Alicja Lenczewska, a retired teacher, died in Szczecin on 5 January 2012. The spiritual notes she left behind, collected in two volumes, Świadectwo [Testimony] and Słowo pouczenia [A word of Instruction], are gems of religious literature.
As we have already written in ‘Heart-bursting joy’ (Love One Another! no. 35), Alicja’s spiritual diaries reached Archbishop Andrzej Dzięga, who appointed a theological commission to evaluate their contents. It turned out that Alicja Lenczewska’s writings were theologically and spiritually profound, and were absolutely consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Based on those findings, Bishop Henryk Wejman, the vicar-general, gave his consent to Agape Publishers to publish the diaries.
The road to conversion
Alicja was born in Warsaw in 1934. After her father died, in April 1939, Alicja and her elder brother Sławek were brought up by their mother, who in July 1946 moved with her children to Szczecin. It was there that Alicja completed her primary and secondary schooling. In 1952, she passed her end-of-school exams and took up a teaching post in the village of Banie, and later in Gryfino. Having studied education in Gdańsk, she worked as a handicrafts and mechanics teacher in the First Secondary School of General Education in Szczecin between 1966 and 1975. In 1975, she became a teacher of education in a Szczecin secondary school for nursery-school teachers, where she was later appointed deputy head.
Prior to her conversion in 1985, Alicja’s Catholicism was very superficial. As she herself wrote: “There were even periods of several years when I lived outside the Church, almost completely at odds with God’s Commandments.” She continued her quest for good, beauty and the meaning of life. “A yearning for them”, she recalled, “drove me to visit many countries for many years. Finally, a time came when the emptiness of such a life weighed down on me ever more.”
In 1984, after their mother died, Alicja and her brother, Sławomir, who was a translator and knew twelve languages, began to attend the meetings of the Movement for Renewal in the Holy Spirit. It was in this community that Alicja found the sense of her life. “At that time,” she wrote, “I started to come across religious books. They included Krzyż i sztylet [Cross and dagger], Trzecia godzina dnia [The third hour of the day], Najszczęśliwsi na świecie [The happiest in the world] and others on the subject of Charismatic Renewal in the US.” Reading those books consolidated her faith. On 8 March 1985, Alicja took part in a retreat for leaders in Gostyń. She remembered:
“And there something happened which entirely altered my life. There, in front of me, Jesus appeared. He was more real, truer than all the things in the chapel, than the people standing next to me. This happened after I’d received Holy Communion (during the Eucharist), when I was remorseful about how very late I was on my way to him. Everything ceased to exist. There was only him, His power, might and growing immensity, with me ever smaller next to him, the immensity of a love so great and unparalleled that one could only weep over one’s ingratitude. And then joy that he loved me. Heartbursting joy.
There, in front of me, Jesus appeared. He was more real, truer than all the things in the chapel, than the people standing next to me (A. Lenczewska)
From that moment on, everything changed: my hierarchy of values, the structure of my needs, the purpose of my life. The only value, desire and goal were He, Jesus Christ, with the most beautiful moments being my meetings with Him in daily prayer, daily Eucharist and Holy Communion, as well as in everyday life and helping others. Everything that I had yearned for and pursued around the world for so many years, He gave me. And He gave me much more than I was able to imagine and desire.”
At the retreat in Gostyń, Alicja received from Jesus an extraordinary gift of mystic meetings with Him. He personally gave her instructions and directions and guided her along the difficult path of maturing in faith and love. Alicja wrote down everything she heard from Jesus, and that is how two diaries of her soul, Testimony and A Word of Instruction, came about.
Everything that I had yearned for and pursued around the world for so many years, He gave me. And He gave me much more than I was able to imagine and desire (A. Lenczewska)
“What you write down — Jesus told her — is meant to make people understand that I want to speak to everyone, to guide them, protect them against evil and set them on the road to salvation. That I stand by every person, at every moment of their life. That you should desire to hear me, listen to what I say and abide by it — wish to live in compliance with my guidance”.
