Thought for the Day – 17 September – Tuesday of the Twenty Fourth week in Ordinary Time, Year C and the Memorial of Saint Zygmunt Szcesny Felinski (1822-1895)
From a young age, the life of Zygmunt Szczęsny Feliński was marked by his striving after sanctity. Christ was for him “the Way, the Truth and the Life.” He wanted to achieve such a degree of unity with God so as to say after Saint Paul: I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me.
He was marked by unfaltering faith and utter trust in Providence. He always placed love of God and Church, devotion to his country and respect for all people in the first place. His great integrity, fortitude and justice were characteristic features of his spirituality. Apart from that, he was full of devotion and mercy marked by Franciscan cheerfulness, humility and straightforwardness – work and poverty. He was described as “the pride of the Polish episcopate”, “martyr”, “faithful son of the Church”.
Also nowadays, we can take the refreshing spirit and light from the treasury of his life. The Canonisation of the Shepherd-Exile encourages reflection on one’s own way of life, family and its revival, the building of the common house, the homeland, under God’s providential care and that of His Holy Mothe and ours.
During his Canonisation homily, on 11 October 2009, Pope Benedict said:
Archbishop of Warsaw, the Founder of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary, was a great witness of faith and pastoral charity in very troubled times for the nation and for the Church in Poland. He zealously concerned himself with the spiritual development of the faithful, he helped the poor and orphans. At the Ecclesiastical Academy in St Petersburg he saw to the sound formation of priests and as Archbishop of Warsaw he instilled in everyone the desire for inner renewal. Before the January 1863 Uprising against Russian annexation he put the people on guard against useless bloodshed. However, when the rebellion broke out and there were repressions he courageously defended the oppressed. On the Tsar of Russia’s orders he spent 20 years in exile at Jaroslaw on the Volga, without ever being able to return to his diocese. In every situation he retained his steadfast trust in Divine Providence and prayed: “O God, protect us not from the tribulations and worries of this world… only multiply love in our hearts and obtain that in deepest humility, we may keep our infinite trust in Your help and Your mercy”.
Today his gift of himself to God and to humankind, full of trust and love, becomes a luminous example for the whole Church.