Other Websites

Marians around the world:

General Curia of the Congregation in Rome — Italy
Marians in the United States
Marians in the Czech Republic (Hradek near Prague)
Marians in Brazil
Marians in Poland
Marians in Portugal
Marians in Rwanda
Marians in Cameroon
Marians in Latvia
Marians in Argentina
Marians in England (London)
Marians in Slovakia (Krupina)
Marians in Kazakhstan
Marians in Lithuania (Marijampole)
Marians in the Philippines

Marian Apostolates:

Divine Mercy Apostolate in Kuritiba — Brazil
Cenacle of Our Lord, Góra Kalwaria — Poland
The Divine Mercy (English) — USA
The Divine Mercy (Spanish) — USA
Parish of Our Lady of Lourdes in Warsaw – Praga — Poland
Parish of the BVM Mother of Mercy in Warsaw – Stegny — Poland
Parish of the BVM Mother of the Church in London – Ealing — UK
Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Licheń in Licheń — Poland
Marian Shrine, in Stoczek Warmiński — Poland
AMH in Poland
AMH in Great Britian
Marianapolis Prep School in Thompson, CT — USA
Marian Publishing House in Warsaw — Poland
Immaculate Conception Parish – Vilnius — Lithuania
Parish of St. Michael the Archangel in Puszcza Mariańska
St. George’s Parish in Curitiba, Brazil
Elblag — Poland
Grudziadz — Poland
Lublin — Poland
Sts. Cyril & Methodius Marian House of Studies in Lublin — Poland
Sulejówek near Warsaw — Poland
Zakopane-Cyrhla — Poland

Marian Houses of Renewal and Retreat:

“Stella Maris” House of Renewal and Retreat in Grzybowo — Poland
Divine Mercy Retreat House in Zakopane-Cyrhla — Poland
“Betlejem” Retreat House in Sulejówek — Poland
Pilgrim House “Arka” in Licheń — Poland

Marian Youth Groups:

Youth & Vocation Ministry — Poland
Marian Youth Group — Poland
“10 Biała” Pilgrimage Group — Poland
Walking Marian Pilgrimage from Góra Kalwaria to Lichen — Poland
Youth Ministry in Licheń — Poland
Marian Youth Ministry in Grudziadz — Poland
Community of St. Bernadette — Poland

Recommended Catholic Sites:

National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception – Washington, DC — USA
EWTN – Eternal World Television Network — USA
The Marian Library at the International Marian Research Institute –
University of Dayton, OH — USA
Academy of the Immaculate: New Bedford, MA — USA
The Order of the Virgin Mary – The Annunciade — France
The Order of the Virgin Mary – The Annunciade — Poland
Misterium Męki Pańskiej w Górze Kalwarii — Poland

The Holy See:

Home Page

Vatican News:

Home Page

Other:

Personal page of Fr. Piotr Kieniewicz, MIC — Poland
Author’s page of Fr. Janusz Kobierski, MIC — Poland
Personal page of Fr. Jan Krajewski, MIC — Poland
Blog of Fr. Jarosław Sobkowiak, MIC — Poland
Quarterly dedicated to priestly formation — Poland
Uniat Parish in Kostomłoty — Poland
Website of Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC — USA

Videos

Blessed George Matulaitis-Matulewicz – visit to the U.S. in 1926 (6:43)
Fragment of the visit of Blessed George Matulaitis-Matulewicz to the U.S. in 1926 (0:52)

Materials Available for Purchase

1. The Journal of Blessed George

From the Journal of Blessed George, Archbishop.
(I Part: St. Petersburg 1910-1911)

My motto shall be: to seek God in all things, to do all things for the greater glory of God, to bring the Spirit of God into all things and to fill them with it. May God and His glory be the center of my life, the axis of all my thoughts, feelings, desires and works.

I kiss the hand of your providence; I entrust myself fully and completely to Your guidance. Heavenly Father, do with me as you will. It pleases You, O Lord, to lead me along wondrous ways. Behold Your servant! Send me where You will! Like a child I hasten to Your embrace; carry me. If it pleases You to lead me along a road beset by adversity, obstacles, and difficulties, I thank you very much. I think that as I travel this road, I will not lose my way because it is the road taken by my Redeemer Jesus Christ.

Grant to me, O Lord, that as I renounce myself more and more, I may love You more and more. Give me strength and courage never to bow or yield to any difficulties or obstacles in the way of the exaltation of Your name or the progress of the Church, but that I be imbued with Your Spirit, that I would strive to bring it everywhere.

It is our duty to go where we can gain more for God, where we can save the most souls, that is, where atheism, tepidity, immorality, and apostasy abound. We need to penetrate wherever something can be gained for Christ and the Church. If one door is closed, let us break in another, so that light may enter in.

O Holy Church of God, true kingdom of Christ on earth, my dearest beloved! If I should forget you, let my right hand be forgotten; let my tongue cleave to my palate, if I should not remember you, if I should not deem you, my dearest Mother, above all my joy! May this exclamation be the incessant cry of my heart! If I may ask, grant O Lord, that in Your Church I may be like that common dust cloth which, when worn out, is tossed into a dark corner somewhere. May I be used and worn out in the same way as long as some tiny corner in Your Church is cleaned, as long as Your house is a little tidier and brighter. Grant that I may be despised, spent, and worn out if only your glory grow and spread, if only I may thus share in the growth of Your Church. Grant that I may be able to work and suffer for You, Your Holy Church, and its visible Head, the Holy Father.

Grant us, O Lord, the grace to be dominated by that one great thought: to sustain the Church’s works, trials, and tribulations; to hope for nothing in this world, to seek or expect no personal gain, except that our life be consecrated to God and the Church, to be consumed in the works and tribulations of the Church, fearing no obstacles created by the world and its powers, and which does not become fainthearted but a life that leads us boldly into action and battle for the Church whenever necessity urges most, that is, wherever the civil authority persecutes the Church, where religious life, societies, and ecclesiastical institutions are hampered.

May we fear only one thing: to die without having suffered or toiled or gained anything for the Church, the salvation of souls and God’s greater glory. May our thoughts and desires ever have this goal: to bring Christ and His Spirit everywhere, into everything, and to glorify the name of the Church everywhere!

I thank You, O Lord, for having granted me extraordinary feelings of love towards the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. How sweet it is to fall at her feet and immerse myself in prayer! Pervaded by the sweetest sensations, my soul swoons, as it were, and my body is overwhelmed by wondrous, incomprehensible, inexpressible tremors. It was like the feeling I had when I pressed Your holy cross to my heart.


Anyone, religious or lay, wishing to learn more about Blessed George, and more importantly, discover a spiritual director, will undoubtedly reach this goal through reading his ‘Journal’. Blessed George’s journal notes can rightfully be called a short textbook for those striving for holiness.
Rev. Wojciech Skóra, MIC, Postulator General
From the Preface to the Journal of Blessed George, Archbishop, Stockbridge 2003


If you are interested in learning more, you may order the Journal, Code EFHM, soft cover, 367 pages, for $12.95 plus shipping (US Funds). Please call toll-free 1-­800-462-7426 (in North America only) or 413.­298.3691 to reserve your copy.


2. Theological Foundations of the Christian Life in the Teaching of the Founder and the Renovator of the Congregation of Marians

by Tadeusz Rogalewski, MIC

In this book Bl. Stanislaus and Bl. George introduce us to a closer relationship with God, building on the foundation of how He has revealed Himself in Christ and through the work of the Holy Spirit. They then show us how this relationship with God should be formed in the life of the Church with an emphasis on the Blessed Virgin Mary’s role, particularly through the Immaculate Conception. We also see how the Marian Founder and the Marian Renovator conceived the Christian life as filled with hope because it opens up the present reality to the eschatological perspective.

Format 146mm x 224mm, • paperback • pgs. 276, code SFR


3. For Christ and the Church

Short Biography and Excerpts from Letters of Blessed George Matulaitis-Matulewicz, Renovator of the Congregation of Marian Fathers

Code FCAC, soft cover, 80 pages + photo section, for $6.99 plus shipping (US Funds). Please call toll-free 1-800-462­-7426 (in North America only) or 413-298-3691 to reserve your copy.


4. Posters for framing

Sent free of charge

42 cm x 53.5 cm
16.5 inch x 21 inch
28 cm x 35.5 cm
11 inch x 14 inch


To order, please write to the Website Administrator
or write to:
Br. Andrew R. Mączyński, MIC
Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception
2 Prospect Hill Road
Stockbridge, MA 01262
U.S.A.


MATERIALS AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD

1. Blessed Archbishop George Matulaitis-Matulewicz

His Life and Writings

Download PDF • Read Flipbook


2. Marianie za błogosławionego Jerzego Matulaitisa-Matulewicza

written by Fr. Steponas Matulis, MIC

Download PDF • Read Flipbook (written in Polish)


3. Theological Foundations of the Christian Life in the Teaching of the Founder and the Renovator of the Congregation of Marians

written by Tadeusz Rogalewski, MIC

Download PDF • Read Flipbook


4. Beato Giorgio Matulaitis

edited by Jan M. Rokosz, MIC

Download PDF • Read Flipbook (written in Italian)


5. Dzienniki bł. Jerzego Matulewicza

Download PDF • Read Flipbook (written in Polish)


6. Błogosławiony Jerzy Matulewicz

written by Tadeusz Górski, MIC

Download PDF • Read Flipbook (written in Polish)

Prayer and Graces Received Through Blessed George

Read prayers for Blessed George’s spiritual intercession.

Litany of Blessed George
Prayer for the Canonization of Blessed George
Prayer to Blessed George
Prayer for Restoring Health
Prayer for Vocations to the Congregation of Marian Fathers
Prayer for a Special Grace through the intercession of Blessed George

To report all favors received through the intercession of Blessed George or to request his biography and prayer cards, please write to:

Vice-Postulator
for Marian Canonization Causes
for North America and Asia
2 Prospect Hill Road
Stockbridge, MA 01262
U.S.A.

Excerpts from his letters

1. From a letter to Rev. A. Čivinskas:
Perfection also means knowing how to bear your own imperfections patiently: in other words, knowing how to combat them patiently and steadfastly.

1909.02.09

2. From a letter to M. Ruškytė:
A heart, burning with love of God and neighbor, is worthier than the loftiest of sciences. It is important, therefore, to keep your soul pure and undefiled. But just as it is difficult to remain clean while sloshing through mud, so is it hard not to stain your soul and corrupt your character while mingling with all types of people, listening to all kinds of talk and observing all sorts of conduct.

