The black hole and the Church

In the last days the whole world is looking at the photo of the black hole, which confirmed Einstein’s theory from 100 years ago. Katie Bouman was the head of the team that managed to do it. Already two years ago, at the TEDx conference, she explained how to photograph an object that from the Earth’s perspective is the size of an orange on the moon!

For me this is fascinating not only from a scientific point of view, but also social changes taking place in the world. When I was studying at the Warsaw University of Technology, I sometimes heard malicious sayings like: “A female engineer is like a guinea pig – neither a pig nor from Guinea.” (the Polish version has a bit more sens ;)) Of course, it was not nice to listen to such comments, but they always motivated me to be more and more myself and to serve better with the talents that I received. These two ladies in the picture show in a spectacular way that in this masculine world women can play an important role and it is not only a decorative one. I did not follow in my father’s footsteps and did not make a career in science, and now I do not even work in my profession, but it is well known that I am much more proud of my engineer’s title than my master’s degree. Precisely because I like to be in places that are not so obvious.

It is quite similar when I think about the Church. Although we have many wonderful women who have received the title of Doctor of the Church not for their good looks, but for great achievements that have changed the course of history, still woman’s voices are less heard and often overlooked. And I do not have the conviction that we must now fight for equal rights, but rather that we must show the world how much we have to say and not be discouraged by attempts to clip our wings. Especially if the matter concerns a field in which everything should be concentrated on the relationship with God. After all, can you find a better specialist on relations than a woman? John Paul II spoke about the “genius of a woman”, and Francis courageously is walking the same path, entrusting important positions to women.

I think that the Easter period is a perfect time to look at the role of women in the Church. After all, it is no coincidence that the most persistent under the cross turned out to be women, and it was them, who saw Jesus first after the resurrection. If we have the same determination and love as the first female Christians, our voice will be heard more and more clearly and we will become apostles of his tenderness in the world.

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Straight path

My friendship with poetry has never been too intimate. During my exams in high school I decided chose the poem interpretation, because that way I did not have to write as much as for the other topics (if someone told me by then, that I would write a book, I would laugh out loud ;)) and apparently it did not go very well, because it was only rated a 4 (that would be an equivalent of C, I suppose). Later, I still had some closer and less close meetings with poetry, which had a bigger or smaller impact on my way of looking at the world, but what happened last week, was definitely a new experience for me. Thanks to Kacper from our post-academic community in my parish, for the first time in my life I received a poem written especially for me! My own, unique one and about the Person most important in the world for me. Read for yourself 🙂

COMPANION

Holding His arm,
on a straight path.

You for Him
You’ll be back home,
from where the purest …
of your desires.

He for you
Shade, warmth,
Milk, Life, and finally

Everything.

I could read a lot from this poem. And it will probably tell me a lot, hanging over my desk, reminding me who my greatest Companion is – here and in eternity. Today, however, when I look at various things that seem strangely complicated, that “straight path” moves my heart deeply. This is one of the most important signs of the state of spiritual consolation, that is, the time when we feel closer to God and it is easier for us to follow His inspirations. Then everything becomes easy. Then we see clearly. Then love overcomes fear.

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The little Heart of Jesus

From year to year, I seem to like Christmas wishes less and less. In my opinion, they are becoming a homily to the whole world instead of an opportunity to see God in another person and wish him something very individual. Unfortunately we constantly lack time and space to do it right. This time, however, one of the wishes I received has inspired me very much. Monika from our wonderful Sacre Coeur Family wrote one simple sentence: “May you rest happily with the little Heart of Jesus”.

Suddenly I realised that God not only became a child, but he also had the heart of a child! A heart full of trust, simplicity and chastity. As with every baby, it’s easy for us to see all that in a child. It is much harder to realise that the Heart of Jesus remained so until the end. Jesus, dying on the cross in full of trust in the Father. He gave his life for us with simplicity, because the purity of heart, which each of us loses with time, continued to guide Him. I wondered today how I can follow in my life the little Heart of Jesus that invites me today in front of the crib in Bethlehem.

Trust seems to be the first and most important thing. Children have a lot of trust in themselves, because they have not yet experienced a world in which there is evil and in which someone could have bad intentions. With time, they learn this painful truth, unfortunately looking with suspicion also at God. Jesus trusted his Father and only thanks to this He was able to go through with his saving mission. Meanwhile, because of the human nature after sin, we still do not believe that God can really be good and may want our happiness. From this doubt comes a dangerous thought that since He cannot help me, I have to manage myself, and this is the first step towards a disaster.

Another characteristic of Jesus’ Heart is simplicity. A child does not calculate and does not count what is more profitable. The tiny person walks through his little world without fear, without being aware of the consequences. He sees good where an adult sees only a threat. Thinking about a child, we say that this is innocence, but when we look at an adult who does this, we would rather use the word naivety. Jesus was naive in his crazy love. He ate with those who were not worthy, he put himself at risk with those who had power and finally he let himself be killed without counting how many more people he could heal and feed if he had not died so young.

Children also have one more important ability – the belief in being loved no matter what. A baby does not wonder what to do in order to deserve his mother’s love. When I look at Jesus, it is one of the qualities that inspires me the most – He does nothing to please others, but He gives everyone in excess the love He has in his Heart. Such confidence can be discovered only by being convinced of God’s infinite and unconditional love.

May we rest happily by the little Heart of Jesus this Christmas and become just a little bit like Him.

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An Advent Birthday

Exactly 239 years ago, st. Madeleine Sophie Barat was born. She came into the world at night, during a fire, and therefore often said that “I was brought by fire.” Today, however, I realised that it was not just fire, it was Advent fire! A fire of expectation and longing. From my calculations it came out that December 12, 1779, was the third Sunday of Advent, that is Sunday Gaudete, Sunday of joy! I do not know if Sophie herself ever wondered about the meaning of the day she was born, but I know that the liturgical periods marked the rhythm of her heart, as the seasons marked the work in the vineyard of her parents.

It may seem something very insignificant in world history – the premature birth of little Sophie in a small Burgundian town in France on the third Sunday of Advent. And yet for many thousands of Sisters around the world, this is a crucial event in a certain way, because without it, we would not be where we are.

Sometimes it may seem to us that what we do every day has no impact on the fate of the world, that what we say or write does not mean much, because we are just a small grain of sand. Each of us, however, was created for a unique mission in the history of salvation. Not everyone will, of course, be remembered and raised to the altars, but it is only after death that we will see how important one simple smile was, one kind word, patient hearing of someone and a faithful “yes” that has become our response to God’s invitations.

I think the whole mystery of the Incarnation teaches us that there is nothing too small to be relevant from God’s perspective. Everything can matter if we put a fire of love into it.

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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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