St. Urszula Ledochowska loved all that Poland is
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
This year we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, the attack of the Nazi Germany against Poland on 1 September 1939 and on 17 the September - the attack of the Soviet Union against Poland. Two strong and ruthless armies destroyed our country, which experienced wonderful development after it had regained independence in 1918. Today, when we look at Poland of those times, the so-called inter-war period of 20 years, we can see that our Homeland experienced a splendid revival. After 123 years of immense slavery and eradication of our culture Poland began developing rapidly. It turned out that we had wonderful people whom we owed that progress. They all showed talents and diligence and above all, they showed national awareness and love for the country. St Urszula Ledochowska (1865-1939), the founder of the Congregation of the Ursulines of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus, was, undoubtedly, one of them. This year we celebrate the 70th anniversary of her death. Therefore, it is an occasion to present her personality and charism. During the canonisation, revealing the essence of her fruitful activities John Paul II said, ‘Throughout her life, St Ursula Ledochowska fixed her gaze on the face of Christ, her Bridegroom, with fidelity and with love. In a particular way, she united herself to Christ in agony on the Cross. This union filled her with an extraordinary zeal in the work of proclaiming in words and in deeds the Good News of God's love. She brought it first of all to children and young people, but also to all who were in need: the poor, the abandoned, the lonely. She addressed to all the language of love, borne out by her work. With the message of God's love she crossed Russia, the Scandinavian countries, France and Italy. In her day she was an apostle of the new evangelisation, demonstrating a constant timeliness, creativity and the effectiveness of Gospel love by her life and action...She knew that for believers, every event, even the least important, becomes an opportunity to carry out God's plans. What was ordinary, she made extraordinary; what was part of daily life, she transformed so that it became eternal; what was banal, she made holy’ (Rome, 18 May 2003). This joyful Saint wanted to bring real help to young Polish people. She knew that through upbringing and school work you could also build the Homeland. She was a silent heroine about whom little is spoken in schools. But she did a lot for Poland. John Paul II stressed, ‘We can all learn from her how to build with Christ an ever more human world - a world in which values such as justice, freedom, solidarity and peace will be more and more fully achieved.’ That’s why St Ursula was so close to John Paul II. Like him she knew that the elite was important and the certain cultural-scientific environments were important but each man should be aware of the most important values. In 1927 she wrote, ‘Educating girls means educating mothers of families. Since we know that the future of the nation is not so much in the hands of politicians but in the hands of mothers. Holy priests, courageous state officials, heroic defenders of the Homeland are brought up on the laps of holy mothers. We need people for this work of education. We need people of good will, and with great ideals...’ (‘Dzwonek sw. Olafa – The Little Bell of St Olaf)). We insert a little album entitled ‘Jeszcze Polska nie zginela, dopoki kochamy. Swieta Urszula Ledochowska [Poland has not yet succumbed as long as we love. Saint Ursula Ledochowska] to this issue of ‘Niedziela’, as a reminder of this woman, nun, who realised wonderfully the patriotic ideals. Today St Ursula Ledochowska enjoys the glory of the altars. But Poland has many heroes who are examples for young people and educators. In November, the month of remembrance, let us read about the personalities, whom are sometimes known only locally, in a given environment, but let us notice one more thing: their lives were full of determination, in other words – full of passions resulting from their love for the country where we were brought up and which good we desire. In the foreword to our little album the General Superior of the Congregation of the Ursulines Mother Franciszka Sagan wrote about St Ursula, ‘She was never indifferent. For all of us her evangelical style, called the apostleship of smile and goodness, is a challenge... St Ursula is also a convincing example of happiness which one can find in religious life.’ I think that this message of St Ursula is a very interesting and unique proposal for Polish girls who as women – nuns and educators of young people, can fulfil their lives in the immense offer of female congregations. Let St Ursula be the patroness of the beautiful growth of Polish women – for the glory of God and the Homeland.