Confession time: It’s been a least 4-5 years since the last time I read a biography, an autobiography, or even fiction. I’ve been in the deep end of the reading pool with non-fiction books and my bookshelf shows it. On my bookcases, you’ll find about 18 shelves of non-fiction and only couple shelves that include the Little House on the Prairie books that my sister and I read when we were young, some books on nutrition, and some books my husband enjoyed when he was young.
A humble, contemplative, Benedictine nun, who I met in the book, For Their Sake I Consecrate Myself, has changed that for me.
Róża Maria Wolska was born on July 3, 1927 in Poland. Her family called her Rozmarynka (little Rosemary). Rozmarynka was a lover of life, possibly because she knew hers was truly a gift. During her pregnancy, Rozmarynka’s mother was told that due to her health, as she had given birth to a son just a year prior, she should consider terminating this pregnancy. A family friend intervened and explained to Rozmarynka’s mother the moral danger of such an act, and Rozmarynka was saved. Both, mother and her first daughter, were healthy, and Mrs. Wolska eventually had three more children.
Rozmarynka was a spirited child, who, when her mother explained the need to control her temper, she replied, “So will I always have to do that?” This spunky child would learn to temper her temper and become an example of living a holy and humble life.
When World War II arrived, Rozmarynka’s family fled the country and was split up. She grew up as a resourceful young woman, finding varied ways to to turn her talents into cashflow.
Despite the lack of financial security, she lived life right. She read poetry and novels, she learned handiwork, she enjoyed outdoor sports, she became an artist. She also became a Benedictine oblate, and it was her monthly oblate gatherings that gave her the opportunity to maintain a close relationship with her mother.
This active, sometimes eccentric, and talented artist was always aware of the presence of God and the calling he had on her life. Isn’t that how God works? In the unseen, in the heart, he’s always calling. This child of God became a contemplative Benedictine nun, Sister Maria Bernadette of the Cross.
Her art, which earned her a living before, was now used to support her order and to teach and glorify the Faith.
Her suffering, in her life and especially in her death, which was offered for the infidelities of priests, was great at the end of her short life.
A botched surgery and poor care in a Communist hospital brought her life to a much-too-soon ending. Yet, through it all, she never lost her joy and her love of God.
As I had read the book about a month ago, I reviewed it this week to write this review. I found that I was caught up, again, in the tapestry of her life.
I am especially captivated by her letters at the end of the book.
At first I thought I would just skip reading the excerpts of her letters to her mother, cousin, fellow sisters, and other various recipients. I’m so glad I didn’t! Each one has a lesson.
For example, in her letter dated to her mother on October 2, 1953, the Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels: And when you begin to miss letters from me, dear Mama, please console yourself with the thought the tabernacle; we can meet wonderfully and truly there, not to mention in Holy Communion.
Reading a letter a day for personal prayer and reflection would be a great practice. Actually, at first, I thought about loaning my book out, but have since changed my mind, just for this purpose.
I don’t know why I haven’t been reading more great biographies, but I can tell you that I was wrong. I received a copy of For Their Sake I Consecrate Myself from Cenacle Press (you can also check online retailers) and it’s changed my reading habits.
Sister Maria Bernadette of the Cross, pray for us!