In the meantime do not be too disturbed about the future and do not give in to fear and doubts. If man were to depend only on his own strength to do everything, we would have an excuse for becoming desperate, because we are weak. But God is our help and strength. With His aid we can do all things.

A good religious must not seek a peaceful existence, but must work and dedicate herself for God and men.

Petersburg, 1910.01.22

3. From a letter to Rev. J. Vaitkevičius:
We are experiencing our share of all kinds of hardships and we expect to have more but up to now God has helped and blessed us. Although slowly, still the work is going forward. We are doing what we can; we want everything to go as well as possible and hope God accepts our good intentions. More and more people wish to join us but we are very careful in that respect; we would have even more candidates if we were not forced to keep hiding like sparrows.

Our Constitutions are already being printed; as soon as they are ready we shall send them to you. You will not find anything special or new in them. As directed by the Holy See, in their composition we followed the norms as much as possible. We deleted only those things which might constrict us in our difficult life. Besides, the Rules are more of a juridical foundation and buttress for our life. We incorporated in them, therefore, whatever was law; our spirit, experiences, observations and suggestions, we plan to place into other books which will be called Instructions, as they are now commonly termed. These we shall develop together, with an eye on modern day life and demands, drawing material from our experience.

St. Petersburg, 1910.02.06

4. From a letter to Rev. J. Vaitkevičius:
I am of the opinion that not only individuals but institutions, too, should strive to become more and more perfect and never remain static. We must, therefore, find out how other religious live and work, how institutions similar to ours operate and thrive, what their good points are. When we have acquired this information we should strive to make use of it by applying it to our own life as much as circumstances permit.

I regard our Rules as something set up for the time being, so that we may have something to which we can hold. It is difficult to draw “a priori” Rules which would immediately be good enough to fit in new conditions. As far as I know, all Rules were formed gradually and were based on the experience of long years. We, too, after having lived a while and gained a bit of experience, will be able to make more suitable Rules. At present, it seems to me, the Rules are not as important as the men we have, their views and spirit, because on these men who will begin the work will mostly depend the future course, spirit and progress of the institute.

St. Petersburg, 1910.03.11

5. From a letter to Rev. A. Č̌ivinskas:
Although it is painful there is nothing left for us to do but to submit to God’s will. I am deeply sorry for you, dear Brother; with all of us striving together we may possibly have hastened the creation of fair and favorable conditions for working for God’s glory. It hurts us personally to lose an old, close friend. But what can you do? You must take the cross that the Lord God gives you and bear it in patience. Perhaps, God willing, as time passes, the obstacles will disappear and we shall again be able to work together.

1910.04.13

6. From a letter to Rev. VI.:
You did well to rent a better room. One must not take one’s health too lightly because it, too, is a gift of God. Let us not forget that according to the Latin maxim: “Prius est esse, dein philosophari.”

If you ever find yourself in difficult straits and need funds, let us know and we will share what we can with you.

1910.09.30

7. From a letter to Rev. N. N.:
You ask how one can recognize God’s will. As you yourself well know, God very rarely reveals His Holy Will directly, through Himself. Those occurrences are miraculous. Generally, God draws us to himself and guides us to this or that way of life through holy desires, affections, aspirations, propensities, longings and so on, which He created and arouses in our heart; further, through various events in our life, through all kinds of circumstances, through other men.

But all these acts only more or less strongly awaken, urge and bend a man to this or that side: they have, so to speak, only a consultative voice. Man himself, having examined and pondered his whole life with a mind illumined by the grace of faith, having measured all things in terms of God’s greater glory, that is, on the one hand, his own perfection and salvation, and on the other, the salvation and greater welfare of men, the needs and good of the Church, must decide in what direction it would be better to tend to, on which road he should set foot. Man himself must have the final say in this matter and make the final step.

Sometimes a person very clearly sees where this final step should be made: this is a signal grace of God. But more often one wavers and doubts. Yet for the greater glory of God he should not be afraid to bear the consequences of his choice of one course or another; he must have courage enough to take a gamble, so to speak. And how often everyday life presents us with a dual choice which involves risk! Why not, therefore, take a chance for God’s greater glory? Even if one were to make a mistake, God would still accept his good will.

Therefore, after considering everything carefully in the presence of God and submitting yourself completely to God in all things, do not hesitate to make your final step in one direction or another for the greater glory of God. But you must make that final act yourself; no one will make it for you. You yourself have to make the choice between the two ways. No one else can do this for you, no one else has the right. If someone did choose for you, he would incur responsibility before God and would be intruding between the Lord and you.

The same day I received your letter I happened to make my meditation on the Mystery of the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus. In the meditation the author, Father Meschler, SJ, says that Jesus had to redeem us: that was His vocation. But the manner in which this would be accomplished He Himself freely selected, not only as the Son of God, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, but also as God-Man. He could have redeemed us by living here on earth as a great King, or Priest or Lawgiver as were David, Solomon, Aaron, Moses, etc. But Christ freely chose His mode of life here on earth and its circumstances, His way of death, etc. All this was His own free choice.

Neither does God force any of us. We, ourselves, of our own free will, must choose our state of life and the Congregation we wish to enter. We must tend toward perfection, toward salvation, but with God’s help we ourselves select our own particular vocation, our own road.

8. From a letter to Rev. P. Andziulis:
Not so long ago a young lady who is a student and wishes to serve God applied to us for aid. She needed at least fifty dollars to help her through this year. Although it is not easy for us to part with such a sum, yet recalling the words of the Gospel – “date et dabitur vobis” (Lk 6:38) – we promised to assist her.

Behold, unexpectedly, a priest acquaintance of ours handed us fifty dollars for the Congregation, to be used as we saw fit! And so Divine Providence repaid us at just the right time. We believe God will not abandon us in the days to come, either, as long as we strive to live continuously in closer accord with the spirit of the Gospel.

1910.11.17

9. From a letter to Rev. P. Andziulis:
My trip to Warsaw was quite successful. His Excellency, Bishop Ruskewicz, approves of our project and work whole-heartedly; he promised us his help and his patronage in the matter of vocations.

I had a great deal to do while in Warsaw. I preached retreats, heard confessions and settled many matters. I was so busy that I sometimes had to do with only four or five hours sleep.

The Congregation I used to work for is doing well, thank God, and is continually growing stronger in organization. I found several young Lithuanian girls here, but the trouble is that most of them lack schooling. Only a few have teachers’ certificates or a higher education. The others need instruction and training. Although these sisters are quite particular about the type of candidates they accept and do refuse many, they take great pains in educating the ones they accept and fashion their nuns into good workers. I believe that within a few years we shall have a fine group of industrious and useful sisters in Lithuania.

After I left St. Petersburg for Warsaw, Father Dembinski, the Vice-Rector of our Academy, resigned his position for various reasons. After conferring with the Archbishop, the Rector asked if I would accept the post. I considered the matter thoroughly in the presence of God and decided definitely I could not accept.

Someone must devote himself fully and untiringly to our project and work. This is an important task we have begun and requires serious doing. It is especially significant to build a good beginning. It seemed to me that it would be best if I gave myself wholly to the work already initiated. I am well enough informed and experienced in the matters at hand and have worked extensively in the same field. You might say that I reorganized and, in effect, renovated that woman’s Congregation which I mentioned earlier.

And then, too, Father B. is in a much better position than I to continue as a professor at the Academy. He has his matter all prepared, while I have to write out new lectures. It seemed to me, therefore, and still does, that it is I, and no one else, who must drop and abandon everything and wholly apply myself to the organization and guidance of our own life. And I am now completely convinced that such is the Will of God in this matter and that I cannot take any other course, unless God should indicate that i am wrong.

But his Excellency, the Metropolitan, did not wait for my answer, nor did he give me an opportunity to explain the facts on my return to St. Petersburg. He has summarily appointed me Vice-Rector and forwarded the documents to the Ministry for confirmation. I shall receive ratification from the civil authorities any day now.

When I returned to St. Petersburg I learned about the whole affair from friends, then from the Rector and, finally, from the Archbishop. Nothing could be done. I had to give in. But I told his Excellency that I would have to resign after the vacation and I gave my reasons. However, the Archbishop would not even permit me to explain everything. The matter was thus left inconclusive. I expect to have a great deal of difficulty in shaking myself loose from this situation by vacation time. In the meantime, I shall have plenty of troubles and woes…

Remember us in your prayers, especially me, that I may succeed in the performance of my new duties and, when the time comes, that I may disengage myself from them and devote myself solely to our work and plan.

1911.01.19

10. From a letter to Rev. K. Bizauskas:
Your plan to travel to Siberia to preach missions is excellent and most noble. The same idea occurred to me more than once. But it will be practicable only when there is an organization consisting of many members. Then, with episcopal permission and the consent of the civil authorities, several priests could be assigned to visit Siberia and preach missions everywhere. Otherwise the project is hardly feasible. Siberia is divided into parishes. The local pastors – at any rate not all of them – would hardly permit a stranger to travel through their parishes. Undoubtedly, many incidents would occur.

1912.01.30

11. From a letter to Rev. J. Vaitkevičius in Warsaw:
I am of the opinion that it would be better to have fewer members as long as they are men truly practiced in self-denial, full of spirit, trustworthy, men who would be unafraid to give up not only their comforts, but even their health and life, if need be, for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

In our day and in the present condition of the Church, ordinary workers are not enough; we need real apostles. We must be wary of men of meager spirit: not only are they pedestrian and inactive themselves but they also later become a drag on others.

1912.08.24

12. From a letter to Rev. P. Bučys:
We are better off with only a few working as long as they are men of good spirit, self-denial, who, in case of need, are unafraid of suffering, of working or of sacrificing their health and life for God’s Church. We must be very wary of men of poor spirit. In our situation it is not enough to have good hirelings; we need men who have the spirit of the apostles.

1912.08.24

13. From a letter to Rev. P. Bučys:
What can you do, Brother? “Per multas tribulationes oportet intrare in regnum coelorum” (Acts 14:21). The cross, adorned as it is sometimes with flowers, looks handsome, of course, but only in pictures. The real cross, the cross of life, is always heavy and weighs one down.

I do not know what I would have done in similar circumstances. When I heard from a trustworthy priest friend for the first time that I would not even get my approbation, I was very hurt; I was really so sick that I walked about in a daze for two weeks. But it turned out well. I took a deep look at myself, my life, my words and my actions. I began to accept such insinuations with equanimity and even became so accustomed to them that later more grievous faultfinding and suspicions hardly made any impression. Perhaps God has also heavier crosses in store for you and this is only an introduction to condition you. Keep in mind only that all things turn out well for those who love God.

