IN THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, THAT IS, LIFE IN THE LIGHT
The first participants appeared at Jasna Góra on Friday 20 February 2015, where in the aula of St. Augustine Kordecki inaugurated a meeting of people responsible to for an ecclesiastical movement which has been enlivening the Church for nearly half a century with its tireless vitality
An initiator and a founder of this Polish phenomenon which were youthful religious groups, was God’s servant Fr. Franciszek Blachnicki, who has been devoting himself to serving God, the Church and Homeland since the moment of his conversion, creating one of the biggest works of his life – Light-Life Movement. Bishop Adam Włodarczyk, a postulator of the beatification process of Fr. Franciszek Blachnicki and the general moderator of the Movement, the chairperson of the 40th Congregation of the Responsible for the Light-Life Movement, was right to notice that the youthful religious groups of Fr. Blachnicki were a visible sign of Providence and God’s Blessing, because if it had been only from the human desire, it would not last long. – It is already 28 years since the death of the founder that the youthful religious groups have been existing, developing in all dioceses and have been more and more present in countries of Europe and on other continents – said bishop Włodarczyk in front of cameras of the Television Studio of ‘Niedziela’. – The method of Fr. Blachnicki becomes fruitful for people from completely different cultures, for example, in China, on Philippines, in Turkmenistan, in Kenya in Africa or in Ecuador in Latin America. So, we see that this is a universal road which leads people to God and finding a place in the church. I think, that, first of all, this determination with which Fr. Blachnicki was managing the Movement of the Living Church at the times when, in fact, it was impossible to implement and the existence of the group in a new reality are a convincing argument proving that Fr. Blachnicki built a house on a rock – said the Bishop.
Lord prepared tools for himself
And the work was undergoing hard trials. In September 1977 the IV Department of the District Civilian Militia Station in Kraków established a special group for liquidating the youthful religious movement. According to the authorities of those times, the situation was serious if such coordinated actions had been undertaken. But harassment of the communist secret police towards this idea, in fact, had begun much earlier, with the moment of getting interested in its organizer.
Fr. Franciszek Blachnicki belonged to the generation which had hard experiences. As an 18-year-old man, he took part in a campaign in September and in actions of conspiracy Polish army. He was arrested in 1940 and was in the Auschwitz camp for 14 months. In September he was transported to a camp in Zabrze and later to an investigate prison in Katowice. In 1942 he was sentenced to death penalty for conspiracy activity against the Third Reich. Waiting in the prison in Katowice for the execution of his verdict, on 17 June 1942 he experienced sudden and deep religious conversion. Two months later, in unusual circumstances the verdict of death penalty was changed into 10 years of imprisonment ‘after the end of military actions’.
After the war he joined the Silesian Seminary in Kraków and in 1950 he was ordained a priest. During internment of bishops from Katowice he took part in works of the secret curia in Katowice. Being arrested in 1961, under the accusation of anti-state activity, he was sentenced to thirteen months of imprisonment in suspension for three years for ‘useful social activity’. In 1961 he started studies and an academic work at the Catholic University in Lublin. He gained particular academic degrees with work in pastoral theology. For, he was interested in modern methods of pastoral ministry. Being harassed by the Education Ministry, he did not gain acknowledgement of his PhD thesis. He made up for it with renewing and developing the idea of retreats for youthful groups whose leaders became responsible for a new ecclesiastical movement – Movement of Living Church, which after a few years received a new name – the Light-Life Movement. In his diary from the 70s of the last century he wrote: ‘Tonight I received a grace of knowledge of miraculous roads on which I was being led by Lord during 30 years from my conversion. Thirty years of life given as free from imprisonment. Were they wasted years? Despite his much disbelief – Lord prepared a tool for himself. These whole years – were becoming mature and gathering charismas! There are lots of them! But it terrifies: now it is high time a period of giving back charismas to the Church started! They must not be wasted! Now I must beg for one charisma: charisma of fire which would set fire to a prepared pile! Charisma of concentration in a testimony, which the rest of life must become!’
Youthful religious oasis group – a place of inner oasis of the man
What happened then gave the fundaments for further determined attitude and developing of the work. On 28-29 February 1976 Fr. Blachnicki organized the First National Congregation of the Responsible for the Light-Life Movement in Krościenko at Dunajec. It was the time when, in the opinion of Fr. Blachnicki, there appeared the power of the Holy Spirit supporting the initiative of the bottom-up renewal of the Church. It was according to the spirit of the Second Vatican Council. Services of criminal so-called People’s Poland at that time were positioning the Movement as the one aimed against the communist authority. It happened so because activity of Fr. Francis and his cooperators have always been close to social matters. However, it could not have been different, if in the spirit of the constitution ‘Gaudium et spes’, he felt responsible for the development of the contemporary man and the society, basing on rules of freedom and dignity, which belong to everybody. Whereas, paraphrasing words of John Paul II, oasis were a place of conversion and inner renewal of the man, who, taking strength from the power of the Holy Spirit, could fully realize his humanity, free from addictions, indoctrination and alienation, ‘having oneself in giving oneself to Christ and brothers’.
In the last years of his life, God’s Servant initiated international social and freedom work and prepared the Movement to the collapse of communism, which he had precisely predicted for the end of the 80s of XX century. Today challenges which the Light-Life Movement is facing, are not easy. However, it has its advocate in Heaven – God’s Servant Fr. Franciszek Blachnicki, who – as the general moderator of the Movement Adam Wodarczyk said in the further part of an interview – ‘he prays to God, so that the work would serve to the further renewal of the Church, renewal of people’s hearts’. And, indeed, the Light-Life Movement is still developing both in the organizational and formational sphere. It is proved by, among the others, the 40th Congregation of the Responsible for the Light-Life Movement which was attended by over a thousand people. During the meeting, its participants were praying for renewal of the oasis movement, for pouring of the Holy Spirit for Homeland and the world. – However, in order to understand what oasis is, discover its unusual power changing people’s hearts, one must come to this community, go onfortnight retreats. It was mentioned in the interview for ‘Niedziela’ by bishop Wodarczyk: - Since the age of fourteen, since the moment when I started my road in the oasis, I saw that life of many people was changing - that my life was also changing. I can say that if it had not been for this movement, I would not be a priest now or a bishop today…. – he said.