Saturday, March 7, 2009

Reflections on Isaiah, 2nd Corinthians, the Gospel of Mark, and Saint Faustina

Something Different

This post is a change of pace: Reflections on the readings of February 22, 2009, Saint Faustina, and a local devotion; written by Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas. All I've added is this introduction, and links to the readings for that day:

Readings for February 22, 2009, the Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time:

Saint Faustina Homily

By Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas
Feb. 22, 2009

Three very short reflections on the Readings and then I will share with you why I am here.

From Isaiah: God's Love for us is firmly established. Though God may chastise us for some wrong, it is always an expression of God's Love. God never grows weary of Loving and Caring for us, even when we grow tired of serving God.

From 2nd Corinthians: God's promises are trustworthy. God's "Yes" is always "Yes" and God's "No" is always "No". We do not have to wonder about the will of God for us. God provides a reliable context in which we can seek, find, and pursue God's will.

From the Gospel of Mark: Jesus was and is utterly holistic. He did not divide life into separate compartments. He did not separate physical and spiritual well-being. Health and salvation were both important to Jesus, and He recognized that in all of us they are intricately connected.

On this date from the Diary of Sister Faustina: February 22nd, 1931 we read: Sister Faustina sees a vision of the Lord Jesus, who tells her to paint an image according to the pattern she sees. About 28 years ago, in this community, a local wood carver carved an image of the Divine Mercy that he did paint according the rule you just heard.

Today we come together to honor, now Saint Faustina raised to the Altar by John Paul II on Mercy Sunday of the year 2000 while at the same time declaring that the 2nd Sunday of Easter would be forever called Divine Mercy Sunday. The importance to this community and to this parish, of our devotion to Divine Mercy, is of Infinite and Eternal Value.

I am, by God's Grace, that wood carver. Little did I know what I was getting into when in the late 70's I had bought some carving tools. Working with them for a little while I remember coming up from the shop, spitting and sputtering, that if I couldn't make tools better then that. My Agnes, God Bless her, simply said, "WELL". That was the beginning of my efforts to make carving and engraving tools, now numbering about 84 pieces. I brought them along for you to see, but please don't touch as they are very sharp. I like to call this story, "a page in the life of a wood carver."

By this time, this date, I've carved, Divine Mercy, St Isador, Our Lady of Fatima, Crosses and many non-church pieces. So Father Todd must have had an idea that maybe I would carve St. Faustina, but I told him my hands were so bad that I didn't think it was possible. Thinking and praying about it I really wanted to do it. So the next time I saw him I said. OK, Father, I'll carve you St. Faustina, but no time limit, when she's done she's done. OK, he said, what will she cost me? I responded, "IF! I can pull this off she will be so priceless you couldn't afford Her."

If memory serves this was about the first of November. Gluing together butternut of the same supply of Wood that was used in Divine Mercy and Mary and making a rough pattern, I was past the point of getting out of this. And with the help of my son Lawrence we began the roughing out. I moved her to the upstairs shop so I could work on her whenever. In the beginning with chisel and mallet I could work only for very short while. Either the wood had become harder over the years or I have become weaker. Maybe both, you suppose?

Doc. Jim helped with the molding and casting of her hands and face. Her face is taken from the face of Mary who stands in my shop and cast in dental stone. This then was put on a wood carving machine, that I also built, I was able to rough out her face. Enough so, that I didn't have to go through all the clay work for a normal model. Her hands however are cast in dental stone and installed as such. And are my wife's hands half size, that I used for Mary's hands. You may wonder why cast her hands, the reason being that hands are very hard to carve and I have the perfect set in Mary's hands.

A week ago or so the Fathers and Cindy had to come to my house to see how she was coming along. You know me, I had to tell them a story: I told them that while I was carving her I would talk to her from time to time and she never gave me any back talk, until the last day. I had just set her hands while she was on her back and when the glue dried I set her up and hollered, that's not what I wanted. In a flash it came to me that now her right had was raised in Blessing and the left hand is calling you and me to the Mercy Seat of The Merciful Jesus. The Sacrament of Confession is that Mercy Seat. She got the last word anyway!

Sister's Diary is full of the Mercy of God, but it stands out most sublimely in references to the Sacrament of Mercy. So to have this image of Saint Faustina in the wall of the Confessional is to invite you and me to that Sacrament. But also to fulfill what she said in her Diary, that her work of Mercy wouldn't really start until after her death.

Do you remember the last words of the Isaiah reading? "You burdened me with your sins, and wearied me with your crimes. It is I, I, who wipe out, for my own sake, your offenses; your sins I remember no more."

Sister records in her diary of a time when one of the sisters learned that Faustina was talking with Jesus and was begging her to ask Jesus if He had really forgiven her sins. Faustina reminded her that she goes to frequent confession, but please ask Him if he really forgives me. So to keep peace she did ask and Jesus said that he had really forgiven her but that she keep bring them up.

Let us be clear about one thing! Catholics do not and never will worship statues or woodcarving. However we are taught to see beyond the image to the one presented. So we honor Saint Faustina for no other reason then that God has honored HER. And has given her to us to help us on the way to the Mercy Seat of Almighty God.

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