UPDATE 20 Jan 2020
I received this nice note today:
I cannot tell you why you were drawn to our martyred sisters, but I can tell you this: The order suddenly has an influx of vocations and discerners particularly in Ghana, Poland, the Philippines, and the USA. One of them is me. [Hurray!] At least two of us in our pre-novitiate formation (stateside) have found ourselves here to our own great surprise, feeling sure that the call of Christ led us to this order, but not knowing why.
I read your post on our sisters, and immediately went to the chapel where we have a little reliquary for Bl. M. Stella and Comps. I particularly brought prayers for you and your intentions both to the martyrs and our foundress.
Pray for us. I pray for you.
Bl. M. Stella and Comps., pray for us
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, protect us.
Do hear an “Amen!”?
Perhaps on a future visit to Chicago, I’ll stop and visit that chapel, if permitted.
___ Originally Published on: Jan 18, 2020
I am moved to post this.
It is as if I was dragged for some reason back to my keyboard tonight, after having tried to turn in. A couple of clicks – you know how one thing leads to another – and suddenly I was staring at exactly what I knew I was supposed to be looking at, something I had not know about.
A striking image of nuns being martyred at the hands of soldiers by an open grave.
Blessed M. Stella and her Ten Companions, the The Martyrs of Nowogrodek, in Nazi occupied Poland in 1943. Now Belarus. They were beatified by St. Pope John Paul II in 2000. They were Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
Their story is powerful. Wiki HERE, more HERE. These sisters had heard that Jews in the village had been taken to be killed. They prayed and offered themselves to God in exchange. The Jews were sent to work camps. The Gestapo then went for the local priest. Again the sisters prayed, saying, “There is a greater need for a priest on this earth than for us. We pray that God will take us in his place, if sacrifice of life is needed.”
Their prayers were answered.
How very small I felt as I read that.
One of the sisters survived, at the command of her superior, in lay guise. She found her sister’s grave and marked a tree. Years later she was free to tell her story. HERE
I just learned that there is a house of those sisters not too far to the south of me, in Des Plaines, IL (Chicago). They look at bit modernized, alas. Alas, they are LCWR members. I hope that they will be blessed with some young vocations who have traditional religious aspirations and longevity.
Why, I wonder, was I dragged to learn of these beautiful martyrs tonight, of all nights, the Martyrs of Nowogrodek?
I will, tonight at least, ask these blessed sisters to intercede before God for that #UniteTheClans idea that Michael Matt had some time ago, and which I fully endorsed and desire, even as I see an attack on myself on Twitter from one of the very people I pray will relent.
My day began by writing on that initiative. So, I suppose I should round out my day with that same thought, but hand it over, for tonight, to the Eleven Martyred Sisters of Nowogrodek. I am minded of the Sixteen Carmelites of Compiègne martyred in 1794. “Mother, permission to die?” The Terror ended right after their martyrdom.
During his sermon for the beatification of the Eleven, John Paul II said: “Where did these women find the strength to give themselves in exchange for the lives of imprisoned residents of Nowogródek? From where did they draw the courage to accept calmly the death sentence that was so cruel and unjust?” HERE
Our battle for the Church in these troubled time, The Present Crisis, has to be fought on many levels.
What might not be wrought through the intercession of these Eleven Sisters?