Sister Lucia’s assessment of her character defects is one we can all use

Sister Lucia as a Dorothean nun

It’s always refreshing to know that the saints or saintly people had a human side. Some, like St. Louis de Montfort and St. Damien of Molokai, both had angry temperaments that they had to conquer. Sister Lucia was known for her “rough” temperament and tendency towards impatience with others.

As a young Dorothean nun at Pontevedra (she was known then as Sister Maria das Dores), knowing the Rules for humility and docility regarding menial chores, she struggled with her temperament on more than one occasion. In one story as told by Father Robert Fox in his book The Intimate Life of Sister Lucia,  Lucia was coming down the stairs carrying a mattress and a young novice asked if she needed help. Lucia replied curtly, “If you do not have anything to do, ask the Mistress of Novices for work.”  The young novice was rightly upset and took it to the Mistress of Novices, who told her, “Sister, don’t consider Sr. Dores a saint just because Our Lady appeared to her. She has to work to be one.”   

Other third party testimonials refer to similar roughness in Lucia’s character. The privilege of corresponding with an angel and the Blessed Mother was not enough for saintliness. She had to strive daily to conquer her defects and sins and conform to God’s will, like everyone else. What helped her most in her early formation, was to surrender to her daily duties no matter what was asked of her, and to glorify God by offering them to Him as an act of love. This was the essential sacrifice Our Lady asked for at Fatima, because it is how we detach from ourselves and the earth. Once she surrendered to the frustrations of convent life, she began to grow spiritually. Her Mother Superior, in a letter to Lucia’s spiritual director at the end of 1925, wrote “she continues in her saintly simplicity and humility so much so that she enchants all of her companions. I have her set the meanest and humblest duties, but no matter what duty I have set her, it is always accomplished.”  (Intimate Life, p 130).

Lucia also developed a profound awareness of her character defects, which caused her to sin.  She compiled a list of these, which was written around 1934 and found later by her Mother Superior in the convent archives. It is one that we can all utilize in examining ourselves. Father Fox states that her level of self-awareness shows how much she grew in grace and holiness over those 10 or so years.  The list is:

– Resentments which do not allow me to forget the defects of others.
– Faults against charity which these resentments lead me to.
– Egoism which leads me so many times to choose the best for  
– Self love which leads me to have my view prevail.
– Excessive propensity to be grieved with trifles.
– To remain quiet many times in order not to have my opinion 
rejected with people who I know beforehand have to win the 
argument, even without good reason.
– Lack of respect and disdain for those who contradict me.
– Sadness and weariness produced by wounded self love.
– Consenting to complaints of self love.
– Concentrating on the faults of others without seeing my own.
– Curt replies to the Sisters.
– Not valuing the work of others.
– In my eyes I think my work better than others.
– To want others to esteem my work.
– Resistance to grace.
– Distractions which diminish insights of faith and touches of grace.
– Curiosities.
– Useless words in moments of silence.
– Uncharitable thoughts and words.
– Omissions of charity.
– Carelessness in the practice of small sacrifices.
– Lack of patience in unforeseen events.
– Lack of an ability with others.
– Lack of respect for the opinion of others.
– Not valuing the others’ opinions.
– The difficulty in allowing others’ opinions prevail.
– Allowing myself on many occasions to be very happy or very sad.
– Not being punctual enough.
– Not taking correction willingly.
– Unwillingly to assume my own feelings.
– Being rude to those who displease me.
– Failing of devotion in my spiritual duties and visits to the Blessed 
– Failing to be diligent in obedience.
– Failing to be pleasant with others.
– Failing to use ejaculatory prayers during the day to maintain my 
union with God.
– Failing to visit the Blessed Sacrament in my free time.

During these 40 days of Lent, we are called to take a good look at ourselves and work on those areas that are obstacles to charity, mercy and growth in holiness. Sister Lucia shows us that we need to dig deep in our self-examination.

