In the last issue of MICHAEL, we put the article "Salvation from doom", which reported the words of Jesus to the Polish mystic Rozalia Celakówna (1901-1944): "If Poland does not revive spiritually and does not abandon her sins, she will perish. Only a complete spiritual revival and surrender to the reign of my Heart may save not only Poland but also other nations from complete doom." In the following article, we relate the life of this Polish mystic:
by Fr. Mieczystaw Piotrowski S.Chr.
Servant of God, Rozalia Celakówna, whose process of beatification began in 1996, was born on September 19, 1901, in the village of Jachówka, Sucha Beskidzka District, Poland. She was the eldest of the eight children of Joanna and Tomasz Celakówna.
Rozalia's parents were fervent Catholics. Working hard on the farm, they nonetheless devoted much time to the religious upbringing of their children. They would pray together in the morning, at noon and in the evening, reciting the Rosary and other prayers. They would also regularly read the Bible, lives of the saints, and other religious books and magazines. The Celaks would go to Confession every month and attend Mass every Sunday, and sometimes on weekdays too.
This is what Rozalia wrote about her parents: "From my earliest years, they inculcated into my soul the deep tenets of holy faith and the love of God and neighbor. They watched over my soul to guard it from any corruption. At home, I had never been set a bad example." Her parents passed on to their children the greatest treasure which is the Catholic Faith. Little Rozalia was very happy when she could visit Jesus present in the tabernacle. She would tell him: "Jesus, I want to be yours for good, forever."
Rozalia's diary reads: "The first teacher who taught me to love Jesus was my dear Mother. She instructed me about what Jesus had done for us, what we were to love him for, how I was to behave so that he would like me, etc. (...) The piety of my parents could be seen above all in the keeping of God's Commandments; it was not some bizarre, warped piety but healthy and reasonable." From her parents, Rozalia learned how to mold her character: to overcome selfishness, to acquire humility and meekness, to be able to forgive, to be good and kind, and ready to serve the elderly and needy. But above all, however, she learned how to grow in the love of God.
On September 1, 1908, Rozalia went to elementary school. She had a good memory, liked studying very much, and set an example for the other children. At the age of 10, she received her first Holy Communion. She claimed this to have been one of the most crucial events in her life. On that occasion, she declared her love for Jesus: "Dear Jesus, I want nothing else but love. I want to love you as much as is possible for any creature to love God. You, dear Jesus, nobody else! [...] I am asking you so ardently for nothing else but to keep me always from offending you with even but a shade of voluntary sin."
It was then that Rozalia experienced her first mystical encounter with Jesus. The Lord asked her: "Give yourself to me, entirely and without reservations, to my exclusive service and you will be very happy. The world can never give you happiness, but I, your God, will make you happy. Love me for the entire world! I will broaden your heart and fill it with love so that you can pay me with love for love."
After finishing her elementary school in 1914, Rozalia wanted to continue her education but the outbreak of the First World War thwarted her ambitions. Instead, she helped her parents on the farm and took care of her younger siblings. In 1917, she received the sacrament of Confirmation. By that time, she was having ever more often mystical experiences. In 1918, in her parish church, she took a private vow of chastity.
In 1919, Jesus inaugurated for Rozalia a painful period of spiritual purification — a so-called 'dark night of the soul', which lasted six years. It was a time of great spiritual suffering which was necessary in order to move her along the road of maturing in love. Rozalia felt strong temptations which drew her away from faith, chastity and humility. She thought God had rejected her. All the possible temptations that one can imagine beset her, a frightening darkness of the soul and a feeling of hopelessness and despair. When attacks by the forces of evil reached their greatest intensity, Rozalia would drop to her knees and beg God for mercy. Despite this extremely trying time for her, she never neglected prayer or her duties.
In 1922, she went on foot to the Shrine of Our Lady of Częstochowa to ask for the grace of knowing what her way in life was to be. Upon her return, she was certain that God called on her to leave her family home and take up residence in Kraków. In August 1924, Rozalia moved there. It was a very difficult period for her: she suffered from many painful attacks by evil spirits, which was made worse by her confessors 'lack of understanding of her spiritual state.
The height of Rozalia's spiritual suffering came when she had a vision of hell. "I felt like I was," she writes, "tumbling into the abyss of hell. (...) Before my soul, horrible sins and crimes appeared, and it seemed that I had committed them (...). I heard a voice: 'You are damned and nothing can save you'(...). I felt hell's fire on me, and it seemed to burn my body. The roaring and howling of devils was so piercing that no human mind can imagine. When God crucifies a soul in this way and leaves it in darkness, man is then helpless (...). I saw an open hell, the horror of "which I cannot describe.
A huge number of devils threw souls into the abyss by the score with truly satanic joy, seemingly competing with each other to see who would bring in the most souls. The devils tormented them according to their sins. Most were damned for sins against the Sixth and Ninth Commandments, followed by such sins as murders and hatred. These three categories of sins were particularly visible. The torments were indescribable: the very sight of them can kill a man if not for the support from God's grace. "Right after this frightening experience of hell, Rozalia's soul was taken to heaven. There prevailed such a feeling of love and happiness, which she had never experienced before. She heard an inner voice saying: "Sainthood is love. The soul will achieve supreme perfection when it comes to love God the most passionately."
