St. Faustina: Patron Saint of Gratitude in the Family


(Photo Credit Ann - Unsplash)

By Holly Gustafson

It’s that time of year again, when the leaves are turning colour, we’re starting to add a little pumpkin spice to everything we eat or drink, and the stores are full of wooden signs, felt wall hangings, and embroidered pillows that say “give thanks.”

It’s easy to be thankful for all the lovely things in our lives, but St. Faustina took the virtue of gratitude one step further – she thanked God continually for “the little daily crosses” she experienced, particularly those she encountered in communal life. Her “Gratitude List,” found in her diary Divine Mercy in My Soul, doesn’t list the pleasant blessings I would tend to add to my own list (a sunny day, the kids getting along, an evening walk with my husband, that the vegetarian tacos I made for lunch on Friday that were actually pretty tasty), but instead lists – and outrageously gives thanks for – all the little sufferings she endures. Here is St. Faustina’s “Gratitude List”:

True love is measured by the thermostat of suffering. Jesus, I thank you for:

  • The little daily crosses
  • Opposition to my endeavours
  • The hardships of communal life
  • The misinterpretation of my intentions
  • Humiliation at the hands of others
  • The harsh way in which I am treated
  • False suspicions
  • Poor health and loss of strength
  • Self-denial
  • Dying to myself
  • Lack of recognition in everything
  • The upsetting of all my plans
  • Interior sufferings
  • Dryness of spirit
  • Terrors, fears, and incertitudes
  • The darkness and the deep interior night
  • Temptations and various ordeals
  • Torments too difficult to describe
  • The hour of death with its fierce struggle and all its bitterness

I don’t know about you, but of all the gratitude lists I’ve made or thought to make in my life, none of them have included “terrors, fears, and incertitudes” or (gulp) “torments too difficult to describe.”

But this is the lesson that St. Faustina teaches us in her example of gratitude – that all is gift, worthy of thanks . Not just the sunny days, or the peaceful family times, or the sweet moments with our spouses, but the dark days, and the conflict, and misunderstandings, too. All the joys and all the “hardships of communal [family] life” are gifts, if we let them be, to draw us closer to God.

St. Faustina knows this, and so in the giving thanks of her daily crosses, she doesn’t wish any of them away – she only wishes to love God better through it all. “Thank you for the cup of suffering from which I shall daily drink,” she says at the end of her list. “Do not diminish its bitterness, O Lord, but strengthen my lips that while drinking of this bitterness, they may know how to smile for love of You, my Master.”

October is the perfect month to establish a gratitude practice (and it’s the month of St. Faustina’s feast day, on October 5th!). Get a journal or a calendar and write five things for which you are grateful each day or, as a family, go around the table during supper and have each family member share one blessing that happened during the day. Or simply say thank you to God at the end of the day, for the joys but also the challenges, and for His accompaniment.

Holly Gustafson lives with her husband, James, and their five children, in Regina, where they attend Christ the King Parish. Holly received her Masters in Linguistics at the University of Manitoba, and now pursues her love of language through art, writing, public speaking, and unsolicited grammatical advice. The best advice she ever received was from her spiritual friend, St. Faustina, who told her that when in doubt, "Always ask Love. It advises best."

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