For Their Sake I Consecrate Myself: Sister Maria Bernadette of the Cross (1927–1963)


by Jadwiga Stabińska, OSBap

Translated by Justyna Krukowska

Originally published @ Siostry Sakramentki, Warszawa 2008

English edition @ Arouca Press 2022

Translation @ The Cenacle Press at Silverstream Priory 2022

“Cut me in strips, but let them return to You and give You glory.”                               

Sister Maria Bernadette of The Cross

I am drawn to and intrigued by the religious life and those called to it.  For Their Sake I Consecrate Myself is a remarkable reflection on the dedicated life of Sister Maria Bernadette of The Cross.

Before her monastic life, she was known by friends and family as Maria Róża Wolska. In this detailed recollection, the author takes the reader on a biographical journey focusing on family and Sister Bernadette’s desire to draw nearer to God. The historical accounts include family struggles, a love for nature, apprenticeships, and her fondness for prayerfully creating art and music.  

The author portrays Sister Bernadette’s biographical sketch in multiple photographs throughout the pages. Mountainous vacation views, her parent’s wedding photos, candid family snapshots, and Sister Bernadette’s drawings, to name a few. The images add an element of significance in taking the reader deeper into what Sister Bernadette held close to her heart.

The desires of one’s heart are precious gems. Some offer them at no cost, while most of us keep them under lock and key. Sister Bernadette lived an adventurous monastic life in which a sacrificial desire became her focus. Knowing that God was preparing her for “great graces,” she focused on the sacrifice of surrendering her will.  

In reading her story, I am convinced that there was not one element of Holiness that Sister Bernadette did not encompass. The steadfast love of God became apparent in her most official voluntary sacrifice. “Cut me in strips, but let them return to You and give You glory.”  It was through these words and an illness that would not let go that Sister Bernadette offered her Holy Sacrifice in dying for the sins of others.

Following the recollection of her sacrificial death, the author has provided what I consider to be a goldmine of Sister Bernadette’s genuine love for God.  Nuggets of inspiration adorn the pages among letters to and from family, friends, and the religious community. Many God-kissed and invaluable life lessons are shared straight from Sister Bernadette’s heart.

“I’m not worried because that would be rude: One should always be rejoicing. It is precisely such “hopeless’ moments that can be worth something. It is better to be happy than to worry.” 

Originally published in Polish translation in 2008, in this English version, Jadwiga Stabińska sets out to shine a light through the life of Sister Bernadette and invites the reader to see her as a place in which God resides. Not forgetting to embrace the hopes of heaven and service to God in the life lived now. The conclusion of Sister Bernadette’s story left me with feelings of genuine hope in God, a glimpse of Heaven, and a yearning for a Christ-centered life.

 “Prayer can last three seconds: I beg you to say something to God every day from the bottom of your heart, even if it’s just two words or merely a glance.”   

       ~Sister Maria Bernadette of The Cross

I highly recommend you visit the website: The Cenacle Press at Silverstream Priory for more information and purchase options

May my living reveal God’s Goodness


Heat, humidity, and July activities are sure signs that we are in the depths of Summer! It is in July when I secretly long for the arrival of Fall, anticipating less sticky and slower days. The celebrations this time of year are always a welcome blessing, yet I can tolerate only so many hot dogs and hamburgers before I begin to crave homemade soup.

Perhaps the biggest challenge I have during this time is that I grow another year older. To change things up a bit, I gave God my birthday this year. Enjoying a Sabbath Day at my local retreat house, I devoted the day to the one who gave me life. One cannot argue with a day off work, quiet time for prayer, and even an hour spent on mindful creativity. It all sounded wonderful until I checked in, looked around, and muttered to myself, “why am I here?”.

As per usual on the sacred grounds of this place, God did not waste any time in responding as He guided me to a journal entry written in March of this year.

“Close your eyes and let yourself be carried away on the flowing current of My grace; close your eyes and do not think of the present, turning your thoughts away from the future just as you would temptation.”

Exerpt from The Surrender Novena

Settled on an outdoor bench beside a water fountain, I set my phone on silent, closed my eyes, and basked in the glorious sounds of nature. I opened my eyes only to glimpse a bird bathing in the waterfall. The water looked refreshing as the bird immersed its face and then fluttered about to cover its wings. Seemingly enjoying the water feel, yet staying only long enough to fulfill its purpose.

I figure God must have given the bird reason to stay and enjoy for that brief moment, and perhaps the same would happen to me. The sound of the water invigorates my soul, allowing me to close my eyes once more, relaxing my body and spirit.

Not having a schedule for the day felt strange. However, lunch served at a specific time helped me to stay on track. Following my silent meal, I made my way to the creativity room. Intimidated by the urge to want to create a masterpiece, I let my mind go back to the sounds of the fountain.

The peacefulness of this day was proving to be fruitful in many ways. I felt connected to God, the sacred place, and my spirituality. Then it happened. I checked my phone to see what time it was, only to glimpse a special email gift. Staring at the screen, I debated whether or not I should open it. After all, I promised myself I would not look at anything outside the present moment. The Holy Spirit then gave me a nudge as I realized I was reacting within the confines of the here and now.