Everything is the fruit of prayer – Jesus told her – your life reflects your prayer, the state of your soul and body, and your acts
From then on, everything became for Alicja “one great and continuous form period”, bringing her closer to Jesus, “preparing her for the final meeting”.
A radical change
After finding Jesus, the greatest love and the most precious treasure, Alicja radically changed her life:
First I got rid of my colour TV set, and I gave the money I got for it to a charity. It was followed by other things that only needlessly occupied space in my home. My time, my strength and all I had was devoted to the service to God and my neighbours, while I offered my ailments and the hardships of everyday life as a sacrifice for my own sins and those of others.
Alicja began to attend the Eucharist daily, adore the Blessed Sacrament, read the Holy Scriptures, pray on the rosary, say the breviary, and fast on bread and water every Wednesday and Friday. Jesus also called on her to practise total abstinence. Her first confessor and spiritual leader was Fr Walter Rachwalik. Then — as Alicja writes — “my groping around in the dark ended.”
To Alicja’s question “What can I possibly do for you?”, Jesus replied:
“Dress the wounds which are constantly inflicted upon me. They bleed. I am Suffering Love, beaten and manhandled by my own children. With your tenderness, you can assuage my pain. And shelter me in your heart, because many have banished me. Love must be sacrificial and not covetous. Then it is pure and beautiful — like the one I bestow on you”.
It was Jesus himself who introduced Alicja to the mysteries of inner life:
I wish to take you deep inside, where a holy place in your soul is. It is off limits to everybody, because only I abide there — too often alone. Change and mature in this loneliness I give you, so that you can be with me there. Live in the spirit of sacrifice and love for people who are in need of help.
In early 1989, Alicja received the gift of invisible stigmata:
“I began to feel the pain of Jesus, the pain inflicted on Him by people whom He called to be His witnesses and apostles, the pain of Christ Crucified in the hearts of those who seek their own glory, using Him, the pain of Jesus whose Blood is trodden upon by those selfishly focussed on themselves, the pain of Jesus whom they made an appendage to their own ambitions and vanities so that He would satisfy them, the pain of Jesus abandoned, betrayed, sold and manhandled by His own people”.
“You have received a sign of pain — Jesus told her — you asked me to make it easier for you to abide with me, to consciously persevere. I am reminding you about my presence in you, because that is what your heart desires. […] The stigmata are genuine pain, above all spiritual pain. This is the truth, and this is a share in my rewarding and redeeming suffering”.
Alicja shared in Jesus’ suffering for the salvation of all sinners.
“You share — Jesus told her — in my suffering — in the part of it that you are able to receive. […] Time is ever shorter, increasingly replete with signs heralding the harvest, when all will reap what they have sown. A mortified Church will reach Golgotha to make my Sacrifice real and be reborn in a glorified body”.
For Alicja, prayers became the most beautiful moments of her encounters with Jesus.
“Everything is the fruit of prayer — Jesus told her — your life reflects your prayer, the state of your soul and body, and your acts — their usefulness for building the Kingdom of Heaven in human souls and for saving those who perish in their sins. To have sense and value, anything that you do with your heart, mind or hands must begin with prayer, end with prayer and abide in it.
Prayer is communion with me. I am the beginning and end of everything that exists: the alpha and omega. Without me, you can do nothing — nothing of positive value. Many people are lost, and the world is immersed in darkness, because there is no prayer, no unity with me. The efforts, work and energy of so many people endowed abundantly with my gifts produce bad fruits, poisoned with the venom of hell, which is always present wherever people fail to turn to me in trusting and sincere prayer and fail to rely on my Wisdom and Will. There is as much love, wisdom and peace in your heart as there is prayer. You can give another person — what is worth giving — as much as you have taken from me during prayer. Of yourself, you have nothing to give. You can only pass to your brothers my goodness, your emptiness or the evil of hell. And that is what happens, depending on how your life of prayer looks: how continuous, profound and zealous it is. And don’t believe that you can accumulate something in your heart and then use it on your own. Good, Love and Wisdom are energy that flows from the Divine Source, provided that you are joined to it in prayer”.
