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How the Rosary became a source of strength and meaning on a refugee bus



El rosario estuvo presente en el viaje de los refugiados.

Dolors Massot - published on 03/30/22

The Rosary is a powerful weapon of protection and peace. Now, in the face of this war, this is truer than ever.

The Polish people are giving us all a lesson in humanity by their behavior in the face of the avalanche of refugees arriving at their borders. Current estimates of the number of people who have entered the country since the Russian invasion began are well over one million as of this writing; the United Nations places the number at nearly twice that.

The Polish have forged a chain of fraternity that makes no distinctions. Everyone is helping as best they can. The situation is heart-wrenching, seeing all the women, children, and elderly people who have left behind their male relatives who remain in combat and those who cannot leave because of the bombardments against the proposed humanitarian corridor.

In those comings and goings of Polish buses going to the border to pick up refugees, a man named Michal was one of many volunteers coordinating a trip. He’s usually involved in projects to improve education in rural Poland.

On the way there, on the bus—which in this case belonged to the public administration—Michal was with a group of law enforcement officers. They were there as guards to help and protect the refugees.

Michal is married and has 4 children. Like all of the men in the bus, he was pensive, and on the way they pondered what they would encounter. No doubt many imagined themselves and their own families in the situation of the refugees. At first they talked about how they would organize themselves, but afterwards there was silence.

Then, Michal took the microphone, and suggested, “How about praying the Rosary?” The rest agreed. He told the driver and, with Michal leading on the microphone, they prayed the mysteries together. Some of them didn’t know how to pray the Rosary, but others helped them.

Michal with one of the babies who arrived at the Polish border with their mothers.

They arrived at the border and welcomed a group of people who were already waiting: babies being held by their mothers, young and old women, exhausted elderly people. All of their faces showed the relief of having reached a goal and the determination to keep fighting to get ahead.

The guards helped them board the bus, and Michal was in charge of coordinating everything: he listened to each refugee’s story and concerns. Then, they set off for Warsaw.

On the way, the children had time to talk and to discover the Polish landscape that now welcomed them, and to draw with colored markers. (Upon arriving at the border, every single child is greeted with a stuffed animal, a simple gift that comforts the little ones.)

Arriving in the Polish capital, the refugees got off the bus. The guards accompanied them, helping to unload luggage, baby strollers, and whatever sparse luggage that these unplanned travelers had been able to take with them.

The guards then approached Michal and thanked him for the Rosary he had encouraged them to pray. It had helped them, they told him, to undertake the task with a greater sense of doing good for their neighbor, the helpless, those who have no strength, the discouraged, those who have lost everything, and also those who are afraid.

The Rosary is a powerful weapon. Now, in the face of this war, this is truer than ever.

“The Holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you will marvel at the result.” (St. Josemaría, The Way, 558)

The children, as always, noticed the warmth of the welcome, and one little boy gave Michal a drawing that read: “I love Poland.”

Drawing by a Ukrainian child. It reads: “I love Poland.”

The drawing will remain on the bus, so that will be an inspiration. Poland, “semper fidelis,” always faithful to God, says its motto.

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