BLESSED KLARA SZCZESNA
RAISED TO THE GLORY OF THE ALTAR!
Beatified September 27, 2015
The Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus rejoice that on September 27, 2015 in Krakow, Poland Mother Klara Louise Szczensa (1863-1916), co-Foundress of their Congregation with St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar, first Sacred Heart Sister and first Superior General of their Congregation was beatified.
Mother Klara Szczesna was known especially for her solicitude and care for the needs of the poor, sick and domestic servant girls.
Her motto and program of life, "All for the Heart of Jesus," is an example for all of us today of a life poured out in loving, sacrificial service of God and neighbor.
VIDEO OF MOTHER KLARA'S LIFE
Blessed Klara Ludwika Szczȩsna
Leading Us to the Divine Heart
Co-foundress of the Congregation of the
Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Today the world needs great hearts, open hearts, hearts like the Heart of Jesus.
(Saint John Paul II to Sacred Heart Sisters, 1994)
Ludwika (Louise) Szczȩsna was born in Cieszki, Poland, in the parish of Lubowidz, on July 18, 1863. She was baptized one week later in the church of St. Andrew the Apostle and received the name Ludwika. She was the sixth child of Frances (nee Skorupska) and Anthony Szczȩsny. During the difficult years of the January Uprising (1863), she did not have the opportunity to attend school; instead, she learned the arts of reading and writing from traveling teachers. From her parents, she had the opportunity to learn the traits by which she was characterized later in life. Likely from her mother, she learned piety and the desire for a noble demeanor, and from her father, she learned to be hard working and courageous in making decisions. Losing the people closest to her -- first, her brother, and later her mother—impelled her to take greater responsibility for her life. Ever since Ludwika was a young girl, she carried in her heart the desire to dedicate her life to God. Therefore, when under pressure by her father to marry, the seventeen-year-old Ludwika chose to remain faithful to the voice of her conscience and left the family home. She probably lived in Mława with her relatives and earned her living as a seamstress.
Seeking the Path
Ludwika's five year stay in Mława was a time of spiritual growth. In those hidden years in her youth, not only did she not back away from her childhood desire to serve God, she even sought ways to fulfill it. In 1885, she entered the Servants of Jesus, a clandestine religious Congregation in Warsaw founded by Bl. Honorat Kozminski, OFM Cap. The purpose of this Congregation was to care for servants and unemployed girls. The Superior of the Servants of Jesus, Mother Eleonora Motylowska, wrote: “During this time Louise Szczesna, a poor girl who supported herself as a seamstress, came from Mława for retreat. Fr. Honorat sent her to me after the retreat ended. With utter simplicity, she stated her desire to serve God. Louise had burned all worldly finery that served only vanity and showed a readiness to go with me at once. She did not even ask where I would take her. I was impressed with her honesty, her courage in breaking with the world, and the offering of herself to God.” In 1889, Sr. Ludwika professed her first religious vows, and two years later was sent to work in Lublin. She served as Superior there, conducting a sewing workshop and working with the servants. Sister Alojza Rostkowska wrote about her: Ludwika was quiet; she had great simplicity and was full of love for all. These virtues and interior values made her a very pleasant and attractive Sister who had a very good influence on the servants.
A Decisive Choice
Sr. Ludwika's mission in Lublin was interrupted by an unpleasant situation that affected her future. Through the indiscretion of one of the servants, a Russian official learned about the hidden Congregation, which resulted in a search of the house of the Servants of Jesus. Thus, the Sisters and the girls were ordered to disperse, and Sr. Ludwika left Lublin and came to Warsaw. Fearing that Sr. Ludwika might be watched by the Tsar's police, the Superiors took all necessary precautions for safety. An invitation from Professor Father Joseph Sebastian Pelczar soon offered an opportunity to send Sr. Ludwika to Galicja, therefore in 1893, together with two other Sisters of the Congregation of the Servants of Jesus, Sr. Ludwika began to work among servant girls in Krakow. While seeking God's will, Canon Fr. Pelczar discerned that a Congregation with religious habits could be founded in Krakow-- albeit it was through a strange course of events, as he acknowledged in later years. He founded the new Congregation, the Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. He invited Sr. Ludwika Szczȩsna to cooperate in the founding, which she did with her whole heart and with all the talents God had given her. Blessed Klara valued simplicity and the commonplace and hidden life, seeing in them great benefits for the soul. She found joy in a life dedicated to the Divine Heart, and she encouraged everyone to seek the same joy. She loved meekness and humility, virtues which Jesus invited us to learn from His Divine Heart.
