“The Mother of God is instructing me in the interior life of the soul..” (Diary, entry #840)
Despite her deep and increasing holiness as her life progressed, and despite the great graces she was given so very often, still, the young Sr Faustina needed help in the spiritual life, direction on the best way to seek nothing else except the will of God. In this line above from her Diary, St Faustina notes that the Mother of God was tasked with giving this help and direction.
This is entirely appropriate – after all, the Church points to the Blessed Virgin as our Model in the spiritual life. And She has every right to be regarded as such, for Her entire life was lived in perfect accord with the will of God. A prime example of this is the moment of the Annunciation, when the Archangel Gabriel sang the love song of the Almighty and announced the plan for this humble Virgin to become the Mother of the Lord. And to this, the “handmaiden of the Lord” (cf. Lk.1:38) gave Her instant and full consent – “let what you have said be done to Me”.
The Lord is a God who surprises us.
So often, we have our own ideas on what we will do in life, what goals we will set for ourselves, what we will achieve. And then God intervenes, whether directly or indirectly, and everything changes.
Sometimes, it seems, this change of plan occurs by means of a change of circumstances of one sort or another – it may be a sudden or a gradual change, which we might recognise as it is occurring – but often, we see the Divine Providence only on looking back afterwards. On other occasions, this change of plan seems to occur through adversity – and again, it is often the case that the hand of God is perceived only later.
One of the books I am reading at the moment, ‘Loved, Lost, Found – 17 Divine Mercy Conversions’ (Felix Carroll) – touches on this theme repeatedly; many of the people whose stories are related in the book would certainly empathise with this idea of the God who surprises us, who takes us out of our own personal plans and places us squarely within His plans for us.
Pope Francis gave a homily one morning in May this year during Mass, and in it, he noted how this ability to surprise, to change plans, is the working of the Holy Spirit –
“The Spirit is the gift of God, of this God, our Father, who always surprises us: the God of surprises.. He is a living God, a God who abides in us, a God who moves our heart, a God who is in the Church and walks with us; and He always surprises us on this path. He is the God who surprises” (Homily of Pope Francis, Santa Marta, 8th May 2017)
The Holy Father then advised his listeners to pray for the grace of discernment, to seek to discover what the Lord wants of them, to remain open to His surprises.
This is good advice, for this is precisely what the Blessed Virgin did at the moment of the Annunciation – and clearly perceiving the will of God for Her, She opened Herself entirely and perfectly to the Divine Will. The rest, as they say, is history.
Similarly, St Faustina did the same thing; she constantly sought to perceive the will of God in her own life, and to submit herself fully to the will. On many occasions, the will of God was made abundantly clear through the revelations she was granted by the Lord; on many other occasions, she was able to perceive His will for her throughout prayer and through sound spiritual direction from her Confessors.
Pope Francis suggested to his listeners to ask the Lord “for the grace of discernment so as not to take the wrong path and not to fall into idleness, into rigidness, into the closing of the heart” – may this be our prayer, also.