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Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska

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Look into the Mirror of Mary

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Some of the most beautiful passages in St. Faustina's Diary concern moments when her solemn reflections turn suddenly into rhapsodies of praise to God or His Mother.

Just as Mary felt moved to "magnify the Lord" and to praise Him for the "great things" He had done for her (Lk 1:46,49), St. Faustina could not contain her love, admiration and gratitude for Mary:

O Mary, Immaculate Virgin,
Pure crystal for my heart,
You are my strength, O sturdy anchor!
You are the weak heart's shield and protection (Diary, 161).

We have come to the beginning of May, the month that the Church especially sets aside to honor the Blessed Virgin. This month there will be living Rosaries, May crownings and even processions to celebrate the gift that God gave us in Mary. The Diary can show us how to honor Mary in the most important way: through imitation.

The Blessed Mother was always central to St. Faustina's devotion and to the mission of Divine Mercy. Saint Faustina trusted in Mary so much that she "place[d] everything in [Mary's] hands" and begged her, "O my Mother, cover my soul with your virginal mantle and grant me the grace of purity of heart, soul, and body. Defend me with your power against all enemies ... O lovely lily! You are for me a mirror, O my Mother!" (Diary, 79).

Mary said to St. Faustina, "My daughter, at God's command I am to be, in a special and exclusive way, your Mother; but I desire that you, too, in a special way, be my child" (Diary, 1414). Though the relationship between Mary and St. Faustina may have been "special and exclusive," we can use it as a model for our own relationships with Our Lady of Mercy (the title of Mary that was also the name of St. Faustina's religious order).

St. Faustina called Mary her "mirror." A mirror tells the truth. A mirror reflects light to help us notice our flaws so that we can eliminate them. And a mirror shows us when we have improved, when we have taken one more step toward becoming as beautiful as we were made to be.

The Diary points us to very specific virtues we must practice if we are to use Mary as our mirror the way St. Faustina did. In Scripture, Mary teaches us to say to the Lord, "Let it be done to me according to Your word" (Lk 1:38). In the Diary, she teaches St. Faustina to "practice the three virtues that are dearest to [her] — and most pleasing to God. The first is humility, humility, and once again humility; the second virtue, purity; the third virtue, love of God" (Diary, 1415).

As Mary's children, we are called not only to "especially radiate with these virtues" (Diary, 1415), but to encourage others to practice them as well.

The idea of reflecting Mary's attributes, especially the humility she values so highly, is scary to some people. Why? Perhaps they think it would discourage independence and leave them vulnerable to domination. This idea is sad because, when held up to the mirror of the real Mary, it shows a lack of trust in God. If God truly is love, why would we not feel free, safe and joyful in telling Him to do whatever He wants with us?

People lose this willingness to submit to God because they have not seen Him reflected rightly in others. Women have been tyrannized and abused by men. Children have been mistreated and neglected by parents. Nations and churches have been betrayed by leaders. Mankind's sinful state, therefore, has distorted the images of God as loving spouse, father and teacher.

Mary shows us the truth. Her unequivocal "yes" brought her deep joy because she was not submitting to a tyrant but to the Source of all mercy. And now, because of that "yes," she is "not only the Queen of Heaven, but also the Mother of Mercy and your Mother" (Diary, 330).

If we are committed to the Divine Mercy message, we can — and must — help people to approach God with Mary's joyful submission. We do that when we become mirrors of God's love. If people are tempted to shut out God because the sinfulness of the world has led them to fear Him, our works of genuine mercy and our confidence in God's care need to illuminate the truth of God's goodness.

Throughout the Diary, Jesus pleads for trust in God's compassion. Mary demonstrates that. She made her choice with perfect faith coupled with undiminished independence because of God's pure love and respect for her. This month, let us focus on modeling the virtues to which Our Lady called St. Faustina so that we can show the world a reflection of the "Virgin most powerful" (Litany of Our Lady of Loretto), who is herself a reflection of God.

Marian Tascio is a writer and English teacher who lives in Yonkers, N.Y.

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