Regnum Christi

Who is Your Favorite Fall Saint?

Favorite saint in the fall autumn
Favorite saint in the fall autumn

If you love the saints, October is the month for you – it’s filled with the feast days of some of the Church’s most endearing and compelling saints. There’s a “big” saint for almost every day of the month, from the very first day (the Feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux falls on October 1st) to the very last, when we usher in the Feast of All Saints with All Hallows’ Eve. October saints include other heavy hitters, such as St. Francis of Assisi, St. Damien of Molokai, St. Teresa of Avila, Pope St. John Paul II, two apostles and a Gospel-writer (Simon, Jude, and Luke), the Guardian Angels, and our Blessed Mother herself (Our Lady of the Rosary falls on October 7th).

 

Out of all these well-known and courageous saints (and angels), it’s hard to pick a favorite, but if pressed to choose, I’d have to go with St. Faustina Kowalska. Many years ago, a friend gave me a copy of Faustina’s diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul, but, for some reason, I could barely get past the first page. Years later, when I picked the book up for the second time, I could hardly put it down. Every morning I nearly ran to my little prayer corner at the end of the living room couch, eager to hear what words of wisdom Faustina would have for me that day. Divine Mercy in My Soul became my manual, and Faustina became like a spiritual guide or, better yet, a big sister, accompanying me through the trials of my daily life. 

 

And although I finished reading her diary long ago, Faustina’s words are a constant comfort to me in all the new challenges that I face. I often return to the notes I jotted – and the articles I wrote – to remind myself of the advice Faustina has given me, through her diary, over the years. Here are some of the biggest lessons she has taught me:

 

Have gratitude… for everything.

It’s easy to be thankful for all the lovely things in our lives, but St. Faustina took the virtue of gratitude one step further – she thanked God continually for “the little daily crosses” she experienced, particularly those she encountered in communal life. Her “Gratitude List,” found in her diary Divine Mercy in My Soul, doesn’t list the pleasant blessings I would tend to add to my own list (a sunny day, the kids getting along, an evening walk with my husband, that the vegetarian tacos I made for lunch on Friday were actually pretty tasty), but instead lists – and outrageously gives thanks for – all the little sufferings she endures. But this is the lesson that St. Faustina teaches us in her example of gratitude – that all is gift, worthy of thanks. Not just the sunny days, or the peaceful family times, or the sweet moments with our spouses, but the dark days, and the conflict, and misunderstandings, too. All the joys and all the “hardships of communal life” are gifts, if we let them be, to draw us closer to God.

 

St. Faustina knows this, and so in the giving thanks of her daily crosses, she doesn’t wish any of them away – she only wishes to love God better through it all. “Thank you for the cup of suffering from which I shall daily drink,” she says at the end of her list. “Do not diminish its bitterness, O Lord, but strengthen my lips that while drinking of this bitterness, they may know how to smile for love of You, my Master.”

read St. Faustina’s gratitude list here

 

Even though I am an “abyss of misery,” I am infinitely loved by God.

St. Faustina never places herself on a pedestal, although, as Jesus’ personal secretary of Mercy, you’d think she’d have every right to. Instead, her diary is full of humble self-talk: she calls herself “a poor creature,” “a tiny violet” crushed underfoot, an absolute “abyss of misery and baseness.” She recognizes, consistently and continually, the enormous gulf that exists between the Creator and the creature, between her God, and her poor, abysmal, miserable self.

 

And yet, as she believes, Love fills the gap.

 

“You are God, and I – I am Your creature,” says Faustina in one of her recorded conversations with Jesus. “You, the Immortal King and I, a beggar and misery itself! But now all is clear to me: Your grace and Your love, O Lord, will fill the gulf between You, Jesus, and me.”

 

That gulf between Creator and creature has never felt wider these days. I am daily doing my best, and simultaneously failing every single day. And yet, as Faustina reminds me over and over, Love fills the gap. “Love compensates for the chasms,” she promises, “Love will fill the gulf.”