1912.09.20

14. From a letter to Rev. J. Vaitkevičius:
Do not forget that health is also a gift of God and as such must be cherished. It would be better to labor ten years or more longer than to burn out quickly in a few months.

1912.12.09

15. From a letter to Rev. P. Bučys:
With the approach of the Christmas season, may I extend you heartiest greetings from myself and from all your acquaintances. May the Lord God grant you the health you need to work many more years for God’s greater glory and the Church’s welfare!

I heard from Johnny that your health has not been too good and that you have been complaining about your throat. You had better see a doctor, Brother, before complications set in. If you feel that your health is not improving, call off the various lectures and retreats you have on schedule and when summer comes go some place where you can really rest and recuperate. You could even come here. My brother, you have been working now without a break for some years, vacation or no vacation. You will not be able to work much longer that way. Think it over thoroughly, therefore; you must not ruin your health. Remember that health is a gift of God that is to be used prudently, so that it might last as long as possible in the service of God.

Fribourg, Switzerland, 1912.12.19

16. From a letter to Rev. J. Totoraitis:
For a long time I have been meaning to talk with you about those matters which you touched on in your other letters: relations among the nationalities in our Community.

I have been and still am worried about this matter. I have thought a great deal about it myself and have discussed it with others. I have prayed much, too. I asked the Lord God to enlighten us so that we may not make a misstep or leap too much toward one side or another. And I have not ceased praying. I, myself, and some of the other brethren have even been the object of all kinds of accusations and rumors in this same concern. At times it was very painful. I hope the Lord God accepts our little crosses and helps us find the right road. There is plenty of good will among us and God blesses good intentions. It is good that you began to deliberate about this thing.

A religious must be the representative, servant, defender and herald of supernatural life… the Church is our Mother. Her crosses and sufferings should be our aches and pains; her needs, our needs; her troubles and cares should be our trials and anxieties; her joys, our happiness… We should live and work primarily for the Church, and if need be, die for her. We should fear only one thing: to pass through this life like a shadow without having done anything for God’s glory or for the Church, that Kingdom of God here on earth.

Applying the words of the Psalmist to the Church, we should cry: si oblitus fuero tui Ierusalem, sancta Dei Ecclesia, oblivioni detur dextera mea; adhaereat faucibus meis lingua mea, si non meminero tui, si non prospuero Ierusalem in principio laetitiae meae (Psalm 136:5).

I cannot even find words to express the love that Ii would wish to have myself for our dear Mother, the Church, so that I could implant it in others. Nowadays, as always, the Church unites and welcomes under its wing all the various nations on the face of the earth. It seems to me that this love of Christ and of the Church will be powerful enough to unite and conciliate men of different nations also in our Congregation. We have ample room for everybody; we have as much work before us as we all can possibly do. If we only never forget that we are gathered together not to engage in politics, nor to judge nations, nor to enter into their disputes and quarrels, not to regulate their relations, but solely to work for the salvation of souls, to bring Christ’s doctrine and spirit wherever we can – then there would be few or no opening for us to argue about national matters, to provoke or look down on one another.

… Men of all different nations should strive to live in harmony and work together for the Church in the same religious community …, because they are united by the higher ideals of Christ and the Church.

Even when violent quarrels, wars and bloody battles arise among nations, religious know how to live and work together in harmony.

… We must be continuously united and kept united by higher ideals. I believe in the might of ideals.

You write, Brother, that men often know how to hurt and take-advantage of others under the cover of lofty and holy motives. You are right. That is the most detestable, the most disgraceful debasement of an ideal. It is something to fear and guard against.

But it happens more frequently still that because of passions, because of this world’s goods and demands, because others toppled the ideal by dishonoring and exploiting it, men renounce the ideal entirely, quit loving and serving it. This is even a greater danger. I fear it more.

I agree with you that our entire life should be well determined in all its details and bound by certain regulations. Ideals alone are not enough, at least not for a longer period of time: they may fire men’s hearts and keep them united for a while, but ordinarily, as time passes, men’s hearts have a way of cooling; hence, they need also the compelling bonds of precepts to hold them together.

But neither can we live without ideals and spirit. Even the best Rule will not avail much if ideals lose their luster, if the spirit weakens and dies. Ideals and spirit can substitute for laws in Religious orders, as they actually have, for longer intervals of time; but laws alone, even though they may be the best, the most minutely devised, cannot make up for the lack of spirit. Naturally, we need laws and we must strive to make ourselves the most perfect we can: in the life of society they are a stronghold, a buttress and a sanctuary. But only the true spirit of Christ, the pure, sublime ideals of the Church must remain our life, our real power and might. We must take care not to transgress the ideals which Christ has indicated to us.

It seems to me that men attack us because they regard the Congregation from the aspect of international relationships rather than from the viewpoint of the principles of faith and of the Church. Although the Congregation is in “hoc mundo,” yet it should not be “de hoc mundo” (Jn 8:23): its ends and ideals reach much higher and its field of work is different.

. . . Since many are so very absorbed themselves in national relations, they imagine everyone else’s interest is national policies; it seems that they cannot even conceive that some people exist who are not in the least concerned with the destruction or establishment of alliances, but are anxious about an entirely different matter: the work of the Church, the arousal, preservation and augmentation of Christ’s spirit in those nations.

Years ago I used to dislike Jews; there was a time when I disliked Russians and Poles. But God enlightened me, granted me the grace to understand that such an attitude was not consonant with the doctrine of Christ, Who commanded us to love every neighbor like ourselves; Who commanded us even to love our enemies, to pray for them and to do good to them. From that time, thank God, I shook off all prejudices and dislikes. And experience has taught me that there are good people everywhere, good devout Catholics in every nation who want to serve God and with whom it is possible to work in harmony.

It is evident that all things in a Religious Order must also be based on justice. We must see to it that no one is wronged or hurt, that men of different nations can thrive and work among us equally well. But we need love, too; we will get nowhere without it. I am thinking of the true love of Christ . . . in our times we see so much self-love, hate and anger in the hearts of individuals as well as of whole nations. I hope we, at least, can live by the true love of Christ in our Community and avoid sinning against His Commandments and ideals. “By this will all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35).

Mandatum novum do vobis, ut invicem diligetis, sicut ego dilexi vos. Rogo, Pater, ut omnes sint unum sicut ego et Tu unum sumus. Omnium credentium erat cor unum et anima una: omnes erant idipsum sentientes; perseverabant in communicatione panis et in oratione (Jn 13:34; Acts 2:42).

We are not permitted to renounce this unity of Christ. According to St. Paul: Omnes in Ecclessia sive iudaei, sive gentiles, sive liberi, sive servi – unum sunt in Christo (1 Cor 12:13). This does not mean that we may hurt one another under the cover of these words of love, or that we should submit to injustice; we must hold to justice and to the other virtues. However, if we do not have love, all our efforts will be for naught. Nisi caritaten habuero – ero sicut aes sonans, sicut cymbalum tinniens, nihil ero (1 Cor 13:1).

Although we are men of different nations, we in the Congregation should so love one another with the true love of Christ, that others, regarding us, would say, as was observed about the first Christian: “see how they love one another!”

We must hold to the principle that we are not uniting [. . .] with nationals, but with Catholics of various nations: we are uniting, therefore, to serve God and the Church, because our Mother the Church is in distress everywhere.

We do not renounce love for our own country. According to the doctrine of St. Thomas, love of country pertinet ad virtutem pietatis. Hence, in our quest for perfection, we cannot neglect this virtue either. It seems to me that in this regard everyone of us could serve his own country best by making it his first concern to give her the doctrine of Christ, to bring in Christ’s spirit wherever he can, scorning no respectable toil, no honest means.

Just as for individuals, so for nations: Non est salus in aliquo alio nisi in Jesu Christo. – Querite primum regnum Dei, et cetera vobis adicientur (cf. Acts 4:12, Mt 6:33, Lk 12:31).

Although Christ Himself was directly concerned only with the establishment of God’s kingdom in men’s souls here on earth, that is, His holy Church; although He served only supernatural ideals, yet no one did more good for humanity in all spheres of life than Christ.

We may say the same also about the Catholic Church. Can one give his nation anything more sublime or more important than Christ’s doctrine and spirit? Then the other things seem to come and fit in by themselves. We should not, therefore disdain the other things: any good works, any good means. Omnia vestra, vos autem Christi. Christus vero Dei (1 Cor 3:23). We can and ought to engage in any work by which we may please and serve God and men.

We do not renounce love for our own country and we are resolved, if and when possible, to return men to their own countries to work among their own people, among their countrymen.

But it seems to me that love of one’s country can and should exist without hate and disdain toward other nations: while loving our own, we should also wish others well. We religious, especially, must desire and prayerfully do our utmost to propagate God’s glory and to spread God’s Kingdom everywhere, to help the Catholic Church grow and flourish. While loving and serving our own countrymen, we must not forget the common needs of all Christendom: wherever we can and as much as we can, we must help in the salvation of the souls of other people, ut omnes perveniant ad agnitionem veritatis.

That is why the Church never lacks for noble souls who willingly leave the land of their fathers and go forth to preach the doctrine of Christ to pagans; particularly among religious there is no lack of such men.

I trust that our love of country, being true and according to the spirit of Christ, will not make our hearts ungenerous or hard: I trust that we, too, will be ready, wherever we are needed, to serve others and help save the souls of men of other countries.

1913.01.08

17. From a letter to Rev. Bučys:
We must never tread uncertain paths and by-paths. And if some matter should come up it would always be best to confer with his Excellency, the Bishop, and follow his advice; so, be careful. All kinds of diplomatic and political routes do not please me and I have no faith in them. Best to do your work, adhere to the bishops and consult with them: they are the real representatives of the affairs of the Church and the true leaders in ecclesiastical matters.

1913.01.08

18. From a letter to Rev. P. Bučys:
It seems to me that you are perhaps too sensitive to certain trifles, that you become angry and hurt too quickly. I try to overlook such little things. I do not even show I feel them. I have discovered this to be the best way with people; often when they have composed themselves they wish to repair the harm done and afterward become milder and more courteous. “In patientia vestra possidebitis animas vestras.” No matter where he is, man cannot escape his share of smaller or larger crosses; they are to be found everywhere and in many assorted sizes.

