Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Wednesday of the 27th Week in Ordinary Time, Year II
Memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska
October 5, 2016
Gal 2:1-2.7-14, Ps 117, Lk 11:1-4
To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below:
The following points were attempted in the homily:
- Today in the Gospel, Jesus responds to his disciples request to teach them how to pray and what he teaches is far more than a formula but a way by which we should converse with God not only in times of prayer but throughout life. The fact that St. Matthew’s and St. Luke’s descriptions of the Lord’s prayer are different is a sign not that one has a better memory than the other, but that Jesus was fundamentally communicating a way of relating to the Father rather than just a formulaic vocal prayer he wanted us to recite until the end of time. That prayer had us first call upon God as Father. Jesus was always praying to the Father and he wanted us to enter into his own filial prayer by the power of the Holy Spirit whom St. Paul tells us in the Alleluia verse helps us to cry out “Abba, Father.” To focus on God as Father allows us to see ourselves as his children, brothers and sisters of each other, and heirs of his love. Then he tells us to pray that his name be hallowed, which, since it already is holy, means hallowed by us and others. He wants us to focus on reverencing the Father’s name rather than making a name for ourselves. Next, “Your kingdom come,” which we know, since we are sons and daughters of the King of Kings, is the place where we belong, where his will is done. After that we ask that in his providential care he will give us the nourishment we need today with gratitude for his always having nourished us in the past; we ask for his mercy and profess that we are open to receive it because our hearts are not hardened toward those who have sinned against us; and we pray humbly that he will not let us be subjected to the ultimate test lest we fall.
- This way of relating to the Father in Christ is meant to be consequential. We need to live according to that prayer, seeking God’s name, God’s kingdom, God’s will, caring about others’ receiving food, mercy and strength against temptation. In today’s first reading, St. Paul takes St. Peter, St. Barnabas and the Church of Antioch to task for not living as brothers and sisters, not seeking God’s name, kingdom and will, which was expressed clearly by Jesus during the Last Supper when he prayed that we be one as He and the Father are one in the Holy Spirit. Even though St. Peter and St. Barnabas knew that God had surpassed the ritualistic dietary prescriptions of the Mosaic law — St. Peter had a vision in Joppa about it — they gave into the peer pressure of the Pharisaical Christians in Antioch and ate only with the Jewish converts rather than with the Gentile converts. St. Paul would have none of it, and he powerfully called them to conversion, to recognize that they weren’t living in accordance with the reality of Christ’s prayer, and living and praying as one body, one spirit in Christ.
- All of this is a good introduction to today’s feast and how the Lord worked in the life of St. Faustina Kowalska. St. Faustina Kowalska received her vocation when she was a 7 year-old child, praying before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and that prayer certainly was consequential in her life. She wanted to enter the convent immediately after completing her schooling — only three years — but her parents repeatedly refused to give permission. Her parents put her to work at 16 cleaning houses to make money for the family. When she was 19, in order to try to insert herself into the world in line with her parents’ wishes, she went with her sister to a public dance in her hometown of Lodz. During the dance, however, she had a vision of the suffering Jesus. She went to the cathedral where Jesus told her to leave for Warsaw immediately and join a convent. With childlike simplicity and trust, she obeyed, packing a bag that night and getting on the train, without her parents’ permission or knowing anyone in Warsaw. With great trust in God’s providence, she entered a Church in Warsaw and asked the priest for guidance as to what community she should join. She approached various convents only to experience rejection, that they weren’t interested in accepting “maids.” It’s unbelievable how many orders rejected a future saint, something that should make every vocation director tremble just like the seminary rectors who repeatedly booted St. John Vianney from Seminary. Eventually she found the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, who told her that they’d accept her provided she could pay for her habit and her simple dowry, another condition that should make people wonder whether such things, when made obligatory, would lead to turning away saints. The future saint worked for a year for the money and then was able to enter.
- Beginning in 1931, three years after her first vows, Jesus started to appear to her and reveal to her the message of his mercy. With childlike trust, she began to document this in her diary, serving as the Lord’s “secretary.” She suffered for doing so. The first thing that happened when she said to a priest that she was receiving these messages was that she was sent to a psychiatrist. Several of the other sisters began to get jealous of her, why she was something special, when they had so many more talents. But to hallow God’s name, enter his kingdom and do his will, she was certainly willing to suffer together with Jesus.
