Quick test. I will give you two sets of facts and events and you pick those which you think matter most today and beyond? As background, assume we have been dropped into Poland in 1918? Here are the first set of facts and events:
- 1918 – Having been partitioned for 123 years among her three predatory neighbors–Russia, Prussia and Austria–the newly resurrected Polish Second Republic came into existence following WWI.
- 1919 – Treaty of Versailles settled the German-Polish borders in the Baltic region.
- 1919 – The Polish-Soviet war began.
- 1932 – Poland signed a non-aggression pact with the Soviets.
- 1934 – Poland concluded another pact, with Germany’s new Nazi government, subsequently rejecting French proposals for a security pact directed against Germany, as it involved no guarantee of Poland’s eastern frontier with the Soviet Union.
- September 1939 – Germany invaded Poland.
Here are the second set of facts and events involving Polish citizens:
- August 1905 – Helena Kowalska was born in Glogowiec, a small villiage near Lodz.
- 1912 – Kowalska heard a voice in her soul calling her to a more perfect way of life.
- 1920 – Kowalska made her parents aware of desire to enter into the convent.
- May 1920 – Karol Wojtyla was born in Wadowice, a small town near Krakow.
- August 1925 – Kowalska applied for the second time to the Congregation of The Sister’s of Our Lady of Mercy and was accepted.
- April 1926 – Kowalska received her habit and her name in religion, Sister Mary Faustina.
- April 1929 – Karol Wojtyla’s mother died.
- February 1931 – Sister Faustina had a vision of the Lord.
- December 1932 – Wojtyla’s older brother Edmund, a doctor, contracted scarlet fever from one of his patients and died within five days. Edmund Wojtyla was 26 and Karol’s hero.
- June 1934 – The Image of Divine Mercy was completed by artist E. Kazimierowski under the guidance of Sister Faustina.
- April 1938 – Sister Faustina’s superiors decide to send her to the hospital in Pradnik. She is suffering from asthma and tuberculosis.
- Summer 1938 – Karol Wojtyła and his father left Wadowice and moved to Kraków, where he enrolled at the Jagiellonian University.
- October 1938 – Sister Mary Faustina dies.
- 1940 – Wojtyła begins working various jobs–including a manual laborer in a limestone quarry–to avoid being deported to Germany.
- February 1941 – Karol Wojtyla Senior died. The son had lost his entire family before he turned 21 and was greatly bothered that he had not been present for any of the deaths. He would later reminisce, “I never felt so alone.”
- October 1942 – Wojtyla applies for the priesthood.
One final fact. In April 2000 Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska was canonized at St. Peter’s in Rome, Pope John Paul II presiding.
No personal effort is needed to get facts like those in the first set. They will come whether we welcome them or not.
But how do we keep an eye out for the type of facts in the second set? The more important ones.