The school year has just come to an end. We can tell it also by the piles of materials, certificates, and textbooks brought home. I find our son Christopher’s kindergarten religion notebook. In it – the letters written with a visibly great effort: “Jesus, I trust You”
“Oh, you how wonderful!”, I’m saying with joy. “I copied it”, Chris proudly replies. Does he already know it’s good to follow the example of the Saints? 😉
His work impresses me. You can say: even a child knows. He knows more than an adult person, what trust means. Trust is about letting things go off your hands and letting Someone else to catch. To trust is to accept your poverty, so that Someone else can fill it in the way He wants it. To trust is to let the others take care of you, when you don’t really know what to do. It’s accpeting your husband’s advice when he tells you: “don’t take anything more on your head”. It’s about setting off on a journey even if you don’t know all the answers. Just as you set off on a holiday, and surely you won’t be able to remember about “everything”.
In order to trust, you need to find a child within you. Imperfect, writing badly formed letters, but drawing huge hearts. Imperfect, but loved without end.
It’s been a long time since I last was at a wedding. And definitely long since the last wedding in my family. My both sisters have been married for many years now, my cousins – for even more. So now it’s time for the nephews.
I was deeply moved do celebrate the Mass during which Magdalena and Maciej, my oldest nephew, exchanged their marriage vows. It seems I baptized him only yesterday. And today… I’m already blessing him for this new path of his life.
Looking at their joy, I’m thinking about all the couples who sought my help. We need to protect married couples, we need to pray for them, and we need to create environments which will give them support, because, as Bl. John Paul II reminded, the future of the Church and of the world comes through the family. The joy of the newly-weds is authentic. They will have to overcome on their own the difficulties that they are going to encounter on their way, but… so much depends on our testimony and our commitment.
We know ourselves, how helpful for us were all those kind words, and little gestures of assistance and comfort. Let’s be alert, because maybe somewhere near there is someone for whom it will be enough if we phone them, meet them for a short while, offer even some tiny support – and things are getting easier.
Remembering about you,
[*the title of a song often played at the weddings in Poland – translator’s note]
Retreat participants have left. The retreat is over. The house for a while returns to its natural silence. Of course, intense housework keeps going on, as in a few days another group will turn up, consisting of several times as many families, and all the rooms will have to be ready. But it is not work that keeps this place alive. It is the chapel and its silence. Even though the sounds from different parts of the house and from the outside reach this place, this special kind of silence prevails. The heart of the house is here.
Today during the evening Adoration I prayed for those who were here and for those who will come here before long. How many beautiful meetings this place will witness, how many moments and hours spent on peaceful gazing at the One, who is waiting.
It does not matter how busy you are, you may always pay Him a visit, even for a tiny moment, closing your eyes and travelling in your mind to the chapel. Or greeting Him from your car, when you’re driving past the church.
He is waiting for us everywhere. And He wants to listen to you. And to tell you that He loves you. Very much. He loves you most in the whole wide world.
…with families are sometimes risky. They may end up in giving you a new identity which you’ll find difficult to live with. Meaning: it’s definitely more than you are, and still you may feel obliged to accomplish the goal of fulfilling the expectations.
That’s how it was. Two days ago I went to the beach with a group of families. I seemed to be taking my trip solo, but on the way we were walking together. When we got to the beach, some families went left and some right. I stayed independent in the middle. After a time I decide to check the temperature of the Baltic Sea. I noticed a large shallow area, going far into the sea. To the left and to the right of it the water was knee-deep and deeper close to the shore, and here you could walk for many meters and only your feet beneath your ankles got wet. Froma distance it might look like the way of moving aroud the see in a Gospel-like manner. So I didn’t have to wait long for response. One of the children cried out: “Look, Mum, God is walking on the water!!!” It turned out I stand for “God” in their language.
And today at dinner one of the boys told his mother that he’d “played with Jesus.” Ufff. I felt a bit relieved. Maybe in a few days I’ll get down to my own identity: a priest. But even that identity is so obliging. To set example for children, to make the world of prayer safe, close, and warm, and to ispire the longing to become part of that world – that is really obliging.
That is to continue the thought of our M from the previous post. Wether you are a Mum or Dad, Wife or Husband, Piest or Sister – you need to grow to match your name. The lives of the others depend on that. The way they discover the dignity of a person depends on that.
The other day I went to the cinema to see “Mud” (USA 2013). In choosing the film I took a blind shot, so to speak; I guess if I’d known before how difficult that movie was, I’d have waited for the newest “Star Trek”. It is a difficult film, because with the eyes of a 14-year-old boy we watch the world in which adults just fail to be what they were meant to.
When the boy’s father says that he and his mother are going to file for divorce, the boy expresses his deeply-rooted natural belief that in marriage people should love and support each other. “That is not so obvious,” his dad replies, thus declaring the bankruptcy of the relationship with his wife, and – for the boy – announcing the end of his own safe world.
There are more noteworthy secenes. For example, when the father and mother are trying to prove to their son who is more to blame, who’s worse in their marriage. And they don’t see that their child couldn’t care less about that, because his world collapses the moment their unity breaks. Or the scenes in which you see that they’re so overwhlemed by their own problems that they don’t find time to continue the conversation with their son beyond the brief “are you hungry?” or “where’s that black eye from?”.
