What does Christmas mean to your soul?
The question asked by the handmaid of God, Sister Maria Dulcissima: “What does Christmas mean for the soul?” and to which she also responds, I was interested enough to see how she experienced Christmas. There are also interesting places, facts, people and events that had a real impact on the formation of the spiritual personality of the candidate for the altars. The prayer with psalms that we recite every day as consecrated persons helps us in this meditation. Psalms shape us, help us grow internally. May prayer with psalms lead us to celebrate the birth of Jesus, as Sister Maria Dulcissima did. This time we will learn about the Christmas surprise to increase the joy of Sr.M. Tobii for the sake of Jesus. It will be about the healing power of the sacrament of the sick, about its unearthly contacts with St. Teresa of the Child Jesus, about friendship, about longing for heaven, which made her feel permanently due to relapses of the disease.
“I always put the Lord before my eyes, I will not waver, because He is at my right hand. That is why my heart rejoices, my soul rejoices … ”(Ps 16: 8-9).
In 1920, the Congregation of the Sisters of Mary Immaculate was established in the Parish of Saint Joseph on the Consensus. Helena Hoffmann eagerly visited the sisters who lived there, and because she was agile and skillful, she quickly integrated into the life of the religious community. The girl tried to make friends with the sisters, helped them, listened to their conversations, and watched the life of the new religious family. The Marian sisters in Zgoda ran the Metallurgical Health Center and a kindergarten; they worked in the parish church to which Helena was emotionally attached. Yes, Helena was interested in religious life, she devoted a lot of time to helping the sisters in their tasks, but everything she did, she tried to do for God’s glory. She has been helping in the parish for a long time because she felt obliged to help – also to priests. We can imagine her keen involvement in the decor of the parish church just before Christmas and how much she tried to meet the expectations of her parents. Her pure soul and trusting faith were admired by many who knew her. Helena had a good heart and crazy ideas. It happened that at Christmas in 1920 she wanted to surprise a kindergarten teacher, Sr. M. Tobii Kujeth SMI. Secretly from the sisters, together with her friend, she asked mothers who had brought their children to kindergarten to help her prepare a gift – a surprise for her sister. The women reacted positively to this idea and the girls collected money for which they bought shoes for Sister. They brought a gift to Sr.M. Tobii with great satisfaction and joy in her heart, which probably made the recipient smile as well. Helena lived in the presence of God, put the Lord before her eyes, and her heart intended to make Jesus happy. This girlish, pure soul of a child undoubtedly attracted the attention of Heavenly Father.
“And my soul will rejoice in the Lord, and delight in his salvation” (Ps 35: 9).
The first symptoms of a serious illness in candidate Helena Hoffmann appeared on Christmas Eve in 1928. At that time, she was at the religious house in Henryków, where she was referred due to malaise. S. M. Honorata Mazur SMI, Assistant General, mentions in her notes that the candidate Helena did not tolerate the climate of a big city, and therefore she was sent to the countryside. There, healthier air, rest and helping the sisters with housework were to help her regain her spiritual and physical balance. On January 3, 1929, she became seriously ill, and the doctor Krischke from Henryków diagnosed encephalitis in his patient. Helena lost consciousness, then regained her briefly the next day. Her state of health was very serious and the doctor did not give her a chance to recover, therefore her mother, Albina Hoffmann, was notified, who soon came to see her daughter. The mother cried at the condition of her child. Mrs. Albina was grateful to the sisters for the care over Helena, which consisted of keeping watch with her day and night.
Albina Hoffmann witnessed the conversation of daughter with St. Teresa of the Child Jesus. She called the sisters so that they too could witness the extraordinary encounter between these two related souls. Interestingly, Helena could not speak during the day, and communicated with the surroundings only with the help of a tablet and a pencil, so her mother was very impressed by Helena’s call: “These …, These … Teresa, You’re coming!” During this great indisposition, Helena received the sacrament of anointing the sick. The danger of death was over, and she experienced spiritual strength in her infirmity. In the following days, she felt so well that her mother was able to return from Henryków to Zgody.
“… my soul will live for Him …” (Psalm 22:30).
A similar situation took place on Christmas 1932 in Zgoda. After midnight Mass in the church of st. Józefa, Helena Hoffmann fell ill again, and her condition deteriorated so much that on December 30, 1932, the local vicar, Fr. Ignacy Rembowski gave her the sacrament of the sick. He asked her for one last wish. In response, he heard: “If I could say again what I said with Sister Maria Lazaria.” Fr. Rembowski informed about the illness and the wish of the “Bride of the Cross” from the Motherhouse. In response to this telegram, Sr. M. Lazaria, who found her almost dying. During the meeting, both Sisters were happy that they could pray together. Sister Dulcissima suffered from a great headache and discomfort in the form of constant vomiting. Then she asked the Lord Jesus for death. This state lasted until January 5, 1933. On the Feast of the Epiphany, Sr.M. Lazarii about the event: “I saw the Child Jesus very beautiful, in long clothes, down to the ground, with curly hair, coming to me with light in hand: it was passed through many people in the chapel to my cell and said:” You should be light “. When I was enjoying the beautiful Child and I wanted to bring him a lantern made, he went away. ” Interestingly, from that day on, the health condition of the “Bride of the Cross” began to slowly improve. She still felt bad, but according to St. Teresa of the Child Jesus (whom she heard and saw in her dreams) was preparing for her journey from Wrocław to Brzezie on the Oder.
“… Like a weaned child with his mother, like a silent child, is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord now and forever ”(Ps 131: 2a-3).
Christmas in 1934 was for Sr. M. Sometimes we dulcissize with grace and specific reflections on the humility and love of the Child Jesus. The handmaid of God stood before God in prayer like a child and cried. At times, she was sad because she saw that the Child Jesus was abandoned. She was sorry that little Jesus “is coming to save the world, because there is still so much evil in it” (Christmas carol). She suffered because He had no place among the people. She also suffered because she noticed a lack of simplicity and childhood spirit in the religious community.
“I reach out to you; my soul thirsts for you like a dry land ”(Ps 143: 6).
The celebration of Christmas in 1935 became for Sr. M. Dulcissima a time of union with God. She suffered a lot. Her spiritual guide, Father Józef Schweter, CSsR, noted: “By becoming a completely child, [the“ Bride of God ”] could receive the favors of Christmas in its richest dimension, although externally immersed in bitter goblets. The heart of Sister [Maria] Dulcissima has now received a mystical wound.
“You are my God, I want to thank You, my God, I want to exalt You. Praise the Lord, for He is good; for his love endures forever ”(Ps 118: 28-29).
In the photo we can see the figure of the baby Jesus, which belonged to the “Bride of the Cross”. This figurine probably took its place in the room of God’s handmaid, and today it is a valuable memento placed in the Memorial Room of the monastery in Brzezie on the Oder. It is also worthwhile today, during the celebration of Christmas, to look with love at the Child Jesus and to give voice to the prayer of sister Dulcissima’s heart, and to ask:
Child Jesus, give little, give only one thing that can make our hearts happy, do not give riches that will not remain, do not give a glow that melts, give only one, Your love, O You sweet, dear Child!
What does Christmas mean to your soul? Christmas means: the coming, the rebirth of Jesus Christ in our souls. Your heart should also be adorned with the graces of Holy Communion, because He will also knock on you and ask for reception. What do we want to give him?
S.M. Małgorzata Cur SMI