Blessed Anna Marta Wiecka, Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, and Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
- We conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us (Rom. 8:37)
May 30 should have been the memorial of the most recently beatified member of the Vincentian family, Sister Anna Marta Wiecka, D.C. But since the Solemnity of the Most Sacred of Jesus fell this year on May 30, Bl. Anna Marta’s memorial was transferred to May 29.
I am sure our blessed Sister would not have minded at all that her memorial was preempted, so to speak, by the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For if her holiness means anything at all, fundamentally she—along with all the other saints, really—is a sign of revelation, a sign, in particular, of the love of God in Christ Jesus that is symbolized by Jesus’ most sacred heart.
Sister Anna Marta points not to herself, but rather to God. Her blessedness, her happiness, consists in proclaiming the greatness of the Lord and rejoicing in God her Savior, since he has looked with favor on his handmaid’s lowliness. Her justification lies in God’s free grace, in the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ. She does not call attention to her love. For what matters most is not that she has loved God, but that he loved her, choosing her, from among the little ones, because of his great love and faithfulness, in order to reveal to her those things he has hidden from the wise and the learned. This little one, this “little Mother,” bears witness to the truth of the Johannine teaching that we love because God first loved us.
Because she was urged on by God’s love that was revealed in the one who was sent in expiation for our sins, Sister Ana Marta overcame the human tendency to stay, for good measure of comfort and security, at home or near it, and she traded, for a friend's sake, nearby Chelmno (Culm) for distant Krakow. She likewise conquered in false accusations, mockery, slander and all kinds of adversity. Finally, she rose above the all too human instinct to self-preservation and risked her own life in order to take the place of a young father. For her, indeed, sanctity simply meant love (cf. “Sr. Marta Wiecka D.C.” by Sister Jozefa Watroba D.C., at Niedziela Tygodnik Katolicki<Sunday Catholic weekly>). She truly bore witness to the “ineffable love of the Lord that overcomes human weakness, touches the human heart and converts it to the love of life, to the love of one’s neighbor, even to the love of one’s enemies (cf. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone’s homily at Beatification Mass in Lviv <in Italian>).
Clearly, like Dorothy Day, 23 years her junior but lived almost three times longer than she did, Sister Anna Marta in her only 30 years of life embraced St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s “little way” and believed that the way to holiness was in the practice of all our everyday tasks in a spirit of love (cf. the interview “Dorothy Day’s Duty of Delight” at www.zenith.org). In the hospital, Sister Anna Marta probably found herself too among crazy, broken and often disagreeable people. But surely her “spirituality was very much based on an effort to be more charitable and forgiving toward the people closest at hand,” believing that her “small efforts could have wide social impact—like a pebble cast in a pond that sets forth ever-widening ripples.” Or, as Sister Jozefa Watroba puts it with reference to Sister Anna Marta: “The great things God does within a human soul are simple.”
And such simplicity does not permit hedging, which avoids commitment by way of qualifying and evasive statements or actions. Sister Anna Marta made a decision that was clearly a matter of blessing or curse. She did not say one thing and then did another. Steeped in God’s words and wisdom as mediated by the Vincentian tradition, she did not settle for saying merely, “Lord, Lord.” Certain that God is love, she—as Cardinal Bertone indicated—loved him, invisible that God was to her human eyes, in loving her neighbor whom she saw, to the point of shedding her blood, giving her life, as did St. Maximilian Kolbe and so many other martyrs. As did especially and in a sublime manner the Lord to whom Sister Anna Marta points to, the Lord who gave his body up and shed his blood, giving himself as food and drink for life.
The rain or floods of death surely came, and its winds blew and buffeted her. But built on rock, she stood and stands out, attracting “people regardless of their age, confession and nationality.” She was not unlike her Lord who, lifted up from the earth, draws everyone to himself (Jn. 12:32).