 

Read more about how St. Faustina helped me through the early days of the pandemic

 

Ask love; it advises best.

St. Faustina suggests that the first way to perform an act of mercy is through “the merciful word, by forgiving and comforting.” In the heat of an argument, it’s sometimes hard to hold my tongue, and even when I do manage to refrain from saying something that hurts, it’s even harder to know how to say something that heals. St. Faustina’s advice to me when I don’t know how to act or what to say is this: “Always ask Love. It advises best.” In the middle of an argument, I try to stop and ask yourself: “Is this Love speaking?” This quick check of the intention behind my words sometimes helps me rephrase what I’m about to say, or, in some cases, keep silent. 

 

Read more about how St. Faustina helps me to live mercy when I’m mad at my husband

 

Don’t be afraid of the cross.

I’ve always had an aversion to suffering. I took the coziest seat. I avoided discomfort (like being cold, or feeling awkward, or experiencing someone else’s tension) at all cost. And I was absurdly optimistic, refusing to believe that anything but the most positive, most comfortable, and easiest solution could possibly be true. I preferred the Joyful Mysteries to the Sorrowful, the Resurrected Christ to the Crucified. I wanted the Easter without the Lent, and the salvation without the sorrow.

 

In my morning meetings with Faustina, my comfort-loving, sorrow-eschewing heart was transformed. “Gaze upon the silent Heart of Jesus, stretched upon the Cross,” she told me, and I lifted my reluctant eyes to the Crucified Christ. “Snuggle closely to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus,” she’d say, and in my imagination I’d hesitantly climb up on the cross and press my cheek against my Lord’s. “Let suffering become a delight,” she said, and I started, little by little, to learn to love it, or at least to not hate it quite so much.

 

Faustina’s diary – and her message of Mercy – that I’d originally returned unread, ended up being the grace and transformation as originally promised. What makes a soul suddenly receptive to a message it has previously heard, ignored, snubbed, or even ridiculed? St. Faustina would say that it is God’s relentless mercy that never tires, and always yearns, to close the gap between us.

 

If you love Faustina as much as I do, here are a few more articles that include her that I’ve written over the years (in fact, it may be time for me to give another saint a chance!).

 

Changing My Attitude Towards Change

A Prayer from the Patron Saint of Silence 

3 Places to Find Solitude: Lessons from a Devout Life 

Seeking God in Solitude 

Being Present in the Waiting Room 

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Alex Kucera

Atlanta

Alex Kucera has lived in Atlanta, GA, for the last 46 years. He is one of 9 children, married to his wife Karmen, and has 3 girls, one grandson, and a granddaughter on the way. Alex joined Regnum Christi in 2007. Out of the gate, he joined the Helping Hands Medical Missions apostolate and is still participating today with the Ghana Friendship Mission.

In 2009, Alex was asked to be the Atlanta RC Renewal Coordinator for the Atlanta Locality to help the RC members with the RC renewal process. Alex became a Group Leader in 2012 for four of the Atlanta Men’s Section Teams and continues today. Running in parallel, in 2013, Alex became a Team Leader and shepherded a large team of good men.

Alex was honored to be the Atlanta Mission Coordinator between 2010 to 2022 (12 years), coordinating 5-8 Holy Week Mission teams across Georgia. He also created and coordinated missions at a parish in Athens, GA, for 9 years. Alex continues to coordinate Holy Week Missions, Advent Missions, and Monthly missions at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Cumming, GA.

From 2016 to 2022, Alex also served as the Men’s Section Assistant in Atlanta. He loved working with the Men’s Section Director, the Legionaries, Consecrated, and Women’s Section leadership teams.

Alex is exceptionally grateful to the Legionaries, Consecrated, and many RC members who he’s journeyed shoulder to shoulder, growing his relationship with Christ and others along the way. He knows that there is only one way, that’s Christ’s Way, with others!