So I felt drawn to St. Faustina for a number of reasons. She was born Helena Kowalski on August 25, 1905, and at the age of 20 she entered a convent. I’m the mother of a 20-year-old myself, who I lovingly refer to as my “roommate,” because he also lives most of his life in seclusion. However, he’s just doing online school and playing video games, only leaving his room for sustenance and work, while Fausty was doing much more with her time apart from the world – like having conversations with the CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE. No bigs.
My son works at Target and he talks to customers who act as though the universe revolves around them all the time, so I can see some similarities.
That said, Faustina was raised poor, and while she knew she wanted to be nun from the age of 7, her parents said “no.” At 16, to help the family out, she worked as a housekeeper. And this is where the similarities with my son end. I often say I’m gonna start throwing composting worms into his room if he doesn’t clean it. The smell is just… never mind. I digress.
Prior to entering an order, at age 19, she says she went to a dance with her sister and saw an image of a ‘suffering Jesus’ and I feel this. I might actually be more Christ-like than I know. Have you ever been sober at at wedding?
Suffering is the exact word I’d use.
A year later, when she finally became a nun, she had help commissioning a painting of this Jesus whom she now saw so often, which is now known as the “Divine Mercy” – or “Laser Beam Jesus” as I like to call it – where He’s shooting powerful rays of love and light out of His heart at all of us.
I also find it somewhat fascinating that she saw a white Jesus. Stay with me here, I’m not about to go all Social Justice Warrior on y’all (at least probably not in the way you think), but I love that people see the supposed son of God as themselves. If White Jesus ™ was the ONLY Jesus, that would be a problem, but some of my favorite pieces of icon art are the ones that represent a wide array of different skin colors from all over the globe.
Like this version of the “Last Supper” by Sarah Jenkins …
Or this image of the Holy Family, by Kelly Latimore …
Or my personal favorite, Our Lady of Ferguson, by Mark Dukes
These are all just so stunning to me. And I know a lot of them tick people off, but I have a hard time understanding exactly why. The way I see it, they invite people into your faith, rather than making them feel like an outsider looking in. According to Faustina’s own diary entry, Jesus Himself told her to have the painting made with an inscription reading, “Jezu, ufam Tobie” which translated from Polish means, “Jesus, I trust you.”
Just think about that for a second.
Whether we like it or not, it’s human nature to trust people who look like us. That’s why representation, in all shades, matters. It draws people closer to the very being that those of faith claim they want others to know. If Christ truly went through all the trouble of becoming flesh to reach us, then wouldn’t it make sense to continue humanizing him so He reaches others as well?
At its core, His incarnation (OG skin suit, as I think of it) was done for that very purpose. If He truly is God, and we were made in His image, then His image is boundless. If White Jesus™ (which we historically know He was not) is permissible, then so are other versions.
But back to Faustina (*tucks soapbox safely away*).
Ok, so this might be my very favorite part of her story. In 1933, Faustina transferred to a new convent where she served as a gardener, growing vegetables. That’s not my favorite part. I actually hate gardening. But this is: THEN, she went to speak to her new confessor, Father Michael Sopoćko, wherein she told him she was conversing with Jesus on the reg and he legit had her go and get a psych eval! ?
And here’s the deal, remember I’m an agnostic outsider, but I kinda thought that was the WHOLE point of being a nun. Like, they’re supposed to be first responders for God’s voice – more tuned in than the rest of us – out there doing His works and convincing people to love bigger, right? So her connection makes complete sense to me.
But, I dunno, I guess maybe this priest just thought she was supposed to hear from Him in dreams and other weird signs or something… not actually have a hang with Him in the garden while they spill tea and catch up. Anyway, she passed the psych test and after that Fr. Sopoćko trusted her and had her start keeping a journal of all these little “chats.”
According to her, Jesus said when and where to display the Divine Mercy painting, and also helped her write an accompanying chaplet.
A few years later, Faustina got very sick. They suspected it was tuberculosis. Same thing Val Kilmer had in Tombstone when he played Doc Holliday. Remember how he was always so sweaty and weak?
Yeah, so she went on bedrest and used that time to pray, saying she was actually looking forward to death. I guess that’s what TB does to you. Doc went to a duel because he was so done with living, while Faustina just prayed and found ecstasy, waiting to be with Christ in a way that wouldn’t force cognition tests from her parish. She finally died on October 5th, at the age of 33, which just happened to be the same age at which her bestie died, which I, personally, think is pretty cool.
In conclusion, get to know Faustina. She’s your huckleberry, and her Divine Mercy chaplet is quite beautiful, because turns out those aren’t lasers of love of all, but rather an open gate to heaven.
Destiny Herndon De La Rosa is the founder of the secular pro-life New Wave Feminists organization. She is a frequent op/ed contributor to the Dallas Morning News and a sought-after speaker.
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