By Bob Sullivan
Kazimierz Majdański was a Polish seminarian when the Germans invaded Poland in 1939. He was arrested by the Nazis and imprisoned in the infamous Dachau concentration camp, in southern Germany.
The survival rate for Polish priests in Dachau was approximately 33%. As a Polish seminarian, Majdański’s chances were no better.
While in Dachau, Majdański joined a group of prisoners who entrusted themselves to Saint Joseph and vowed that they would take special care of families if they survived the wretched conditions of their imprisonment. While the leading cause of death in Dachau was disease (such as Typhus), an unofficial cause was medical experimentation. In one such experiment, Majdański’s leg was injected with an infection which would have killed him if left untreated. The plan was to leave it untreated and to document how Majdański died. Fortunately, a compassionate orderly gave Majdański an antibiotic, and he survived—with a severe limp to remind him of his suffering.
He was subsequently freed from Dachau, then ordained, eventually becoming Archbishop Majdański. Yet, he remembered his vow to take special care of families.
After the Nazis were defeated, Poland was immediately occupied by Communist Russia. Like the Nazis before them, the Communists were particularly hostile toward Catholicism. This made it very difficult for Majdański to fulfill his vow, but with persistence and determination, he was able to found institutes which studied marriage and the family through the Church and through some of Poland’s universities. These institutes developed courses and programs to strengthen marriages and families in Poland through the development of intellectual and spiritual environments established within families. One of the programs is the Love And Life Marriage Workshops.
The Love and Life Workshops teach married couples how to build strong marriages and families. The workshops are based on the teachings of the Church, including the teachings of St. Pope Paul VI and St. John Paul II, as well as the findings of Archbishop Majdański’s psychological and sociological studies and research.
Father Jarosław Szymczak—“Father Jay”—co-authored the materials for the workshops and he has been running the workshops worldwide for many years. He first visited Nebraska because of his work with Dr. Thomas Hilgers and the Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha. For the past several years, Father Jay has led numerous well-attended workshops in Hastings, as well. My wife Carmen and I volunteer our time to teach (coach) the workshops in Hastings.
Father Jay’s workshops have helped husbands and wives reunite after divorce, have saved marriages in the midst of divorce, and have saved marriages on the verge of divorce. However, the workshops are not specifically designed for troubled marriages. They are actually designed for functioning marriages as well as strong marriages. The objective is to prevent the habits and mistakes which lead to the problems which end with unhappiness and divorce. History has shown that the intellectual and spiritual environments taught in the workshops can help any marriage, no matter how good or how troubled the marriage is.
We just returned from a marriage workshop in Mexico City which was attended by couples from the U.S, Mexico, Columbia, and Argentina. It quickly became obvious that the stresses and struggles we face in Nebraska are not all that different from the stresses and struggles faced by families and marriages across the globe. The fact is, the hostility toward marriage and family is worldwide. Without the support of other Catholics and Christians, the world is poised to consume itself through the culture of death.
Lúcia dos Santos was one of the three children to whom the Blessed Mother appeared in Fatima, Portugal in 1917. Sister Lucia entered the convent shortly after the apparitions, and died in 2005, at the age of 97. Before her death, she wrote: “The final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will be about marriage and the family... nevertheless, Our Lady has already crushed his head.”
Love And Life Marriage Workshops wisely point to the Holy Family as a model of marriage and family. Our Lady crushed the head of Satan when she cooperated with God’s plan to bring Christ into the world through the Holy Family, but Satan is still writhing and trying to strike out at marriages and families today. A wounded predator is a dangerous predator. If you look at the culture, you see Satan’s obvious attack through contraception, abortion, divorce, infidelity, same-sex attraction, gender dysphoria, pornography, and many other threats.
It is time Catholics remind everyone that God not only created marriage, but he blessed it and elevated it to a sacrament which has brought mankind to a civilization which, until recently, was the most fruitful and healthy civilization the planet has ever sustained. Unfortunately, things have taken a turn for the worse, and the marriage workshops are an excellent way to remind the world that there is a better way, and it was the way your grandparents lived. It is the way we all want our children and grandchildren to live.
You can learn more about the workshops at: www.loveandlifehastings.com The workshops are helpful for all married couples regardless of the length of the marriage. They can also be given as gifts to young couples and newlyweds. The program requests a donation, which is why parents or grandparents may want to give the program as a gift to their newly married child or grandchild.
The greatest gift this generation can give to upcoming generations are healthy and happy marriages. A vow made in a Nazi concentration camp has been helping Catholics fight the final battle. The Hastings workshop is on March 30 and 31. Join the battle and enrich your marriage.