After encountering St. John Paul II’s Rule first in the book Bellezza e spiritualità dell’amore coniugale, I knew the first step to bring this Rule to the English-speaking world was to reach out to two of the authors of the Italian book: Professor & Mrs. Stanisław and Ludmiła Grygiel.
If the Holy Spirit was prompting us to do something with the Rule, we needed to connect to the friends of St. John Paul II who knew the Rule so intimately.
The very first time I reached out to Ludmiła, she embraced me in kindness and encouragement. I could feel the prayers coming through her letter, and she ended the letter saying, “I hope that in places like yours (and thanks to people like you), the legacy of St. John Paul and his institution will not be lost. Congratulations and be courageous!” When you begin something new, it can be a struggle to break down walls and forge a fresh path. Those simple words of encouragement, coming from someone who knew St. John Paul II personally, meant the world to us.
She and her husband Stanisław were part of the community of friends around St. John Paul II, which was called: Środowisko. (pronounced: shrō-dō-vīskō, which translates loosely to environment or ambiance.). JPII wrote the Rule circa 1969 for that community of friends. But as one man recalled, they didn’t feel a need to formalize what they had. They had this holy bishop in their life, why did they need a Rule to follow? So, St. John Paul II put it on the shelf in the Archdiocese of Krakow and there it stayed until the Cause for his canonization process began. This process includes going through everything a person has written and the Rule, along with a collection of other unpublished texts, were discovered in the archives of the Archdiocese of Krakow.
The Grygiels, through their book and encouragement during the process of bringing the Rule to English, were able to give us that experiential knowledge of being in the community of St. John Paul II. They were able to shed light on what it felt like to breathe that air of an authentic Catholic community. It’s no wonder that Środowisko means “environment,” because it was something that gave them life. It was the atmosphere around them. It’s poetic and beautiful, and I treasured every exchange of letters between Ludmiła and myself.
Professor Stanisław Grygiel was one of the first people John Paul II hired to teach at his Institute of Marriage and Family Studies in Rome. He was a great man and brilliant professor of Philosophical Anthropology. He made certain we had permission to use the photo of St. John Paul II hiking with his friends, and gave a beautiful endorsement of our book The Rule:
“Great texts are like treasures that are excavated from hidden places often after many years, yet precisely in the time that has need of them and, in which, they can be best understood. This text is "The Rule for Married Couple Groups” written by St. John Paul II, which spouses, Theresa and Peter Martin, offer us; they offer it together with their own wise reflection, born of their experience of the spiritual life, proper to married and family life, without which men reduce their life to that of animals. In these difficult and dangerous times for marriages and families, we must be grateful to the Martins for the fact, seemingly simple and natural, that is, for having decided to live for marriage.”
There was a reason the Rule was set aside. There was a reason it was seemingly lost for decades. And there is a reason it was discovered now. We need St. John Paul II’s guidance now more than ever.
The Grygiels have felt like the spiritual parents behind our little mission to promote the Rule. They continued to send us postcards, relics, prayers, and love. Even when we our baby son died in December of 2021, Ludmiła sent us words of encouragement, “Dear Theresa, we have always prayed for you ALL during these trying months. It is clear that God of life called your child before Christmas to have him with him and to save you from moments of uncertainty. Now you are sure that the birthday of your Angel falls in the period when we all wait to celebrate the birth of our Savior. He will celebrate where there is no pain or death. Peace with you dearest - Ludmiła and Stanisław Grygiel”
We dedicated our book in part to Prof & Mrs. Grygiel. The book was published on February 14, 2023 and Prof. Stanisław Grygiel passed away 6 days later on February 20th. VERITAS AMORIS project posted the announcement beautifully: “Stanisław Grygiel: father, teacher, friend. Today, February 20, 2023, Professor Stanislaw Grygiel, co-founder of the Veritas Amoris Project, fell asleep in the Lord.
He was for us a passionate guide to the truth of love in the communio personarum.
A disciple and friend of St. John Paul II, he introduced us to the life and wisdom of the great Pope, witnessing to us and passing on his love for the Church and the family.
Rest in peace, father, teacher, friend! And from Heaven bless our path!”
And it is in his honor that we continue to go forward, carrying the torch of the wisdom of St. John Paul II as he helped us all understand the human person and the truth of life, love, and human sexuality given by Christ.
We know there was a reason the Rule was discovered now. This is the time we need it the most. Let us continue to carry on this mission as we move ever forward in sharing St. John II’s Rule and the truth of marriage.