Friday, January 9, 2015

Why I Love St. Maria Faustina, and Some Thoughts on Sorrow

Saint Maria Faustina

We had two weeks with our kitten. The night before she went missing, my husband and I marveled at just how beautiful she was. She had perfect white mittened feet and beautiful gray and white markings, with a white belly.

He saw a picture on National Geographic newsfeed, and thought for a second it was a picture of Aranea, our kitty. We got her our kids for Christmas, and she could not have been more sweet natured.  The kids loved her. They bonded deeply with her in the two weeks she spent with us.

We found her through a Craigslist animal adoption agency.  We paid some money for her. Our kids were thrilled when they heard the “MEOW” coming from a Christmas box!

She warmed our home and filled it with life. When almost a whole day went without her, I admit I panicked. I searched the streets in the front and back of our house.  I called her name, I put food on the front and back porch, just hoping it would lure her back.

I kept hoping she would come back to us.  I prayed a novena to St. Maria Faustina in the midst of our loss. We posted a picture on our neighborhood email list, so we knew our neighbors were looking- and they were (and in the event she was stolen, someone would get figured out!). We waited. At first we waited with hope, then we waited, with much less hope, but with a lot of prayer.

All of the kids cried. I think our baby cried too, knowing that something- someone- was missing. There was certainly a sense that something wrong was happening, and you could feel that negative tension reverberating through the whole house. We prayed, asking St. Anthony to pray for us.

At one point, Stephen emailed me… “Did you find her?” I wrote back, “No… but Molly is praying.”
My heart hurt, but the truth is, it did my heart good to see our kids praying.  My daughter Frances (4) told me, “I always pray, and I just say, “Please, please, please.”

It broke all of our hearts when the weather turned cold (a frozen snap) and we lost hope, except to know that we could always get another kitten. It was a true heartache that we all experienced. Our kids have had to grapple with life and death, but also the grieving and eventually, the letting go and moving on. Each child had their own journey of letting go, but in their sorrow, the only time that they all had perfect peace, was when we quoted the verse to them, “Do not worry about anything, but with everything… [PRAY!].”

Honestly I wish that someone would send me a care package .., if you read this, could you just send me donuts or chips or coke or a little present? That would be great. ;)

The funny thing is, we found our kitten. Only after we bought the kids a new white kitten. Stephen found a picture on Craigslist, and it was identical to our kitten Aranea. We compared all of the markings in the photos, and there was no doubt in our minds, when we went to pick it up that it was our cat. It was the same age and everything. But to our shock, we had to think of another name. For that cute little "girl" kitten named Aranea was actually a boy. We re-named the cat Yo-Yo, because as our kids like to say, "It goes and comes back!"

Speaking of suffering, and waiting, and trying to bear up in this hard life, I am so thankful for St. Therese of Lisieux. She was probably the saint who was most responsible for my conversion.  I read her autobiography slowly, underlining it over the course of about three weeks, as I was discerning a conversion to the Catholic church. I'm sure she prayed for me, and I'm positive because of a couple of encounters and answers to prayer that her prayers helped me to shed all doubt and just do it- become Catholic, I mean.

However, after my conversion, the saint who has probably prayed for me most and the saint that I look up to and feel blessed by the most is St. Maria Faustina.  Of course I have read other biographies of saints- St. Catherine of Siena and St. Francis of Assisi come to mind.  And I have read St. Francis de Sales as encouragement in my philosophy of conversion and the New Evangelization, because he was a witness to the Calvinists in France, and I was raised Presbyterian with a Calvinist bent doctrinally.

But, but- the saint responsible for furthering my faith after conversion, upon further reflection, would have to be St. Maria Faustina.  

I am utmost indebted to a woman in my church- who shall remain nameless- who introduced me to the Divine Mercy Chaplet. She also told me about Divine Mercy Sunday, and she gave a short talk  at our Catholic Motherhood group about St. Maria Faustina.

If you don't know anything about her, or if you know all about her, there is still something to learn and there is always an appropriate time to stop and learn more.  As a new Catholic, I do not have the wisdom of a cradle Catholic on this subject, but I long to learn more. St. Maria Faustina was canonized somewhat recently- April 30, 2000. Many miracles have been attributed to her. The woman that I know who gave her testimony credits St. Maria Faustina with giving her the grace and the strength and ability to give up smoking, quitting after many years of being addicted to cigarettes.

You should stop to learn and memorize this Chaplet of Mercy.  It is shorter and easier to recite than the ordinary Rosary. That's why I think it is so good for newly minted Catholics (Class of 2011, right here!) and also would be a good one to teach the kids.

The Chaplet of Mercy (for private recitation on ordinary beads)

Begin with...
Our Father... Hail Mary...
The Apostles Creed

On the large bead before each decade:
Eternal Father,
I offer you the Body and Blood, 
Soul and Divinity of
Your dearly beloved son,
Our Lord Jesus Christ,
in atonement for our sins
and those of the whole world.

On the ten small beads of each decade:
For the sake of His
Sorrowful passion,
have mercy on us
and on the whole world.

Conclude with:
Holy God,
Holy Mighty One,
Holy Immortal One,
have mercy on us 
and on the whole world.
(Three times)

The reason I like this? It's comforting during times of suffering, and it holds a profound meaning for our time. As Pope Francis has encouraged the modern Catholic church and the new Evangelization to move into a different phase of her body, this prayer is dripping with mercy and hope. And as Pope John Paul said, "Those who have hope live differently." That, in a nutshell, is why I love St. Maria Faustina. She was said to have participated in and felt the Passion of Christ, as a special gift from Jesus, and in that spiritual experience of pain, she understood better the Mercy of Christ, which washes our sins away. 

I know for a fact that St. Maria Faustina helped us to find our kitten. And I know that she helped my friend's Mom quit smoking, and that this novena has real power.  Her intercession has already brought hope to many- may it bring hope to many more! May many more Catholics come home, as our kitten Yo-Yo did!
to read more: divine mercy chaplet

St. Maria of Faustina, pray for us!
I am also posting this at the Association of Catholic Women Bloggers!

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