I used to be a terrible cigarette smoker. I mean I smoked 2 to 3 packs a day for almost 30 years. I was so addicted I would wake up in the middle of the night and need a cigarette. It got so bad I couldn’t breathe without my lungs wheezing like a squeeze-box, I coughed constantly – even in my sleep I’m told, and climbing a single flight of stairs left me exhausted and gasping like a hooked fish for air. Everywhere I went I first made sure I could smoke. I was hopelessly addicted for over 30 years. I even smoked in the bathtub.
For years I tried to stop. Again and again I failed. I spent hundreds of dollars on nicotine gum and patches. I just got addicted to them, too. I took anti-anxiety medications. They had no impact whatsoever; I just continued to puff away. One time I went to my doctor and asked him to x-ray my lungs and show me all the damage. “Scare me!” I told him. “Scare me bad!” He did. And what did I do? I walked out of the appointment and fired up in my car while still in the parking lot.
I prayed for deliverance from smoking, too. I prayed a lot, in fact. I mean I got down on my knees and admitted I was helpless over smoking and needed divine help. I pleaded with the Lord for help. But none of my petitions seemed to be heard as I just continued to smoke and smoke and smoke. I can honestly say I tried to give up smoking, in a serious way, at least fifty times over the years, especially in my late thirties and early forties, all unsuccessfully. Oh, I could, with extreme effort, go for a few hours or days without smoking. One time I even went for a few months by chewing nicotine gum so much I got sores in my mouth. But the truth was that I was so addicted, the habit had so woven itself into every aspect of my life, that I didn’t believe it was possible to live without smoking. That is, live without being miserable all the time.
Then one time in confession, in a conversation unrelated to smoking, a priest recommended I read the diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, “Divine Mercy in My Soul.” It was a suggestion that would alter my life. I soon got a copy and was immediately stuck by the simple yet profound words of this young polish nun, a member of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Warsaw, Poland, who had a special communion with the Lord.
Her short life was staggeringly remarkable, her ministry worldwide in dimensions. The Congregation of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception's literature on the subject touches briefly on it when it states:
"On February 22, 1931, Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, known today the world over as the “Apostle of The Divine Mercy” and numbered by Catholic theologians among the outstanding mystics of the modern day Church, saw a vision of Jesus with two rays, one red and the other paler, flowing from the area of His heart. The Lord instructed her to have an image painted to represent this vision and to sign it, “Jesus I trust in You!” He also ordered the Servant of God to begin writing a diary so others would learn to trust in Him. In the diary, Saint Faustina details a series of revelations that taught her that Jesus Christ’s mercy was truly unlimited and available to everyone, even the greatest sinners, and reveals special ways and devotions for people to respond to His mercy. By the time of Saint Faustina’s death in 1938 at age 33, devotion to The Divine Mercy, as described in her diary, had already spread throughout Eastern Europe. By the time she was solemnly canonized in Rome by Pope John Paul II on the Sunday after Easter, April 30, 2000, (Feast of Mercy Sunday), it was global."
"One of these special devotions, a prayer called the Caplet of Mercy, which is recited using ordinary rosary beads of five decades, Jesus gave Saint Faustina for her personal use. He also promised great mercies to anyone who recited it, especially at the hour of death. The Lord said to her:
“Encourage souls to say the Chaplet which I have given you… Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death… When they say this chaplet in the presence of the dying, I will stand between My Father and the dying person, not as the just Judge but as the Merciful Savior… Priests will recommend it to sinners as their last hope of salvation. Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet only once, he would receive grace from My infinite mercy. I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in My mercy… through the Chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with My will.” (Diary 687, 1541,1731)
"Saint Faustina recited this Caplet almost ceaselessly, but the Lord told her that he had an appointed Hour of Mercy, 3 pm, which recalls His death, and that He especially wanted it and other special prayers said at that time – again, attaching great promises of blessings to those who did so: “At three o’clock implore My mercy, especially for sinners; and if only for a brief moment, immerse yourself in my Passion… In this hour I will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request of Me in virtue of my Passion. (Diary, 1320)
What does all this have to do with my fiendish addiction to cigarettes? Well, you’ve probably guessed it. As I was: 1. A great sinner and in need of an advocate at the point of death, and 2. In desperate need of a miracle if I were to ever be freed from smoking while living, I decided this devotion was for me… at least, I would try it. So I began saying the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3 pm quite regularly, especially for the dying and my cigarette addiction. And after introducing my mother, Fern, to the devotion, she oftentimes joined me. The chaplet, a beautiful prayer, only takes about 10 minutes to complete, and is a nice way to stop and focus on the Lord for a few moments on a busy day, a spiritual gift beyond the mighty promises attached to it.