1913.02.11

19. From a letter to Rev. J. Novickas at Pajevone:
Wherever we come in contact with people we should always have a good word for them: tell them how Catholics live, work, and serve God elsewhere; instruct the children wherever possible; teach them how to do better. Often even a few cheerful, sincere words, reach the heart and in time bring forth fruit. One’s spirit merely needs arousing and refreshing. Every parish contains a number of really pious souls who desire to follow the road of perfection and to dedicate themselves wholly to God. Once such souls have received some training and their hearts have become enkindled with the love of God, they can be formed into a little unit and taught what needs to be done for the greater glory of God and the welfare of the Church. And it often happens that the efforts we put into the sound spiritual formation and training of one soul give us, later, a worker through whom we can accomplish a great deal of good. It is possible to find excellent and talented young men and women and to make them useful workers for God and the Church. If you should happen on souls of such promise, mold them gradually.

1913.02.12

20. From a letter to John Matulaitis in Warsaw:
In my life since I became a priest I have not desired or sought any honors or great wealth; I have only wished to bring more glory to God and more good to the Church. When I myself became convinced and other sober minds concurred that by leaving my high position at the Academy (St. Petersburg) and by going abroad I could accomplish more good, I did so straight-way, without regrets, without wavering. The work here has been difficult and it still is; I have had a great deal of difficulty and I still have. But I do not mind. I dedicated myself to Christ, Who took the way of toil, of hardships and of the cross and I intend to follow Him as long and as much as I can. What fruit my efforts will bear, only God knows. I dedicate all things to Him; He will, undoubtedly, accept my good intentions.

1913.03.27

21. From a letter to Rev. J. Totoraitis:
I, too, am very sorry about the death of Father Anthony Čivinskas. I got the sad news from Father Vincent. All that night I slept but little; instead, I prayed for the repose of Father Anthony’s soul and meditated.

He was so close to us: he was ready to join us in St. Petersburg when his brother-in-law’s death prevented him; he was so sorry for his sister’s children that he remained to help raise them. Informing us of his decision he then wrote: “Man proposes, God disposes.” How very true! All things are in the hands of Divine Providence! No matter how useful and necessary a man might be, no matter what grand plans he may have had, death comes along; God’s will is done. In death we must abandon all things, bid them all adieu. There is only One Who remains absolutely necessary, without Whom no one can be – all other things are but instruments to serve Him.

I am sorry about Father Anthony. He was a man of good heart, high, noble sentiments and great talents; he loved God, the Church and served souls: no wonder people showed him such respect.

I am sorrowful about Father Anthony’s death, but what can you do? We must agree with God’s Will. He knows what is best. We who have lost a good worker must strive to groom others to take his place. God grant that we find good ones!

This world and its spirit are dreadful. It is no wonder that Christ denounced the world and bade us to be on our guard against it, to fear and despise it: “mundus in maligno positus.” Before the evil spirit entices man and draws him into his vortex, he shows and offers man wondrous goods, promises him heaps of gold; but once he has man caught in his toils, he devours and destroys him and then casts him aside like a rotted apple; or having sucked him dry of juices, he spews him forth like husks.

Christ’s way with us is entirely different. He clearly tells and shows us what this world has in store for us. He enjoined us to renounce ourselves, to take our cross upon our shoulders, to die like the seed which falls to the ground, to abandon all things – but for this He promises a hundred-fold in return and the Kingdom of heaven besides.

And Christ keeps His promise! Although the man who follows Christ has to endure many hardships and toil assiduously, he receives in return manifold blessings, consolations, joy and peace here on earth; besides, heaven awaits him in eternity. Vanitas vanitatis et omnia vanitas praeter amare Deum et Ei soli servire (Eccl 1:2).

The same thought strikes me as I read what you write about possible candidates for the Cathedral Chapter. True, it would be good and ideal if really sound and worthy men got to occupy those positions; it would edify and greatly fortify all the clergy. But, it seems to me, that because such is not the case we should not lose hope nor lament overmuch. They are, Brother, the personages who although adorned with gold and silver on the outside, have clay feet like the statue mentioned in Holy Writ: they soon crumble!

Our true strength is that which Christ indicated to us: lively faith (haec est victoria quae vincit mundum – fides nostra) (cf. 1 Jn 5:4) self-denial and love (dilectio fortis ut mors). What significance have all the powers of the world against this might? They are specks of dust, emptiness, nothing.

You, Brother, can get closer to the hearts of young people than others. Arouse in them a vigorous faith, the kind that moves mountains. Teach those young men to renounce and sacrifice themselves; enkindle the love of God in their hearts, that fire which may consume the man himself, yet inflames others. If only the seminary could produce two or three such priests each year, we would then have nothing to fear: they are the real strength – ex semine eorum, per quos salus venit venit in Israel.

His enemies fell upon Christ with the whole weight of their hatred: true, they overpowered Him, threw Him down and nailed Him to the cross, had Him executed and bore Him to the tomb which they sealed with a stone. But could they destroy His spirit? After His resurrection Christ revived all.

Let us recall the valiant St. Paul. What did not the Jewish leaders and later the pagans try? They threw him out of synagogues, chased him from city to city, flogged him, stoned him, imprisoned him but did St. Paul cease working and did he accomplish little?

We need spirit, Brother, spirit! Nothing can stifle it. I do not find it so alarming when a man who is unfit becomes a member of the Chapter,… but I am appalled when I hear that the spirit of unbelief is spreading among the youth, even in the villages, that moral laxity is growing: these are forces which destroy nations. A man who has no faith or morality cannot have a real, sincere love for his country or serve society as he should. Non datur salus in aliquo alio nisi in Jesu Christo (cf. Acts 4:12).

But in the final analysis it is not for us to judge and weigh men: quis te constituit iudicem super Israel? (cf. Acts 7:27, 35). We can but pray in silence that everything turns out for the greater glory of God and strive to perform our own duties ever better.

I am sad not so much because things are not going as they should but because priestly spirit is on the decline and priests are becoming disheartened. Except for the spirit of unbelief and licentiousness we have no more terrible foes than despair and pessimism.

Therefore, Brother, shout it, at least when you are talking to the youngsters: sursum corda!

1913.04.11

22. From a letter to Rev. V. Dvaranauskas in Pilypava:
It would be better to have only a few working in smooth harmony for the glory of God than to fret and worry later over a collection of many misfits.

1913.04.12

23. From a letter to Rev. Staniukynas in Chicago:
There is no great hurry about the purchase of land or building. When we arrive we shall discuss the matter. But we have no money at all. We are concerned that we will have enough with which to reach America; after that the good Lord will have to provide for us and feed us. If God only gives us health we will earn our bread. We will be very grateful if, at least in the beginning, you give us a place to stay and a bite to eat. We are not fancy folk and will be satisfied with anything at all.

1913.04.13

24. From a letter to Rev. P. Bučys:
Your health worries me very much. You seem to be exceedingly afraid of taking a vacation; burdened as you are with so much work, how will you last? A man cannot keep… going for long at such a pace. My health, as you know, is also ragged; I am holding on fairly well but every so often I feel somewhat unwell. And our health is so very necessary just now!

Let us, therefore, use this gift of God prudently. All things are in the hands of Divine Providence and God can get along without all of us, but we must strive to live according to the precepts of Divine Providence, that is, we must employ our energies judiciously, so that we may have as long a time as possible to work for the glory of God.

So, Brother, you, too, had better see to it that you do not break down because you are needed very much. I am very apprehensive as to how you will last much longer, working the way you are. Lately, for some reason, I miss you and often think about you. You were always dear to me, Brother, but you have now become dearer, more necessary and closer to my heart.

1913.04.22

25. From a letter to Miss Minetaite in Obeliai:
Remember that a smaller or bigger cleavage always exists between an ideal and our own life. Who can say that he has attained his ideal? The greatest saints felt like weak creatures and sinners. They often complained and lamented that they were still so far away from Christ. St. Paul, himself, complained that he was tormented by temptations; and he said that he did not always do that which he had seen and praised. We are constantly but striving to attain perfection; we never can say that we have reached it.

Strive, therefore, to become ever more perfect and to rise ever higher. Do not be so worried about how far you still have to go. God rewards us for effort and good will. As you observe your weaknesses and imperfections, therefore, abase yourself the more before God. The Lord, seeing your humble heart, will not spurn you.

But you must never despair on account of your defects and failings. The weaker we feel ourselves to be, the more should we confide in God. He is our strength and salvation. Valiantly cry out in the words of St. Paul: “I can do all things in him, who strengthens me.” And fight. God will not abandon you.

I wrote you before that the evil one often attempts to make the life, station or vocation in which a person is, seem ugly and drab but shows us the golden apples of elsewhere and promises us paradise. Satan has enticed more than one person out of the monastery in this manner. That you are on the wrong road, that you have missed your vocation, are whisperings of the evil one.

1913.05.16

26. From a letter to Rev. J. Totoraitis:
Naturally, no one likes to hear talk against people he loves or against his country. However, what else can one do but bear it? In patientia vestra possidebitis animas vestras (Lk 21:19). Formerly I, too, was wont to be very hurt when I heard such words. But now when I hear them somewhere, they make little or no impression on me: in one ear and out the other. I comfort myself with the thought that such remarks cannot really change us for better or for worse. Let them talk as much as they wish; let us mind our own affairs and strive constantly to become better men. So, there is no reason to be upset.

Christ said: orate pro persequentibus vos et calumniantibus (Lk 6:28). If we heeded this precept we would gain much: at least our own hearts would not become corrupt.

Life is not Paradise, men are not angels and we cannot live without crosses. We must try to learn how to bear all crosses patiently and calmly. How serene the Lord Jesus always was! How often the victim of men’s knavery and wickedness, yet, He never ceased loving and serving men; He died for them even though He knew and saw their ingratitude and selfishness. This love of Jesus is an incomprehensible mystery of His heart. Of all men, perhaps the Lord alone joined the knowledge of men with love of them. He alone knew men down to their very depths and in all their dark aspects. Although He experienced their dreadful ingratitude and deceit, He never stopped loving them; He died for them out of love; He remained in the Blessed Sacrament out of love.

Jesus thoroughly realized Judas’s infidelity but, nevertheless, permitted Himself to be kissed because He desired to overcome obstinacy with love. We, ordinarily, do the opposite: the closer acquainted we become with even a good man and the more we learn about his imperfections, the quicker we cool toward him, the weaker grows the love in our hearts. And what of those who insult and hurt us?

We are so far, Brother, still so far from the true spirit of Christ! That embittering sourness of hate which we allow to prevail in our hearts, hurts us more than it does those who offend us; it corrodes and spoils our own hearts and often does not affect our enemies in the least. Brother, strive to cultivate peace in your heart, the true peace of Christ which the world cannot give, and does not know. If you can, sow and nurture that peace among others. Christ continually greeted the apostles with the words: “Pax vobis, peace be to you.” He constantly offered them peace: “Pacem meam do vobis…” Evidently, this peace which Christ gave to His apostles was a precious thing.

