounts of tomatoes (as many as 80 from each plant), cucumbers, and strawberries (with a small patch producing hundreds of pounds every day) from Sr. Faustina’s plants. It was actually miraculous.

Something to Ponder

Take time to ponder your attitude about your work.

• Do you think it produces positive “fruits”?

• Do you trust the Lord with your work?

• How about with all of the details of your life?

• Do you hesitate to approach Jesus with your concerns?

• Is anything holding you back?

• With regard to being a holy example to others in your work, do your attitudes and actions edify

others?

• Does your commitment to your work give a good example to others?

• Do you show loving concern to those who are near you?

We should strive to recognize that we are given opportunities each day to make a positive difference in someone’s life. Just as Sr. Faustina was such a good influence on the sinful girl in the kitchen, we, too, need to pray and act so as to be light to the nations and the salt of the earth.

Take time this week to ponder the meaning of work in your life. With God’s help and your prayerful cooperation, many miraculous transformations can occur in your own life and the lives of those around you.

A Merciful Action

What can you do this week at work that will help someone in a profound way?

Perhaps you work at home, or perhaps you don’t work. In that case, still make a point of carrying out merciful actions this week to help others. Pray and ask Jesus and Mary to help you come up with an idea to put into action. Be sure to carry it out!

A few suggestions:

• Help someone with their work.

• Give a compliment to someone who is struggling.

• Offer to help a colleague in some way.

• Pray for someone who you know is looking for a job.

Ask St. Faustina to intercede for you and the person whom you are helping through words, deeds, or prayer.

A PRAYER OF MERCY FOR THIS WEEK

(To be prayed each day this week.)

Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful

and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only

good to my neighbors and take upon myself the

more difficult and toilsome tasks.

Help me, that my feet may be merciful,

so that I may hurry to assist my neighbor,

overcoming my own fatigue and weariness.

My true rest is in the service of

my neighbor (see Diary, 163).

Saint Faustina, please pray for me.

Mother Mary, pray for me.

Merciful Jesus, I trust in You!

Amen.

 

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

{shopmercy-ad}

You might also like...

At first, Helen did not make a good impression. The sisters thought she was “no one special.”

One dress to her name, a heart filled to the brim with anticipation, this saint in the making embarked upon an exciting journey that would not only change her own life, but all of ours, too.

Why do you think God uses the weak, the small, and the seemingly insignificant to deliver great and important messages?