Celebrate the feast of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska with Divine Mercy Pierogies and a discussion about the relationship between empathy and mercy.
by Ryan Langr
St. Faustina: Polish Nun, Divine Mercy Prophet
I first came to have a devotion to St. Faustina and to the Divine Mercy when in college I learned about this woman religious of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. I was doing a summer catechesis program, and part of our strict prayer regimen was saying the Divine Mercy Chaplet daily.
I began to realize that pride was the opposite of mercy. I needed more mercy in life, and so I had to give more mercy. St. Faustina’s story is inspiring, and her prayer is one of the most efficacious I’ve seen. Don’t say it unless you want to become more merciful.
Now how about those pierogies to celebrate her feast day Oct. 5?
Pierogies are a traditional Polish … well, I’m not sure what you’d classify them as–something between a dumpling and a ravioli. They are delicious. They is also as much variety in them as there are people in Poland. You can use them for any of the many Polish saints feast days (Sts. John Paul II, Maximilian Kolbe, Stanislas, etc.). For St. Faustina I decided to go with a simple cream cheese and potato filling.
This wasn’t particularly easy for me, but through a few tries and a little perseverance, I ended up with an edible (actually pretty delicious) appetizer for dinner.
For the Dough*
Egg Yolks: 2 (Adding the whites into the batter will cause the dough to be too tough)
Vegetable Oil: 2 teaspoons (may substitute other oils)
Warm Water: Less than 1 cup
Salt: ½ teaspoon
*I am not good at making dough–it took me a couple tries. If you don’t want to deal with dough, you can cheat by using wonton wrappers instead.
For the Filling
Warm Mashed Potatoes: 1 cup (about 2 medium russet potatoes)
Cream Cheese: 6 ounces
Butter or Olive Oil: 4 tablespoons
Shallot/Onion (Diced): 2 large shallots/1 medium onion
Make and Bake
Mix 2 cups flour and the salt into a mixing bowl. Add egg yolks and oil. Stir.
Flour a wooden rolling surface and rolling pin with remaining flour. Add water as needed, but DO NOT over-add the water. About three-quaters of a cup should be correct.
Knead dough for about 2-3 minutes, until it is less sticky but still stretches. Overly kneading will lead to tough dough.
Form dough into a ball, and cover with plastic wrap. Put in fridge for minimum of 30 minutes, up to 48 hours. I don’t have any pictures of these steps because it’s hard to take pictures with dough all over your hands!
When ready, roll dough to the thinness of pasta. Use a cookie cutter or mason jar lid to cut about 4-inch circles.
Mix together mashed potatoes and warm cream cheese. Add about 1 tablespoon of filling to each dough circle, depending on how much can fit.
Fold dough in half, pinch the sides, and then seal again with the tines of a fork. Freeze for up to 4 weeks.
When ready to cook, put a frying pan on medium heat. Add butter and shallots. Cook until shallots are caramelized. Add pierogies and fry until dark brown.
Dig in and and discuss St. Faustina’s example of empathy
Mine didn’t turn out perfectly, but let me know how yours turned out. My filling was still delicious, and my daughter definitely enjoyed it!
My wife and I have been making a very determined effort to teach our daughter empathy. I believe it prevents a multitude of transgressions (like helping her to share her toys), and it is the basis for emotional maturity.
I also believe it is the seed—and foundation—of peace and mercy. St. Faustina exemplifies the empathy that is required to be merciful. She felt the pain of those souls in hell, and she wanted to help others avoid that pain. Her desire to help others to atone led her to see visions of Christ.
Her example is inspiring, and I hope to use the story of this saint and others like her (St. John Paul forgiving his shooter, St. Maria Goretti’s roses) to teach my daughter empathy, mercy and forgiveness. The world needs as much mercy as it can get. These pierogies are bite-sized symbols of that.
And you, Faustina, a gift of God to our time, a gift from the land of Poland to the whole Church, obtain for us an awareness of the depth of Divine Mercy; help us to have a living experience of it and to bear witness to it among our brothers and sisters. May your message of light and hope spread throughout the world, spurring sinners to conversion, calming rivalries and hatred, and opening individuals and nations to the practice of brotherhood. Today, fixing our gaze with you on the Face of the Risen Christ, let us make our own your prayer of trusting abandonment and say with firm hope: “Jesus, I trust in You!”