Sunday, February 5, 2017

Divine Mercy in My Soul: Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska

I have been receiving the Divine Mercy Daily emails for a little over a year and have heard about St. Faustina in multiple books, such as Divine Mercy for Moms; however, I had not yet read St. Faustina's full diary. Being familiar with the diary through quick glimpses each day vs. reading the full diary beginning to end felt similar to reading the daily readings vs. reading the full Bible.

While I read it in January, for the first part I was taking notes in a journal, but part way through I started marking pages that I wanted to revisit later because it wasn't always convenient to take notes when I wanted to read and the constant stopping was interrupting the flow. As the picture shows, there were aspects that stood out frequently. The qualitative researcher in me noticed trends in what was standing out. While I have not yet gone back through all of my markings and it is hard to capture thinking in a blog post, here is a glimpse... 

I was surprised that I could relate to St. Faustina so much. While of course all of the Saints were real people just like us, sometimes it is easy to forget how relatable they can be. Perhaps that is because we often read about them, rather than their vulnerable, inner thinking that diaries provide - the challenges, the confusions, the joys... 

One of my biggest areas of growth over the last year has been a desire to align my life to God's will but sometimes being confused about which path to take. My priest has helped me to sift through some of those thoughts, especially with the first step of recognizing these confusions and tensions are to be expected. Nonetheless, I would still often pray something along the lines of - just let me know which of these options you want me to do, and I will do it; I want to align to your will for me, but I am confused about which you want me to do. I thought if God would just tell me, it would be so much easier. Then, I noticed in the diary that even though St. Faustina did hear directly from Jesus, it was still a struggle to follow through with some aspects. There were still doubts, confusions, and contradictions. 

I was especially interested in the recurring concept of obedience. St. Faustina felt strongly that she was supposed to start a new congregation but she was also supposed to be obedient, and the two were in direct opposition of each other. Over the last year or so, I have been thinking a lot about letting go and patiently surrendering to the concept that things will unfold when and as they should according to God's will. St. Faustina's diary captured how this can be challenging but that we just need to be reminded again and again to trust, not to worry and to strive to just do the next thing as faithfully as we can. 

My understanding of the word humility has expanded lately, and I am realizing that obedience goes hand in hand. Both are areas of continual growth and both can be challenging, yet I can notice how keeping both in mind are transforming me.

While the focus on mercy was to be anticipated, I enjoyed reading more in depth about the concept in order to better understand and reflect on implications for my day to day life. Last summer I was able to attend a screening of the Divine Mercy film and purchased an image. Having a deeper foundation in the significance makes it all the more meaningful.

As with any resource, concepts in St. Faustina's Diary have connected to other ideas and concepts before, extending my understanding and giving me more to ponder.

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