As we observe how men of our own day feud, quarrel and vilify one another; how, filled with hatred, they plot against one another, we are sad and anguished. How distant we are from Christ’s spirit, from the example of the first Christians who were nourished by one spirit, so united and bound by ardent love that even the pagans marveled.

We must pray God for more peace. Naturally, it is difficult to change others, but we can learn to see and yet not to see, to hear and yet not to hear, to bear all that chicanery and wickedness with equanimity, without brooding over them. You can attain this peace by uniting with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, by dedicating the sorrows of your heart to Him.

1913.05.17

27. From a letter to Rev. J. Naujokas in St. Petersburg:
You wrote me some time ago, Brother, mentioning obstacles and difficulties. Indeed, there is no lack of them. I once used to think that men obstruct others only when they see them rising high and charging toward better positions. I am now convinced that men become much angrier and interfere much more when they see others trying to follow in the footsteps of Christ even from afar. What can you do? Perhaps this world was always like that; it will probably remain that way.

And, Brother, I am becoming more and more convinced that truly: omnia vanitas vanitatum praeter amare Deum et Ei soli servire (Eccl 1:2); that all things are in the hands of Divine Providence; that unless He wills it, not a hair falls from one’s head; that God is wonderful and wonderful are His ways.

Although at times things were difficult and painful up to now, I have not regretted nor do I regret coming here. What the results of my work will be, only God knows. Neque qui plantavit est aliquid… sed Deus qui dat incrementum (1 Cor 3:6). If such be His holy will, everything will go well and nothing will stop us; and if it be not, then I trust that God will accept our good intentions. God may have been sending us many crosses up to this time, but he has also been helping us wonderfully.

1913.05.29

28. From a letter to Rev. Kasparavičius:
Organization gives religious extraordinary power, but, naturally, only if all pull as one. While ordinary man works alone and often has no one to help him, in a Congregation work is a community effort, a matter of mutual support; much more, therefore, can be accomplished.

But it is evident that if a Congregation is to bestow all these advantages on a man, monastery walls and investiture with monastic garb are not enough; a man must be trained and developed: his spirit must be continuously stimulated and maintained. We know from experience how much effort must be expended before a man is trained and prepared for work, how much we must pray and toil. That is why we would rather deny ourselves edifices and robes so that we might have more latitude to train our men as thoroughly as possible.

Because of our trust in Divine Providence we are not at all concerned about the personal wealth of our candidates. The assets we prize and desire most in a candidate are a sound mind, good will and piety; we want a candidate to be unafraid of dedicating himself wholly to God, the Church, and the Congregation – ut mortuus sibi vivat Deo (cf. Rom 14:7-9).

We wish to be religious who can be active even in the most difficult conditions. We have a bare minimum of external forms so that we may be able to penetrate everywhere and adapt ourselves to the most severe and demanding circumstances. For this reason we concentrate on the formation and perfection of the spirit of our members. We rely very strongly on obedience, submission to the direction of superiors, communication with them, rendering them reports on our life and activities so that we may look after, teach, and admonish one another.

1913.06.04

29. From a letter to Rev. V. Jurgutis in Munich:
We are coming along passably here and keep striving to push forward. All beginnings are difficult and ours is no exception. As time goes on I trust in God and His Providence more and more. I believe that all that storm which was raised against us, helped us considerably. Perhaps it frightened a good man or two away from us, but I perceive that it also prevented some from joining who would perhaps have harmed us more than all those attacks. And in other matters God’s help is truly wonderful; gradually we will perhaps be able to get our work really underway.

1913.06.13

30. From a letter to J. Matulaitis in Warsaw:
People are fond of discussing and criticizing everything and everybody, so, naturally, they say all kinds of things about me, too. I can only tell you this, dear Brother, that I did not take the important step that I did, without a great deal of thought, without conferring with prudent and devout men and without Rome’s knowledge and encouragement. Whether anything will come of my difficult and arduous work, only God knows – He Who gives fruitfulness to all things.

Although people call my work an empty dream, I have not time to dream. I have to work hard from morning to night and rarely find time even to go out for a walk. While I am primarily serving the Church because I am a priest, yet I believe that I will not forget Lithuania and will one day be of service to her if the Lord deigns to bless my work. Even if nothing results from my toil and hardships, I think God will at least accept and reward me for my good intentions – and this should be of paramount importance to us all.

The judgment of God is one thing my dear Brother, that of men, another. My conscience tells me that I am on the right road. The Church authorities encourage me. For the time being, that is enough for me. I never did crave wealth, glory, or high positions and I seek them even less now; my only interest is to please God, to be able to do something good for the Church and men. What men will say about me is their own affair.

1913.06.20

31. From a letter to Rev. P. Bučys in St. Petersburg:
Right after my arrival in Chicago I began to work. I directed a ten day retreat for the Sisters of St. Casimir. God blessed, us as the fruits of the work were good. I also preached several sermons and heard the whole Community’s confessions a few times. Besides, I corrected, completed and coordinated their Constitution according to canon law and the requirements of the Church. In three parishes i gave lectures on social questions. In Brooklyn I preached two sermons in church and gave a lecture in the parish hall; the lecture was quite stormy because the socialists kept badgering me, but it all ended harmlessly enough. I am of the conviction now, however, that such lectures do not produce much good: a specially prepared mission would be better for the people.

1913.09.08

32. From a letter to Rev. Dvaranauskas in Pilypava:
We may as well resign ourselves to the fact that man cannot live without crosses and hardships. We cannot please all men; not even Christ could.

The voyage to America was quite successful. I did not become sick on the way but my head became dizzy, heavy, and rather uneasy. I made the most of the trip. I struck up an acquaintance with a Marist Brother, a man of experience, and learned many good things from him… My work in America is going well; I conducted a ten day retreat for the Sisters of St. Casimir. I finally put their Constitution in order. I delivered lectures in three places in Chicago and preached a pair of sermons in Brooklyn.

1913.09.08

33. From a letter to Rev. Novickas in Pajevone:
You must watch and control your nerves to keep them from being damaged; a nervous priest is a hardship to himself and to others. Whenever you feel tired try to get some rest; you will be able to work longer and your work will perhaps be better. Do not mind too much being ridiculed by other priests; that type always mocks zeal and sometimes even persecutes it.

1913.09.23

34. From a letter to L. Bistras:
You must remember that in the matter of vocation, except for very rare, extraordinary and even miraculous cases, we can have neither physical nor metaphysical certitude, but only moral. In other words, with the help of God’s grace, man must himself select his state and way of life. The future is unfathomable; it is difficult to predict what will be. Man, therefore, often hesitates and doubts when he ought to venture and dare. But man must take one road or another by himself, of his own volition. Theologians console those in doubt by saying: Elige quod vis, et gratia Dei non deerit. In the selection of a vocation the most important thing is a sincere, genuine intention: God, then, grants His graces, and most abundantly, if man decides to strive for a more perfect state, a way of life which ordinarily is a surer road to salvation. God then blesses man’s good desires and efforts.

It seems to me that your doubts stem from the fact that your life is much too dominated by self; your life revolves about your person as on an axis. You would like to put yourself and your life into a kind of bank so that your ego might realize as much interest as possible. You would like to protect and insure yourself well so that your ego would not perish or meet with an accident. But even the most cautious of men are sometimes unable to protect their wealth.

You must not be afraid to take a chance for the glory of God. Christ clearly says: Nisi frumentum cadens in terram mortuum fuerit, ipsum solum manet (J 12:24). Only when it has fallen to the ground, died and decayed does the grain bring forth new life and fruit from itself. Do not wish to protect yourself so very much and do not be afraid to immerse yourself in God and die to yourself for God’s sake — then, when you become a priest, you will give forth much fruit.

You ask where you could do more good for society. It is difficult to say. In my opinion you could do nothing more noble and grand for society than to give it the doctrine of Christ and teach it Christian virtues. Quaerite primum regnum Dei, cetera vobis adicientur (cf. Mt 6:33, Lk 12:31). Man’s influence on others and the fruitfulness of his work are things ordinarily most difficult to weigh or measure. Neither must we be misled by that which glitters or is held in high esteem by men. In reality he who does the will of God accomplishes much. Often a priest can benefit society much more by converting one soul than by establishing any number of organizations or retail co-operatives, although the latter are, of course, useful things and must not be belittled. But what I wish to indicate here is that the matter of influence is hard to determine: it is an imponderable which will be explained in eternity.

1913.09.29

35. From a letter to Rev. Dvaranauskas in Pilypava:
It seems to me that newspapers should at least be scanned for the sake of orientation on our work. We should not, of course, spend a great deal of time on them but inspect them we should, and whenever we find something worthwhile, we ought to read it through.

Moreover, we should find time every day or at least every other day for more serious reading. Without it a man’s mind becomes very shallow and vain.

Whether it is worthwhile to visit the Mariavites is hard to determine; depending on the circumstances, do as you deem best.

You should visit not only your true Catholic parishioners who belong to the Church but also the errant sheep who live within the boundaries of your parish. You must strive to draw them back to the Church ut fiat unum ovile et unus pastor (Jn 10:16).

I knew a pastor who visited not only Catholics but heretics, strayed sheep and even Jews – if he were asked and could find the time. He sometimes succeeded in retrieving a lost one and brought it back to the Church. You must strive to introduce Christ and His spirit everywhere you can and draw men to Him in every virtuous way.

1913.11.17

36. From a letter to Rev. Vaitkevičius in Częstochowa:
We need patience, too. Once we start a task, trusting in God’s help, we should stubbornly bring it to its conclusion. If it is not a success, we will at least have the consolation that it is not our fault: we will perceive that it was not in God’s will.

1913.11.20

37. From a letter to Rev. P. Bučys:
As for those honors offered you, I take this view: if those trifles are vitally necessary to the glory of God and the welfare of the Church, which is in such dire straits in our part of the world, then we must be ready to wear not only decorations but sackcloth and chains also. I am positive that it is better to wear irons and rags than gold and silks because the former are not good company for self-love. But God’s glory and the Church’s good must be our lex suprema.

1913.12.01

38. From a letter to Rev. Totoraitis in Seiniai:
Man would become spoiled if God did not chastise him at times. I wonder if our … priests would have exercised their ministry so successfully if there had not been someone to discipline them. Only one thing is really necessary: a good spirit, the spirit of God and the Church. Then no persecutions are frightening: they even turn out to our benefit. And so, Brother, you, too, stir up and lift the spirit all you can. May God be praised in all things!

