Finding God in cold showers

What I thought was going to be a painful fast during Lent turned out to be so much more.

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It’s 6:00 a.m. on a Monday morning your alarm has just went off. You look outside your window to the fresh blanket of snow we received overnight and laugh at how long your commute is going to be.

You then remember you need to shower, but it’s Lent and you’re fasting from hot showers. You get in anyway and your day begins.

Lent. It’s a time of journeying through the desert with Jesus for 40 days through prayer, fasting and almsgiving. It’s not easy or short, but it’s a time designated for reflection on the passion and resurrection. The Church is given an opportunity to mediate on our own life and death and ways we need to die in order to rise with Christ.

It’s a time of great grace and for the first time in my life I have come to see the benefits of fasting. Cold showers, they were hard, but they were the best thing I have ever done.

Temptation

Everyday I was faced with the opportunity to deviate from my predetermined fast of 40 days. I was constantly told just ‘turn it a little warmer, you’re not hurting anyone and besides this is too cold anyway’. Everyday I was also given the opportunity to shoot that temptation down and say ‘no’.

Surely I could have turned it a little warmer and it wouldn’t have hurt anyone, but saying no to that only makes me stronger in other circumstances. When faced with other temptations into the occasion of sin, I can now more easily say no.

 

 

Offering it up

By about the 20 day mark, this cold shower thing was really getting tough. Your body doesn’t really get use to it and everyday is just as bad as the last.

Then I realized something.

I can literally offer up this struggle that I am facing right now for someone. I had the opportunity in that cold shower to pray for someone, for a specific intention.

I did that. I prayed for the dead, for conversions of heart and for the increase of my own faith.

I shed my comfort in order to plead with Christ and recognize my own need. My own weaknesses and my need for His love. He would get me through this cold shower and He would answer all my prayers in His perfect will.

 

Suffering

Convenient, ironic, or funny, whatever you want to call it, during Lent I was also making a Consecration to Divine Mercy. I was diving deeper into Christ’s own suffering and His great ocean of mercy for me and for the whole world.

If anything, these cold showers gave me an opportunity to partake in a small and insignificant way the suffering of Christ.

Entering into his suffering, I also entered into His mercy. To trust in His love and His great desire for my soul and the souls of the whole world. To trust that His love is not full of retribution, but full of mercy.

 

Gratitude

We have so much. Some people shower everyday in cold showers and go without food for days on end, so my fasting really is insignificant.

I realized how much I have. I have so much that I take it for granted. This Lent I rediscovered the advantages I live with and how I should be thanking God for the little things in my life as well as the abundant graces He pours out upon me.

 

I now rejoice because fasting from hot showers has taught me more about my God and about His love for me than any other fasting I’ve done. It brought me closer to my Father to know the depths of His mercy.

Happy Easter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Faustina play opens floodgates of mercy

Old story with a modern twist.

Leonardo Defillippis, director and founder of St. Luke Productions, has done something with his newest play that Shakespeare cannot — offer God’s mercy.

Faustina: Messenger of Divine Mercy is based on the life of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, a Polish sister of Our Lady of Mercy in the 1930s, whose personal encounters with Jesus inspired a devotion to the Divine Mercy.

“It’s a very fascinating and extraordinary story of how she’s called to help others and have mercy on others and how she calls out for mercy for others who are having huge troubles,” said Defilippis of the play that will tour Ontario, starting in Cornwall Sept. 24.

Defillipis describes the play as a “wake-up call of reality” for audiences. He said it reminds us all that God desires each and every one of us to return to Him, but just like Faustina, we have a responsibility to pray for their souls and help them get back on the right track towards Heaven.

Defilippis sees St. Faustina as a great role model for young people facing the pressures in society. He recalled a letter from a young women who got out of a toxic relationship after seeing the play because her heart was so moved.

“She is watching this play while going in the wrong direction in a bad relationship and she sees the play and it awakens in her heart that she does not need to be with the man,” he said. “I think it gives real great hope, to say we are going to be a new people, a young people that are going to help transform the world. That is what Faustina does, that is what the saints do, especially young saints.”

The play is a unique meditation on St. Faustina’s diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul, partnered with a series of modern subplots portrayed on a multimedia screen.
The majority of the play is around one player on stage. Defilippis looked high and low for the perfect actress to play the part. Chosen from a group of 85 women who auditioned for the role of Faustina, lead actress Maria Vargo was chosen not only for her great talent, but also for her great faith.

The 38-year-old native of St. Louis resisted the faith while growing up in a Catholic home. In 2008, while in Lourdes, Vargo realized her life was not going in the direction she wanted and decided it was time to take control.

“When I was there, it was an opportunity to resubmit myself to the Lord,” Vargo said. “It affected the work that I was then going to do as an actress… It enlightened my heart and mind to see that not only living a certain way, but inside your soul starts to change.”

As part of Vargo’s training for the role, Defilippis sent her to the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Although fearful at first and unsure of what she would do for a week with the nuns, Vargo found the experience incredibly worthwhile. She had the opportunity to go through their daily duties, read the constitution of the order, reflect on obedience and learn more about what Faustina’s experience would have been like in the convent.

“At the end, I was sad to leave,” she said. “It was a really beautiful experience that helped me, especially because in the role she’s in the convent, I’m living her kind of life.”

Being the only actress on stage interacting with a screen as part of the multimedia presentation, Vargo admits the experience was foreign to her. After learning the timing, she realized how beautiful the play is to allow audiences to feel as though Jesus is to talking to them and not just Faustina.

“Don’t miss an opportunity to see good theatre and really an opportunity for your heart and mind to be moved in a deeper way,” Vargo said.