• Helen Hawersaat

St. Faustina's COVID-19 Divine Mercy Potatoes

This title is my idea of clickbait.

Happy Divine Mercy Sunday! I found this beautiful reminder of God's love and mercy in our everyday messes in St. Faustina's diary and I thought I would share it with you all.

One time during the novitiate, when Mother Directress sent me to work in the wards' kitchen, I was very upset because I could not manage the pots, which were very large. The most difficult task for me was draining the potatoes, and sometimes I spilt half of them with the water. When I told this to Mother Directress, she said that with time I would get used to it and gain the necessary skill. Yet the task was not getting any easier, as I was growing weaker every day. So I would move away when it was time to drain the potatoes. The sisters noticed that I avoided this task and were very much surprised. They did not know that I could not help in spite of all my willingness to do this and not spare myself. At noon, during the examination of conscience, I complained to God about my weakness. Then I heard the following words in my soul, "From today on you will do this easily; I shall strengthen you."

That evening, when the time came to drain off the water from the potatoes, I hurried to be the first to do it, trusting in the Lord's words. I took up the pot with ease and poured the water perfectly. But when I took off the cover to let the potatoes steam off, I saw there in the pot, in the place of the potatoes, whole bunches of red roses, beautiful beyond description. I had never seen such roses before. Greatly astonished and unable to understand the meaning of this, I heard a voice within me saying, "I change such hard work of yours into bouquets of most beautiful flowers, and their perfume rises up to My throne." From then on I have tried to drain the potatoes myself, not only during my week when it was my turn to cook, but also in replacement of other sisters when it was their turn. And not only do I do this, but I try to be the first to help in any other such burdensome task, because I have experienced how much this pleases God.

(Diary of St. Faustina Kowalska, no. 65)

Okay, well, I don't have to say much about this one, right? It's just awesome.

I thought these were potatoes, but they're probably eggs

For most people, at most times, potatoes are just potatoes. They're a perfectly normal, mundane thing to take care of and check off the list. Actually, they probably wouldn't even make it onto the list in the first place. Pouring potatoes is hardly seen as a task of its own; it's just part of making dinner. But for St. Faustina, who was gradually being weakened by tuberculosis, mundane things felt huge. She couldn't do the little tasks that everyone else took for granted.

This is just what we are dealing with during this pandemic.

For some of us, it has made life unspeakably difficult and dangerous. If this is you, please know that I would not dare to give you advice. I am so sorry, I wish I could fix it, and I am praying for you.

Most of us are dealing with medium or large (but not life or death emergency) problems. They would usually be smaller or non-existent, but global pandemics, like grief or mental illness, make the mundane problems weigh much more. And we can't even receive the sacraments as usual! In addition to (and partially because of) all our emotional turmoil and practical difficulties, we are in extra danger of sin and in greater need of mercy.

We can, and should, let go of what we can, and set ourselves up for success at patience. Pray. Cry. Quit things. Take breaks. Clean, if it helps. Use paper plates. Re-wear dirty clothes if you still have enough underwear (or wear pajamas and go commando, who would know?). Order takeout. Go on a walk by yourself, if you can. I won't go through the whole litany; you all know what your struggles are right now.

For now, whatever we quit or compromise on, we all still have our potatoes. But His mercy is generous and far-reaching! He is ready to forgive big sins, and to help us with the tiny stuff that feels impossible. Nothing is too small for him. Today, let's do an examination of conscience, make a spiritual communion, and remember how beautiful God finds the effort we make in our weakness, successful or not. And maybe eat a potato for St. Faustina!

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