I trust that God will not abandon us. He is giving us men; He will also provide us with bread. At least up to now no one went hungry. God willing, no one will in the future either.

1913.12.20

39. From a letter to Rev. Vaitkevičius in Częstochowa:
By July 25th we intend to be living at another address. We experienced a great deal of difficulty before we found a new place. We did not want to move out of the city into the country somewhere because that would have entailed considerable trouble. It was just about the last day before the twenty-fifth that we unexpectedly succeeded in finding this new dwelling. Had we not, there would have been trouble because the new owner of our former place raised the rent 340 francs. The Blessed Virgin truly helped us and that is why we have decided to make a chapel out of the handsomest room.

1914.01.30

40. From a letter to Rev. Matulaitis in London:
I think the most immoral and detestable kind of exploitation is that which operates behind the facade of religion. The moment we observe a wolf-operator of that type mingling among Christ’s sheep, we should put the shepherd’s crook to him and drive him forth with great clamor so as to protect the flock and prevent him from tearing some lamb to pieces. I consider it a wicked thing to support an evident swindler and fraud because by doing so we but embolden such scoundrels to continue plying their evil trade.

1914.02.16

41. From a letter to Rev. Dvaranauskas in Pilypava:
Strive as hard as you can to sustain and strengthen your spiritual life, for this is the source of all our energies and influence among men. If at times you are unable to perform some spiritual exercise, then at least humble yourself before God and strive to lift your mind and heart to Him with short acts. Such a practice means not a little in spiritual life.

1914.02.25

42. From a letter to Rev. Gedvila in Liebau:
Memorizing sermons is perhaps not worthwhile. I never did. It is more important to collect good material, arrange it well, think it through and live it so that your words would flow from the heart. Writing out sermons is a most commendable practice.

1914.04.01

43. From a letter to the Sisters of St. Casimir:
I love so much and value highly all people dedicated to God. I hope that you would say a prayer to God for me. I myself feel very blameworthy in the sight of God.

1924.12.15

44. From a letter to the Sisters of St. Casimir:
I visited the Sisters of St. Casimir. I was very happy to be their guest. I felt myself among Sisters who really have my spirit. I have always ardently loved your little family, but it seems even more so now. I am determined to help and to serve you always whatever way I can. Maybe God will grant that I will be able to come to America to talk with you longer of God and of the affairs of your Congregation.

If ever you feel the need, I ask that you always turn to me. I will try to serve you to the best of my knowledge and ability. Don’t forget me in prayers that we might get to heaven to rejoice with Christ forever.

1926.07.07

Spiritual Journal of Blessed George (1910-1914)

Read the Journal and discover the riches of Blessed George’s spiritual life.

As both a bishop and archbishop, Blessed George was recognized for his work as an apostle of unity during tumultuous times in his native Lithuania. And throughout his life, he launched important initiatives that mobilized the laity for the greater good of the Church.

Marian Helpers will be particularly inspired by Blessed George’s nuggets of timeless, spiritual wisdom in his Journal. He could be addressing the urgent need for Divine Mercy today. He writes in 1977, “We must never stop being concerned with those who are steeped in sin, those who have lost their faith or, never having known it, are wandering about in darkness, far away from Christ and His Church.”

Read the full English-translated version of his Spiritual Journal. (PDF) (Flipbook)

Read the Excerpts of his Spiritual Journal in Lithuanian here.

Purchase the “Spiritual Journal of Blessed George” from our catalog.

Sample Audio Entries in English

Images of the Beatification of Bl. George

A Man of Remarkable Vision

In formal portraits, he strikes an imposing figure, with a heavy brow and with piercing eyes that follow you across the room.

But then when you open up his 368-page Journal — filled with trumpet blasts of inspiration and rallying cries for renewal — you understand why Blessed George Matulaitis-Matulewicz’s portrait is given prominent placement in every Marian residence around the world. You also understand why his Journal is required reading and why he’s the model for the modern Marian.

“If I may ask, Lord,” Blessed George writes in one of his many highly quotable passages, “let me be but a dishrag in Your Church, a rag used to wipe up messes and then thrown away into some dark corner. I want to be used up and worn out in the same way so that your house may be a little cleaner and brighter. And afterwards, let me be thrown away like a dirty, worn-out dishrag.”

Over 100 years ago, amidst an age of religious tyranny and toxic political upheaval, the Lithuanian native whom the Marians call their Renovator set about to restore the Marian Congregation, which had dwindled down to one man. Blessed George rewrote the Marian Constitutions, inspired to take the Congregation founded in 1670 by Saint Stanislaus Papczynski and make it flourish in contemporary times.

He gathered seminarians. He laid the groundwork for the growth of the Congregation, which today includes about 500 priests and brothers serving in 20 countries. Knowing the Marian religious could not bring the Gospel to every home without working together with the laity, he established in seed form what is now known as the Association of Marian Helpers. He also served as a bishop and an archbishop.

All the while, Blessed George suffered from tuberculosis of the bone. And all the while, he conducted himself in a spirit “more like the father of a family,” as Fr. Marian Wisniewski, MIC, a novice under Blessed George, wrote. Indeed, Blessed George remains a father figure today for those who are the fruits of his labor — namely, the Marians, who first open that green Journal expecting it to be a chore but discover in it a spiritual treasure.

While his native land of Lithuania was under the oppressive domination of the Russian czar and nearly all Marian monasteries had been closed and confiscated, Blessed George (1871-1927) saved the Marians from extinction. The miraculous deliverance of the Marian Congregation and its reform may have been the strongest experience of God’s mercy in the Congregation’s history, an important confirmation that God cares for the Marians and that the Marians’ charism is valuable for the Church.

Blessed George foresaw an important role for the laity long before the reforms of Vatican II and St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation The Lay Members of Christ’s Faithful People. As early as Oct. 27, 1910, Blessed George wrote in his spiritual diary:

We must strive to gather and organize about us people of good will. We must train and prepare them for work. Then, together with them and through them, we must bring Christ into all things and all places, renew and revivify all things in Christ, gain all for Christ, attract all for Christ. Lord Jesus, enkindle our hearts with the fire of this zeal!

Blessed George was convinced that lay people can play a unique and powerful role in transforming society through lives of prayer and service. As the son of a poor Lithuanian farming family, who was orphaned at an early age, he knew the plight of the poor and workers. He also knew that those best equipped to meet the deepest longings and needs of society, especially its new poor, were dedicated Catholic laity.

Blessed George’s insight about the laity is the very basis for the Marians’ partnership with each member of the Association of Marian Helpers. His call to service for the laity has five main aspects: a desire to renew everything in Christ, cooperation with Church leaders, bringing the faith into the workplace, performing works of mercy, and enlivening one’s service with a holy boldness that is a characteristic of genuine zeal.

For Blessed George, everything begins with Christ and all things must be made new in Him. For the layperson, Christ must also be the center of your life and the source of personal strength for all of your efforts in service. This can only happen when you make a concerted effort to develop a life of personal prayer — especially through reflecting and contemplating on the life of Christ in the Gospels.

Blessed George wrote in his Journal:

May our model be Jesus Christ: not only working quietly in His home at Nazareth, not only Christ denying Himself, fasting forty days in the desert, not only Christ spending the night in prayer; but also Christ working, weeping, suffering; Christ among the crowds; Christ visiting the cities and villages.

This focus on Christ and our life of prayer is a constant source of renewal for us in our service. It helps us avoid discouragement and “burn out” because we are centered on Christ as our strength.

As a bishop and a spiritual father, Blessed George recognized that a person’s genuine spiritual growth and life of service in Christ would inevitably lead into a growing love for Christ’s spouse, the Church.

Blessed George, who stressed the importance of caring for the neediest in society, knew that dedicated lay people would come to recognize in their hearts the truth of what John the Apostle teaches: “He who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 Jn 4:20).

Blessed George Matulaitis-Matulewicz (1871-1927) Renovator of The Marians

SIGNS OF THE TIMES

With the twentieth century behind us, we cannot help but to reflect on the people and events that it brought us. It was a violent, turbulent century with more than its share of sorrow and suffering. But it also had its share of goodness — especially the radiant goodness in lives like that of Maximilian Kolbe, Edith Stein, Brother Andre, Solanus Casey, Mother Teresa, Padre Pio and many others. Some of these extraordinary people have already been recognized by the Church for their heroic Christian love and others will probably be recognized in time.

On June 28, 1987, Archbishop George Matulaitis was beatified by Pope John Paul II. The Pope spoke of him as a special gift for the Church and for the Lithuanian nation. Blessed George’s life and words speak to us today. His life was full of suffering, hardship and trials of all kinds, yet it was abundantly blessed by God and bore fruit during his own lifetime and after his death. His vision of God working in and through the human person revives our hope in our power for good. In his Journal he expressed the conviction that every human being has great power at his disposal:

The human mind is the source of all kinds of ideas that eventually reach the masses and spread throughout the world. The human will is a power that either draws people to itself, raises them up, sways and moves them toward a positive goal or, on the other hand, it can drag them down, bringing humanity, either happiness or misery. The human heart, burning with emotion, can be a powerful source of energy that warms, enkindles, ignites others — like steam or electricity — inspiring people to do good or it can be an evil and destructive force (Journal: Nov. 17, 1910).

The twentieth century has amply illustrated the awesome human potential for both good and evil. Blessed George Matulaitis’ personal motto, taken from the words of St. Paul, his favorite saint, was: “Overcome evil with good.” He remained faithful to this ideal despite great personal cost. And, in the end, both friend and foe had to admit that he had overcome. In his obituary a priest friend expressed what many had experienced: Matulaitis “had a smile for everyone—or his friends and supporters and for his enemies as well.”

Shortly after his beatification, great things began to happen in Lithuania, his native land, under Soviet rule since 1940. In October of 1988 the Soviet government allowed the Lithuanians to display their own flag and use their own language. The cathedral in Vilnius, the capital city, has been returned to the faithful. This, the most important church in the country was confiscated during the Stalin era and turned into a picture gallery. Here Blessed George was installed as Bishop of Vilnius on December 8, 1918 — it was his church in a special way. Lithuanian Catholics were allowed to celebrate Christmas publicly for the first time in 1988. In 1989 Pope John Paul II will make his first visit to Lithuania, a request denied him in 1987 when he wanted to celebrate the 600th anniversary of Christianity in Lithuania and beatify Archbishop Matulaitis in Vilnius.

