June 17, St Albert Chmielowski

June 17
SAINT ALBERT CHMIELOWSKI, RELIGIOUS
Obligatory memorial
In the Diocese of Sosnowiec: primary patron of the diocese – Solemnity

Adam Chmielowski was born in Igołomia, near Kraków in 1845. He participated in the January Uprising, during which he lost his leg. After becoming a graduate in painting, he started working as an artist. At the height of his artistic powers, he decided to give up painting and devoted himself to serving the poor, eventually founding the Congregation of Brothers and Sisters Servants of the Poor. He died in Kraków in 1916. He was beatified in 1983 and canonised by Pope John Paul II on 12 November 1989.

Common of Holy Men Who Practiced Works of Mercy.

OFFICE OF READINGS

SECOND READING

From the sermon by Cardinal Karol Wojtyła
(Sermon on the 50th anniversary of Brother Albert’s death)
Christianity is impossible without mercy

Brother Albert, born Adam Chmielowski, was a rich personality, blessed with many natural gifts and talented in many fields. He first made his mark as a distinguished painter, gaining esteem among all the great masters of the brush who will remain forever in our national memory as the representatives of the great art. We know that his natural gifts were further enhanced because he did not keep them for himself. At barely 20 years of age, he took part in the January Uprising (of 1863), going out on a limb out of love for his country. That same love of the country would brand him with a permanent mark, as his wounds left him a cripple until death, forcing him to wear an artificial leg in place of his own.

Moreover, these gifts of nature were enhanced in him above all by the gifts of grace, the Divine Grace which is God himself, bestowing His life on man, infusing himself, as it were, into their soul. The more God bestows himself on the soul, and the more He infuses His life into it through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the more He brings that soul to its knees. In precisely this way, the soul of Adam Chmielowski was bowed down before the ineffable majesty of God, before His holiness and His love.

And yet, God works in a most wonderful way in the affairs of men. In casting a person on his knees before Him, He commands him at the same time to kneel in service before his brothers, his neighbors. This is precisely what took place in the life of Brother Albert: on his knees before the Divine Majesty, he fell on his knees before the majestic dignity of man, and in particular before the majestic dignity of the poorest of the poor, of the most severely handicapped, even of the last beggar.

Perhaps this comparison seems striking, since in our times we do not see such severe conditions, such blatant poverty, such obvious humiliation of man. Even today, there are many conditions which on the surface seem to be less flagrant, and yet in reality are no less so than before. There are many human needs, many cries for mercy – but often in an unseen and unheard way. How many people are sick or abandoned, and yet left in their ailments without any care? How many elderly are left to die of hunger, longing for the warmth of the human heart? How many troubled youth are there, who in today’s environment cannot find the moral support they need?

Mercy and the Christian message are the great needs of our times. If there is no mercy, there is no Christian message, for they are one and the same. In the service of mercy, funds are not the most important thing, nor homes, institutions and hospitals, necessary though they may be. Most important is man himself, to whom we must testify by our very humanity, by our very selves. In this regard, Brother Albert is an incomparable model for us. He had almost no material means; he did not have access to any funds or ready-made institutions, so he decided to give of himself. It was for this reason that God brought him to his knees before people most deprived of human dignity, in order that he might give of himself. And he went on giving to the end of his days, giving with all his strength. This was an expression of his faith and love, which is for us precious beyond measure, as it is in the sight of God. Our humanity must recover with a renewed energy a sensitivity to the human person, to his needs, his tribulations, and his sufferings, so that we might be ready to bear witness with our very selves, with hands that are empty but hearts that are full. Such a gift is indeed more significant than hands that are full and means that are plentiful. “Above all these, put on love.”[1]

RESPONSORY Matthew 25:35; 40; Proverbs 19:17

I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me.
I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.

He who has compassion on the poor lends to the Lord.
I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.

CONCLUDING PRAYER

O God rich in mercy,
you inspired Saint Albert to see your Son’s insulted face in the poorest and deserted.
Grant gracefully that we, practising works of mercy, may be able to be brothers of those in need, following his example.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

[1] http://www.albertynki.pl/usa_alb_zycie_i_duch.html

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