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  • Sarah Raad

Hurting

“The Truth wears a crown of thorns.” (Saint Faustina).

Saint Padre Pio (Photographed with the Stigmata)

I read a beautiful phrase attributed to Saint Maria Faustina Kowalski the other day and I have been meditating on it ever since.


Saint Faustina said… “The Truth wears a crown of thorns.”


It is a very simple phrase, and short as well – and yet there is such a depth of meaning to be had in those seven simple words because they reflect not only Christ – the living Truth – but also the Truth of salvation that is won with suffering and sacrifice.


Saint Faustina was granted visions of Christ being tortured and crucified and even beyond that, Saint Faustina – at several times in her life – experienced a spiritual stigma of the crown of thorns on her own head as she sacrificed to atone for sin…


“On one occasion I saw a servant of God in the immediate danger of committing a mortal sin. I started to beg God to deign to send down upon me all the torments of hell and all the sufferings He wished if only this priest would be set free and snatched from the occasion of committing a sin. Jesus heard my prayer and, that very instant, I felt a crown of thorns on my head. The thorns penetrated my head with great force right into my brain. This lasted for three hours; the servant of God was set free from this sin, and his soul was strengthened by a special grace of God.” (Saint Faustina, Diary 43).


“On a certain occasion, I saw a person about to commit a mortal sin. I asked the Lord to send me the greatest torments so that that soul could be saved. Then I suddenly felt the terrible pain of a crown of thorns on my head. It lasted for quite a long time, but that person remained in the Lord's grace.” (Saint Faustina, Diary 291).


I have been reflecting on this experience of this Saint and others like her who willingly subjected themselves to suffering to atone for sin and for the conversion of sinners…


Saint Padre Pio – who experienced the physical stigmata of Christ – explained some of his strength in accepting and even embracing suffering, in this way when he said…

“What are you afraid of? Isn't He watching over you? You are walking on the sea, and you see the winds and the waves, but isn't Jesus' presence with you enough? What is there for you to fear? But if fear does come upon you, cry out loudly, ‘Lord, save me,’ and He will stretch out His hand to you. Hold onto it tightly, and walk cheerfully on the sea of life's storms.”

In this way, such marvellous Saints as Faustina and Pio were able to do as the American writer Flannery O’Conner suggested… They were able to “Push back against the age as firmly as it pushes against you. What people don’t realise is how much religion costs. They think it’s a big electric blanket, when of course it is the Cross.”


For – though I am a child of the Almighty God – I must practice the humility of surrender. As Saint Augustine said in his Sermon 6, “The first step is humility; the second humility; the third humility. And no matter how many times you ask me, I will always tell you the same thing.”


For as a daughter of the King, I know that I wear a crown…


But my crown should be like the King’s – and just as His does – my crown should hurt.


And so, I pray for the humility to accept that crown – just as it is…


Because, “The Truth wears a crown of thorns.”…


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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