There is as much love, wisdom and peace in your heart as there is prayer. You can give another person – what is worth giving – as much as you have taken from me during prayer
When people do not pray, “they break away from the source of their existence and are tossed about and manhandled by themselves, by other people, and above all by the spiritual powers of evil; their acts, including so-called good ones, are worthless if they are deprived of the foundation that is God — the only giver of good. And it is better — as St Teresa of the Child Jesus said — to lift a thread in Divine Love than to build a cathedral without communion with God. An act born of God is an eternal good. An act performed solely from human inspiration or ambition — without faith and love — consumes time and effort that ought to be devoted to life in God, because it does not develop that life and, by eclipsing God with human pride, it can be like the Tower of Babel, which will fall apart.”
Alicja asked Jesus to teach her how to pray. She heard the following words:
“Cling with your heart to me. If life is hard on you, think of what good I have done in general and in your life. In the most difficult moments, pray in words, aloud. Your conscience should constantly feel my presence with you and in you. Talk to me and look at me in every moment of your life, whatever you are doing and wherever you are. Give up everything to me and do everything for me. Do your best to make your everyday life glorify me. Think not of yourself, but of me. Then I will think of you and will take care of everything.”
What you write down – Jesus told her – is meant to make people understand that I want to speak to everyone, to guide them, protect them against evil and set them on the road to salvation
On another occasion, Alicja heard:
“What you need to do is to constantly hold on to a rosary and adore me in the Blessed Sacrament. If you feel that Satan is about to attack, when darkness envelopes you and your soul feels oppressed, immediately say Beneath Thy Protection, because this is an exorcism.”
In her spiritual diaries, Alicja recorded Jesus’ statements about His real presence in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is Christ Himself in the mystery of His passion, death and resurrection. In every Eucharist, the mystery of our salvation is made manifest:
“I rescue you all the time. What took place on Golgotha two thousand years ago has been the sign of what continues forever, because it exists beyond the time you are subject to as a human being living on earth. I am your constant and eternal Redemption. I continually free you from Satan and give you back to our Father, as much as your free will allows me to. […]
I made a sacrifice of myself to God in order to save you. Everyone is saved and can return to God — to the fullness from which they were created. They can, provided they do not reject this gift and spurn both it and God — the giver of the gift. […] What happened on Golgotha two thousand years ago continues in reality beyond time. Jerusalem’s Golgotha — my entire existence in Jesus of Nazareth — the toil and sacrifice of living on earth were the realisation of what in fact subsists. The most telling sign is my presence in the Eucharist. I am present in the host, and by its consumption, a soul meets me, alive and real, although hidden from the mind and the senses of the body.”
Jesus warns us against receiving Him in the Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin, mindlessly and indifferently: “This is a great sin and the profanation of my Love and my Gift born in the Blood of Golgotha.”
Sin and divine mercy
In his words of instruction addressed to Alicja, Jesus says that the greatest misery in the life of man is sin or leaving Him. By rejecting God, man gives himself up to the power of Satan, “who attracts him ever more strongly and makes him dependent upon him, most often imperceptibly, so as not to frighten him away. […] A deadly sin — Jesus said — kills me in the shrine of the soul of the person who has sinned. If he persists in sin, I am dead in his soul and his soul is dead. This is the state which existed after my death on the Cross, because by crucifying me in himself, he crucifies his soul. But as long as he remains in this world, his soul can be resurrected by reconciling with me. When he desires me, I will resurrect in his soul and save him for eternal life.”