So much depends on us, adults, parents – no matter how “incompetent” we sometimes feel in that role. And it’s not only important what and how we act seperately, but what we create together as a couple.
One mother told me about the great joy she experienced when she saw her youngest sons’ reaction to the view of the sea. They were so shocked and so moved, that they were not able to find any proper form to express rupture. They ran back and forth between the water and their Mum. And then they saw the ships on the sea – and again were thrilled.
Thanks to children we are given the chance to experience again the joy of things we’ve got used to.
This is the truth taken straight from the Gospel: “Unless you become like little children…”
Reatreat is also the time to feel again the thrill of things that have become ordinary and known. To refresh the way we look at each other and to use simple gestures – which maybe only need to be aired with the wind from the sea.
Group 1 slowly begins their retreat in our retreat house at the seaside – the House of the Holy Family. Participants have been coming here since Saturday. As the school year in Poland hasn’t finished yet, the retreat is intended for a group of families with small children who don’t go to school yet. So you can see toddlers and babies everywhere. The pace is slower, because many of them require to be looked after round-the-clock, but even the older ones need constant attention. In the chapel the parents are trying to keep the children close, and the children – to get as much free space as possible. In the dining room the parents struggle to feed the kids before the ones who can already walk set off for the next exploratory journey on their own.
Most of the wives present here normally stay at home to take care of the children, and most of the husbands spend most of their time at work. Now that the family can be all day together, the fathers are besieged by their children. You can hear every now and then: Daddy, daddy, look! come! help me!
Time stops at evening Adorations. Children, after playing outside all day, fall asleep quicker, making it possible for their mums and dads to take a moment of prayer. It is particularly moving to see the husbands and fathers pray. How precious this time is. What a beautiful sight. I offer them to St Joseph.
For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. (2 Corinthians 1:5)
Dear Reader, if you are the kind of person who always sees the donut not the hole, we’re happy for you! The world needs you so much!!! However, if you don’t belong to that minority group, feel invited to stay with us for the next several lines.
You might have not noticed until now that even in real hardships the Lord is giving you reasons for joy and so many proofs of His concern for you. He’s sending His Angels, often in the person of actual people, who for instance will tell you on the phone: “Where are you? In a shop? is there a mirror anywhere near? Come closer to it. What can you see? A smile? See, that’s not so difficult.”
And yet among many memory disorders, apart from total amnesia, there’s a very dangerous disease of “selective memory”. It chooses from the whole day only the things that went wrong. The dinner was too late. Even though you should be grateful that it took place at all, and you all could gather and have it together (which is not so obvious, if someone in the family is ill or away).
Of course one should neither ignore real suffering, but try to help it, nor neglect problems that need solution. But optimism brings us closer to God’s view of things. The lives of the most cheerful people I’ve ever met were not all roses. But when they checked the balance of each part of the day, they were always “in the black,”, and not “in the red”. They could notice even the smallest things that worked out well. And they were also able to appreciate other people’s efforts in a similar way.
The Corpus Christi feast octave finished yesterday. But I’d like to go back in memory to our Lord Jesus, whom we met at the bus stop in Wisełka, during the Corpus Christi procession in the parish neighboring the retreat House of the Holy Family.
He was standing there and waiting. Not for the bus, to be sure. For me, totally surprised at where He’d taken a break, for us all. For you, Dear Reader. To tell you that He is with you, also when it seems that nothing is happening. And when you are in between point A and B of your daily schedule. And when you’re in a hurry, and don’t know what to start with. Or when you’re alone with your thoughts and it no longer matters what scientific degree you have and who the others think you are. And also when you are so troubled that you cannot speak. He’s listening to your heart and waiting for you to tell Him all. He puts His arm around you to assure you that He always lifts you up, rescues and defends. He defends you also from your own self, when you lose patience with yourself.
Today is the feast of His Most Sacred Heart. The Heart full of love to be given away. It’s waiting for those who will come and take it as it is. He is asking you to let Him love you. In everything. And in time, everything will change.
Those were exceptional days. With several other persons (Sr Ewa, The Sister of Mercy of St Charles Borrmeo, and Margaret from our editorial team) we assisted Sue Hilgers during her meetings in Wrocław and Częstochowa.
It’s not the first time that I’ve been under the great impression of her devotion, her service and extraordinary enthusiasm which she brings into anything she does. For each person she met, she had her full attention. She noticed everyone, she had a good word for each of them, and found a unique personal gift of each person she spoke with. No matter if it was during a radio interview, or a meeting with a large group, or individual conversations. Someone who has served the culture of life and love for all of her life will be like that in all that she does.
Even though we were travelling across a large portion of Poland, from meeting to meeting, she never complained of being tired. Simple words, full of humor and respect for each single individual. No matter if it was a small baby, or an elderly lady, or a researcher with many degrees – all that is important is this very moment of the meeting and the good that can be brought about by it.
There was very little time for sleep, or for taking a rest, but the exhaustion is filled with joy that we were able to see so much good.
Today it’s the farewell time. For all of us the subsequent days will be filled with meetings and catching up on work. And in all that we’ll have new enthusiasm and the same mission – to see the beauty in each person we meet.
May today and tomorrow will be a gift for us. May our meetings bring into the lives of the others the joy of life which is God’s gift.