Difficult conditions and all sorts of adversities were like cement that bonded our family with Jesus, Mary, Saint Joseph and with one another, thus contributing to deeper spiritual ties among us.
We have been married for 17 years. We have seven children, four sons and three daughters – aged from two and a half years to sixteen years. We received the sacrament of marriage aged 20 and 21.
At the beginning, we could not see that God looked after us, blessed us, loved us and wanted our happiness. Our understanding of happiness was completely different – it was typically human and down-toearth. We tried to live like a Catholic family, but it was limited only to the Sunday Mass, occasional evening prayer and fulfilling the basic obligations that the Church commands. We thought we were living with God, but we lived apart from Him. Just as the potter shapes the clay, He shaped our family life, although we interfered with Him, carrying out our own will, not His. This resulted in a lack of unity, frequent misunderstandings, children being treated like objects, and life was passing by in the pursuit of material goods. Lack of true love for each other resulted in selfishness taking root in us. Additionally, we had to struggle with lack of understanding on the part of the surrounding community, where the model of a family with one child or no child dominated. This had negatively affected our marital and family relationships. The most painful and depressing challenge was the lack of understanding from our relatives, especially their mockery and biting remarks to make us feel guilty by pointing out our ‘great irresponsibility’ at having so many children. It had gone on for 12 years, but finally one day the spark of God’s love began to light a fire.
It was Sunday. A missionary was visiting our parish. During the sermon, he spoke in a very interesting, fatherly way about the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Right after the Mass, we bought scapulars and medallions for the whole family. We believed that Mary would not let us perish forever. If someone had told us how our lives would change from then on, we would not have believed it. And it all started like this:
After the Sunday Mass, a married couple who recognized us from church, invited us for carol singing together with a group of other invited people. At this meeting, we learned about The Secular Institute of the Consecrated Life of the Holy Family in Łomianki near Warsaw, founded by Archbishop Kazimierz Majdański, and about communities of families gathering in different cities. Everything we heard from our new friends sounded very interesting. So we were very happy when they invited us, together with many other families from all over Poland, to go to the day of recollection and then also to the summer retreat.
We had to struggle with lack of understanding on the part of the surrounding community, where the model of a family with one child or no child dominated
The retreat was great! Being there, we felt as if we were in a different world. There was a welcoming atmosphere among the families, filled with love, acceptance and kindness. Children were taught Christian and patriotic values through play and group activities. We learned to truly spend time with each other and with our children. Everywhere you could feel the presence of the Holy Family and their influence on all the families gathered there.