Imperfect perfection

People are not perfect. Seems obvious, but we still keep stumbling over the reality in which someone turned out to be different than we imagined and did not meet our expectations. All that is happening in the world recently (or maybe since forever) can be expressed by one word:  “disappointment”. Those who were supposed to set an example and serve as a reference point turned out to be unable to do so. The only question is why are we constantly surprised. It should be known to us that “better to take refuge in the Lord, than to put one’s trust in mortals” (Psalms 118:8). Ecclesiastes recalls that “nothing is new under the sun!” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

It is not about lowering our expectations so much that nothing would surprise us, but rather about living in a realistic and not an idealistic world. In each of us, the image of God constantly mixes with the image of misery and despair. Only the proportions change. We can assume that a saint will have more of God, and a criminal more of the flawed human nature, but the depths of the hearts can be known only to the Creator himself, so it is worth remembering not to judge too quickly.

I realised recently that many of my mistakes and sins in life have their source in the expectation of perfection. Many times from others, but often also from myself. I do not mean perfectionism and clinging to details at all, but rather a lack of agreement that a human being can ruin literally everything. Precisely because he is just a creature. When I deprive myself or others of the right to make a mistake, it turns out that paradoxically at that time I am the least similar to God.

Sometimes I imagine how Jesus lived in the world and judging by the story told by the Evangelists, he had many reasons to look at the Apostles with disappointment and say: “Who am I working with?” Apart from Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denial, we see his Apostles arguing about who is the greatest, not understanding what Jesus teaches and until the very end they thinking in the terms of this world. In the meantime, he very consciously decided to bring wisdom to the called instead of calling the wise ones. It is God who turns out to be the one who has no problem with weaknesses and failures. The problem begins when we start to pretend to be smarter than we are and we do not accept being ourselves. I think that that’s when we look as if we tried to bend ourselves to the shape of the circle, believing that it is a perfect figure after all.

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The equal and more equal

I found an interesting video today showing that people with disabilities have problems very similar to ours. It caused me to smile many times, but also prompted a deeper reflection. If we would really stop dividing people into ours and strangers, the more important and less important, the equal and more equal, the world would be a much better place.

Isn’t it that wars, famine, murders and the tragedy of pedophilia (which is taking away my peace in the recent weeks), are taking place because someone abused his power and someone else let him do it? Someone felt that he was allowed to hurt others. At the global level, I can only sadly regret that we cannot build a society based on love, trust and acceptance of everyone as he is. In my own backyard, however, I have to admit that I’m not doing any better, because I still catch myself thinking that I know better than others or that I am entitle to something.

In the last days in my community we have talked about what is most important to us in our Society. Much of what we mentioned was connected to equality – our internationality that opens us to other cultures and other worldviews; the fight for justice and peace, so that every person can live with dignity and have equal opportunities; The heart of Jesus open to everyone without exception. To say that God loves everyone the same, sounds like a slogan. However, there is nothing more important in the Gospel than the commandment to love each of your neighbours and there is nothing more difficult than putting it to life.

I dream about a world in which we will co-exist with those who are “different” with such simplicity and humour. Share ordinary joys and very ordinary worries. Have a nice watch 🙂

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The virtue of humour

s. Amelie, Father Benoit and Virginie – the best comedians of the world!

On Sunday, I returned from the pilgrimage in the footsteps of St. Philippine Duchesne in France. The evening before I left, together with my post-academic community in Poznań, I read this passage from a book by Fr. Tadeusz Dajczer “Reflections on faith” :

“The one enthroned in Heaven laughs” (Psalm 2: 4). When you look at yourself in the light of faith, you will see that all your claims for absolute seriousness and recognition are actually ridiculous. The sense of self-importance is largely opposed by the “virtue” of humour. It turns out that it is very necessary for faith as an act of growth in seeing the world in the right light and in the right proportions. Humour is seeing the world on the axis of absurdity. “

Searching for the Philippines home in Grane

The author goes on to write about Jansenism, which I have heard a lot about in the history of my Society. It was in this trend that St. Madeleine Sophie grew up and it took her many years to get rid of the false image of God who is distant and cold, from whom we must constantly deserve love, and we will never be able to do it anyway. That is why, as the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, we are sent to show people that God is tender, close and wants to give us life and happiness completely for free – love is our mission!