Hence there are no hopeless situations in the life of man. Jesus always stands by us, to free us from the terrible captivity of sins and Satan. He keeps waiting to forgive us all our sins in the sacrament of penance. Confession is the return of the prodigal son with Jesus’ help. It is crucial then — as Jesus says — “to feel a desire to return, to have the will to return and to appeal to me for help.” The confessor, meanwhile, is indeed “only an instrument. And it matters not what that instrument is like.” Jesus warns that a refusal to convert, a final rejection of His mercy, leads to eternal damnation: “Turning one’s back on God, in particular that final breaking away and rebellion, is suicide and deicide. It is the killing of what is divine in oneself and thus condemning oneself to terrible eternal suffering; it is like tearing one’s heart away.”
Retirement and evangelisation
Alicja lived in a small room on the 11th floor of a large apartment block, built in communist times, at 27 Dembowskiego Street. She retired in 1987. From then on, for sixteen years, twice a week, she worked as a volunteer in the office of Corpus Christi parish. Alicja devoted herself with all her heart to evangelisation work. She joined the Family of the Heart of Crucified Love. On 27 March 1988, she took one-year monastic vows in that community; on 25 December 2005, she made them perpetual.
She was also strongly connected to the community of the Apostles of Pure Love, as its co-founder and member of a team of leaders engaged in holding Renewal in the Holy Spirit seminars at St John the Baptist’s church and home meetings of this community.
You must love Christ in people, because He thirsts for love there. Not in abstract notions, but in real people whom you know and meet, in particular those in whom there is no love (A. Lenczewska)
She read the Love One Another! magazine, donated money to Radio Maryja and Telewizja Trwam and was entered in the Perpetual Book of Sponsors of the Society of Christ. She liked very much to attend Mass and the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the Shrine of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Szczecin. Jesus told her on several occasions that it was the shrine of His Heart.
She organised and guided pilgrimages to Italy, the Holy Land and Medjugorje. She was particularly fond of Medjugorje. This is what she wrote in one of her letters:
“Medjugorje is hope for those drowning in materialism, debauchery and addictions (15 August 1998). […] Love makes people beautiful — their faces and their hearts. When children asked the Virgin Mary during an apparition why she was so beautiful, she replied: because I love … O Lord, teach us how to love so that Your Beauty descends upon us and makes us resemble You” (Christmas 1999).
Alicja’s thoughts were engrossed by the messages of Our Lady of Medjugorje. She set up a prayer group known as the Children of Medjugorje and presided over its meetings once a month.
Referring to the apparitions of Our Lady in Fatima and Medjugorje, Jesus told Alicja:
“I, like my Mother appearing in Fatima and Medjugorje, call on everyone to convert, pray and do penance to save as many human beings and stretches of land as possible from total destruction by Satan, who sows discord, hatred and aggression in the hearts of people. Do penance and pray for those who succumbed to hatred and for their victims. And trust the Triune God, so that in your hearts, and in the words you speak and the acts you do, peace and love might dwell. Only thus will you be able to oppose this destructive wave of mutual hatred and discord that floods the world, engulfing it to an ever greater extent. This is Satan’s new campaign, following the wave of fascist and communist totalitarianisms. Now, his aim is to make everyone fight one another, making use of ethnic, national, religious or any other differences.
“I am Suffering Love, beaten and manhandled by my own children. With your tenderness, you can assuage my pain. And shelter me in your heart, because many have banished me. Love must be sacrificial and not covetous. Then it is pure and beautiful – like the one I bestow on you”
Beware of saying words that stir unrest and make people oppose one another. It is a time of chaos in the world and in human hearts, because messages that were given to the world, summoning it to return to God’s ways, to pray together and do penance, have been ignored by the world and those who are in charge of countries and proclaim various ideologies, influencing entire communities of people. Messages calling for conversion have been accepted by individuals, who are the peacemakers. For many, they are hope of salvation from the turmoil that has begun and continues to grow, contrary to sham slogans and efforts to bring unity and peace. Nothing will be united and there will not be any peace without conversion — without God. On the contrary: anxiety and disunity will grow, and what is going on in Yugoslavia will spread; Yugoslavia has ignored the calls by my Mother, who appeared there. Let what is happening there serve as a warning to the world, which is threatened by the same and even more, if the calls for conversion go unheeded. Let this be a warning and admonition to everyone who wishes to build his home and life without entrusting himself to God, without prayer and kindness for other people. Let this also be a call to penance, prayer and acts of mercy for those who stand by me and want to carry the message of Love and Peace. Amen!” (25 January 1999)
A fierce struggle for every human heart
On 21 June 1989, Alicja finished writing her first spiritual diary, which she called Testimony. Two days later, on Jesus’ clear instructions, she started to write the second diary of her soul, entitled A Word of Instruction.