Co-Foundress of the Congregation
The formal founding of the Congregation of the Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus took place on April 15, 1894, in Krakow. Ludwika Szczȩsna, who took the religious name Sister Klara, became its Co-Foundress and first Superior. The new religious Congregation grew quite rapidly; new convents sprang up as young Sisters arrived. When founding new houses, Mother Klara shared with the Sisters her concern for the plight of servants, girls in need of spiritual support, the sick, and the poor. Sometime later, St. Joseph Sebastian wrote of her: Mother Klara Szczȩsna worked with me in the founding of the Congregation. She was characterized by great prudence and love in directing the Sisters, and with courage and patience in bearing constant illnesses and anguish. During her governance, the Congregation demonstrated remarkable growth. Mother Klara manifested great goodness and love in her concern for the Congregation of the Sacred Heart Sisters and the works of Christian charity undertaken by them. She said: The Heart of God has called us and continually urges us that we would not falter in our zeal in His service but would rather with dedication -- not sparing our strength -- give a firm foundation to our beloved Congregation. She became for the Sisters the first Sacred Heart Sister, Mistress, and Mother.
The Program of Life of Mother Klara
In the Constitutions of the Congregation from 1896, St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar encouraged the Sisters to do ‘All for the Heart of Jesus.’ These words became, for Mother Klara, the motto and summary of her entire life. To the Divine Heart, she offered each word, deed, and suffering. She told to the Sisters: We must give glory to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus with our whole lives. We must be obedient to the Divine Heart and offer this Heart our love, and this, not only interiorly, but in action as well, that the love of the Savior may be known and returned by many. We must do this by good example, words, and prayer. Everyone should see in us the Servants of the Divine Heart, Servants of the Merciful Heart, good and open to the needs of man. Captivated by the love of God, Mother Klara, lived with an unwavering faith and an undivided love in total obedience to God's will, trusting God's Providence without limits. She regarded humility as the basis and foundation of spiritual life. Only humility, she said, assures perseverance to the end, and someday, a reward in Heaven. It was silent service to others, without seeking recognition that characterized her spiritual growth and maturity. By leading a deep interior life, she realized God's plan concerning her mission.
The Path of Suffering
During her life, Mother Klara Szczȩsna demonstrated great strength of spirit despite the weakness of her body. She accepted her physical and spiritual sufferings in a spirit of expiation. From the very beginning of the Congregation, she had problems with heart and lung failure, and a few years later, a tumor. At first the doctors delayed surgery, hoping that treatment would prevent the progression of her illness. However, in 1910, after seven years of treatment, Mother Klara underwent surgery. Unfortunately, the progressive illness caused permanent physical suffering. Nevertheless, this did not prevent her from undertaking the obligations of serving as the Superior General of the Sacred Heart Sisters. St. Joseph Sebastian said to Mother Klara: Mother, although you have sometimes had a different opinion, you have always been a docile daughter, attentive and grateful, and thus willingly shared my work and concerns about our Congregation. I pray for your recovery, and I hope that it will come to pass. However, if God will so order differently, give yourself totally to the Most Compassionate Heart of our Savior through the Most Blessed Mother, and trust in His mercy. (Przemysl, January 18, 1913) Mother Klara began the last stage of her life in 1915. In October, she had a severe heart attack. During her illness, she was very patient, peaceful, and quiet, readily accepting the suffering with serenity of spirit. When the Sisters wanted to offer a novena for her health, she responded: It is not necessary to pray for my health but only for the perfect fulfillment of God's Holy Will.
Mother Klara died in Krakow in the odor of sanctity on February 7, 1916, at the age of 53. Her beatification was held on September 27, 2015, in Kraków.
By the example of her life, Mother Klara pointed the way to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Her daily life, full of whole-hearted care and a very practical love, came from gazing into the Divine Heart, who as a burning furnace of love, is open to each of us.
The Mortal Remains of Blessed Klara Louise Szczesna are interred in a side Chapel in the Sercanki Motherhouse Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Krakow, Poland
MOTHER KLARA SZCZENSA
“Renunciation of one’s free will requires great cost to our nature, yet in what nobler way can we exercise it, if not to return our will to him from whom we received it?” (From Meditation I. Obedience)
Jesus himself is the strongest reason for us to love our neighbor, since he himself loves him. (From Meditation II. Charity)
If you could but see the immeasurable love that he who is holiness and justice itself holds toward this person –who for you seems so unpleasant and unfriendly –with what different eyes you would view him! If you could but see with what sweet mercy Jesus regards him whom you deem so unworthy, would you not then have just a little mercy for him? If you could only know how in hurting this person you are somehow wounding the apple of the Savior’s eye! (From Meditation II. Charity)
The peace of a soul in possession of itself is a participation in the glorious, unchangeable and serene calmness of God. God is the God of peace. (From Meditation II. Charity)
Because God is the highest holiness, a person’s holiness depends upon his union with God and his conformity to God’s will. Indeed, true love –and therefore true holiness—rests upon this.’’ (From Meditation I. Obedience)
Have a threefold love: maternal love toward those whom providence places under your care, childlike love towards your superiors and sisterly love for your Sisters in God. (From Meditation II. Charity)
O how rarely is found a holy and perfect fraternal love! It is easy to have exclusive friends but rarely does one embrace everyone without exception. Such is impossible without sacrifice and dedication. Our love is natural, sensible, egoistic and self-interested. We do not love as Jesus has loved –loving unto the shedding of his blood while desiring no retaliation. (From Meditation II. Charity)