Bl. Bernardyna Maria Jabłońska led a profound life of service that we can all learn from.
In the beginning of the 20th century, St. Albert Chmielowski sought to spend his life in the service of the poor of Kraków, Poland. He was aided in his work by Bl. Bernardyna Maria Jabłońska, who became the first Mother Superior of his Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis Serving the Poor (more commonly known as the Albertine Sisters).
Both served the poor in an intimate way, living with them and taking care of their every need.
St. John Paul II beatified Bernardyna in 1997 and praised her many virtues, while also revealing a few mottoes that motivated her daily work.
Her motto of life was the words: “To give, eternally to give.” With her gaze fixed on Christ she followed him faithfully, imitating his love. She wanted to satisfy her neighbor’s every request, to dry every tear, to console at least with a word every suffering soul. She always wanted to be good to everyone, but even better to those most tried by fate. She used to say: “My neighbor’s suffering is my suffering.” Together with Saint Albert she founded hospices for those who were sick and homeless as a result of war.
Another way to put that last saying in English can be “My neighbor’s pain is my pain.”
This close identification with the suffering of others is straight from the Gospel, and if lived faithfully on a daily basis, can radically change someone’s life. It gives a new perspective to the suffering of others, making that suffering a part of yourself, instead of keeping it as a foreign element.
Both Bernardyna and Albert are prime examples of what it looks like to serve our suffering neighbor, drawing close to them and taking upon ourselves their suffering. It is a Gospel way of life that is radical, but can bring about an everlasting peace.
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