“My daughter, give me your failings” (10 October 1937).
These words have changed my spiritual life. And I want to share them with you if you haven’t read them yet.
As a recovering perfectionist, I still try to always put my best foot forward, my best face, give it my all in whatever it is I’m doing. I’m not talking about things for vanity or vainglory, but actually good things: be the most loving spouse, parent, friend, sibling, child, Catholic… but being all those things is hard even if you just focus on one thing at a time. Not only that, but I know that, personally, I try to put my best face with God Himself, which is crazy! No one knows me more than He does. Yet, when I talk to Him, I find myself straightening up, fixing my wrinkled clothes and messy hair as if I’m going to give a presentation or talk to my boss or make a sales pitch. I don’t show myself as who I really am but as a “fixed version” of myself. Even though He knows me!
I no longer do this. Or I should say, not as often as I used to. And I’m free. Free of being myself in front of Him and not an “improved version.” And it’s beautiful. It’s powerful. It has changed my life. It’s not perfect, of course, but it has been liberating for me. Life-changing. I now intentionally let the Lord in every minute of my life. I talk to Him and tell Him that I can’t do this or that: that I need Him. That I’m trying, but that I need Him. And my life has been showered with so many graces that can’t be numbered or properly given justice here.
Now, let’s get to the Lord’s words to St. Faustina.
The Divine Mercy feast day has seemed misplaced to me through the years since St. John Paul II established it, perhaps because I feel like the Chaplet has a Lenten “feel” to it. Right? I mean, we meditate on the Lord’s Passion and we beg for His Mercy. So, it has always been curious to me that we celebrate it after Easter, but once I read this homily by Pope Francis, it all made sense to me.
I was preparing an Instagram post for Divine Mercy Sunday a couple of years ago and I always read Pope Francis’ homilies and audiences as a starting point, because he has a gift of succinctly and tenderly expressing Church teaching. But this time I didn’t go to him first, because as a mom, I’m always on the go. Providentially, I was driving and was listening to We Are One Body Radio on a Friday afternoon and Fr. Boniface Hicks was meditating on the Diary of St. Faustina, as he always does on Fridays. And he tied the diary to a homily by Pope Francis from Divine Mercy Sunday.
The Pope starts his homily in the setting after the resurrection by referring to Thomas and his lack of belief. We all do the facepalm gesture when we hear the story of doubting Thomas (seriously, dude?). But, according to Pope Francis, we’re all in need of being lifted up like Thomas: “What does Jesus do in the face of this timorous lack of belief? He starts all over. The resurrection of his disciple begins here, from this faithful and patient mercy, from the discovery that God never tires of reaching out to lift us up when we fall.”
These words from his homily continued to catch my attention as I drove: “In life we go forward tentatively, uncertainly, like a toddler who takes a few steps and falls; a few steps more and falls again, yet each time his father puts him back on his feet. The hand that always puts us back on our feet is mercy: God knows that without mercy we will remain on the ground, that in order to keep walking, we need to be put back on our feet.”
Pope Francis continues beautifully knowing our human nature, “You may object: ‘But I keep falling!’. The Lord knows this and he is always ready to raise you up. He does not want us to keep thinking about our failings; rather, he wants us to look to him. For when we fall, he sees children needing to be put back on their feet; in our failings he sees children in need of his merciful love (emphasis added).”
And then, the Pope brings in these beautiful words from St. Faustina’s diary: “Jesus said to Saint Faustina: “‘I am love and mercy itself; there is no human misery that could measure up to my mercy’ (Diary, 14 September 1937). At one time, the Saint, with satisfaction, told Jesus that she had offered him all of her life and all that she had. But Jesus’ answer stunned her: ‘You have not offered me the thing is truly yours’. What had that holy nun kept for herself? Jesus said to her with kindness: ‘My daughter, give me your failings’” (10 October 1937).
Pope Francis then turns it to us, “We too can ask ourselves: ‘Have I given my failings to the Lord? Have I let him see me fall so that he can raise me up?’ Or is there something I still keep inside me? A sin, a regret from the past, a wound that I have inside, a grudge against someone, an idea about a particular person… The Lord waits for us to offer him our failings so that he can help us experience his mercy.”
I hope these words can help you experience the free and beautiful gift of His love and mercy. I even made these words into a smartphone wallpaper to remind you of this incredible gift. Happy Divine Mercy feast day!