by Sister M. Faustina Yank
“Praised be Divine Providence in my life. Glorified be the mercies of God and our Blessed Mother…! For all eternity I want to sing the song of praise of merciful Father love and Mother love.”
These words of Sister M. Emilie written shortly before her death summarize well the impact which divine mercy had on her life. The mercy of God and the Blessed Mother was truly the content and goal of her entire life. It was mercy which formed her into the saintly soul she was, and thus, in turn, her whole life truly became “a song of praise of merciful Father love and Mother love”, a song which we may be sure she continues to sing in eternity.
However, ironically, mercy was precisely the attribute of God which Sister M. Emilie could not grasp as a child, and even into her adult years, and perhaps this is precisely why she treasured it all the more once she was able to experience this precious jewel. As a child, Sister M. Emilie suffered from scrupulosity, a disease of the soul in which one sees sin everywhere. Thus, her image of God was that of a just judge, waiting to punish her for any little thing that she might do wrong. She felt that she had to earn God’s love, and so she reached for perfectionism. However, she failed to see that God loved her not for what she did but for who she was, not in spite of her weaknesses, but precisely because of them. It was her encounters with Father Kentenich which slowly helped to change her image of God from that of a just judge to that of a merciful Father. In Father Kentenich she experienced tangibly the mercy of God, and through obedience to him, she was slowly able to overcome her scruples and fear of sin, and to be led and motivated by pure love of God, thus becoming a miracle of mercy.
In Sister M. Emilie we see an example of what each one of us struggles with in one way or another. To varying degrees, we feel that we are loved by others because of our good qualities and our virtues, not because of our weaknesses, our imperfections, our failures. As human beings, and particularly as women, we have the natural desire to please others, to “earn” their love, as it were, and this can also be transferred to our relationship with God. We try to be good in order to “earn God’s love,” and not to prove our love for him. Sister M. Emilie learned the lesson that we can never earn God’s love because he loves us no matter what. His love is always given to his creatures as merciful love, a love which is not deserved. Once she was able to understand this, Sister M. Emilie was also able to accept and even embrace her miseries, to surrender them to God, and thus to open herself completely to his merciful love. For although God is always ready to shower his merciful love upon us, it is we ourselves who often block this love, simply because we are too proud to acknowledge that we have fallen, that we have failed, and thus, failing to see our need for his mercy, we do not allow this mercy to enter our hearts. Once Sister M. Emilie was able to accept her misery, God’s merciful love could fill her completely and transform her heart, so that instead of striving for virtue in order to earn God’s love, her striving for virtue became a proof of her love for God. Secure in his merciful love for her, she longed to return this love which she knew she could never deserve, and thus her entire life became that “song of praise of merciful Father love and Mother love” which she so ardently desired to sing. Looking back on her life, she saw absolutely everything as a gift of his mercy, but especially her vocation to Schoenstatt. For it was through Schoenstatt, and particularly through Father Kentenich, that she was able to experience the mercy of God and the Blessed Mother.
However, mercy does not stop with the recipient… Once we have truly experienced God’s mercy, we long to give that merciful love on to others, and so Sister M. Emilie became a clear reflection of the mercy of God. Those who experienced her kind eyes and radiant smile felt that she loved and accepted them just as they were, taking them in completely with a genuine interest. This was the mercy she herself had received so abundantly, the mercy which changed her life and led her to the heights of sanctity.
We may ask ourselves: Have we also experienced the mercy of God?
Certainly we have experienced it, but have we truly opened our hearts to the miracle of his mercy? What weaknesses are we “hiding” from God, and even from ourselves? To what extent do we see God as the “just judge”, and do we feel that we have to “earn” his love and prove ourselves to him? Let us ask Sister M. Emilie to intercede for us the grace to recognize our smallness and surrender it totally to the Eternal Father, so that we too may become miracles of mercy, reflecting the mercy of the Father into the hearts of as many of his children as possible, and thus singing, with Sister M. Emilie, “the song of praise of merciful Father love and Mother love” for all eternity.
To read more about Venerable Emilie Engel, click here!