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  • Sarah Raad

Pearls

“‘Here is your throne, for your faithfulness in fulfilling the will of God.’” (Saint Faustina, Diary 683).

Saint Faustina during the sole visit she made to her family during her convent life. On the right, her parents; on the left, her godparents.

The great Lebanese writer, Kahlil Gibran, wrote a beautiful piece of prose in his collection of prose, “The Wanderer”, which he called “The Pearl”. And the piece goes like this…


“Said one oyster to a neighbouring oyster, ‘I have a very great pain within me. It is heavy and round and I am in distress.’ And the other oyster replied with haughty complacence, ‘Praise be to the heavens and to the sea, I have no pain within me. I am well and whole both within and without.’ At that moment a crab was passing by and heard the two oysters, and he said to the one who was well and whole both within and without, ‘Yes, you are well and whole; but the pain that your neighbour bears is a pearl of exceeding beauty.’”


And I have been reflecting on that story over the day as I have been reflecting on the fruits of the Holy Spirit. The fruits of the Holy Spirit are charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity. And it is by such fruits as these that Christ told us that we will be able to distinguish the true prophets from the false ones…


“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit…Thus you will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:15-20).

You see, the Saints – like the oyster – were often ridiculed in this life. They often appeared the most miserable of souls. One has only to think of Saint Faustina, as one example. Saint Faustina who died at the age of 33 years of tuberculosis of the intestines, suffered miserably for years because nobody believed that she was truly as sick as she said she was. By the time her condition was discovered, her intestines were literally rotting inside her body.

“For a month now, I have been feeling worse. Every time I cough, I feel my lungs disintegrating. It sometimes happens that I feel the complete decay of my own corpse. It is hard to express how great a suffering this is. Although I fully agree to this with my will, it is nevertheless a great suffering for nature, greater than wearing a hairshirt or a flagellation to the point of blood. I have felt it especially when I was going to the refectory. It took great effort for me to eat anything because food made me sick. I also started at this time to suffer from pains in my intestines. All highly seasoned dished caused me such immense pain that I spent many nights writhing in pain and in tears, for the sake of sinners.” (Saint Faustina Diary 1428).


Later, in Diary 1430, Saint Faustina wrote, “One day, I began to doubt as to how it was possible to feel this continual decaying of the body and at the same time to be able to walk and work. Perhaps this was some kind of an illusion. Yet it cannot be an illusion, because it causes me such terrible pains. As I was thinking about this, one of the sisters came to converse with me. After a minute or two, she made a terribly wry face and said, ‘Sister, I smell a corpse here, as though it were decaying. O how dreadful it is!’ I said to her, ‘Do not be frightened, Sister, that smell of a corpse comes from me.’ She was very surprised and said she could not stand it any longer. After she had gone, I understood that God had allowed her to sense this so that I would have no doubt, but that He was no less than miraculously keeping the knowledge of this suffering from the whole community. O my Jesus, only You know the full depth of this sacrifice.”


And I see – looking with the eyes of faith – the PEARL inside the oyster that was Saint Faustina. For hers was such a miserable human soul and yet, her guardian angel showed her a vision of her throne in Heaven…


“Once, when I was praying fervently to the Jesuit Saints, I suddenly saw my Guardian Angel, who led me before the throne of God. I passed (126) through great hosts of saints, and I recognized many of them, whom I knew from their pictures. I saw many Jesuits, who asked me from what congregation I was. When I answered they asked, ‘Who is your spiritual director?’ I answered that it was Father A….. When they wanted to say more, my Guardian Angel beckoned me to be silent, and I came before the throne of God. I saw a great and inaccessible light, and I saw a place destined for me, close to God. But what it was like I do not know, because a cloud covered it. However, my Guardian Angel said to me, ‘Here is your throne, for your faithfulness in fulfilling the will of God.’” (Saint Faustina, Diary 683).


And it occurs to me today, to pray for the intercession of such a saint as this, for the fruits of her prophesy come from God. And I can see the pearls within her mere oyster shell.


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

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