I also worked on quitting smoking during this time (1998-1999) as it was such a serious problem, but to no avail. So I guess I just “gave up on giving up” smoking. And, I suppose, I started to give up on the Lord. Frankly, the seeming failure of the Lord to answer me (when I wanted Him to) gnawed at my trust in God – the exact opposite intention of the devotion – it seemed to me. . Why weren’t my sincere prayers answered, I wondered, on this and other matters? (I have not always been steadfast in my faith – even after afforded extraordinary graces - far from it, as this story will attest.)
Then an inspiring event occurred: I learned that Sister Faustina was going to be officially acknowledged a saint by Pope John Paul II on the Feast of Mercy, the Sunday after Easter, in 2000. At the time, this was only a few months in the future. I saw this as a special opportunity as in 1937 the Lord also gave Saint Faustina another devotion, The Divine Mercy Novena, to which he also attached special graces to those who practiced it: “By this Novena (of Chaplets) I will grant every possible grace to souls.” (Diary 796) This beautiful devotion can also be recited anytime throughout the year, but the Lord wanted it said especially over the nine days starting on Good Friday and ending on Saturday, the day before the Feast of Mercy. When reciting it, along with saying the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3 o’clock every day (which I followed by the rosary), one brings a different group of people to the font of the God’s unfathomable mercy.
I decided to say the Divine Mercy Novena as described in Saint Faustina’s diary for several intentions, especially my cessation from smoking so that it would coincide with this nun’s elevation to sainthood on the upcoming Feast of Mercy Sunday. My thinking, my hope, was that the Lord might be distributing special graces at such a wonderful event as a sign to unbelievers. (As if the Lord ever measures his infinite graces. Faulty thinking, sure – but I was also desperate.)
And I wasn’t alone in this idea… I thought. I learned after mass one Sunday, while reading the weekly church bulletin, that a large group of parishioners from several area churches were planning on praying the novena together, with a special service planned at my home church on the year 2000 Feast of Mercy, the Sunday of St. Faustina’s elevation. So I decided to join the group. (I found out later that this activity was and is still done every year, and was already a popular, annual tradition in many churches throughout the world by the 2000.)
So I prayed and smoked, smoked and prayed throughout the Novena. And again, I must say here I really prayed – I literally begged the Lord - whenever I found the time and just as fervently I asked Saint Faustina, and Our Lady, to assist me with my petitions. But nothing was happening it seemed to me, save that my prayer life improved.
Then on the 8th day of the Divine Mercy Novena, Friday morning, I awoke suddenly in the middle of the night. Somehow I knew that something had occurred, changed in the room around me, but I didn’t know what. I sat on the edge of the bed for a few moments wondering what it was. I remember looking all about me and seeing nothing unusual. Then I heard a soft, female voice. The voice said three words: “Lord, heal her.” Somehow I wasn’t frightened or even surprised. Rather, I felt very calm and filled with an inexplicable peace. And I knew the exact identity of my visitor; and the fact that she had died almost 70 years previously didn’t seem to matter. I simply felt blessed and after a while, I just drifted off to sleep.
The next morning I got up and, as usual, believe this or not, the first thing I did was fire up a cigarette! I didn’t even try to stop smoking! I thought about it, but I was too slavishly addicted to really try anymore. It was automatic. Nor did I tell anyone at this time what had happened – these things aren’t so easily explained - but reflected on the experience as I chain smoked my Basic 100s. Besides, I reasoned, I wasn’t healed of smoking as, well… I was still smoking. What was I to tell people? That the soon-to-be saint had visited me and prayed for my healing without success?
Still, I had had an extraordinary visitor and the Feast of Mercy Sunday, where she would be officially proclaimed a saint, was coming up in a couple days. In light of what had just occurred, I began to really look forward to the event as I knew from personal experience that the church was really right on this one. Sister Faustina was still at work in the world after her physical death, just as she had promised in her diary, asking the Lord for mercy for souls in need.
And the special church service was remarkable. My mother and I both attended. A half-dozen priests showed up to hear confessions. The Divine Mercy Chaplet was sung. My favorite priest, Father Leo, celebrated mass. It was really beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that toward the end of the service, during communion, I experienced a very special grace. I can’t really explain this mercy accept to say I was incredibly moved by the service: I believed I was witnessing the ultimate and most wonderful feast in the world with the Lord, Himself, welcoming people to it. (And I was.) As I knelt there, I remember feeling humbled and spiritually delighted and privileged beyond words to be invited to such a table. Then, suddenly, I noticed a man was talking to me who I didn’t know. It was another parishioner. He was bent over me asking if I was alright. I guess I looked faint. I wasn’t, but my mother was concerned, too.