Fr. Dajczer writes about one more face of Jansenism:

“According to Jansen’s views, a Christian is a penitent for sins, he can not allow himself to be joyful. The sorrow of his sins should dominate in his life. (…)  The “virtue” of humour will help you overcome the poison of sadness that Satan is trying to put in your soul, and by taking away your self-love, it will enable you to live a life of joyful faith. “

Thus, the answer to the evil of Jansenism is also a sense of humour and a life of joy that Jesus always wanted for us! 🙂

In his reflection, however, he goes even further:

The “virtue” of humor, seeing the world in terms of the absurd is a religious procedure that can have the value of an exorcism. When you fight with a wave of temptations, a wave of intrusive thoughts that can torment you, do not join in the fight against Satan, because he is stronger than you, but try to laugh at him and ignore him. Use this “exorcism”, which is a religious sense of humour. Laughing at Satan you reject his attack in the most effective way.

The beautiful of Vercors mauntains

To my great surprise, at the beginning of our pilgrimage, one of our sisters, someone from the Sacred Heart family and a Jesuit priest stood on stage and began with a story that the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has just announced that from now on, apart from the two miracles needed to be canonised, they will need… a joke! It will be necessary to prove that the future saint had a sense of humour 🙂 So on all subsequent days we could witness a sketch, during which all three in a brilliant manner referred to the life of Philippine, visited places and our life as pilgrims. It was a real spiritual feast!

Monastery in Grenoble

During the pilgrimage, we had the opportunity to get to know not only the place where St. Philippine lived, but also her – as a woman of relationship, of  surpassing herself, receiving the unexpected and constantly praying. I recognised her as the one who is now smiling from above and reminding us not to be so serious 😉

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Be carried away by grace

For the last week brave women of worth have been flying in the sky for the glory of God, finding His presence in the midst of Romanian landscapes and in the community. The paragliding retreat ended with not only successful flights, but also a package of graces that each of us received in abundance from our Father in Heaven.

At the beginning of mastering the art of paragliding, it is worth knowing that the paraglider wing flies by itself. It means that when you take off and do nothing, it will start to gradually fall down and eventually land by itself. A novice pilot learns that primarily he should not disturb the flight. Nervous movements and unskillful slowing down the paraglider could cause an accident. Not to mention trying to make impressive acrobatics.

unlike it may seem, often in life the most difficult is not getting to work, but accepting that sometimes it is better to do nothing and let God act. Many saints, beginning with st. Peter, were convinced that in faith there is a very important turning point. It comes when you turn from the attitude of “I am so good at following Jesus”, to “all grace is from Him, I can try not to disturb His work”. Of course, the next step would be to add a bit of our effort, but it must come first – the awareness that we can not in any way deserve God’s love, because it is an absolutely free gift. Lack of our cooperation with God’s grace can end with an unpleasant landing in the bushes, but pride and bravado can end with something much worse – death on the spot.

Waking up in the morning on the beautiful Romanian slopes and contemplating the fog covering the valley, I had the confidence that God is taking care of us and in His time He will lead us to endless happiness. Let us just not  disturb Him too much.

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What a marriage this will be!

On the cover of their songbook they wrote “The best is yet to come.” I cannot disagree with them, because if two people seriously entrust their lives to God, then miracles just have to happen! Read the beautiful prayer that Nina and Yohann wrote for their wedding ceremony:

Dear Father,
Our words cannot express the gratitude we have for You. Discovering Your love has shaken our lives and since then our greatest desire has been to give up everything for You and belong to You. Thank you for this wonderful call to holiness in marriage which gives us great joy. This beautiful path, at times stony, has taught us that love means giving life to the one we love.
We are aware of our littleness facing this challenge. Teach us to love more everyday, give us the grace of becoming good parents, who will lead your children to You, let love in our family be a shelter for all the people you send us. We are open to fulfilling Your will.
Dear God, we love You and we love Your goodness.
Amen.

