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?
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.
While shopping on Saturday morning, as usual I went to the bakery for bread. I was surprised to see almost empty shelves. The saleswoman looked at me clearly embarrassed:
– Almost nothing left, as if they were preparing for war!
– Oh yes, tomorrow is Sunday and shops will be closed… (a new law in Poland)
– They are buying 3 loaves each! When will they eat all that? Till Monday?
Why is there so much fear of losing control, of missing out on something? This is not even about trusting God that He will take care of us, this is about common sense. We have got used to the fact that we have so many possibilities at our fingertips and it doesn’t seem to matter if we really need something, it’s just good to have “such a possibilty”. This is not a modern invention – maybe it was the communist times that taught us that you have to take it while it is, because tomorrow there might be no more? This way, our life is filled with a lot of unnecessary, and we lack space for what we would spontaneously put on top of our hierarchy of values.
I realise more and more that in the process of making different, smaller and larger decisions, the crucial part is being aware of our real desires and needs. If we do not look deep inside ourselves, we will always look for support in gathering things, knowledge, competences… and sometimes even loaves of bread, because we will always think that there is “a possibility” that they might come in handy.
A gallery of modern art is very close to our home in Poznań. A small one, with the name of only one artist. I passed by many times, seeing pictures in the window. As usual in modern art, the interpretation of a few strokes on canvas can probably be very different, but the only thing that mostly came to my mind were naked women. The rounded figures were very characteristic, and although I have no idea what the images were supposed to represent, they rather made me feel uneasy than delighted by art.
One day, however, something caught my attention. Among the brightly coloured works filling the space of the gallery, on a wooden easel, there she was. Pneumatophora. The icon of Our Lady carrying the Holy Spirit, freshly started, outlined only with a black line. I was definitely not expecting this. Not there! There were three of us that day, walking on a winter evening and each of us looked through the glass like she saw a ghost.
The story continued, because each week the icon was being filled with colours. Blue, red and gold contrasted with the plastic colours of other paintings and brought a special atmosphere into the room. I have no idea how Pneumatophora found herself in this suspicious gallery, but for me it became an inspiration before this time of Lent. Jesus came into the world, died and resurrected, so that everything could be filled with the purity of the Holy Spirit. Not in those places where everyone puts their hands together to prayer and acts impeccably, but precisely in those that seem most distant from holy. If during Lent we are to focus on our conversion, that is changing our thinking, is it not the point to see that God is the Lord of everything? He is in all the places where we see only suffering, evil and sin. He is crying with us there.
Maybe we only need one thing? To find a place where we least expect God and see that there is a whole lot of Him there.
Recently I had the opportunity to attend a meeting with my Sisters from Europe in Budapest. At the prayer on the occasion of the World Day of Peace, we were to present graphically what in the last year in our opinion contributed to building peace. I drew a smile, because I am convinced that it is just ordinary human kindness that allows us to overcome our difficulties on a daily basis, which otherwise become unbearable. I am convinced that the way in which we treat a person is more important than whether we can directly respond to his needs. Ultimately, this will be the greatest need of everyone – to be treated with respect and dignity.
A few days ago I came across a video showing how treating children at school affects their well-being and development. Having the experience of working in middle school, I know how much it costs to not get upset in the seventh hour, when the students are doing everything apart from paying attention. At the same time, I am aware that the teacher’s reactions might be crutial in building the attitude a young person will have towards the world and what kind of a society we will all create.
Now I am on my way to Poznań after visiting our community in Tarnów. Many of our Sisters are involved in the kindergarten and school run by the Society, but many more are lay people. It gave me real joy to watched the care and kindness with which everyone approaches the children. This very clearly translates into the satisfaction of them and their parents. Certainly, after graduating from school, it will not be most important if little John was able to solve the equation well and write an essay, but the fact that he was heard and understood.
Sometimes I have the impression that we are so absorbed by the professionalism of our doings and the size of the tasks we undertake, that we lose joy and lightness. Then we no longer have the strength for the most important – kindness that changes the world.
Everyone who works with children, especially in any role at school (teacher, bus driver, lunch room, etc.) needs to see this. I love it!
This Advent, although short, has already been exceptional. During these three weeks, a friend, who I knew during my studies in Warsaw, died of cancer; during mass with a great crowd of people, I remembered Fr. Jan Góra, a very famous Dominican on the second anniversary of his death; and above all, with my whole Society, I experienced the death of Mariola Vera, who has been struggling with leukaemia these recent months. The way she lived through her illness shows how united she was with Jesus, who was close to her up to the last days. On the Spanish website you will find a letter that she wrote to the her Province a few days before her death.
All these things reminded me of the symbolism often used while writing icons. In the Nativity scene, little Jesus is wrapped in the way in which the dead were formerly buried, or is even lying in something resembling a coffin or grave. This should show that Jesus was born to die, and he died so that we could have life. These two mysteries – life and death – meet and complement each other. It is a paradox that accompanies the entire Incarnation, because when the Almighty God becomes a defenceless child, we feel that it goes beyond our human understanding of reality.
These days, I remind myself that “memento mori” are not words that should fill us with fear of eternal hell, but which should put our lives in the right light. St. Ignatius, as one of the methods of making decisions, proposes to imagine yourself at the moment of death and ask yourself if it would be the best choice from this perspective. Maybe it would be good to look at the coming days from the perspective of eternity. Will it still be important that there will be good food and clean curtains? Or maybe something else will emerge from our priorities then?
This is a very polish custom to meet with everyone during Christmas and exchange wishes, but I think this might be useful for everyone 🙂 Welcome to the Reality full of God #2
(if you don’t see the subtitles turn them on in the lower left hand corner)
During the days of my studies, when many things absorbed me up to late at night, I always use to say, that I will finally get some sleep after I die. Although in the meantime I have significantly changed my lifestyle, the motto is still valid, because the number of hours sleeping seems to have little effect on whether I will be yawning during the day. This also effects my prayer.
Apparently (though I can not find it) Saint Teresa of Lisieux once said that if the surgeon wants to perform an operation on the heart, he must first put the patient to sleep. Maybe I should not be surprised that after entering the chapel, I sleep best – maybe my heart requires constant operations!
For several years, with varying intensity, I have been trying to practice prayer in motion, taking Jesus for a walk. My legs, walking several kilometers, significantly reduce the risk of falling asleep and, in addition, make me stay fit. Of course, the noises of the surrounding world can effectively disrupt my encounter with God, but they can also become the basis for a prayer of mindfulness, which will bring my thoughts “here and now” without wandering to the past and future. A walk is also a perfect moment to say the rosary, entrust to God people passed on the street or to make a summary of the day in His presense. Fortunately, he did not shut Himself in the church or our homes and every place can become the Holy Land of encounter with the Almighty.
It happens often, that I leave my prayer disappointed that I slept again most of the time. But maybe I have it wrong? Maybe it’s just an invitation for a walk …