Jesus appeared to Sister Faustina to impart messages meant for the world even as he helped her with the smallest of tasks
Divine Mercy Sunday (April 3 this year) is forever linked to visionary St. Faustina Kowalska, a poor Polish nun born in 1905. She died at age 33 from tuberculosis.
Sister Faustina worked before and after her vows as a cook, porter and gardener. She struggled with some tasks, including draining heavy pots of potatoes. She had little schooling, but she wrote extensively about mercy in her 700-page diary with such revelations from Jesus as this: “I cannot punish even the most hardened sinner, if he appeals to my mercy. He is immediately granted pardon through my incomprehensible and unfathomable mercy.”
As a result, the visionary nun was ordered to undergo a psychiatric examination. The church posthumously condemned her writings.
Decades later, Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyla took up her cause. He had her work retranslated and the ban on it lifted. As Pope John Paul II, he canonized her in 2000, making Sister Faustina “the first saint of the new millennium” and calling her “the great apostle of Divine Mercy in our time.” The pope also designated the second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday.
Though Jesus appeared to Sister Faustina and gave her messages of the greatest import, he also helped her with mundane tasks. She had a tough time in the convent draining the heavy potatoes, sometimes spilling half of them. She writes in her diary that when she asked for the Lord’s help, he said, “From today on, you will do this easily; I shall strengthen you.” That evening, she hurried to be the first to drain the potatoes. She trusted in the Lord’s words and did the job with ease.
But when she looked in the pot, she saw the potatoes had been transformed into beautiful red roses.
I’ll probably never look at another spud again without calling this transformation to mind, and so I thought it was fitting that I should prepare a potato recipe on Divine Mercy Sunday. Here is a Cleaveland family favorite.
Photo: Rachel Bauer
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and butter an 8-by-10 baking dish.
Peel and thinly slice about eight Yukon gold potatoes. Layer one-third of them on the bottom of the baking dish. Top with a layer of chopped onions, and then salt and pepper.
Dot with butter and then sift flour over the layer. Repeat two more times so you have a total of three layers. (You could do four layers if your dish is deep enough.) Add milk to cover.
When we get to this point, the debate begins in the Cleaveland household: My husband likes the potatoes swimming in milk. He wants them served in a soup bowl. I like a version that sits on my plate and doesn’t run into the other food.
Add a layer of Gruyère cheese, if you’d like. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.
Northwest Catholic - April 2016
Janet Cleaveland is a member of the Proto-Cathedral of St. James the Greater in Vancouver.
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