Dear Friends,

Last Sunday’s readings have a clear message, especially the Gospel: “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wishes to come after me must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save their lives will lose it, but whoever loses their life for my sake will find it’” (Matthew 16:24-25).

On September 4, we remembered our Blessed Martyrs of Nowogrodek, Sister Stella and Her Ten Companions.  During the Second World War, they offered their lives for prisoners who had been taken from their families to die. The Sisters were taken and killed on August 1, 1943 in the woods beyond Nowogrodek. They took up their cross and gave their lives for others. Sister Malgorzata, the sole survivor of this brutal execution, also lived a martyr’s life in that she remained faithful to ministering to the people of Nowogrodek until her death in 1966. The miracle was that those they offered their lives for were spared the death camp and returned to their families. (This is a very short version of the story. Read more here).

Unlike the Sisters, I don’t think most of us will be called to such an extreme giving up of our lives. And yet I know there are many crosses out there and many people who die to themselves many times over. Each time a little part of us dies, there is more room for Jesus! It is the way of discipleship. Do I recognize and appreciate the small deaths that appear in my life? Can I see them as part of the plan for God to bring me to a deeper relationship? Do I curse or bless the hard challenges? Sometimes when we are going through things, it is hard to “see the forest for the trees!” Like our Sisters who were willing to give up their lives so others may live, may we pray to do our best to embrace our cross and follow Jesus.

I am placing below the prayer we recite to our Blessed Martyrs to Obtain Graces. May it bring you peace during challenging times:

O Most Blessed Trinity, we praise and thank you for the example of Blessed Mary Stella and her Ten Companions, Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, who by imitating Jesus Christ, offered themselves as a sacrifice of love.

God of mercy and compassion, through the merits of their martyrdom and by their intersession, grant us the grace we humbly ask…, so that like them we may witness with our lives the presence of the Kingdom of God’s Love and extend it to the human family throughout the world. We ask this through Christ our Lord, AMEN

May your week be blessed.

Till next week,

Sr. Theresita

Editor’s note: Sr. Theresita Donach, assistant national vocation director for the CSFNs, shares this weekly reflection via e-mail with a group of women discerning their vocation. If you are interested in joining that online community, please e-mail tdonach@nazarethcsfn.org .

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