In April 1925, Rozalia began to work in St. Lazarus Hospital, at the skin and venereal disease ward. The prevalence of syphilis and other venereal diseases testify to a moral decline. Violating the Sixth Commandment carries terrible consequences. Already, prior to World War II, the Primate Cardinal of Poland, August Hlond, said that the moral decline of mankind in the 20th century was worse than that of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Sins of impurity destroy love and exacerbate selfishness, and therefore inflict great pain on Jesus, who told Rozalia: "There is a need of sacrifice for Poland, for the sinful world. Great harm is done to my Sacred Heart by sins of impurity. I demand expiation."
Rozalia understood that Jesus called on her to carry his love and mercy to morally lost people suffering from venereal diseases.
Ever more closely united with Jesus, Rozalia cared for venereal patients, forgotten by their families, with great dedication. The patients were vulgar; their lascivious behavior and extremely foul language was painful to Rozalia. She remained in spite of all this, because she knew that Jesus had called her to do this work. With great commitment, she continued to serve the ill for the love of Jesus present in any suffering individual and who was in the need of help.
During mystical encounters, Jesus assured Rozalia: "I am always with you and support you with my grace and shall stand by you. Although you cannot see me now, you are to see me with your soul's eyes and believe in this; for if I were not at your side, you would not be able to endure on your own under these conditions."
On December 15, 1927, Rozalia entered the convent of the Poor Clares. Soon, however, she realized that it was not her calling. After leaving the convent on March 1, 1928, she took up work at an eye clinic. This was a well-paying and prestigious position. However, her conscience would not let her carry on with this job. Jesus gave her a clear sign to go back to the dermatological ward. While praying, Rozalia had a mystical vision of Jesus being cruelly whipped by syphilitic female patients. They beat him mercilessly on the face and all over his body. Then, Jesus said to Rozalia: "My dear child, look, what terrible suffering is inflicted upon me by sins of impurity. Here, my child, I want to have you, to compensate me for those horrible sins that harm my Heart so much (...). You, my child, will suffer a lot in your life in order to console me, to become like me, and to save souls (...). Today, I uncover before you and let you know the mystery and value of suffering. Suffering offers so great a grace that it is hardly comprehensible. It is a greater grace than the gift of working miracles. I shall give you a love of suffering so that you will be able to suffer like me."
In a mystical vision, Jesus took Rozalia to the edge of "a huge pit, full of rot and abomination." "He indicated to me," Rozalia continued, "that it was a human heart soiled with a sin of impurity. Jesus told me to work there for the intention of those fallen souls, so that they might mend their ways, and to remember for the rest of my life that my work and life would come to a close there."
While working at the venereal disease ward, Rozalia had to replace dressings, clean rotting and stinking wounds, work on night duties and accompany the dying. She said that if it had not been for her supernatural love of neighbor and the awareness that she was fulfilling God's Will, she would not have undertaken such a taxing and wretched job for any amount of money.
Rozalia heroically overcame the disgust that rose up in her at the sight and manner of the behavior of syphilitic patients. With loving care, kindness and the patience of an angel, she served them. To the patients, she was very tender and modest, but firm. With goodness and kindness, she tried to encourage them to return to the straight and narrow, and open up their souls to Divine Mercy. She would often kneel down at a dying patient's bed and pray, right up until they died, for their reformation and reconciliation with God through Confession.
"Once while on night duty," her acquaintance remembers, "Rozalia could not persuade a certain middle-aged man to confess and receive Holy Communion before he died. She knelt down at his bed and started to recite the Rosary. After a few minutes, the man asked: 'What are you doing?'' I'm praying,' she replied. 'For whom?'' For you. ''For me? I've not asked you to,' he said, then fell asleep. Having woken up, he saw her praying again, and asked: 'Are you still praying for me?'' Yes! 'At this, he frowned and said: 'But I don't wish you to,' and fell asleep again. When he woke up for the third time and saw Rozalia kneeling, he asked: 'Are you still praying for me despite my unpleasant words?' To this, she replied: 'Yes! Because God's goodness is so great that it embraces you too, in spite of the fact that you hold it in contempt.' Then, the man asked her to summon a priest; he confessed, received Holy Communion, and was given the Sacrament of the Sick. After two or three hours, he passed away in the early hours of the morning."
Rozalia did everything out of love for Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Besides her hard work at the hospital, she continued studying to serve the sick better. She studied evenings and nights for her last exam in nursing, which she passed in 1933.
As a qualified nurse with great charisma and a lot of experience, Rozalia received many offers of wellpaid work. However, she remained faithful to her calling to serve the people who were suffering from venereal diseases.
From May 1937, onwards, Father Zygmunt Dobrzycki, a Pauline priest, was Rozalia's spiritual director. This was for her an exceptional time of mystical encounters with Christ and a closer union with him. This is what Rozalia wrote about Jesus' presence in her life: "Jesus, although invisible, is present in my soul. I feel his presence by having an impression of two persons' souls uniting into one as it were. This coming into contact by Jesus with my soul is far superior to an apparition. Even if I wanted to describe it, I would not be able to, because it is far beyond what my mind, so very limited, can comprehend or imagine."