The special service soon ended and my mother and I left. We spent the rest of the day quietly, doing ordinary things - shopping at a local farmer’s market, preparing dinner, chatting about the service and family matters. A wonderful peace rested upon both of us--
The Lord will give strength to his people; the Lord will bless His people with peace. (Psalm 29:11)
Peace I leave you; My peace I give you; not as the world gives to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. (John 14:27)
As for my horrible problem with cigarettes… I really don’t remember when I realized it. It had to be sometime that first day or the day after as, under normal condition, I would have lit up a cigarette as soon as I got to the car after church. But I didn’t. I didn’t even consider it. I know I was preoccupied with what had happened during the Feast of Mercy service, and with spending time with my mother, but such things would never have stopped me from smoking in the past. Nothing would.
Anyway, at some point I realized I hadn’t smoked since the Feast of Mercy Sunday service had begun! More, I didn’t want to smoke, and had no interest whatsoever in cigarettes at all! I didn’t even think about them anymore! I had been healed, made into a non-smoker, without even my knowledge! I got my miracle after all! (And I’ve never wanted another cigarette. No, not in the almost ten years since this happened.)
Absolutely none of my family and friends could believe it. By this I mean they couldn’t believe I wasn’t smoking, let alone without any withdrawal symptoms whatsoever. That I just didn’t smoke anymore. To this day I’m often asked about this particular miracle because, as the years roll by and I remain smoke free, more and more people seeking a healing from some illness or addiction remember my deliverance from cigarettes and want to know what I did.
And what did I do? Well, I said a thousand prayers for healing from the deadly habit and for years didn’t think I was heard. (I was, of course.) Then I said The Divine Mercy Novena and I was instantly, completely, and permanently freed from the addiction at the Feast of Mercy Sunday service a couple days after a certain long-dead Polish nun came to me and prayed over me. I just had to wait on the Lord. I was healed in His perfect timing, not mine. (I think too this is the reason there was a two day delay between Saint Faustina praying over me for healing and my actual healing. I believe the saint wanted to make sure I knew it was the Lord, not her, who did the healing. But clearly, the devotions, and the saint, are blessed.)
Trust in the Lord forever for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and it shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, wait on the Lord. (Psalm 27: 13-14)
No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he promised. (Roman 4 20-21)
I, of course, encourage
others to practice these beautiful devotions.
For those who want to incorporate it into their prayer life, please reference: http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/mercy/novena.htm#1 http://thedivinemercy.org/message/devotions/praythechaplet.php
The Lord also attached special graces to those who venerate the Divine Mercy image which can be found on both instructional sites. The Servant of God’s diary is available at most secular and religious bookstores worldwide, and at many sites online. In the ten years since this blessing, I have read the work countless times and highly recommend it to anyone seeking spiritual direction. It has a permanent home at my bedside as it has greatly contributed to my spiritual life, as it has millions of others. (First time readers should make sure they take in the extensive footnotes in the back of the work as they read along; these annotations really help to illuminate the text, especially the time-line and what life was like in St. Faustina’s particular order.)
lindatymensky (author) on August 11, 2018:
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my post. In was very interesting; the Lord speaks to us in so many ways. One day in church several years ago, I saw an image, like a photograph, actually, of a heart that was damaged beyond repair, it's left valve ruptured, damaged beyond repair, and leaking blood. I also just knew it's owner was going to die, and I knew it's owner was my very best friend in the world who was standing next to me. When she was hospitalized a couple weeks later, I told her what I had seen so she could prepare to die. She did and she did die of heart disease; her heart's left valve was damaged beyond repair. As for your son, when I don't know how to pray for something or someone or am upset, maybe feeling lost, I've found it was good to simply say, sometimes over and over again until I felt peace: "Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner." And, sometimes, my friend in Christ, I want you to know I'm not ashamed to tell you I outright beg the Lord, and ask everyone who loves me here and in Heaven (the prayers of the good hold great weight with the Lord, and whoever is in Heaven is most assuredly good). I did this during my Novena to St. Faustina. I begged for help - and got it. Remember, too, that serious error or grave sin blocks answered prayer. We must always make sure we are in a right relationship with the Lord, and it not, repent and ask for anyone we are prayer for that, first and above anything else, they are delivered from their sin and saved. The Lord never participates in sin. I will pray for you and your son. Hope I have been helpful.
Cathy on August 11, 2018:
I quit smoking just a little over 30 years ago with prayer and visualization. I was pregnant with my two boys and I visualize me breast-feeding and a cigarette coming out of my mouth burning the top of their heads. It was a very powerful visualization as well as lots and lots of prayers.