- And the message Christ gave her, and the practices he entrusted to her, were a continued response to the prayer of the disciples in today’s Gospel, to teach them how to pray. Jesus was going to help them to relate far more profoundly to God the Father of Mercies. The best way we can celebrate her feast day is to receive anew today the message Christ gave her about mercy and the means by which he gave us to relate to God in that mercy so that we could relate like God to others in mercy. The message of divine mercy reemphasizes what Jesus himself said in the Gospel, that we need his mercy, that he wants us to receive it in the way he established on Easter Sunday Evening (the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Penance), and that he wants us to share that mercy with others. It wasn’t enough, however, for Jesus that we merely know these realities, but he wanted us to grow in veneration and love for God in these realities. That’s why he revealed to St. Faustina five practices, five connected forms of prayer, that he wanted us to engage in to grow in contemplative recognition of how much we need his merciful love, how frequently we come to receive it, and how lavishly we receive it. The first practice is every day at 3 pm to pause for a little while at the “hour of mercy,” when he died on the Cross for us. How important it is for us never to forget what Christ has accomplished for us and remembering Jesus at 3, if even for 30 seconds, will have a dramatic impact on our growth in childlike faith. Jesus promised that whatever we asked him at that moment he would here, and so we should ask boldly. The second practice is to venerate the image of Divine Mercy Jesus revealed to St. Faustina, of how he seeks to bless us with his mercy, with his right hand raised in blessing and his left pointing to the blood and water flowing from his wounded side, the fountain of his merciful love. At the bottom of the image are the words, “Jesus, I trust in you,” that we trust in his mercy with childlike simplicity. We need constantly to recognize in prayer and in life that Jesus is seeking to bless us with his merciful love, and to receive that gift with trust. The third practice is to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, in which, on Rosary beads, we repeatedly offer God the Father Jesus’ Eucharistic sacrifice for our sins and the sins of the whole world. There’s no greater way to pray to the Father than by joining ourselves to Christ’s prayer from the Upper Room, Calvary and through his incarnation in fulfillment of the saving Mission God the Father gave him. The fourth practice is a novena, starting on Good Friday when Jesus died for us, and finishing on the Sunday after Easter, the day on which Jesus sent out the apostles to continue the very same mission of saving from sins that Jesus had come from the Father to inaugurate. During that novena, we pray for 9 different classes of people in need of God’s mercy, entering into Jesus’ own concern and prayer to the Father from the Cross. The last practice is that at the end of that novena, we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, thanking God for the gift of his merciful love, which is the summary of the entire Gospel and the exclamation point of the Easter Octave. The Lord Jesus is continuing to teach us to pray and is sending the Holy Spirit into our hearts so that we, as spiritual siblings, may pray to the Eternal Abba for the Mercy he showed us in his incarnate Son.
- Today as Mercy Incarnate comes to our altar on which rest the relics of St. Faustina, we will turn with the words of Jesus and not merely pray that his name be hallowed, kingdom come and will be done, not just that he will give us each day our super-substantial bread, forgive us as we forgive others, strengthen us in temptation and protect us from the Evil one, but we will offer with Him, with St. Faustina and the whole Church, the whole Jesus together with the all of ourselves and the Church, begging divine mercy for our sins and those of the whole world. This is the prayer of Christ and we trust in him!
The readings for today’s Mass were:
Reading 1 GAL 2:1-2, 7-14
After fourteen years I again went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas,
taking Titus along also.
I went up in accord with a revelation,
and I presented to them the Gospel that I preach to the Gentiles–
but privately to those of repute–
so that I might not be running, or have run, in vain.
On the contrary,
when they saw that I had been entrusted with the Gospel to the uncircumcised,
just as Peter to the circumcised,
for the one who worked in Peter for an apostolate to the circumcised
worked also in me for the Gentiles,
and when they recognized the grace bestowed upon me,
James and Cephas and John,
who were reputed to be pillars,
gave me and Barnabas their right hands in partnership,
that we should go to the Gentiles
and they to the circumcised.
Only, we were to be mindful of the poor,
which is the very thing I was eager to do.And when Cephas came to Antioch,
I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong.
For, until some people came from James,
he used to eat with the Gentiles;
but when they came, he began to draw back and separated himself,
because he was afraid of the circumcised.
And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him,
with the result that even Barnabas
was carried away by their hypocrisy.
But when I saw that they were not on the right road
in line with the truth of the Gospel,
I said to Cephas in front of all,
“If you, though a Jew,
are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew,
how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
Responsorial Psalm PS 117:1BC, 2
Praise the LORD, all you nations,
glorify him, all you peoples!
R. Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News.
For steadfast is his kindness toward us,
and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever.
R. Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News.
Alleluia ROM 8:15BC
You have received a spirit of adoption as sons
through which we cry: Abba! Father!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel LK 11:1-4
Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished,
one of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name,
your Kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test.”