“There’s a Polish proverb that goes: Z kim sie zadajesz takim się stajesz — “You become the one you befriend” (Susan Tassone, St. Faustina Prayer Book for Adoration, 2018). Just how close a friend of Faustina I had become was about to be revealed in the most quirky way possible.
On January 1, 2015, I stumbled across a Saint’s Name Generator. A big fan of the saints and always looking to add to my #SaintPosse, my personal entourage of heavenly friends, I decided to give it a whirl. The instructions encouraged you to pray while the program scrambled the options before randomly choosing your saint. I clicked on the Show Me My Saint button and…
Up popped the name: St. Faustina.
I remember being disappointed—she was already part of my life. Perhaps we’d grown apart a bit, but Faustina had been my go-to intercessor during our very long and sometimes arduous adoption process. I wanted someone new, and I am embarrassed to admit—more exciting. The generator offered a do-over, and I took it. I cannot even tell you who the next Saint option was—clearly, I was still not feeling moved. Disappointed with the whole exercise, I closed it and moved on with 2015. Saintless.
Or so I thought…
Fast forward to the end of February 2015. My parish was hosting a Treasures of the Church exhibit. I am a big (self-proclaimed) Catholic Dork who adores all the unique traditions and elements that make up the Catholic Church, including the veneration of relics. There was no way I would have missed it! After the fascinating presentation by Fr. Carlos Martins in our church and before we trekked over to the exhibit in the Parish Center, Fr. Martins explains how he has seen a fascinating phenomenon occur with the Saints whose relics are contained in the collection.
He said, “be open to one of the saints to make a deeper connection with you, to reach out (so to speak) to you.” My friend and I, always ready for a cool mystical experience, headed over to the Parish Center to “find” our new friend.
There were rows and rows of tables with blue tablecloths and hundreds of thecas holding tiny pieces of some of our most beloved saints’ bones, teeth, or clothing. The thecas sat nestled inside various-sized reliquaries (the proper term for what I previously referred to as a ‘mini monstrance’). I stopped and prayed with Sts. Jean Vianney, Catherine of Siena, Anthony of Padua (while holding this relic, I had to make the joke — yes, out loud — “I bet Fr. Martins never misplaces this one”) as well as the relics of all the Apostles.
I passed my friend at one point and whispered, “I feel like I am speed dating.” We end up meeting again at the end of one of the long rows, directly in front of St. Faustina. Kathy motioned for me to venerate the relic first. I pick up the small reliquary (see pic inset) and blessed myself with it, then moved to touch my crucifix to the small glass window shielding Faustina’s relic.
When all of a sudden…
My necklace becomes COMPLETELY entangled in the reliquary. My friend is laughing too hard to assist me, and I am in too much shock (and embarrassment) to take command of my fingers. All around me, the faithful are reverently praying, some crying, others quietly venerating, and there I AM, completely entangled with this shiny mini monstrance! We finally compose ourselves to remove my new friend, happily because, at one point, I thought this trusting young saint was going to have to come home with me. A quite frowned upon behavior Fr. Martins made us clearly aware of before the venerating began — no borrowing or procuring a relic for your own!
Relieved and back on the veneration track, I separated from both of my friends, the earthly and the new heavenly one. A few hours later, I received a text from Kathy with the picture I’ve included in this post, pointing out the only better photo would have been me ENTANGLED in it! Apparently, my earthly friends share my heavenly ones’ sense of humor!
But wait, there’s more…
Speaking of having a sense of humor, while researching for my contribution to Our Friend Faustina: Life Lessons in Divine Mercy, I learned this type of antics was right in character for St. Faustina. “According to Mrs. Sadowska, Helen [St. Faustina] was always devout, prayerful, and a regular participant in the services in the cathedral. But she was also noted that Helen was a such good humor and so witty that she easily could have become a professional comedienne. Her goodness, helpfulness and joyous laughter made her a very lovable person (Sister Sophia Michalenko, C.M.G.T., The Life of Faustina Kowalska, 1999, p. 22).
Honestly, I’m so grateful she reached out to me so that I would know that she was as fond of me as I of her. That is the beauty of saintly friendships; they are mutual. Rest assured, the relationship is not just you constantly begging for their help, but they are pleased to be your prayer partner, to be your ambassador to Christ — to be your friend on this journey of faith.
I am awfully happy I’ve added St. Faustina to my Saint Posse; I’m expecting a long-lasting friendship!
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