“A soul that is united with God must be prepared for great and hard-fought battles.” St. Faustina
I love to read and know about the saints lives, but i must confess i often felt ashamed of how different i am from them. Perhaps you have also felt this, i know reading about them can give both an inspiring and an overwhelming feeling at the same time.
If that´s your case, my aim is that from now on learning about saints lives will only be a source of inspiration for you, with no shame or worry at all. But for that, i must explain how i personally got to reconcile with it, hoping it could be of any help for you…
The book is a compilation of her prayers, thoughts and her journey as a passionate follower of Christ. It also relates her visions and encounters with Jesus and Mary, and how God revealed the Divine Mercy devotion to her; exactly the part i want to focus on. Not because of how much i love this image (seriously, is there anything more precious than knowing that our God is a God of MERCY?) but because this fact could be the one that brings us down or makes us feel we are so different from her.
Why that? Because it´s the part of the “marvelous revelation” and example of the intimate relationship with God most saints have. And yes, it´s true that saints are so incredibly amazing, so we tend to think they are so different from us, especially as we listen to their miraculous stories in which they can levitate, see Jesus with their eyes or heal other people´s lives.
Maybe you have been one of those who asked why you have never experienced something like that, one who has been or is currently feeling as if something like this could never happen to you, or as if God just seemed to ignore you. Maybe you have been praying and talking to Him but dont feel any answer at all, and so you eventually give up. You walk away from Him, resigned to the idea that He will simply never show His presence to you.
If you ever found yourself in a situation like that, i know the virtuous stories of saints could be a bit discouraging for you…. “why did God do so many great things in his/her life but i just cant seem to experience anything like that?” “i am really so bad that He doesnt want to appear in my life?” you may ask. But i want to share something with you; those books are not here for bringing us down, instead, they are here to inspire us and keep our hearts focused on getting closer to God. NEVER to make us feel any less or to make us give up on our spiritual path.
That´s exactly how this book worked on me. It taught me to change my perspective of things!! Of course God gifted Faustina with the virtue of contemplation, the ability to have visions and such a pure and lovely heart anyone would wish to have. But the truth is, there is so much more about her than that.
Her life wasnt easy at all. Despite all the blessings and visions she received, she also struggled a lot. She even faced the “Dark night of the soul”, a part of saints that is normally forgotten, but i think it should be known by all. The “Dark Night of the soul” can be explained as a period in which their interior lives seem to be dry. A period in which God feels so distant that could even make them doubt about God´s existence and their own call. I personally think it is one of the most painful experiences in life, especially for someone who previously was so committed and sure to offer his/her whole life to Him.
Besides this, Faustina also made mistakes, doubted about herself, suffered from very terrible illnesses, was constantly tempted and even felt far away from God some times. Did you know about all that?
If you never heard this before, i hope it changes your idea about her. Not that you will think this makes her less a saint, but instead that you may be more inspired by her as well as feel better with yourself. I hope this makes you realize that saints lives are not filled just with roses and angelical melodies all around. That saints also have to face the things that we face. That sometimes everything looks non-sense for them, that they also can experience silence from God in their lives.
Faustina did suffer all that; she didnt have it as easy as we may think. Yes, she had a very deep connection with God and experienced visions we may have never experienced at all, but just like you and i, she also experienced this silence among her life.
For me, what makes her a saint is not that she always listened and felt close to God, but that, even when she felt so much dryness she decided to cling onto Him. She kept hope and trust in God with all her being. I think that´s what we can learn from her.
Being a saint doesnt mean their lives will be filled with God´s voice, sounding loud and clear every single day, but it means that even through the silence they will be able to stay with Him. It is not about the “supernatural powers” saints seem to have, it is also a decision. A decision to remain even when they dont feel that way. To carry on when they doubt or feel alone. I believe that´s what makes them so great.
I hope this may remember you that there are times in our lives when we will feel His presence really strong. Seasons of answered prayers and deep connection with God. But there will also be times when all we may feel will be chaos and doubts. Seasons when we feel forgotten and with no answers from Him. And so, we often think that silence must mean there´s something wrong, that we are clearly not getting close to Him, or even worse, that we have failed Him. But this book reminded me that His silence can actually mean something incredibly great.
So i wish next time you are going through a period of dryness and unanswered prayers you wont have to wonder if you are deaf or if you are doing something bad. I wish that when you hear no response you wont feel there is no case in seeking Him anymore. That next time instead of feeling unworthy or struggle when He seems to be silent, you can change your perspective and try to follow the saints examples.
I wish you can remember them not by the “heavenly and glorious lives you could never have” but as humans like you, who feared, doubted and even questioned God´s existence. And that, just like them, you can use this seasons in your life to question your own faith and strengthen it afterwards, to remember there is a purpose for that. But, what purpose could it have?
Well, i believe this dryness can make our desire of Him grow stronger and that eventually all the darkness will remind us to search for the light, to seek Him with all our hearts. He wants us to walk by faith, to believe in Him not only when our lives are going great but also when we cannot see Him clear. Otherwise, our faith would mean we only seek Him for the blessings and not for who He is.
So yes, we may feel abandoned or forgotten sometimes, but that could be a great way to grow closer to Him; to understand how Jesus itself felt on the cross and to be more compassionate towards all those who are abandoned in this world.
When this happens we have two ways of facing it: getting away from God, or choosing to grow closer to Him. I pray that you´ll choose the second one. That the next time you feel this dryness in your heart you can see it as God´s gift for you. That you wont feel discouraged or as if you were less worthy of Him. I pray that you will remember St. Faustina and all the other saints who had to face this too; that you see their stories as a source of inspiration and not of discourage. That you remember you dont need to have visions or levitate in order to be close to God. That you remember there is a way God specifically designed to appear in your life, to connect with you.
I pray that we will all know that God doesnt want to make us feel as if He turned away from us, but instead, that He wants to make us grow. That He wants us to question our own faith and be real men and women of God!!!
My dear reader, i hope this post resonated with you in any way. I also encourage you to read this book yourself. It is a book of a complete surrender to God, filled with many beautiful thoughts and prayers that you could use to meditate. I hope this may help you to grow your spiritual life, encourage you and bring you some light.