I attended many weddings in my life and I cried at most of them. This one, however, was special. As you can image, at a Polish-French wedding it was very international. The atmosphere, however, was primarily missionary. Both Nina and Yohann, associated with Heart’s Home, inspired the arrival of many friends from around the world. These are the kind of people who make the impression that you’ve known them since forever. At the wedding reception in the middle of the forest, almost completely prepared by friends and family, everyone could feel at home – accepted and loved. Following a French custom, we were able to hear speeches of many guests about the newlyweds and they all touched our hearts by showing how both of them changed the lives of so many people around them.

Going to the wedding, I wondered if there would be rain from the black clouds hovering over the fields. At first I thought that for these two God certainly prepared the most beautiful weather. But then I came to the conclusion that it was very much the opposite. Knowing Nina and Yohanna, they would perfectly find themselves dancing in the rain for the glory of God who easily flows through their hearts and souls. For years they have been overwhelmed by the infinite love of God and it is certainly just the beginning! I am looking forward to hearing more of this fascinating story 🙂

And at the end of the Mass they played my beloved Alma Misionera!! The first time I heard this song at the Provincials’ meeting in Poland in 2014 and I knew immediately that it was about me and my missionary soul. This memorable prayer was accompanied by the symbol of tiny Colombian sandals that are still hanging on my cork board, reminding me that missions are not about travelling abroad, but about being next to those who are hungry for God’s love and compassion.

Listen and meanwhile watch last year’s ceremony of final vows in Rome 🙂

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Reality full of God #4 – God’s desires

Are our desires the same as God’s?

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Event compassion

In the 1990s, our Mother General Helen McLaughlin RSCJ wrote in her letter to the Society about “couch compassion.” It is a kind of compassion that we experience while sitting comfortably in front of the TV in warm slippers and cry over the fate of the world, but it does not touch us deeply and does not reach our hearts. When we change the channel it goes away.

The phenomenon that I observe today is somewhat similar, but it seems to me much more dangerous. I called it “event compassion”. It is similar to couch compassion, because it is also driven by media, playing on our emotions. However, when it takes place in the internet age, it begins to have a new look.

How do you recognise the symptoms of event compassion? Here are some steps.

Aggression

Anger and frustration arise in you, the focus is on looking for those guilty. You get caught up in the basic media manipulation in which the message is prepared in a way to present the victim and perpetrator (sometimes a person, sometimes an institution, and sometimes the whole society). What’s more, in the same case there may be an extremely different media message depending on the media option. The goal, however, is the same – gain your interest and arouse extreme emotions.

Conviction of your own righteousness 

You give unequivocal judgements. You are convinced of being right and knowing the only truth. You look one-sidedly and demand that everyone thinks like you. In an extreme situation, you feel ill will towards those who think differently and insult them on online forums. You fight for the guilty to be punished and you have no space for mercy. You also do not notice the good that’s happening because you focus on what’s wrong.

Multiplication of events

You get together in groups that support an idea. You join an event on FB, change your profile photo, go to a demonstration. However, you do not fight for a cause that is really important to you, but you jump from one action to another depending on what is currently popular. You have a sense of making a difference because you join a large group of people who think similarly, but you really only help the media to promote clicks on new articles. Tipically you forget about the case when the media goes silent. Then you are ready to fight for another one.

How can you cure event compassion? Here are some ideas.

Leave it to Jesus

If any matter moves your heart, do not speak publicly about it. Focus on prayer, sharing your feelings only with your loved ones. Try to empathise with the victim, do not deal with the aggressor at all. Leave Jesus to save the world and take care of justice. Do not be provoked by online discussions.

See good and forgive

Take care to see good even in a very difficult situation. Thank God for it. If you can do something to develop it, do it (preferably without publicity). If not, continue to pray for this intention. Ask for conversion for the perpetrators, but above all for the transformation of your heart and the gift of forgiveness.

Reach out to people

See if by any chance, while fighting for justice in the world, you have not neglected the people you have around you. Maybe your neighbour needs help, a colleague from work or someone from your family. Mercy in practice consists of very simple everyday gestures, not great events. Get together friends from your parish or community and do something together for the local people instead of looking for allies on the internet. Follow Jesus, who was always interested in the person beside him, as if he did not care about the Roman occupation.

Make your reality more objective

Do not believe everything written on your favourite website or said in your favourite TV station. Be discerning and get to the facts. Read something in the newspaper you don’t like, see the event from a different angle. Only then can you try to judge the situation, but always with humility and awareness that you do not know the whole truth.

