Monday, August 26, 2013

Goodreads review: Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska

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

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sister Faustina writes her diary as a very frank and open disclosure of visions and locutions which she continually experienced over a period of several years. In it, she reveals her petty grievances and imperfections mixed in with an earnest and wholehearted drive for sanctity. She lived and wrote 100 years ago, having grown up in a typical Polish family, and entering religious life at about 20 years of age. Thanks to a couple of wise confessors, she was encouraged to not only follow the extraordinary visions given her but to write about them, the result being this very book.

Sister Faustina's relationship with her Savior was a spousal one. Jesus was not only her Lord and God but her divine husband. She saw herself as a bride of Christ, and her notes are marked by radical intimacy, devotion, docility and obedience. She is called by Christ to a special mission, that of spreading devotion to His greatest attribute, His mercy.

In some respects, her presentation of Divine Mercy is very much like the Evangelical notion of a simple faith conversion experience. Any soul, especially a hardened sinner, need only put his trust in the Mercy of the Savior, and he can be assured of a place in heaven; all sin is instantly forgiven, obliterated by the justifying sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. But Sister Faustina's experience of Divine Mercy is wholly Catholic in its understanding. Her revelations never consciously strayed from Catholic doctrine, and everything she experienced was subjected to the discernment of her superiors, confessors and spiritual directors.

This Divine Mercy is constantly contrasted with her own unworthiness and with the wrath of God which she and every sinner rightly deserves. It is, moreover, a very costly gift. Sister Faustina's short life was marked by an extraordinary amount of physical, emotional and spiritual suffering, which she came to see as a sharing in Christ's own salvific sufferings. As Christ's bride, it was her duty and high privilege to suffer like and with Him, and for the same purpose - to bring wayward souls to salvation. So much so that she begged Jesus to allow her to drain her cup of suffering to the last dreg. She was granted this request, and, after years of intense suffering, died of tuberculosis at the Christ-like age of 33.

Two quotes from the book:

"Some day, we will know the value of suffering, but then we will no longer be able to suffer." [963]

"If the angels were capable of envy, they would envy us for two things: one is the receiving of Holy Communion, and the other is suffering." [1804]

Let the reader - especially the serious Catholic - beware. This book could change your life.

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