Many healings and other graces have been obtained through the intercession of Blessed George both in Lithuania and elsewhere in the free world. During his lifetime he had special compassion for the sick, since he himself suffered from an incurable illness most of his life. The sorrows and sufferings he endured deepened his faith in the loving Providence of God which never abandons us in our need. His favorite prayer was: “I kiss the hand of Providence; I entrust myself completely to your guidance — lead me, O Lord.”

Early Life

Seminarian
George Matulaitis-Matulewicz as a seminarian.

George Matulaitis’ life spans two centuries — the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th — a period which molded our own era. He was born in 1871 in Lithuania, one of the three Baltic states whose struggle for autonomy has recently caught the attention of the world. At that time Lithuania was also part of the Russian Empire — a dark age without religious, cultural or political freedom. Little Jurgis (George) learned his native language at his mother’s knee, but at school he was taught in Russian.

He was a country boy and life on his parents’ farm was good. However, sorrow dimmed his childhood — he lost both parents by the age of ten. His older sister Emily looked after him. In later life his heart always went out to children and especially to orphans. He would always stop to speak to a child.

Fr. George as the professor of the Spiritual Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia (1907-1911).

At an early age he fell ill with tuberculosis of the bone, although it was diagnosed only much later. His illness interfered with his schooling and he had to drop out of high school. Walking on crutches, he helped out with the farm work. It was only through the kindness of an older cousin who was a teacher in Poland, that he was able to fulfill his secret dream — to enter the seminary. He completed his seminary studies in Poland and it was here that his last name was changed to Matulewicz. As an exemplary student he was sent to continue his studies at the Theological Academy in St. Petersburg (now Leningrad). Here he was ordained a priest in 1898 and received his Master’s degree in theology. Among the students he was known as a quiet, friendly and pious young man with a formidable intelligence. He was active in several student organizations and always willing to help his friends with their studies. He went on to Switzerland where he completed his doctorate in theology at the University of Fribourg in 1902. He was especially interested in apologetics, that branch of theology concerned with the defense of Catholic doctrine. His dissertation on Russian Orthodox theology showed a bent for ecumenical dialogue. He had also become proficient in languages — Polish, Russian, French and German. He was an expert Latinist as well.

Blessed George’s native home in the village of Luginė, Lithuania.

With such great intellectual gifts and a heart burning with enthusiasm to work in the Lord’s vineyard, it seemed that this young priest would do great things. Already he was filled with compassion for the persecuted Church in his own country and throughout the lands ruled by Russia. He could see how the Catholic Church was oppressed and hampered in every way: religious orders were expelled, closed down, persecuted; the hierarchy was pressured to conform with government demands and its control; the faithful were not allowed to worship in their own language and were penalized for engaging in the most harmless religious activities.

THE WAYS OF PROVIDENCE

Room in which Bl. George was born.

Matulaitis’ first assignment was that of seminary professor in Poland. However, he was unable to continue this work for long because of illness. He had received medical treatment in Fribourg, but had a relapse and moved to Warsaw where he was hospitalized in a small hospital on the outskirts of the city he lay in a general ward because he had no money. The situation seemed hopeless, but it turned out to be a time of grace and spiritual growth. He used his time for prayer and reading. He did not complain about being bedridden, but wrote to his spiritual director, Fr. Honoratus Kozminski, a Polish Capuchin: “I am very content in the hospital. The nurses take good care of me and other people are also kind. Perhaps the Lord God visits me with illness because I am happy in this world — otherwise I would not know what affliction is.”

Probably he would have died if not for the kind offices of a high-born lady and member of a secret religious community. She heard of his plight and took him back to her school where he was given expert medical attention and good food until his health improved. In this kindness Matulaitis recognized the finger of God. Later on he would often say: “The important thing is that we love God, then all evil will turn to good. It is true that we do not always know what form it will take. But it will come just the same. We can be certain of that.”

His own compassion for the sick was based on real insight into their sense of frustration. He would console them: “If you are seriously ill and bedridden, do not worry that you cannot work. You already have something to do — to bear the pain and discomfort of your illness patiently and peacefully… Suffering in the spirit of Christ is very worthwhile. Our Savior never accomplished so much as when he appeared to be doing nothing — on the cross.”

When he recovered somewhat, he agreed to be chaplain at the girls’ school run by his benefactress, Cecilia Zyberg-Plater. He taught religion and was often brought to class supported by two people. Sometimes he would limp in on crutches. But even after many years the students remembered this young priest — his radiant personality and what he said to them, encouraging them to use their talents and their education for the good of others.

From 1904 to 1907 Matulaitis himself became deeply involved in social action.

COMPASSION FOR THE POOR

Since his student days Matulaitis had been interested in social reform and in practical methods of improving the life of the working people according to the principles set down by Pope Leo XIII. At the University of Fribourg he had studied the leading Christian authors on social reform. In Russia and elsewhere he had seen the appalling conditions in which urban workers had to live and work. Something had to be done to help these people under Catholic auspices, otherwise they would be drawn toward atheistic socialism and revolution.

Fr. George Matulaitis-Matulewicz as the General Superior of the Marian Fathers in 1911-1914.

Father George Matulaitis, along with a like-minded colleague, a Polish priest, Fr. Marcel Godlewski, organized a Catholic Workers’ Association in Warsaw. Several thousand workers joined and it proved to be very successful. Matulaitis cooperated with the Christian Democrats who were also concerned with the welfare of the urban workers. For a time he edited their paper, The Polish Worker.

In Poland the movement attracted both positive and negative attention. It was considered to be very modern and many noblemen and landowners disapproved. However, enough of the clergy and laity were enthusiastic to keep Matulaitis busy giving talks and conducting seminars on social questions. Both in Poland and in Lithuania he was instrumental in organizing a series of lectures on social thought and social reform. Matulaitis was one of the key speakers presenting the teaching of the Church on property ownership and the rights of workers.

In the fall of 1907 Matulaitis was invited to teach sociology at the Theological Academy of St. Petersburg. Not only the students, but also members of the faculty attended his lectures. A number of his listeners later became social reformers in their own countries.

Matulaitis’ interests in social questions and social reform were never merely theoretical. He was moved by a deep compassion and real understanding of the plight of the worker. He knew first hand what it meant to be poor, dependent upon others, humiliated by a lack of the bare necessities. He knew too that pastoral ministry would not be effective unless it was also concerned with improving the living conditions of those who were being evangelized. Matulaitis appealed his fellow priests: “As living conditions change and the spiritual and cultural level of the people also changes, new problems and difficulties arise in the field of pastoral ministry; new tasks confront us.

As life moves forward, it presents new problems. We must look for new methods and solutions to deal with them… As the life of the people flows on, so must the pastor be the living water of the Gospel, always flowing onward to refresh his flock.”

During the same period that he was involved in social action, Matulaitis was also acting as spiritual director and advisor for various underground religious communities for women founded by Father Honoratus, his own mentor. Father George revised their Constitutions, consulted with their superiors, gave conferences and helped individuals through the confessional. Matulaitis began to realize how much the Church needed new religious communities in order to survive oppression by hostile governments and the crisis of faith brought on by new philosophies and movements.

WORKING FOR SPIRITUAL RENEWAL

In 1909 while he was still professor at the Theological Academy, 38 years old and with a promising career ahead of him, Matulaitis made a momentous decision. He decided to become a religious, to follow more closely in the footsteps of Christ. Having received permission from Rome, he made the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in a private chapel in Warsaw. At the same time, his close friend and fellow professor, Francis Būčys, was received into the novitiate. This was the beginning of the revival of the Marian Congregation. Closed down by the Russian government, it had only one surviving member. Matulaitis was convinced that God was leading him to resurrect this dying community and infuse it with new life.

The Marian Fathers were well known to him — they worked in his parish church at Marijampole in Lithuania. He had been baptized by one of their generals. Now he resolved to revive and prepare them for an apostolate in the modern world. He gave up lecturing on sociology and taught dogmatic theology instead. He began to rewrite the Constitutions and at the same time directed his two novices. In the fall of 1910 he began to keep a journal in which he recorded his thoughts, inspirations and resolutions.

His heart burned with a desire to expend himself for the kingdom of God — the Church. He and his fellow religious must take the risk — go out among the people, reach out to all to renew and strengthen their faith, then prepare them to evangelize in turn. With the rise of modern philosophies and movements, he could see that people were being influenced to abandon their faith. In his Journal he wrote: “Our concern is with all humanity and with the needs of the universal Church. We should be willing to hasten to any place where there is an opportunity to do something for the greater glory of God… In a special way we must direct our attention toward the vast territories of Russia and Siberia, where so many souls have strayed from the fold because there is no one to guide them; toward America with its noisy life-style where it is so easy for people to forget their spiritual needs” (Journal: Jan. 25, 1911).

His idea was to build up a modern, mobile religious community dedicated to the apostolate. He was convinced that religious and laity must work together to bring the Gospel to every home. A life of intense prayer and work was the best way to achieve this: “Without continual prayer the soul wilts and withers; our energy burns out, our spirit is dissipated and our work becomes amazingly sterile. On the other hand, let us not forget that we worship and serve God not only when we pray, but also when we work for His glory” (Journal: Nov. 14, 1910).

In 1911 Matulaitis was elected superior general of the Marians and remained in this position until his death. He was also novice master since they were so few. That same summer the novitiate was transferred to Fribourg, Switzerland, for St. Petersburg proved to be too dangerous: the Russian secret police had been conducting raids and searches for secret religious organizations. Under cover of the life of the University of Fribourg, Matulaitis hoped that the novitiate would be safer and grow more rapidly.

In 1913 he and two young Lithuanian Marians travelled to the United States to start a mission in Chicago. In 1915, unable to leave Poland because of the war, Matulaitis gathered the Polish Marians together at a monastery outside Warsaw. This was the beginning of the Polish province. During this period the Marians and several sisters cared for a number of war orphans. Matulaitis himself would often go into German-occupied Warsaw to beg for provisions for the children. He would often return in the evening sitting on a wagonload of coal or potatoes.

A number of interesting stories circulated in the area about the young priest and professor who was not afraid of the Germans. Once he went to a German official to ask for cots for the children.

Fr. George Matulaitis-Matulewicz at Bielany near Warsaw, Poland, ca 1917.

“You are a priest, you should trust in divine Providence. Why are you bothering me?!” barked the German. “That is true,” replied Matulaitis quietly “but Providence often works through good people.”

Shamefaced, the German wrote out an order for the cots. However, the priest kept coming back. He was cursed at for being an infernal nuisance. Matulaitis humbly listened to the tirade, then said: “All that is for me, but what do you have for the children?”

