Meditation by His Eminence Father Cardinal Franc Rodé, C.M.
Gora Kalwaria, 17 September 2007
of His Eminence Father Cardinal Franc Rodé, CM
Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
Your Excellency Archbishop Metropolitan
Your Excellencies Archbishops and Bishops,
Most Reverend Father General and all Fathers and Brothers of the venerable Congregation of the Marian Fathers
Brothers Priests and Religious
Representatives of the Authorities of all levels and honors
Beloved in Christ, Brothers and Sisters
The Lord is my shepherd (Ps. 23:1). With the words of one of the most beautiful psalms in the Bible we praise God in this joyful celebration. We give Him thanks for all He did for each and every one of us in His Son Jesus Christ. On this day, which you, Brothers and Sisters have so longed and prayed for, we give special thanks for the ripe fruit of Christ’s grace which the Church places before us in the beatification of Stanislaus Papczyński.
Seventy years, filled with an ardent and uncompromised search for God in prayer, mortification and service to his brothers, led Blessed Stanislaus to the joy of heaven. A joyful psalm of pilgrims who reached their destination may serve as an apt description of his path from Podegrodzie, where he was born, as one of many children in the peasant family of Tomasz, a blacksmith, and Zofia, to the place of today’s celebration, where his earthly remains rest. What was the path he took? How much toil did he endure? How many struggles to remain faithful to the internal voice of the Spirit and to his own conscience? Only He himself, the Good Shepherd, whom he followed till the end of his days, knows the answers to these questions. He knows the fidelity and the toil of his servant whom he led to the Father’s house (Jn 14: 2).
The rest of the saints is laborious love. You, faithful devotees of the New Blessed, know this perfectly well. You, who for years have been coming here to Marianki from all corners of Poland and remote parts of the world. Many among you and your close ones experienced the power of his intercession. A few years before his death, in his first spiritual testimony, Father Stanislaus wrote that he leaves this world with one debt only, that of gratitude toward the inhabitants of this town and all benefactors, friends and foes. He went to the Lord, yet remained here with us as a debtor full of love to listen to and support those who come to him. His intercession opens the gates of human hearts to the flow of God’s grace. Thanks to it the chains of sins break, the fetters of bad habits crumble, and a life to be born, once possessed by the gloom of death, blooms anew.
We have waited a long time for the joy of today’s thanksgiving. For you, beloved Marians, these were three centuries of prayers and efforts so that the glow of your Founder’s sanctity, which you were so much convinced of, could shine to the whole world. In this time of expectation, you were accompanied by the Marian spiritual family and many devotees of Blessed Stanislaus. In many hearts a question may rise, why so long? Let’s keep in mind that God’s Providence does not follow a path of human longings, and the gifts of His grace often come not when we call, but when the time is most appropriate. If now we rejoice with the beatification of Father Papczyński, we can most forcefully claim that today is the day when the testimony of his life is needed most for the Church and the world. Beatification marks the end of the road, but more than that it is a call to get on the road again. Dear Marians, never in the over three hundred year history of your Congregation, has the necessity to reconsider the life and charism of Your Founder been more burning. Return to the spring from which flowed each of your own vocations. Get back to living your religious consecration to the full, with your heart undivided, with confidence entrusting your entire life, your strengths and weaknesses to the One, who for your sakes died and was raised up (c.f. 2 Cor. 5:15).
Both, today’s reading from the letter to the Ephesians and a fragment of John’s Gospel are one great call for communion, deep and full of love. When we listen to the words which are almost as Jesus testiment and the last instruction left to his disciples, it is hard not to recall such strikingly similar words left to You by Your Founder. In Norma vitae he wrote: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Dt 6:5; Mt 22:37) This, which Divine Wisdom wanted to be most recommended in both [Old and New] Testaments, (Mk 12:30, Lk 10:27) should be your common rule and the safest way to heaven. Concerning mutual love: let it be known that the one who excels in mutual love is more dear to the Divine Majesty. Each of you should keep in mind that the soul of his Institute is love, and to the extent that he withdraws from love, he withdraws from life.