My son put on the patch today and is trying to quit. Please keep him in your prayers that he Has the strength to quit.Your message was very powerful. I wish there was a simple prayer that he could go to.
stella vadakin from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619 on April 26, 2016:
I found your story wonderful, thanks for sharing it. Jesus gives us all that we need. I am tobacco free now for 10 years. It is so wonderful. Gods blessing, Stella
Alice O'Neill on May 01, 2014:
I was asking God this morning for an inspiration regarding what I can do to help my daughter to quit chain smoking and a thought came to mind about finding a Novena for a chain smoker. I searched online and found your commentary. Just a "coincidence" last Sunday at church was Divine Mercy Sunday and I took home the brochure and it is still in my purse unread. I am going to explore further and get a copy if the diary. This is just a beginning. I will stay in touch.
Mark Anderson on May 21, 2013:
What a fantastic article. I am reading St. Faustina's diary at the moment and am finding that it is helping me to come to a greater understanding of Jesus' Mercy and Love.
Well done, what a great witness.
Ann Burch on November 30, 2012:
Linda I have had a copy of St. Faustina's diary for several years and have yet to read it. I have said the Chaplet hundreds of times and attended the Feast of Divine Mercy celebrations here in my parish and other parishes.
It had never occurred to me to include my petition for quitting smoking while saying the chaplet or novena. I believed I trusted that my prayers for others would be answered, however some how I lack the trust yet to believe I will be healed. After 25 years of not smoking I started again shortly before my daughters wedding. Like an alcoholic it only takes one drink and your hooked again. Its been over three years now and I continue to smoke. My husband also smokes. I have tried quitting several times using the gum, patches etc. to no avail. I have been blessed with a beautiful singing voice and I continue to ruin it and sing less and less. I used to cantor in our parish now I feel ashamed of my foolish choice. I have asked others for prayer and family members as well.
When I read your suggestions about reading the diary and praying the chaplet for my petition as well as our Lord's it gave me hope. Thank you. I hope I will write you again someday with additional thanksgiving to you as well as Our Lord, his Blessed Mother and of course St Faustina.
florence on February 10, 2012:
thank you a real inspiring story linda.u have helped spread the chaplet of divine mercy,
from today i will read the book and recite it,i will even put an alarm to be able to wake up 3pm and recite it.
thank you linda God bless you.
remember you are highly blessed.
Lisa on August 22, 2011:
Dear Linda, Thank you for sharing this miracle! I wanted to share that I smoked for almost 25 years and the longer I smoked the worse the addiction became. I became very sick and had to leave behind everything to live with my sister and her family. I continued to smoke. Where they lived was very rainy -- one night I was underneath their deck smoking in the rain and cold. I thought this is ridiculous, but I could not stop smoking or wanting to smoke. I prayed to our Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Most Holy Mother to help me. I didn't stop that night, but I did within days and have only wanted a cigarette a couple of times since... I have not smoked again and never want to begin again especially since our BVM gave me the grace to stop! How much Mercy Our Dear Lord Jesus has for us! Thank you for speaking about St. Faustina -- I have been reading her diary these last four months and have received so much from that! JMJ, Lisa
francisca mesquita on May 04, 2011:
i loved your testimony may my faith be inspired by your testimony and may st faustina also reach me as she reached you
lindatymensky (author) on April 12, 2011:
Thank you Dianne for reading my articles! Linda
dianne dolitte on April 11, 2011:
nice article linda but it really reminded me of the 23rd psalm....keep writing and sharing
lindatymensky (author) on April 05, 2011:
Thanks for taking the time to comment! I appreciate it!
begekel on March 28, 2011:
Well done Linda that article was informative and well written. You can do no more than publicize the Divine Mercy devotion and then let people make up their own minds about it
Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on March 24, 2011:
Hi lindatymensky,great inspirational hub ! Quiting smoking was very hard for me to do but i am so glad i was able to do it .
Awesome and vote up !!!
fucsia on February 16, 2011:
I am not christian, but I believe in love. Love is also have a clean life, love our body, love ourselves. Your story is a story of a love, therefore I like it! Maybe the strength to quit was already inside of you and you needed only an "excuse" to free it (?). It is not a question, only a reflection.
lindatymensky (author) on February 13, 2011:
Thank you Clinton Dutra for reading all the way through it. It's been ten years now and I've never even thought about smoking... it is amazing. God is good. Linda
Clinton Dutra from New England on February 13, 2011:
I like this article. It was very insperational. Thanks
cceerpp from Ghana on February 04, 2011:
"I awoke suddenly in the middle of the night. Somehow I knew that something had occurred, changed in the room around me, but I didn’t know what. I sat on the edge of the bed for a few moments wondering what it was. I remember looking all about me and seeing nothing unusual. Then I heard a soft, female voice. The voice said three words: “Lord, heal her.” Somehow I wasn’t frightened or even surprised. Rather, I felt very calm and filled with an inexplicable peace." Amen.
I voted Up and also marked it as Beautiful. Thanks Linda.