Serving the poor was a priority in all the religious communities that Matulaitis founded. In the spring of 1918 he went to Lithuania to restore the Marian monastery in Marijampole and to start a novitiate. In the fall of that same year he founded a Lithuanian community for women, the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, popularly known as the Sisters of the Poor. Several years later he founded another religious community for women in Belorussia, the Servants of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. All these communities are still active.

Matulaitis updated the Constitutions of a number of religious communities according to the new Code of Canon Law — about ten in all. He was often asked for help and advice in spiritual matters and on concrete problems of how to adjust to the demands of modern life. He not only prepared these religious communities for a more effective apostolate during the postwar period, but also for an even greater challenge in the future. With the Soviet regime came a new wave of religious persecution and it was these communities that were able to adjust to the situation, to hold out and to continue their apostolate in the persecuted Church. They helped and encouraged the laity to remain firm in their faith and were a great help to the clergy. The religious resistance movements that developed in the east European countries gives evidence of the firm foundations that had quietly been laid down earlier.

A GOOD SHEPHERD

Despite his own wishes to remain a simple religious, in the fall of 1918 George Matulaitis was appointed Bishop of Vilnius by Pope Benedict XV. He was consecrated in Lithuania, at the cathedral in Kaunas on December 1 and the installation ceremonies took place in the Vilnius cathedral on December 8. He was not well known to the people of Vilnius and was very much aware of the difficulty of his mission. In his inaugural sermon he presented himself to his flock humbly and sincerely: “I stand before you a stranger and therefore, first of all, I ask one thing of you — to regard me as the servant of Christ who has been given you to show you the way to heaven and to guide you to eternal happiness. From now on we shall live together as one big spiritual family of which I am to be the father and head as we move forward along our wearisome spiritual journey.”

His vision of unity and harmony, however, proved extremely difficult to realize in those turbulent times. During his time as Bishop of Vilnius — 1918 to 1925 — Matulaitis had to walk along a thorny and treacherous path. He had to contend with six different civil governments — some of these were openly hostile to the Church and to its hierarchy. Political and national conflicts often blinded clergy and faithful alike to the demands of Christian charity. His large, ethnically mixed diocese was seething with unrest: the people were fearful, food was scarce and political passions ran high. Lithuanians, Belorussians and Poles were all striving for independence after the long and unhappy period of Russian rule since 1795.

Within two weeks of assuming his duties, Bishop Matulaitis felt himself caught in a political crosscurrent. “My own position is extremely difficult,” he wrote; “whatever one faction approved of, another opposed. It was impossible to please them. The cauldron was boiling over. I kept to the teaching of Christ and of the Church.” (Journal: Dec. 16, 1918).

In spite of all this, he received everyone who came to him and listened to their woes. He encouraged them to use their native, tongue because, he assured them, “I do not despise any nation or any language.”

He wanted all of his flock to live in peace and harmony and did his best to reconcile persons and nations. He would not allow the Jews to be persecuted and when public furor rose against them he would intercede for those who were arrested or plead that food be distributed fairly to all.

The conflict between the Poles and the Lithuanians over the city of Vilnius was especially acute at this time. Bishop Matulaitis refused to take sides but urged both nations to negotiate peacefully: “Perhaps, when each takes a good look at the other, they will see that neither is the monster they had imagined,” he noted down in his Journal. However, his efforts were often disregarded and misinterpreted. He experienced great sorrow and inner anguish because of the way Christian people and nations were behaving toward each other: “My God, my God what a terrible thing is the politics of our time! Morality is completely excluded from the political arena. The same morality which governs and guides relations between individuals should also govern the relations between nations. Christ has not given us a double standard nor dual justice, but only one. There can be no peace between nations until they begin to base their relations with one another on the moral principles of Christ” (Journal: May 3, 1919). Today his words have a prophetic ring.

Because of his refusal to take sides or to promote the interests of one political party or nation against another, Bishop Matulaitis was criticized, attacked and denigrated. Yet, he remained gracious and cordial even to those who publicly vented their antagonism or snubbed him personally. In some cases his goodness won them over. One of these was Bishop Wladislaw Bandurski who came to Vilnius with General Zeligowski’s army which occupied the city in 1920. Bandurski was official army chaplain and spokesman for Pilsudski and his supporters. At first he refused even to pay Bishop Matulaitis the required formal visit. Persuaded to do so by Chancellor Lucjan Chalecki, a fellow Pole, Bandurski came to pay his respects and ended up staying till midnight, so charmed was he by Matulaitis’ cordiality. Later on, when different political winds were blowing and Bandurski was in disfavor, his financial situation became difficult. Bishop Matulaitis noticed that his cassock was worn and frayed. He secretly ordered a new one made and delivered. Bandurski guessed who was responsible. He was deeply moved and when Matulaitis was celebrating the silver jubilee of his ordination in November of 1923, Bandurski agreed to give the sermon. In it, he warmly praised Bishop Matulaitis for his truly Christian spirit, his love for the Church and his fairness and regard for all entrusted to his care.

In the summer of 1925 Matulaitis’ resignation from the diocese of Vilnius was accepted by Pope Pius XI, his personal friend and colleague. Poland had signed its Concordat with the Vatican and Vilnius was going to be made an archdiocese. Matulaitis was well aware that he had to withdraw. He quietly left Vilnius and went to Rome where he hoped to establish the Marian generalate and a house of studies. However, the pope made him titular Archbishop of Adulia and appointed him Apostolic Visitor to Lithuania.

Archbishop Matulaitis returned to his native land and settled in the Marian monastery in Kaunas. His first task was to prepare a project for the formation of an independent ecclesiastical province for Lithuania. When the project was approved by Rome, Lithuania was divided into five dioceses. Matulaitis officiated the consecration of the five new bishops in 1926.

Archbishop George Matulaitis-Matulewicz in Cicero, U.S.A., June 13, 1926.

In June he sailed to the United States to attend the International Eucharistic Congress in Chicago. He also visited 92 Lithuanian parishes and gave over 200 homilies and speeches. Everywhere he was welcomed with great enthusiasm. The railway car in which he was traveling was even painted violet in his honor! Back home he began work on the Concordat between Lithuania and the Vatican. However, he did not live to see its completion. He died after an appendix operation in Kaunas on January 27, 1927 at the age of 56.

Funeral solemnities were held in Kaunas for three days. The body was first placed in state at the Marian Church of St. Gertrude and then it was carried in solemn procession, presided over by Archbishop Karivicius, to the Kaunas cathedral.

Throngs of people came to mourn him; all the church bells of Kaunas pealed a final farewell. Every national group recognized the enormity of their loss: he had been a father to all. Thousands attended the funeral. He was buried in the crypt of Kaunas cathedral, but the remains were transferred to his own parish church in Marijampole in 1934. On May 11, 1982, the Congregation for the Saints issued a decree stating that during his lifetime Archbishop George Matulewicz practiced virtues to a heroic degree. On June 28, 1987, the Holy Father, John Paul II solemnly beatified him at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. On the occasion of his beatification, a special repository was made for the remains and an altar constructed. This has now become a national shrine where Lithuanians and people from other countries come to pray.

A Man of Peace

Blessed George Matulaitis was a man of peace and also blessed with a special love for the Church.

Transfer of the Archbishop George’s earthly remains from the Kaunas cathedral to the church in Marijampole, October 24, 1934.

He was able to be a peacemaker between persons and nations because he had attained inner peace which radiated to all who came in contact with him. This was both a gift and an achievement that took many years to develop fully. In a letter that he wrote to a friend in 1913, he spoke eloquently on peace. He was well aware that “this world is not paradise, nor are people angels.” The model and source of peace is Jesus himself: “How peaceful Our Lord always was. No matter what people did to him, he never stopped loving and serving them… Christ often greeted his apostles with the words ‘Peace be with you’; he would often give them peace — ‘I give you my peace.’ It seems that this peace is precious indeed since Christ continually offered it to his apostles.” But maintaining this peace also requires something of us. “Make every effort, my brother,” he wrote in his letter, “to keep peace in your heart, the true peace of Christ, which the world cannot give, which it does not even understand… We must pray that God would give us more peace. Of course, we cannot change other people, but we must learn to see and not to see, to hear and not to hear; we must learn not to feel injuries and malice so deeply, nor to trouble ourselves over it. You can achieve this peace by uniting yourself with the Sacred Heart of Jesus and giving Him all the hurts in your heart.”

Chapel in Blessed George’s native village of Luginė, Lithuania.

At the end of his life it was evident that Blessed George lived in undisturbed peace. The last resolution recorded in his Journal was: “To pray more for those from whom I have experienced any kind of evil” (Journal: August, 1925). His favorite Scripture quotation had always been: Non in commotione Spiritus Dei — The Spirit of God cannot be felt in turmoil.

Blessed George’s love for the Church was the great passion of his life — but it was a peaceful passion that stretched his heart and broadened his vision. One of his biographers, Msgr. Vincenzo Cusumano, said that he was a man in love with the Church.

On June 28, 1987, Pope John Paul II beatified Archbishop George Matulaitis-Matulewicz at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Even as a young priest, Blessed George was already filled with great compassion for the persecuted Church. In an article he wrote addressing his fellow priests and which was published in the USA in 1903, he said: “The Church has never had to suffer more, it seems, than in our own times. If we turn our eyes to our country, we can see that things are much more difficult for us than before — our beloved Church is weighed down by no small burdens.”

His model and inspiration in loving the Church was Jesus himself who gave all he had and even laid down his life that the Church, the kingdom of God, might have life and continue to grow. In 1911, overcome by a burning desire to follow Jesus devoting himself completely to the building up of the kingdom of God, Blessed George prayed:

Marijampole Basilica: the altar of Blessed George’s chapel has contained the relics of the Blessed since 1987.

If I may ask, Lord, let me be but a kitchen rag in your Church, a rag used to wipe up messes and then thrown away into some dark and dirty corner. I want to be used up and worn out in the same way, so that your house would be a little cleaner and brighter. And afterwards, let me be thrown away like a dirty, worn out dishrag (Journal: Jan 13, 1911).

His prayer was heard. All his natural and spiritual gifts were used by God for the growth of the Church in his own country and in other lands. He wanted to be like a candle that burns out on the altar — to be consumed by the fire of love and the heat of hard work for the glory of God. Today, the light of his life shines out for us all to see. We know that God is with us and with all who toil and suffer for His kingdom. That kingdom has not, nor will ever be overcome by the powers of darkness.