Sons of Poland, Sons of Our Lady

By Chris Sparks

Two great Polish saints. Both born on the same day, though several hundred years apart. Both born in the month of Mary, and outstanding in their Marian devotion.

It’s one of the curious God-incidences of Catholic life that both St. Stanislaus Papczynski, Founder of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, and St. John Paul II, the first Polish Pope and the Great Mercy Pope, were born on May 18. This year marks the 100th anniversary of St. John Paul II’s birth, and the 350th anniversary of St. Stanislaus’ founding of the Congregation of Marian Fathers.

And perhaps the most important connection between the two men and their works is the way in which both spiritual fathers lived totally consecrated to the Immaculate Conception.

Saint Stanislaus’ oblatio, his total self-gift to Mary Immaculate, marked the founding of the Marian Fathers. Saint John Paul II’s experience of the living rosaries organized by Jan Tyranowski, as well as young Karol Wojtyla’s reading of St. Louis de Montfort and total consecration to Jesus through Mary, were turning points in his life, serving to create a Marian framework for everything else to come.

These two men are saints in large part because they knew that they are children of the Mother of God, and they allowed Mary to take an active part in their lives. They welcomed her intercession, giving themselves and everything they had to her service. They said “yes” to her every day, several times a day, devoting themselves to prayer and living lives of complete consecration to her, because to serve Mary is to serve her Son.

These two men, born in May, in a certain sense lived their entire lives in Mary’s month. Because of that gift, their lives were marked by all the spiritual fertility, new life, and hope of spring. Saint Stanislaus Papczynski, living and ministering during one of the greatest times of upheaval in a nation wracked by the struggles of the powerful and the wealthy of his age, was still able to live a life marked by miracles, incredible generosity, and the birth of a Congregation that would outlast several epochal shifts of human history. Saint John Paul II could become one of the most consequential, most holy, and most widely traveled popes in the history of the Church through the intercession of the Mother of God, seen in a particular way in her protecting his life from an assassin’s bullet on May 13, 1981, the anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima to the three shepherd children.

Being in Mary’s hands, St. Stanislaus could look at the wars, plagues, and other threats to his nation, and still have such hope for the future that he founded the Marian Fathers. Being in Mary’s hands, St. John Paul could survive the Nazi rule of Poland, Communist oppression, and the turmoil in the Church and the world of the last 70 years, and still say on Divine Mercy Sunday, 2000, “What will the years ahead bring us? What will man’s future on earth be like? We are not given to know. However, it is certain that in addition to new progress, there will unfortunately be no lack of painful experiences. But the light of divine mercy, which the Lord in a way wished to return to the world through St. Faustina’s charism, will illumine the way for the men and women of the third millennium.”

Saint Stanislaus could send out his Marian brethren under the mantle of the Immaculate Conception and St. John Paul II could speak of the present age as the springtime of the new evangelization because they knew that with the Mother of God, all times are fruitful. “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28).

The secret of these two men’s lives and sanctity, a secret they proclaimed from the housetops, was simple: Go to Mary. Remain with Mary. Love Mary, and love whom and what she loves. She will always lead you to her Son, and tell you, “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). Both men followed Mary Immaculate and ultimately served the Divine Mercy Incarnate, one through his Congregation with its unique role in promoting the Divine Mercy message and devotion; the other, through opening the cause of canonization of St. Faustina, and ultimately through beatifying and canonizing her while also establishing Divine Mercy Sunday in the liturgical calendar of the universal Church.

Mary, the Queen of Poland, was also the Queen of their hearts, the Queen of their lives, their priestly ministry, their whole selves. They were both “totus tuus, Maria” (“totally yours, Mary”). If we are to truly be their spiritual children, we must do the same. All Marian Fathers and Marian Helpers are called to truly be “Marian,” truly be completely given over to the love and service of the Mother of God, she who is also the Mother of the Church and our Mother.

In this month of May, this month of Mary and of Mother’s Day, inaugurated by the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, husband and protector of the Blessed Virgin, let us rededicate ourselves to Our Lady. Let us follow the examples of St. Stanislaus Papczynski and St. John Paul II, and recommit to Marian devotions, especially the traditional Dominican Rosary and the Chaplet of the Ten Evangelical Virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Let us wear one or more of Our Lady’s scapulars and her Miraculous Medal, through which so many graces are available to the faithful. Let us take up 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, and make or renew our total consecration to Jesus through Mary.

Let us become more truly Marian, and so discover the springtime of the new evangelization in our own lives. Let us become ever more fully the children of Mary, and see the fruits of that childhood in our lives and in the lives of those to whom we mediate grace. Let us live, love, and serve in imitation of Our Lady, and so become for the present age life, sweetness, and hope.

Mary Immaculate, pray for us.

Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Mother of God, pray for us.

Saint Stanislaus Papczynski, pray for us.

Saint John Paul II, pray for us.

Chris Sparks serves as senior book editor for the Marian Fathers. He is the author of the Marian Press book How Can You Still Be Catholic? 50 Answers to a Good Question.

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