Hopefully you had a blessed week. There are a few reasons why I am writing these few words for you this weekend.
First is – The Memorial of Bl. Bronislaw Markierwicz.
You already know that I am a member of religious community dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel. But probably don’t know much about our religious founder. On January 30th we will celebrate his memorial day, so I thought that might share a few words about his life with you.
Bronislaw Markiewicz was born on July 13, 1842, in Pruchnik, Galicia (south Poland), sixth of eleven children, to a religious lower-middle-class family. Bronislaw faced hunger, poverty, and persecution at school because of his Christian ideals. His spirit of faith was such that he decided to enter the seminary.
On September 15, 1867, he was ordained a priest. He devoted himself intensely to the teaching of catechism and to the apostolate among prisoners, he loved being with people, especially if they were poor. He felt attracted by marginalized youth who suffered all kinds of poverty. He wanted to study pedagogy so he could help them in the best way to save their soul. Providence led him to ardently desire to enter a religious institute dedicated to the care of youth.
He left for Italy, where he was fascinated by the spirituality of Don Bosco who, without knowing it, already carried him in his heart. He asked to be a member of the Salesian Congregation, and, in 1887, he made his perpetual vows before Don Bosco himself. He, therefore, had the good fortune to listen to the saint’s recommendations and to assimilate his spirit directly.
In 1892, he returned to Poland as a Salesian, as parish priest in Miejsce, Galicia, where he was able to devote himself to poor and abandoned Polish youth. To respond in the best possible way to the concrete needs of the poor in Galicia, Bronislaus felt the need to live Don Bosco’s principles more radically and advised by his collaborators, he founded the Work and Temperance Society. Nine years after his death the society, in its male and female branches, was recognized by the Church giving rise to two Congregations placed under the protection of St Michael the Archangel. Its members took the name of Michaelites.
Father Bronislaw, like Don Bosco, recommended to the young people he encountered that they should have a great devotion to the Eucharist and to Our Lady as well as to Saint Michael, whom he indicated as a protector in the daily struggle against evil. The union with the crucified Christ and the virtue of temperance characterized his apostolic activity on behalf of his neighbor.
He died in Miejsce Piestowe (Poland) on January 29, 1912.
Declared Venerable July 2, 1994; beatified June 19, 2005, under the pontificate of Benedict XVI
Second – February 2nd – The Presentation of the Lord
At the end of the fourth century, a woman named Etheria made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Her journal, discovered in 1887, gives an unprecedented glimpse of liturgical life there. Among the celebrations she describes is the Epiphany, the observance of Christ’s birth, and the gala procession in honor of his Presentation in the Temple 40 days later. Under the Mosaic Law, a woman was ritually “unclean” for 40 days after childbirth, when she was to present herself to the priests and offer sacrifice – her “purification.” Contact with anyone who had brushed against mystery – birth or death – excluded a person from Jewish worship. This feast emphasizes Jesus’ first appearance in the Temple more than Mary’s purification. The observance spread throughout the Western Church in the fifth and sixth centuries. Because the Church in the West celebrated Jesus’ birth on December 25th, the Presentation was moved to February 2nd, 40 days after Christmas.
At the beginning of the eighth century, Pope Sergius inaugurated a candlelight procession; at the end of the same century the blessing and distribution of candles, which continues to this day, became part of the celebration, giving the feast its popular name: Candlemas.
Bring your candle for the Mass at 9 am on Feb. 2nd, we will bless them.
Third – The World Day for Consecrated Life
World Day for Consecrated Life will be celebrated in the Church on Friday, February 2, 2024, and in parishes over the weekend of February 3-4, 2024. Please pray for all those who have made commitments in the consecrated life and be sure to thank them on their special day. May they continue to be inspired by Jesus Christ and respond generously to God’s gift of their vocation.
And the fourth is just a reflection…
While many people in our area are so excited with our local NFL team, the Lions, and their journey through the playoffs, I would like to use this momentum and ask a very serious question about our journey of faith. We know that the sports fans can do almost everything to support their own team, and you can see that in picture #1. Desperate? Dedicated? Crazy? Faithful?
How about you? How committed of a disciple of Jesus are you? How dedicated of a member of your church are you? In picture #2, you can see the knee print on the kneeler in the front of our Blessed Mother statue! Someone came on Saturday morning, January 20th, with the temperature 0° F, and prayed there. Desperate? Dedicated? Crazy? Faithful? Does not matter! What matters is that God is not deaf to our prayers, and always looks at the heart.
Where is your heart? How far will you go for Jesus? -Fr. Tom