Our Lady of Czestochowa, an icon in Poland that tradition states St. Luke painted, reminds us all that part of life will undoubtedly involve suffering and persecution. Yet it is how we go through it that matters, and Our Lady shows us how to withstand it with love.
Our Lady of Czestochowa endured attacks from an arrow from a Tartar’s bow in the 14th century, a sword from the heretic group, the Hussites, in the 15th century, and even imprisonment from the communist government of Poland in the 1960s. Despite restoration attempts to remove the scars of the sword and arrow, they have always returned. Why? Only Our Lord and Our Lady know, but I believe it is to remind us that Our Mother suffers for her children in order to help redeem us and teach us that love will triumph. Our Mother is not some distant thought or idea. She is present in each one of our lives and unconditionally loves us.
Our Lady of Czestochowa has always been a sign of the resilient church in Poland, despite being persecuted and attacked. As we look at the Catholic Church today, Satan is attacking it on all fronts. From the destruction of the family to the murdering of millions of innocent babies in the womb to the attacks on the clergy and religious, the Church is the last bastion for truth in a world that is absorbed in the heresy of relativism. The body, which is created by God and is very good, has become an idol for worship in the world today. It is no coincidence that during World War II, a young Karol Wojtyła made secret pilgrimages to Our Lady of Czestochowa. It was Our Mother who nourished and feed his heart with truth and love. This allowed Karol’s heart to proclaim the beauty of the body as an icon not an idol.
[tweetthis]Our Mother is not some distant thought or idea. She is present in each one of our lives and unconditionally loves us.[/tweetthis]
This truth is proclaimed in both of his works, Love and Responsibility and the Theology of the Body. St. John Paul II understood that you cannot defeat the lies of Satan by ignoring it, but rather confronting the lies with the Truth in a loving way. The victory may not be immediate, but we know that victory with Our Lady is assured. As the visionaries of Fatima heard in Our Blessed Mother’s messages, “The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated. In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph.” It is the blood of the martyrs that will renew the Church. It is our Mother Mary, which will comfort the sorrowful and aid the renewal of the Holy Catholic Church.
So we have to surrender ourselves to Our Father and Our Mother. When we were kids and our favorite toy was broken, we went to our mother and father to fix it for us. We had to surrender our favorite toy to them so it could get fixed properly. It is the same with our own interior brokenness. Pride tends to be an obstacle to healing. We cannot fix it ourselves, but Our Father and Our Mother can heal our brokenness and our broken hearts. As children of God, we have to give to them all of our brokenness and sufferings so we can let the healing begin deep in our hearts.
How do we surrender our brokenness? It first starts with prayer. St. John Paul II said that the rosary is “Our daily meeting which neither I nor the Blessed Virgin Mary neglect.” It is in prayer and frequent visits to the Holy Eucharist in Adoration that we allow Our Mother and Our Father into our hearts. With Our Mother holding our hand, we can enter into our past brokenness to allow her to heal it.
Second is frequent use of the sacrament of Reconciliation. The Church calls it a Sacrament of Healing. It is there where we lay before Our Father all of our sins, in all of their ugliness so that we can hear the words, “I absolve you from all your sins” and be made new again. When we grow in the love of Our Lady and Our Lord, we can give it to others. You cannot give what you don’t have. When your heart is filled with this love, you get this burning desire to spread the message of love. We are all called to help each other, and when we know the way out, we have a responsibility to help others out of Satan’s clutches. To love authentically means to suffer. “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” ~ John 15: 13. My brothers and sisters in Christ, be not afraid! Let Our Lady of Czestochowa enter into your hearts! She always points us to Our Lord and Savior.
Totus Tuus Maria!
Gregory Kinstetter lives in the beautiful state of Wyoming. When he is not working on the family ranch, he volunteers his time to teach the confirmation program at his parish. Gregory has taken both TOB I and TOB II classes from the Theology of the Body Institute, and is working towards his certification. He was a pilgrim on The Cor Project’s recent Footsteps of St. John Paul II Pilgrimage to Poland. You can get in touch with Gregory through Facebook (www.facebook.com/gregory.kinstetter)
Resource: The Glories of Czestochowa and Jasna Gora by the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception.
Image: Our Lady of Czestochowa icon at Czestochowa Shrine, Poland, by Greg Kinstetter.