[Source: World Apostolate of Fatima]

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1 Response to Sister Lucia’s assessment of her character defects is one we can all use

  1. Reblogged this on Zero Lift-Off and commented:
    What an unexpected surprise this well-done article is to me! I want to first quote this; “St. Louis de Montfort and St. Damien of Molokai, both had angry temperaments that they had to conquer. Sister Lucia was known for her “rough” temperament and tendency towards impatience with others.” I have those difficulties and ill attributes that surface sometimes! Could it be an indication of my eventual sainthood somewhere in the distant future?

    Well, now that you probably had a good laugh I’ll state for the record that I’m no saint, not by my own estimation or definition of what it takes to become; or at least live like one! But, I’m no devil either and this article surprisingly points out that we don’t have any idea who God will make a saint to serve His purposes! That is the big take away here! And as we are all fallen with our definite foibles or inherent weaknesses, or even character flaws; if any of us is to be made into a saint we can at least conclude that God not only works in mysterious ways, but, He can produce in a sense the most perfect pearls or say diamonds from the most common rocks on earth!

    As for this point of illustration, consider that the most common single mineral formation or “rock” of the continental crust, “quartz crystal.” Let’s remember that under the greatest pressure and heat down deep in the earth toward the core the mind-boggling process is happening every day in which these crystals are turned into the strongest of all earth minerals; diamonds!

    So too; I see “difficulty and suffering as a requirement,” in the producing of a saint. I know from my own personal experiences where I was subjected to various pressures or hardship, suffering; that I was in some cases tossed into that fire, had altered me in both actual physical ways as well as spiritually. One such experience; I was working at a job and was targeted by political forces within, that were corrupted in such a way that I became persecuted for no good reason other than my just being who I am, which I might have been seen as a threat to some within those political forces, or just simply too unlike them; to be kept around! When the biggest insult came in the form of a hazardous materials cleaning procedure where I would not have any of the appropriate protections to do the job, I could have complained which would instantly have been seen as an act of insubordination and sent packing! Or, I could do as I did; which was to find as quickly as I could any protective barriers or equipment that I could rustle up and just do the job; which I did. But anything I found to protect me in the process was sorely inadequate and I became exposed and quite ill after several hours! This all led to a period of several years of being damaged and disabled and not able to do the job, but instead having to fight in the system for my survival and not end up homeless. I became my own attorney and scientist in concert with a great “real one” that God sent my way; which eventually resulted in my surviving although suffering, which apparently go hand in hand; at least in some cases. Don’t forget that processes are absolutely necessary in Transformation!

    So, I tell you all of this because I think I have a pretty good idea what’s happening in the process of a regular person being put to the test in order to evolve to a saintly purpose and plan that God so chooses for that individual! We all know the phrase that “God won’t give you more than you can handle;” but sometimes some people do get so much adversity tossed upon them that they are literally swimming in a whirlpool of sorts, that is pulling them down into despair and failure! We should always remember this in those circumstances where we feel all is against us, and we are losing our lives by the acts and torments from others; directed upon us! This scripture may be where this quote comes from but there is more to it than that; “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” James 1:13, because I add to this from my own life how some people may have too much heaped upon them and even lose their life or seemingly too; the battle! You see here I’m telling you that God did leave me that escape that I had to make happen by my own determined will that God put in me in order to serve His will! Those words in particular in that Scripture stand so powerfully in my mind and core, “he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” But, we will never know on our own if what we are struggling with is more than we can handle, unless we keep fighting and trying our best, to the very end if necessary, to either overcome it all or succumb; in which case I’m sure God will address that in the hereafter when you arrive in His presence!

    And just know too; that “nobody gets away with anything,” so the nefarious among us that do these great harms to the innocent and undeserving of all this suffering tossed at them; those sad cases or “poor excuses for human beings” or supposed “children of God,” will be held to account by God in the hereafter too!

    Just try your best, as this is all a test! Hang in there like the saints did, and endure it all!
    God bless. Amen.
    Brother in Christ Jesus,
    Lawrence Morra III


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