Dear Marians! Rejoicing in the gift of beatification, choose again the path on which the Gospel calls you and which your Founder showed to you. Only the one who fulfills the testimony of the Father is worthy of being called His son. The spiritual gift and mission which Blessed Stanislaus received from God, he passed on to you, defining the aim of the created order in the words: But lest you remain without work in the Vineyard of the Lord, to the utmost of your strength you will promote devotion to the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mother of God, and with utmost zeal, piety and fervor assist the souls of the faithful departed subjected to the punishments of purgatory… Yet, it will not be forbidden for those who would be granted such abilities to humbly help pastors in pastoral work, if after a prior permission of the local bishops and superiors, they would be called by them. This is a very broad and rich field to harvest. It entails many theological issues and numerous pastoral calls. It touches the beginnings of a human being and the end of man’s pilgrimage, revealing a magnitude of grace and mercy of the One, who loved His own till the end (c.f. Jn 13:1). Certainly, it is not accidental that the miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Stanislaus and confirmed by the Church, took place in the womb of a mother, between the life and the death of a conceived child. It is the work of God’s Providence that beatification in which we rejoice now was given to the contemporary world in the times when God’s presence and His grace are so often rejected at the thresholds of human existence. God’s Vineyard needs spiritual sons of Father Papczyński who would bear fruit while taking up and developing the charism which the Lord entrusted to him.
The Church and the world needs you also, beloved lay helpers, who in various ways participate in the spirituality and mission of the Marian Congregation. From the charism shining through Blessed Stanislaus, draw your strength and inspiration to proclaim the Gospel of Christ to contemporary man. It is also thanks to you, that numerous works carried out by the Congregation in many countries of the world bring wonderful fruit. You received a special vocation from God. Remain faithful to it.
The Church and the world also needs you, devotees of Blessed Stanislaus. Fascinated with his path of faith and having experienced his efficacious intercession before God, try to become witnesses of God’s love to the world, devotees of His Mother and zealous intercessors of the deceased, but first and foremost apostles of mercy.
Here, I think particularly about you, dear inhabitants of this town, Gora Kalwaria, where the tomb of the Blessed has been located. You have always revealed great respect and ardent care toward his remnants, running for his intercession in difficult moments of your private lives and storms in the history of your homeland, treating Father Stanislaus as Your saint and the patron of your town. Thus, thanks to your love, he becomes a blessed for the entire Church.
Beloved Bothers and Sisters, by many different ties connected with Blessed Stanislaus! Each and every one of you in an individual way is the heir to the spirit with which He lived, prayed and worked. In one of his writings entitled Templum Dei mysticum, he wrote that each Christian is a temple of God and taught how to keep this temple from being abandoned, dirty and neglected, and to make God live in it, in the beauty of love, prayer and virtue. Opening up to the light and power of the Holy Spirit, take up the challenge of raising such a temple. May Christ dwell in your hearts, become servants of His presence wherever He sends you and be certain that in your toil, the intercession of Blessed Stanislaus and Mary Immaculate, whose glory he so zealously spread, will never abandon you.
The Lord is the good shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep (c.f. Jn 10:11). He leads man on the best paths and delivers him from the valley of death to give him shelter in His house for ever. To Him we give thanks today, celebrating the commemoration of His Passover. Through the power of death and resurrection of Christ, God’s grace gained a total victory in the life of Father Stanislaus Papczyński and made him participate in the glory of heaven. May the words of the Blessed, praising the triumph of Christ over death, set our hearts on fire for further liturgical celebration and all our life: Death died at the moment when the Life gave His life on the tree. When Jesus, making a sign to death by bowing his head, delivered over His spirit, the breath of life was coming back to us. When He was dying, He was empowering us. When He triumphed over death, for us He was preparing the joy of never ending triumph. What triumph? “Death is swallowed up in victory” – St. Paul, calling in joy, scoffs at death. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? . . . But thanks be to God who has given usthe victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
In Blessed Stanislaus Papczyński, the victory of the Lord and the fullness of His life shone. May it also shine in us. For eternal life. Amen!