During a retreat in September 1937, Rozalia rediscovered what a great gift co-participation in Christ's suffering on the cross was. Accepting the cross of suffering in unity with Christ, she desired to learn to love him even more than any human being had ever loved him. It was also at that time that Jesus addressed through her a call to Poland and all nations to accept him as the only Lord and to subject all spheres of life to the requirements posed by his love. In the name of the entire nation, this act was to be performed jointly by spiritual and temporal authorities.
In one of her visions, Rozalia heard: "If you want to save the world, you must enthrone the Sacred Heart of Jesus in all countries and nations of the world. This is the only hope. Those countries and nations that do not accept it, and do not submit to the reign of Jesus' sweet love, shall perish forever from the face of the earth and shall never rise again (...). Remember, my child, make certain that so important a matter is not overlooked and forgotten."
From then on, Rozalia considered bringing about enthronement a very important task of hers. She was aware that Christ called upon her to complete it. She prayed for this intention and offered up all her toils and sufferings for it. The spiritual director of Father Zygmunt Dobrzycki, the Superior-General of the Paulines, Father Pius Przeidziecki, spoke on several occasions to the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Hlond, about the enthronement. The Cardinal, however, first wanted to make certain whether Rozalia was a reliable person or not, and ordered her to undergo medical examinations and submit these results to church authorities. The mystic underwent neurological examinations, conducted by Dr. Horodeński. She was found to be of sound mind.
Long before the outbreak of the Second World War, Rozalia conveyed Jesus and Mary's call to reformation; in the event, Poland's failure to reform was to bring about a terrible war, because its main causes were sins of lasciviousness, killing and hatred. The world may be protected against a disastrous war only by the act of enthroning Christ.
Rozalia received ever stronger reminders of the need to perform the act of enthronement. For this she was prepared to endure any suffering and was ready — as she wrote — "to die in utter isolation as our Jesus did on the cross." Her greatest wish was to see Poland enthrone Christ, and for other nations to follow its example.
In the dark time of the Nazi occupation of Poland, from 1939 until 1945, when arrest, deportation to a concentration camp and death were constant threats, Rozalia wrote: "In spite of all this, I am at peace (...). If we knew how Jesus loves us, we would not let fear or terror anywhere near our souls for a single moment." Rozalia cared most to save as many people as possible from eternal damnation.
At the beginning of the war, Rozalia was employed at an out-patient clinic, where German doctors worked. Already overwhelmed by too many responsibilities, she had to learn German to boot.
She was greatly upset by the fact that despite a raging war, people would not mend their ways and still kept on offending God with grave sins. She often cried over the fate and sins of her nation. Her pure heart and keen powers of observation allowed her to see the immense moral decline of society. In October 1939, she wrote: "Such degradation and so many sins have never been found in the Polish nation as recently." In her prayers, Rozalia incessantly pleaded with God for mercy on sinners. In the spirit of expiation for their sins, she accepted all her sufferings and humiliations with love. Jesus, in return, inundated her soul with the indescribable joy of his closeness and love. In early 1941, Rozalia's health greatly deteriorated, but she did not stop working at the hospital. Until the end, she gave herself entirely to the service of God and her neighbor. She wrote: "A night duty offers something very important for me... Jesus, the sick and me (...). This is when Jesus in a special way lowers himself to reach my soul."
Through her work, prayer and suffering, Rozalia did her best to make the day of enthronement arrive as soon as possible, when nations will be given under the reign of Christ the King. She thereby fulfilled Jesus' request: "I wish to rule absolutely in human hearts. Ask for the hastening of my rule in souls through the enthronement."
Four years before she died, Rozalia wrote to her confessor: "I am in the evening of life. I like sunsets so much: then my soul submerges in God, the Sun of Justice, and I think of the Lord, how I am to love him and please him, so that my life will end just like the ending of a day, but what follows (in the next life) is a bright and fair day."
In early September 1944, she began to feel very weak. A friend of Rozalia's, who was down with the flu, asked for her help. During that call, Rozalia caught a bad cold and had to go to bed. She was getting worse by the day, and on September 11th, she was taken to the hospital. Never putting aside her Rosary, she received Holy Communion and the Sacrament of the Sick. Rozalia Celakówna died in her sleep on the night of September 12, 1944.
She was buried at the Rakowice Cemetery in Kraków. Despite the war, her funeral was attended by many priests, nuns, family members and friends. After she died, her simple demeanor, kindness of heart, and selfless love moved the consciences and hearts of many people who had known her. Soon, news spread that through her intercession God had granted people the extraordinary graces that they had asked for. Her beatification process is underway.
Rozalia used to say that sainthood was love. Let us ask Jesus for this greatest gift with her words: "Jesus, grant me love, a love that can love you for the entire world, loving you to distraction, in a way that you have never been loved before on this earth. I can say this because you, Jesus, are able to broaden my little heart to infinity. You are almighty, so you will work this miracle. »