Jesus entrusted Alicja with very important tasks: to convey to the whole world everything He told her to write down and to share in his suffering for the salvation of sinners.
In a letter to Sister Teresa, a friend of hers, Alicja writes about her part of suffering in the redemptive suffering of Christ:
“I want to tell you that for a long time (for several months), my soul has been exposed to strong attacks from evil, so much so that I am exhausted not only physically but even mentally. There are moments of depression and bad thoughts, but the Lord is there, and when I reach the limits of endurance, He saves, lifts and calms me. […] I face the attacks of evil alone, and apparently that is what the Lord wants.”
In one of his instructions, Jesus told Alicja:
“O, if only you knew what a great battle rages, what a fierce struggle is going on for every human heart […] Don’t think of yourself, of your various feelings. They are unimportant in the face of the enormous threat of hell engulfing the world. The rays of my Love cannot reach earth if there are no hearts that would serve as gates connecting heaven and earth. Through human hearts, I rescue and save other mortally wounded hearts.”
Alicja agreed and let Jesus use her heart as a “gate connecting heaven and earth”.
The last stage
In 2010, Alicja’s mystical encounters with Jesus became less and less frequent, only to cease completely. In the spring of that year, she was diagnosed with cancer of the kidney, with metastases to her lungs. It turned out to be a malignant cancer. In August, Alicja had her kidney removed. She accepted the disease and suffering with cheerfulness as special gifts from God. She was not afraid of death, as she was certain that it was a passage to the fullness of life with God. After several stays in hospital and a number of operations, on 7 December 2011 she was admitted to the Hospice of St John the Evangelist in Szczecin. She wanted very much to spend the last days of her earthly life there, because she wanted to take part daily in the Eucharist and not be a burden for her relatives. Amid the loving care taken of her by the medical personnel and prayers said by her brother, sister- in-law and many friends, Alicja Lenczewska died on 5 January 2012, at 7:42 p.m.
The most telling sign is my presence in the Eucharist. I am present in the host, and by its consumption, a soul meets me, alive and real, although hidden from the mind and the senses of the body
Those keeping a vigil of prayer at Alicja’s deathbed heard her utter short sentences, showing that before death she received the grace of a partial insight into the reality of life after death. In her agony, Alicja spoke with admiration: “What a beautiful place! I saw my parents. How much He loves us! I was outside of time. I hear everything. I am dying a happy person.” Alicja Lenczewska’s last words were: “Oh, Jesus, look at me. We are burning away, Jesus! Burning away! You have burnt away. I have burnt away.” Alicja let Christ’s fire of love thoroughly purify her and prepare her for a joyous meeting with Him face to face at the moment of death. The funeral took place on 12 January 2012. Mass was celebrated at Corpus Christi church in Szczecin, and the body of Alicja Lenczewska was laid to rest in the Central Cemetery in Szczecin.
From the moment of her conversion, Alicja Lenczewska became the heart and hands of Christ for other people, transmitting to them His love and mercy. How very relevant are her words:
“You must love Christ in people, because He thirsts for love there. Not in abstract notions, but in real people whom you know and meet, in particular those in whom there is no love. You must look at man not from the position of one’s own selfishness and claims, but from that of Jesus who is in that man, identifies and suffers with him, not being loved or even noticed. […] The greatest threat to the Church and the power destroying its holiness lies inside it — in the heart of people who, instead of being Christ’s heart and hands, are his wounds” (24 June 2009).