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Sheep’s freedom

The Good Shepherd is one of the names of Jesus that speaks best to me. There is so much tenderness in the image of God carrying a man like a lamb on his shoulders. Often in prayer I see myself at the feet of my Shepherd, where I can feel safe and loved.

The scenery of lambs and shepherds reminds me of another image. Once I imagined what the most intimate part of me looks like, where I am completely free, where success and failure do not count, where my sin and weakness are irrelevant, where nothing prevents me from living fully, where God lives in me. In my imagination it was a big meadow, on which I gallop with all the power in my hoofs and with wind in my furry ears. That’s a piece of my Heaven.

Always after the fourth Easter Sunday, that is, the Sunday of the Good Shepherd, we have a week of prayer for vocations. Of course, we pray that the Church would not lack the pastors of souls and that there will be many to lead us to God, but for me it is also a time of prayer for everyone to discover their place in the flock. It is a time of thinking about the freedom that a person gets when he finds his unique path to holiness and decides to follow it with courage. This year, I especially remember in prayer those who continue to look for this path and discern where they are attracted by God and their own heart.

May everyone discover his inner sheep that is happily running through the meadows of life, but also walking through the dark valleys with confidence that the Shepherd in nearby.

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Be my voice

This week I had the opportunity to eat breakfast with a girl from Rwanda and Slovakia. I learned then about the existence of an app that inspired me a lot – it’s called Be my eyes. It was created so that the people with good sight can help those who have a problem with simple everyday activities, because they are blind. After registering, you can be called (via video call) by a person who needs help, for example, sorting the laundry or reading the expiration date on a bottle of milk. A simple idea combined with the use of modern technology is a piece of Heaven on Earth for me. I can be somebody’s eyes!

This year, I am delighted with the Easter sequence. I sang it with great joy during the last weekend with young people who came to discern their way of life. When searching for your place in the world, there is nothing more important than hearing Jesus inviting you to live life to the fullness and to proclaim the Good News. In the sequence, a large piece is devoted to Mary Magdalene, who is sent by Jesus to the Apostles.

Tell us, Mary, what did you see on the road?
“I saw the tomb of the living Christ
and the glory of his rising, the angelic witnesses,
the Shroud and the clothes.
Christ my hope is arisen:
into Galilee, he will go before his own.”

 

Not only Mary, and the other women who were with her, are sent with the mission of proclaiming the resurrection. This is a task for each of us. Everyone gets an invitation saying: “Be my voice” and can generously answer with their life. And this is not a simple task, because unlike a blind person who is aware that he needs kind help from others, the world often thinks, that there is no need for God. Therefore, let our voice be full of humbleness and tenderness. We need not to shout at anyone, but to show by our testimony that Jesus heals, frees and gives Life.

There is something amazing about being a tool in God’s plan! Do you feel it too?

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Personal resurrection

The resurrection is not only the fact that Jesus rose from the dead and that eternal life is also waiting for us. Resurrection happens every day among us, but often we cannot notice it, because it is inevitably connected with death.

It would be a lot easier if Jesus had just come down from the cross, if he had shown that death does not have to come, that it can be skipped in some way. If the victory was spectacular and leaving no doubt, it would be much easier to believe. The only problem is that our God does not works that way. From the very beginning, he comes silently, as if unnoticed, but to those who believe, He gives power that is greater than all human wisdom. It is no different with the resurrection. It comes under cover of the night, there is nothing obvious in it, nothing we could call evidence. Death is much more certain and documented. The crucifixion of Jesus is a historical fact, and the resurrection …

When something collapses in our lives, it is usually obvious. Our failures, disappointments, pain and losses. Sometimes we hope that God will save us from it, we pray for it and we trust that the storm will pass us. Meanwhile, God’s favourite way of working is resurrection – rebirth after death. Therefore, we can be sure that wherever all hope dies, where there is nothing more to count on, where we see the end, at some point He will enter. Most likely, we will not recognise Him, as those two going to Emmaus, because we will have a different end of the story in our minds. When, however, we do recognise Him in this particular situation, our hearts will be so moved that we will not be able to sit still. At once we will know what to do. This will be our personal resurrection.

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