Meditations - Preface
Among the many different writings and notes which Mary Angela Truszkowska has left us (1825-1899) are also her Meditations. They came about as a certain form of prayer in 1861. Mary Angela was 36 years old at that time, and the Congregation, which she had founded and was directing, was going through a period of intense spiritual formation. The manuscript contains an introduction and twelve length meditations.
Meditations is a collection, above all, of personal reflections during a retreat. Nonetheless, they are of great worth for all readers because of their contents, the topics involved, certain affirmations of the ideals of religious life, as well as a diversity of instructions on different aspects of interior life.
Meditations is to some degree an autobiography. Mary Angela, while making a retreat based on practical themes, experienced them personally. She writes in a sort of general but intense examination of conscience which is interspersed with her noble desires, aspirations and trepidations of love as well as a remorse of her delicate conscience.
Notable also is her choice of themes on which she reflected. It is not know whether Mother Angela herself chose them, whether they were given to her by her confessor, or whether she based her reflections on conferences which she heard or on some spiritual book. One thing is certain, that her retreat and the topics she chose were very deep experiences for her. Meditations begin with the words: O my God, my God, why have you abandoned me. They are a painful cry of a searching for God coupled with the misgivings and doubts which were a part of practically her whole life. Furthermore, she analyzes her longing for religious life since childhood. She reflects on whether God is the only reason for her desires, actions and behavior; she deliberates on the levels of her response to the grace of her vocation so that she could dwell more intensely on the need of a more perfect turning to God and fervor in the service of God. Finally, she meditates on the vows, on sisterly charity and on humility.
In these discerning meditations we find Mary Angela Truszkowska, as she really was and as she is known from her letters and spiritual evaluations. In the Meditations one recognizes her immense fervor, her desire for love as well as a deep reliving of anxiety cause by her weaknesses. The Meditations point out her immense involvement with the love of God as experienced in religious life. It is indeed this involvement and the extent of spiritual development that the soul experiences anguish over its weaknesses and a painful concern about its love for God. This is not the experience of one who is not at all involved with this kind of love, neither is it the experience of one who is not as deeply involved in it.
Even though the Meditations are above all personal reflections, because of their depth and authenticity, they can be of benefit to everyone since they offer an opportunity to confront oneself and are a means of evaluating one's interior life. ANyone would be able to use them effectively while making a private retreat.
Father Dominic Wider
Cracow, May 16, 1880
Meditations - Introduction
J M J
O my God, my God! Why have you abandoned me? Lord, because you are God, you bore in silence the most cruel agony and pain, whereas an interior abandonment drew forth from your breast that painful complaint. With this cry, have you not empowered us, so to speak, to complain when you allow us to experience a similar condition? Is it surprising then, O my Lord, and does it offend you, if I complain about his abandonment in which you keep me not only for three hours but for so many years? You know right well how trying even a moment can be without you; how very painful your absence can be, and here I am, devoid of your presence for such a long time.
I search for your everywhere, O Lord, in prayer, in meditation, in visits to the Blessed Sacrament, in Holy Communion, in duties performed for you, finally, in my heart, and nowhere can I find you, nowhere can I hear your voice.
I cry out to you and beg you, please show yourself to me for at least a while. I keep asking you - What is it that you want of me? - and I get no answer, no inspiration, no enlightenment; indeed, it seems to me that a deeper darkness envelops me. Is it surprising then, that I am hurting, that despair and doubts surround me, that life seems so difficult for me?
You know, O Lord, because you read my heart, that I am not tired of serving you; that I would not leave you for all the treasures and pleasures of the world; that I do not even have such temptations; that I do not have any regrets leaving anything for you, unless, that I did not have more to offer you.
Work does not bore me because I do not consider it superfluous; indeed, my conscience constantly bothers me that I am idle; that there is so much emptiness in my soul; that should you call me know before your judgment seat, I would have to come with empty hands; I would have nothing to show you which would be of any merit.
The fact that people admire me and rave about my dedication and work does not enhance pride within me; on the contrary, I experience a greater concern that I am quite different in your eyes form that what people think of me. I am convinced that not only do I not do enough for your but that I do not even do as much as my weakness allows me. This conviction is really the cause of my distress; this constant contradiction of recognizing a good thing and carrying it out is extremely trying for me.
You know, O Lord, that it is not the burden of your yoke that disturbs me, but that I carry it so indolently; that I serve you so poorly, so negligently; that I cannot bring myself to make any sacrifices or even make a good resolution; that I do not hate myself enough. I do not practice perseverance nor equanimity in carrying out my responsibilities; the slightest opposition causes me to omit spiritual exercises and prayer; to forego my responsibilities. The cross and pain, instead of bringing me closer to God, drive me away from him; that instead of humbling myself before him, I rebel against him and fall into some kind of bestiality.
All things, even the holiest, become indifferent to me; I feel a disregard for it all. I not only do not feel any love for God, but I do not even desire it. Once, when I was preparing to receive Holy Communion and found in my book a prayer of love for God, I did not want to read it because it seemed to me that I would lie since my lips would be saying what I did not feel in my heart. It seems to me that nothing can help me; that in order to come out of this moral torpidity, I need to experience some sort of violent shock. For this reason, I am constantly asking God to send me some serious illness.
Others go on a retreat with the hope that, after some serious reflection about their soul, and making some resolutions, they would reform; for me that hope is gone. Why make resolutions which I will not keep? I began my retreat so that I could remove myself from people; so that no one would see me, nor I see anyone; so that I would be alone for a few days because at present I yearn for solitude in a special way, not from a natural liking for it but from discouragement and sloth.