(I mention of you in my prayers) that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts[a] enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to that working of the strength of his might which he worked in Christ, when he raised him from the dead and made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule, authority, power, dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in that which is to come. He put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things for the assembly, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.Ephesians 1:17–2:5
You were made alive when you were dead in transgressions and sins,in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the children of disobedience.We also all once lived among them in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.But God, being rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us,even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.
When investigating the role and place of angels in the spirituality of Father Markiewicz, we should first refer to the Notes of the internal life, which give us a picture of his approach towards angels from the early years of the priesthood. Notes on this subject appear in Father Markiewicz writing in autumn 1866 (he was at the last year of seminary studies).
On September 4, Fr. Markiewicz asks the inhabitants of heaven for help that his life choices be worthy of the Crucified Love of Christ.
On September 13, aware of his weaknesses and incompetence in contemplating the cross, he calls the Holy Mother and angels to help him in the fervour of his desire:
Jesus, I want to go with You to the cross. I am weak, save me, have mercy. Virgin and Mother, Mother and Virgin, holy Patrons, all the saints of God, Saint Michael, my guardian angel – all the angelic hosts, come with your Help.
In the later years of the priesthood, Bl. Fr. Markiewicz mentions angels on the pages of Notes, most often in the context of the cross. It clearly shows the influence of the ignatian spirituality.
The most information about his devotion to angels is provided by the twenty-year stay of Fr. Markiewicz in Miejsce Piastowe; when, after years of searching and having completed his novitiate in Turin, and after being enriched with the spirituality of St. John Bosco, he returned to his native land – Poland.
In articles devoted to Saint Michael the Archangel, the blessed explains the theological basis of the devotion to St. Michael, and also gives the reasons for his own decision of choosing him as the patron. He refers to the Holy Scriptures, Traditions, shows the cult of Saint Michael in the Eastern and Western Churches, and above all shows that Saint Michael is the main patron of the Catholic Church, and as such he has the right to great adoration and devotion in all Christian nations, but we are particularly obliged to do so. All Galicia worships St. Michael as its Patron, because on the eve of his ceremony, Lviv, the capital city of the country, experienced his help in severe oppression several times (PiP 5 (1902) No. 9, p. 67).
Ks. Markiewicz was aware that St. Michael is a patron whose existence is supported by the Holy Bible, Church Traditions and special devotion in the Polish nation. Faithfulness to the Holy Father, and thus faithfulness to the Church, was also a decisive motive. Those factors upheld Fr. Markiewicz’s convictions of the rightness of the chosen path. It is therefore appropriate – he writes in one of his articles – in present times to turn with special devotion and in a very personal way to St. Michael, commander of the army of heaven and the conqueror of evil angels, who, after the Blessed Virgin Mary takes first place in Heaven and also, right after Her, has the greatest impact on the fate of the world. Our victory ultimately rests in their hands. St. Michael after the Blessed Virgin is the first power in heaven and on earth (PiP, 4 (1901) No. 4, p. 31).
What this unusual appeal to St. Michael meant in the spirituality of Blessed Bronisław? How did he understand imitating this patron in his life? St. Michael was for father Markiewicz an example of admiration and praise of God. He was the fire of love that overcame Satan’s disobedience and rebellion.
Blessed Markiewicz throughout his life learned humility at the foot of the cross and adored Him together with the angels. No wonder that he calls Saint Michael the ensign-bearer of salvation who holds the victorious banner of Christ’s Cross in his hands.
It is worth noting that he writes the most about it in 1902. This year brought the founder of the Michaelite Congregations very specific crosses in the form of extreme poverty of abandoned children and in misunderstanding of his works. At the beginning of the priestly path, he called angels with St. Archangel Michael to contemplate the cross together, and now, in the depth of his suffering, he felt its taste, speaking “Who is like God” hoping against hope.
One cannot ignore the fact that Fr. Markiewicz, choosing St. Michael as the patron of his works, remained still the spiritual son of Fr. Don Bosco, from whom he took the idea of temperance and work.
Temperance and work have now become the archangel’s sword with which he fought against the evil that surrounds him in the world of human labor and morality. That is why in the article entitled St. Michael the Archangel he states that it is best to praise him with temperance and work, i.e., especially restraining pride and sensual greed, and working not only for own salvation, but also for the salvation of others (PiP 4 (1901) No. 4, p. 30).
At the center of the spirituality of blessed Markiewicz stood the “Who is like God” principle, which in the earlier years of his priesthood was expressed in words borrowed from Saint Ignatius: Everything for the greater glory of God, and during his stay in Turin was closed in the motto: God above everything – above the interests of the Congregation, homeland, family and my own.The devotion to angels, especially St. Michael the Archangel, in the spirituality of Blessed Fr. Markiewicz, was mediating and supporting him in becoming “the fire of love” and in pronouncing the archangel’s call “Who is like God” in every situation of life, both in success and in humiliation, as well as in a constant fight against evil with a sword of temperance and work. This dedication to the patron integrated in the spirituality of Blessed Markiewicz the contemplation of God with active apostolic zeal.
Fr. Rafał Kamiński CSMA