Inhaling a deep breath, I clicked the email, and there it was, the final approval and release form for my novel. This retreat house, a gift unlike any other, served as the epicenter when God revealed His plan for Bella’s Beautiful Miracle. A flurry of emotions befell as I considered the length and breadth of Bella’s journey.

I hesitated only for a moment, unsure if I wanted to sign in the presence of family or bring this to fruition in the sacred space where it all began. I dove into a prayerful conversation with God, and within minutes, I printed the page, signed my name, and scanned it back to the publisher.

Breathing in the stillness of the accomplishment, years of work, and God’s influence, I was carried away on the flowing current of God’s Grace. It was only after the initial shock wore off that I realized an inscription on the pen holder upon the library desk.

“Gracious God, Thank you for the gift of today. May my living reveal your goodness.” Pat Bergen C.S.J.

I pray God will continue sending opportunities my way which reveal His Goodness and Glory! One way I know for sure is always to consider if the action, consideration, or event is pleasing to and praising God.

On a side note, that particular email was the only one that came as an alert on my phone that afternoon. A reminder to pay attention to heart nudges, as they are often gifts and insights from the Holy Spirit. 

Blessings,

Kimberly

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2020 has been full of surprises and surrender! I’m learning things about myself, my time management skills and creativity for pandemic boredom.

I’m also learning how to use the opposite side of my body and that is amping up my need for slow controlled movements. Although frustrating, this exercises my virtue of patience.


I had surgery a little over a week ago on my shoulder so I am now only able to use my non-dominant left hand and arm for various tasks. The plan was to return to work next week and continue on the healing journey. Then yesterday happened, I blacked out at the doctors office and had to spend several hours there before being able to come home and salvage what was left of my wedding anniversary.


All of a sudden I find myself in a place of forced respite; the doctor has written me off work for another week. Having a lot of downtime would be awesome, but in this physical state I am limited as to what I can do. I love to journal when I pray and not being able to write with my dominant hand has been somewhat disheartening. Today God invited me to spend some time outside and journal using my left hand and a totally different side of my brain.


In July I attended an overnight retreat on praying through art and received an art prayer journal which I’ve only opened once since then, so today out came the oil based crayons and watercolors.


I began with the page in portrait orientation. While listening to prayerful music and closing my eyes I placed the brush in the center and just started with a gentle swirling motion. Feeling my hand moving upwards, I opened my eyes to extend outward. At first glance what I saw was a snail with googly eyes and I wondered where God could be leading me. Sitting quietly for just another moment I opened my eyes again and turned the page landscape and what I saw then was a unique looking fish! I then worked from the bottom of the sea adding plants and corals then the water. I wanted to put some sort of a light since at this point I knew Jesus was the big fish, and did my best to brighten a yellow spot in the water. As I continued coloring and drawing I did so with a smile knowing that God was bringing out in me one of my favorite scripture passages, Matthew 4:19: “And he said unto them, follow me and I will make you fishers of men”.

Once I realized this, I was a little bummed that I had not left more space behind the large fish for followers. Drawing and painting the little fish proved very difficult with my non-dominant hand some of them look like they can use a little help but then don’t we all!


At this point the yellow brightness was just a blob in the water so I gave it roots and soon it was more plant life. This would be the finishing point and I was excited to have completed it all with my left hand! Even though a 5th grader could do better, I felt accomplished and at ease in my mind.


Looking at the finished product again in portrait mode, I still see that silly looking snail-like creature but now it appears as if the little fish are being held or somewhat shepherded.


When I attended the art workshop I learned some unique things about what colors and lines mean for me. Based on the workshop insights in assigning a color and a brush stroke to an emotion, this painting reveals what I was experiencing during this prayerful moment. The colors of teal, blue, and green represent harmony peace and anticipation. The colors of yellow, orange and black represent hope, sadness and confusion. The purple color represents excitement.


Taking time to reflect on the insights revealed through color and line was amazing and warmed my heart. Jesus is providing harmony; the waters are peaceful and the little bit of green in the coral at the bottom is where the anticipation lies; hope is being revealed in the yellow sea plants that Jesus is swimming towards; confusion lies in the orange of the sea plants at the bottom of the sea; and sadness and frustration are revealed in the black color of the following fish. Then excitement is revealed in the purple branches that are holding up the hope-filled yellow sea plant!


The scripture passage this drawing revealed has always been near and dear to my heart especially when it comes to Spiritual Direction and my answering God’s call. God brought it into my heart today to uplift me and to remind me that He is the one who puts color on my canvas. God knows exactly how I am feeling on this bump in my journey. As long as I trust and follow him with courage, hope and strength in my heart I will be OK.

At this moment for whatever reason , God has asked me to take a step back. This prayerful experience and in this form of journaling has revealed for me that I still have hope in God even amidst the confusion sadness, and my frustration. I know that Jesus is still leading me towards my exciting and hope-filled life!


Thank you for taking the time to read and I hope you get a chuckle at the masterpiece! 😊 Many blessings for a great evening to you all!

Courageous Butterfly