One of the most acute and heartbreaking “splints of Our Lord’s Cross” for Father Beyzym was his homesickness. He missed his native country, Chyriv boarding school, Krakow and Krakow Carmels. Being the only Pole on Madagascar, he yearned for the Polish language and cheered up when he got and wrote the letters to his friends. They were quite long sometimes, because Father longed to speak Polish at least by this medium. “I am happy when I can speak Polish in my letters with my friends. There is no place here, where one can hear at least half of the word in Polish”.
I COULD SPEAK AND SPEAK POLISH
Father used to ask for the “Catholic Missions” magazine to be sent for him from Krakow. It was in Polish, Father’s native language. He would read it eagerly. It was his comfort in the foreign land. Completely alone, “worse than Camaldolese”, Father would gladly “speak and speak Polish” in the letters, though. He experienced the nostalgia for Chyriv, for the students in the boarding school and infirmary particularly acutely. He missed “them more than all of them could miss their parents”.
If there were not for Our Holy Mother’s will that “directed” him to serve the lepers, Father would “swim to his native land”. And he wished he was recalled from Madagascar if he only knew, he was more useful in his own place.
Father was moved and delighted by everything that reminded him of his homeland – buckwheat, dried mushrooms sent by the Carmelites from Krakow. He was proud that his country, his countrymen were building the leprosarium in Marana with their alms, that he, the leprosarium builder was a Pole. Father believed this construction would bring “greater grace of God for our country and our poor people”. Father knew well the country was poor, that people built new churches there as well. They sent their donations for the leprosarium, though. He was thankful and proud of his countrymen.
THE REMEDY FOR HOMESICKNESS
Believing that his calling was to serve the lepers on Our Holy Mother’s will, Father rejected the thought of returning to Poland despite being so homesick. In his letter to Father Kraupa, Father Beyzym confessed that he suffered from homesickness. His remedy for the illness was St Ignatius prayer:” Take Lord, and receive all my liberty…” (Spiritual exercises #234)
When the homesickness and nostalgia for the Polish province were the most acute, he used to remind himself the words of the Carmel Prioress in Wesola: “Jesus is imprisoned in the Blessed Sacrament for me and I am imprisoned for Him”. It helped Father to bear his separation from Poland and his “imprisonment” on Madagascar.
Father felt homesick and nostalgic for Chyriv convict. He also yearned, at first, for the long awaited leprosarium construction beginning and then for the construction completion.
In his thoughts and imagination Father used to travel to Chyriv infirmary and Carmel in Lobzow. But if to be asked what the use of his homesickness was, the answer would be the following - sacrifice. “Let it be for the glory of Christ and His Holy Mother”. In the suffering of his heart, Father tried to develop indifference with regard to everything he left overseas in order not to be homesick, not to regret for anything he once gave to God. He only allowed himself to return to Chyriv and Carmel in his thoughts and heart. And would not resist the memories about “the beautiful Podillya and Volyn”, but they were “not for him any more”. When Mother Ksawera suggested his returning to the country for a short rest, Father answered: “I have not done anything for the better glory of God yet. The rest will be in heaven”.
A POLISH PENNY FOR THE POLISH MISSIONARY DEED
In every Father Beyzym’s letter written from Madagascar in 1898 – 1912, when Poland was still divided, one can feel uncanny and undisturbed confidence, deep sensation that Poland is united, its people are one nation. Irrespective of the partitions, they help Father to build the leprosarium. Polish people from all three parts of the country sent a “Polish penny” for the Polish charity deed.
Father Beyzym’s letters are the real proof (for historians) of his and his country citizens’ belief in the unity of the country and nation, the proof of belonging to the common country, divided, but always loved and integral in the hearts of its people. Father Beyzym’s father fought for the united country in January Uprising of 1863.
If one did not know about the divisions of Poland, one would never get the idea about that from Father Beyzym’s letters. His love for the country and its people was beyond the changeability of history and politics. It gives a good opinion of Father and his compatriots. This man, those people bore the grain of Polishness in their hearts. From that grain the country “that never died” was to rebirth for its independency.
The last expression of Father’s love for the Holy Mother, Regina Poloniae, for his homeland was his perimortem prayer: “Holy Mother, remember about me and my homeland…”
Father Mieczyslaw Bednarz SJ