Skip to comments.Saint Faustina, a Doctor of the Church? [Catholic Caucus]
Posted on 10/05/2009 8:43:21 AM PDT by NYer
Can you guess the following saint?
The author, Fr. Steven Payne, OCD, wrote about this obscure and humble nun in 2002. He describes her "limited education," saying she "never wrote a treatise or published an article," and what she did write displayed an "imperfect literary style." Yet, he writes, no one would have guessed that she "would soon take the world by storm and go on to become the most popular saint of modern times â¦ ranked alongside Augustine and Thomas Aquinas."
If you guessed St. Faustina, you're incorrect. Payne is writing about the 19th century French cloistered Carmelite, St. Therese of Lisieux, in his book St. Therese of Lisieux: Doctor of the Universal Church.
But it's amazing to consider the similarities between the two saints — not just in terms of their backgrounds, but also the impact they each have made upon the Church and the world. Now many theologians and scholars are calling for St. Faustina — this lowly Polish nun who barely had three years of schooling — to join the ranks of St. Therese and only 32 other saints who have been declared Doctors of the Universal Church.
Sister Mary Ann Follmar, an author and expert on the Doctors of the Church, has read the Diary of St. Faustina many times and believes St. Faustina is a "shoe-in" for this distinguished ecclesiastical title.
"A Doctor of the Church is one who is recognized as a great teacher in the Church, and I think St. Faustina is a great teacher of the mystery of God's mercy," says Sr. Follmar, who teaches theology at Providence College.
Father Jan Machniak, chair of the Theology of Spirituality at the Papal Theological Academy in Krakow, Poland, agrees that St. Faustina is deserving of the title. He gave a talk on the topic in Krakow last August during the festivities marking the centennial of St. Faustina's birth.
"People started talking about it right after her canonization in 2000 because of the influence that the Diary has exerted all over the world," says Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, who served as vice-postulator of St. Faustina's canonization cause.
Only the Pope has the authority to declare someone a Doctor of the Church. It's not clear if Pope Benedict XVI has any plans to bestow St. Faustina with the title. Saint Therese was the last to be given the title, and that was in 1997, under Pope John Paul II.
What does it mean to be a Doctor of the Universal Church?
Pope John Paul II described a Church Doctor as one whose writings not only conform with revealed truth, but that also shed "new light on the mysteries of the faith."
For instance, St. Therese sheds light upon the "little way" — of seeking holiness in the ordinary and the everyday.
Many say that St. Faustina, whose Diary includes a series of personal revelations she received from Jesus Christ in the 1930s, sheds light on the progress of the mystical life of the soul and gives an unparalleled understanding into the mystery of Divine Mercy.
"Her Diary, written in simple language, helps us to comprehend how God proceeds with souls," says Fr. Seraphim. "And it gives us a richer understanding of the relationship between mercy and love and the notion of merciful love as the source and ultimate reason for the whole of salvation."
Sister Follmar says the only other place where the powerful message of mercy is so explicitly expressed is in Pope John Paul II's encyclical, Rich in Mercy.
She and other theologians say there's no question that the Diary is having the sort of profound influence on the life and teaching of the Church as the doctrines of St. Therese and other Church Doctors had in earlier times.
In her theology classes, Sr. Follmar teaches the Diary. Among the many passages she likes to quote for students is the one in which the Lord, covered with wounds, asks the young Helen Kowalska (later to become Sr. Faustina), "How long will you keep putting Me off?" (9).
"My young students, some of whom get mixed up with drugs, alcohol, sex, and materialism, are touched by those words," Sr. Follmar says. "The message of Divine Mercy is one that really resonates with them. They see that God is longing for them far more powerfully than they are for Him."
What purpose would it serve if St. Faustina were declared a Doctor?
"It would only help to amplify the life St. Faustina lived — a life of responding to God's mercy and handing it on to others," says Sr. Follmar. "It would highlight what it means for someone to really live mercy."
For those who have not read the Diary of St. Faustina, here is a small excerpt where Faustina talks about living in the present moment.
Diary - Sr. Faustina
|1||O Eternal Love, You command Your Sacred Image  to be painted|
|And reveal to us the inconceivable fount of mercy,
You bless whoever approaches Your rays,
And a soul all black will turn into snow.
O sweet Jesus, it is here  You established the throne of Your mercy
To bring joy and hope to sinful man.
From Your open Heart, as from a pure fount,
Flows comfort to a repentant heart and soul.
May praise and glory for this Image
Never cease to stream from man's soul.
May praise of God's mercy pour from every heart,
Now, and at every hour, and forever and ever.
O My God
|2||When I look into the future, I am frightened,|
|But why plunge into the future?
Only the present moment is precious to me,
As the future may never enter my soul at all.
It is no longer in my power,
To change, correct or add to the past;
For neither sages nor prophets could do that.
And so, what the past has embraced I must entrust to God.
O present moment, you belong to me, whole and entire.
I desire to use you as best I can.
And although I am weak and small,
You grant me the grace of your omnipotence.
And so, trusting in Your mercy,
I walk through life like a little child,
Offering You each day this heart
Burning with love for Your greater glory.
[Jesus, Mary, and Joseph]
Today, October 5, is the Feast of St. Faustina.
**Saint Faustina, a Doctor of the Church?**
I must admit I have thought of this myself.
Icon of St. Faustina Kowalska written by Marek Czarnecki of Seraphic Restorations in Avon, Conn.
Through the mediation of St. Faustina Kowalska (1905-38), Jesus has given us a teaching on God's mercy, and a new form of devotion known as the Divine Mercy. The devotion centers on veneration of the image of the merciful Jesus. The image was described by the Lord to Sister Faustina, a Polish nun, and then painted by her. The Divine Mercy devotion includes recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, celebration of the feast of Divine Mercy the first Sunday after Easter, and keeping holy the hour of Christs death.
On Sept. 13, 1935, in Vilnius (now the capital of Lithuania), Jesus "dictated" the words of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy to Sister Faustina. It is important to note that this took place after a vision of an angel, "the executor of Divine wrath," during which the mystic nun, terrified, began to "implore God for the world with words heard interiorly." This was recorded in her diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul (I, 196-197) [Stockbridge, Mass.: Marians of the Immaculate Conception, 2001; subsequent quotes are also from this source]. The next day Christ taught Sister Faustina to pray the chaplet, which she called "the prayer that serves to appease the wrath of God" (I, 197).
Saint Faustina, a Doctor of the Church? [Catholic Caucus]
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75th Anniversary of the appearance of Jesus to St. Faustina to prepare world for 2nd Coming
The Message of Divine Mercy
Chaplet of Divine Mercy
A New Doctor of the Church? (Why St. Faustina Deserves This Rare Honor and Title)
Miracle Cure Brings Sainthood to Polish Nun (Divine Mercy)
Inculturation at Papal Masses; next, Poland and St. Faustina
Most EXCELLENT! I read “Diary” with great joy, and it spoke to me on many levels. Faustina as a “Doctor” huh? Awesome!
When Our Lady revealed herself at Fatima, at Guadalupe she didn't select priests or biships, she selected innocent children and a peasant.
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