20160208 From ‘Helen’ to ‘Faustina’

During this extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy we would do well to look to St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, through whom the world received the devotion to the Divine Mercy. She is known as the “secretary of Divine Mercy.” Helen Kowalska (now St. Faustina) was born at 8 a.m. on Aug. 25, 1905, in the village of Glogowiec, Poland, the third of 10 children. She was baptized in St. Casimir’s Church in Swinice Warckie on April 27. At the age of 7 Helen heard the voice of God in her heart, calling her to a more perfect way of life. At 14 she left home to work as a domestic to help her parents. At 17 Helen made known her desire to enter religious life to her parents, but they did not allow her to enter a convent. Helen then tried to drown the call to religious life by turning her heart over to creatures. When Helen was at a dance one day, she saw Jesus by her side, covered with wounds. He said, “How long shall I put up with you and how long will you keep putting Me off?” Helen slipped away unnoticed to the Cathedral of St. Stanislaus and prostrated before the Blessed Sacrament. The Lord told her: “Go at once to Warsaw; you will enter a convent there.” A priest in Warsaw sent Helen to a pious lady, with whom she stayed until she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy on Aug. 1, 1925. Helen felt immensely happy. It seemed to her that she had stepped into the life of paradise. However, after three weeks in the convent, Helen felt that there was too little time for prayer, so she wanted to leave the congregation to enter a stricter order. During her interior struggle, Helen saw the very sorrowful face of Jesus with open wounds and tears. She asked, “Jesus, who has hurt You so?” Jesus answered, “It is you who will cause Me this pain if you leave this convent. It is to this place that I called you, and nowhere else; and I have prepared many graces for you.” From then on Helen was certain that she was called to be a sister of Our Lady of Mercy. One day she asked Jesus for whom she should pray in particular. She was told that she would find out the next night. The next night her guardian angel took her to purgatory. She wrote, “In a moment I was in a misty place full of fire in which there was a great crowd of suffering souls. They were praying fervently, but to no avail, for themselves; only we can come to their aid.” The holy souls told Helen their greatest suffering was longing for God. Helen also saw Our Lady visiting the holy souls. They called her “The Star of the Sea.” The Lord said to Helen about the suffering of purgatory, “My mercy does not want this, but justice demands it.” In January 1926 Helen was sent to Krakow. On April 30 she received the religious habit and a religious name. During the ceremony the priest said, “From today on, you will not be called by your baptismal name. You will be called Sister Maria Faustina.” While she was taking the habit, God gave Sister Faustina to understand how much she was to suffer.

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