Having Izabella Nagle speak at the St. John Paul II Feast Day celebration was a tremendous blessing! Izabella has a presence about her that is kind and warm and yet, energetic and passionate. Born in Poland, and immigrated to the United States as a teenager, Izabella shared stories of Polish history, and powerful and horrific stories about Nazism in Poland. Her relatives grew up in the same small town as St. John Paul II and she shared how during Nazi rule in Poland, the people and the priests formed a deep bond; they literally died for one another.
When communism took over and tried to pit the priests against the people, the people wouldn’t have any of it. They did not give into the lies or the propaganda that the church hates them, because they experienced the true love of these men who laid down their lives for their people. They were not going to turn on the ones who were in the trenches with them.
When that tactic of communism didn’t work, they took a more nefarious approach to undermine the family: They would call the fathers of the families to “very important business meetings” on religious holidays. These meetings were mandatory and they would serve them a great amount of vodka. The goal was to inebriate them, and pull them away from their families.
Izabella‘s mother remembers the time when the family was waiting and waiting and father never came home for Christmas dinner. It became so bad that the bishops of Poland made a declaration that it is a mortal sin for someone to consume alcohol on a Catholic feast day, in order to save these men from that situation. The communists did whatever they could to breakdown the morality of the people and, in particular, to break down the family.
Izabella then began making a startling comparison. She compared that communist tactic to what is happening in our society today in secular America. The culture is full of activities, demands of work, school schedules, extracurricular programs, and they all pull apart our families and are slowly eroding our family unit (and our morality). Secular society pulls husbands and wives apart from each other, parents from children, siblings from each other, and keeps us all so busy and so locked into electronic devices and video games and sports activities, that we can get lost.
Izabella proposed that St. John Paul II’s Rule gives us the tool to combat this dismantling of the family. She said, “do you remember, in the Lord of the Rings, when Gandalf was standing in the breach between the members of fellowship and the Balrog, the demon of smoke and fire. He was standing in the breach and he held up his staff, and he said, ‘you shall not pass!’”
Izabella asked us to consider this anti-Christian culture pressing against us the secular demon of smoke and fire, pressing in against us, and it is coming. It is coming for our families and it is coming for our faith. We need to be the spouses
, and the parents who stand in the breach and holding up the Rule of St. John Paul II against this monster, and grasping it, and living by it, and breathing it, and living the teachings of Christ, and allow this Rule to guide us, and say to this anti-Christian culture: “YOU SHALL NOT PASS.”