The Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska is definitely a gold mine of teaching regarding the great mystery of Christmas. As a Franciscan Capuchin and also as a passionate follower of the spirituality of Divine Mercy, I cannot leave the approaching Christmas solemnity without sharing with you the immense comfort, joy, hope and healing that is found in this marvelous Diary.
For St. Faustina, the Christ Child revealed God’s most tender love for her personally. From her Diary we know that there were times when Jesus appeared to her as a child to fill her heart with his joy and deepest love. As a matter of fact, on Christmas Eve of 1937, St. Faustina records one such visit which the Holy Child made to her:
When I arrived at Midnight Mass, from the very beginning I steeped myself in deep recollection, during which time I saw the stable of Bethlehem filled with great radiance. The Blessed Virgin, all lost in the deepest of love, was wrapping Jesus in swaddling clothes, but Saint Joseph was still asleep. Only after the Mother of God put Jesus in the manger did the light of God awaken Joseph, who also prayed. But after a while, I was left alone with the Infant Jesus who stretched out His little hands to me, and I understood that I was to take Him in my arms. Jesus pressed His head against my heart and gave me to know, by His profound gaze, how good He found it to be next to my heart (Diary, 1442).
Is the way I am leading my life now making Jesus feel good about me? Am I opening my heart to cherish his profound gaze? Am I permitting Him to press His heart against my heart and allowing Him speak to my heart? Am I seeking his Presence to be nourished by it? Am I eager and joyful for wanting to spend more time with Him as much as He wants to spend time with me?
Another characteristic that emerges from the Diary is that, according to St. Faustina’s experience of the Christ Child, His smallness inspires the human being’s total trust. One day, precisely following the sacred moment of communion, this great Polish saint and mystic had the grace of experiencing the irresistible power of the Divine Babe. She narrates:
…I suddenly saw the Infant Jesus standing by my kneeler and holding on to it with His two little hands. Although He was but a little Child, my soul was filled with awe and fear, for I see in Him my Judge, my Lord, and my Creator, before whose holiness the Angels tremble. At the same time, my soul was flooded with such unspeakable love that I thought I would die under its influence (Diary, 566).
In the Child of Bethlehem do I behold my Judge, my Lord and my Creator? Do I realize that before that Little Child the choirs of angles stand in awe? What does it mean for me that, even if He is the Almighty God, He has chosen to become a human being, a man, to save me from the slavery of sin? Am I letting this outstanding act of the greatest generosity and solidarity towards the sinner touch my heart and fill it with unspeakable love? Or else, the fact that the Son of God became a baby for me does not have any influence whatsoever on me.
St. Faustina’s mystical encounters with the Christ Child was a constant reminder for her to live with utter commitment the two most important virtues which turn a spiritual experience from one based on sheer fleeting feelings to another that is solidly grounded on real holiness, namely humility and simplicity. Both the Bible and sacred tradition constantly show that these two virtues are the legitimate basis of spiritual childhood. In her Diary Jesus is presented as the Teacher of both of these two pivotal virtues. In entry 184 He told her: … I keep company with you as a child to teach you humility and simplicity.
In entry 1481 Jesus told St. Faustina, while she was at Mass, that He wanted to instruct her in the spiritual childhood:
… I saw the Infant Jesus near my kneeler. He appeared to be about one year old, and He asked me to take Him in my arms. When I did take Him in my arms, He cuddled up close to my bosom and said, “It is good for Me to be close to your heart. … Because I want to teach you spiritual childhood. I want you to be very little, because when you are little, I carry you close to My Heart, just as you are holding Me close to your heart right now” (Diary, 1481).
In my spiritual journey, am I letting Jesus keep me company to teach me His humility and simplicity? Do I realize that without these two key virtues I will never ever have spiritual childhood? And if I lack these two extremely important virtues in my spiritual journey, how can I dare claim that I am following Christ.
Like St. Francis of Assisi, St. Faustina saw the deep connection of the Child Jesus with the Eucharistic Christ. In entry 1346 she talks about her experience at a Mass celebrated by Fr. Joseph Amdrasz SJ, one of her spiritual directors.
… I saw the Infant Jesus who, with hands outstretched toward us, was sitting in the chalice being used at Holy Mass. After gazing at me penetratingly, He spoke these words: ‘As you see Me in this chalice, so I dwell in your heart’.
Her union with the Infant Jesus made her more ardent to receive and cherish Him in the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist. In paragraph 603 she writes of an experience she had on February 2, 1936:
… When Mass began, a strange silence and joy filled my heart. Just then, I saw Our Lady with the Infant Jesus … . The most holy Mother said to me, ‘Take my Dearest Treasure,’ and she handed me the Infant Jesus. When I took the Infant Jesus in my arms, the Mother of God and Saint Joseph disappeared. I was left alone with the Infant Jesus (Diary, 608).
How much am I letting Jesus instruct me about Himself through His Eucharistic Presence? Do I believe that in the Eucharist He dwells in my heart? Do I acknowledge wholeheartedly that it is only He who is my source of strength? When I receive Holy Communion do I let Jesus fill my heart with His immense joy? How much do I cherish silence and do my utmost to keep it when I receive the Lord in the Eucharist?
It was thanks to St. Faustina that the Lord Jesus reaffirmed to us what He already told us in His inspired Holy Word, namely that through His Incarnation He is Mercy Incarnate. In entry 1745 of her Diary Faustina comments:
The Word becomes flesh; God dwells among us, the Word of God, Mercy Incarnate. By Your descent, You have lifted us up to Your divinity. Such is the excess of Your love, the abyss of Your mercy. Heaven is amazed at the superabundance of your love. No one fears to approach You now. You are the God of mercy. You have compassion on misery (Diary, 1745).
In front of such a magnificent act of love effected by Jesus, am I bold enough to incarnate His Mercy by prayer, word and deed? Is this not the only fruitful way that I can really celebrate this mystery of Christmas not only this year but in each and every single day of my earthly life?