For Their Sake I Consecrate Myself: Sister Maria Bernadette of the Cross (Stabińska)
Includes over 70 illustrations (including artwork of Sr. Bernadette) | 192 pages
This book is a roadmap to true happiness, not only in the afterlife, but beginning here and now. —Scott Hahn, author of The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth
Joy, simplicity, peace: such words could easily characterize the life of Maria Róża Wolska, yet so could suffering, disappointment, and self-sacrifice. Holiness fuses these apparent opposites into one beautiful and life-giving reality.
Róża was no stranger to the hardships of life: she herself narrowly escaped being aborted when her devout Catholic mother, oblivious to the then little-known evil of abortion, was told by her doctor that she should terminate her pregnancy because of her delicate health. Warned by a relative of the gravity of such an act, Róża’s mother was willing to risk her own life for that of her child.
In the early '40s she was introduced to the Benedictine monks of the Abbey of Tyniec: under their influence the young woman's spiritual life blossomed as she discovered God in nature, friendship, Scripture, and the liturgy. The first thought of an exclusive commitment to God occurred to Roza after a sermon preached in Krakow by one Father Karol Wojtyła—the future Pope John Paul II. In 1951, after graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts, Róża entered the Benedictine Nuns of Perpetual Adoration in Warsaw, becoming Sister Bernadette of the Cross. Those were the most difficult years under the Communist regime for Poland; the monastery was being rebuilt after having been bombed in the war and yet it's spiritual life flourished. As a spiritual daughter of Mother Mectilde de Bar (1614-1698), she grasped fully what it meant to be a sacrificial victim and responded generously to the love of God who remains ever present in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
The peaceful deepening of the divine life within her would prepare her for an unexpected sacrifice—her own life at the age of 35 in reparation for the infidelities of priests. What should have been a successful surgery led to her death due to neglect in a Communist hospital. “Both the sick and the doctors cannot get over the fact that a nun can be so cheerful,” she wrote during her last illness. “I don’t even care anymore that my stitches hurt from laughing.” This story of her life is enriched with over sixty photographs and reproductions of her artwork, as well as selections from her humorous and insightful letters. A beautiful record of simple and genuine holiness, it brings light and encouragement to anyone truly seeking God, and reminds us that the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, in which those who love more, despite their own poverty, can make up for those who love too little or even betray love. “It is enough to look at the Cross to see where that love led Him, or at the Host,” she wrote, bearing witness to the Love that conquers death. “He knew that he would be trampled upon, but nevertheless he stayed.”
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There is a question of equilibrium, of balance, in the supernatural order, as in the physical universe. It was the God-Man, Jesus Christ, who reestablished this balance on the highest level, after sin had unleashed ruin upon mankind. But some souls are called to fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ in their flesh for His Body, as Saint Paul tells us. How can this be? Let the story of Sister Maria Bernadette, who was surely one of those souls, lift a corner of the veil and draw you into the mystery. Maybe you too have a part to play. —Abbot Philip Anderson OSB, Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey, Hulbert, Oklahoma
An amazing book! I am grateful to know about Sister Bernadette and the way she gave her life for the conversion of apostate priests. Her vocation as a Benedictine Nun of Perpetual Adoration led her to imitate Jesus' own acceptance of salvific suffering. Because she followed His way, suffering became the most fruitful and joyful path to her life's fulfillment. Her story will help you turn your own difficulties—whether large or small—into the currency of pure love. —Mother Immaculata Franken OSBap, Prioress, Benedictines of Perpetual Adoration, Tegelen, The Netherlands
The life of Sister Bernadette of the Cross is vividly detailed here. Her role as a child of God, in a world ravaged and abused by war and corruption, comes across as both heroic and ordinary. As we go through the pages, her very soul seems to be honed and polished before our eyes; she is both reduced and glorified by her pains. Her story is an illustration of what it means to suffer in Christ, and for the sins of others, and is given great immediacy and vitality by the examples of her beautiful art. Her words are meat for those who wonder about the role of suffering in life. —Sally Read, author of Night’s Bright Darkness
About the author: Jadwiga Stabińska (1935–2016) was born in Grodno (then in Poland, today in Belarus). After studying psychology at the University of Warsaw, she entered the Benedictine Nuns of Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in Warsaw. Her vestition took place on July 2, 1955, and she made her solemn vows on October 30, 1960. In the 1960s, she began her work as a writer. Many of her articles, poems and translations were published in various Catholic magazines. Undoubtedly, her most important work was the book Oblicza kontemplacji (Faces of Contemplation, 1977) for which the Holy Father John Paul II himself thanked her. She died on January 22, 2016, after a long battle with cancer at 81 years of age, 59 of which were spent in monastic profession.
About the translator: Justyna Krukowska holds an MA in American Literature from the University of Białystok in Poland and a Master of Theological Studies from the International Theological Institute in Austria. A native of Poland, she has worked for various Catholic institutions in California, where she resides with her husband and children.
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