October 2012 - Vol.  63..

The Bone Surgeon: A personal story of a life-changing revolution
 by Andrzej Solecki

illustration by Grzegorz Grys

Chapter 8: Adventures With the Light of the Word

My new source of inspiration became The Holy Scriptures, which, as a “normal Catholic,” I had never read before. When they were read out during the holy masses (which as a young man and an adult person I attended only sporadically), they were usually incomprehensible for me, especially the passages, which started with the word “brothers”.

 Whenever I heard “brothers,” I would take it as a signal to sit back and think about something more interesting. After My Great Revolution, things changed. A lot of words from the Letters to the early Church started to speak straight into my mind and into my heart. I remember that once during a mass, the priest read out the following passage from the Letter to the Galatians:

May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.
The message behind this sentence struck me with absolute clarity the moment I heard it. My heart was filled with great joy and a desire to live my life that way. After the mass, I went to the sacristy to ask the clerk where I could find the passage. He was a little bit surprised by my question, but he said that the passage was a Gospel Acclamation and that it was found in the Letter to the Galatians, chapter 6,verse 14. What an unusual feeling to understand a reading that usually comes after the word “brothers”! I actually wanted to live like the man who wrote it! 

I started experiencing such things more and more often and I realized that in that way God was feeding me with his Word. And that special passage from the Letter to the Galatians became a true and very practical compass for me. Whenever I am tempted to brag about something, these words come back to me. Unfortunately, they often come as an afterthought and sound more like remorse: “You’re proud of something else again!” I wish I was humble by nature like some people I know, but unfortunately I tend to be rather vain, so I use this verse to put my feet back on the ground and learn humility from it. 

A significant role in giving a new shape to my life was played by my friendship with Father Joachim Badeni. When our community was being formed, he was transferred from Kraków to Ustron, which is a stone’s throw from Bielsko-Biala. One night I was giving him a lift to the monastery from one of our meetings. 

‘How long have you been faithful to your commitments?’, he asked about my involvement in Church and abstinence from alcohol. 

‘It’s been about four years now, Father.’ 

‘And how have you managed to persevere so long?’, the question came from a man who had lived the ascetic life and worked with students in Poznan, Wroclaw and Kraków for many years.

I had to think for a moment. How did I do that?

‘Father’, I replied ‘I suppose I have this highlander’s nature, that I acquired as a young man. I just got the ‘bit between my teeth’ and I’ve been holding on to it ever since. 

‘That’s interesting’, he replied ‘because for me it’s just been God’s grace.’

Now, that was embarrassing! I realized I was a moron! Got the bit between my teeth! Tough guy! Right! Like it would work in my case! Why was I proud of something else again? Of some imaginary quality I don’t even possess! That was a very important lesson of humility that came through just a few simple words of Father Joachim Badeni. Instead of saying, ‘It’s only by grace, you fool’, he said that the way I saw it was interesting. . . 

Another time I was waiting for someone at the hospital. I had a half of an hour to spare and the weather was beautiful, so I sat on a bench outside, took out my Bible and began to read Paul’s Letter to the Galatians. Here is what I came across:

Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. (Galatians 5, 16-18, NRSV)
Quite a difficult passage; I gawked at the verses. Suddenly the lines started to glow like a neon sign. That’s obvious! Of course! Without the guidance and the power of the Holy Spirit, all the Old Testament laws, including the Ten Commandments are “imposed from the outside”, strange. “Flesh”, that is the fallen nature will always fight against it. The obligation to observe the law is like slavery. Everyone who is a slave to the flesh sees the Gospel teachings as a violation of their nature. If you choose to be guided by the Holy Spirit, you will understand the intentions of the Lawmaker and you will gladly fulfill His law, which you will consider your own. That’s what freedom in the Holy Spirit is! So there I was, sitting on a bench with a Bible on my lap, much more impressed by the light of the Word of God than by the beautiful sunshine. 

I owe one of my latest adventures with the Word to my father-in-law. The father of my wife and her sister Grazyna is a really tough guy. He is a lawyer, at the age of 82 still working actively and skiing in his free time. A couple of weeks ago, while staying at the hospital, he read The Heavenly Man, a book about the persecuted church in China. The book was a present from Grazyna, who has a gift of evangelizing the members of our family. After reading the book, my father-in-law went to the hospital chapel to confess his sins for the first time in sixty years. I was abroad when I heard the news and reacted to it like a ‘doubting Thomas’ ‘I would not believe in my father-in-law’s conversion until I had talked to him personally.’ 

I went to the hospital right after my return to Poland. He welcomed me with a relaxed smile on his face. 

‘Andrzej! I’ve been reading the Bible! I’m looking at Matthew’s Gospel at the moment. There are so many questions that I would like to ask you. Will you explain some things to me?’, he showed me a piece of paper filled with dense writing. 

I could not believe it! He looked like the guy I had known, but he spoke like a completely different person!

‘I’ll try, but I can’t promise I’ll know all the answers.’

‘There’s this passage in the Gospel of Matthew’, he opened his Bible and started reading:

Then the disciples came and asked him, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’ He answered, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. (Matthew 13, 10-12, NRSV)
‘What is this all about? What does it mean that those who have will be given?’

‘Couldn’t he have chosen an easier passage?’, I thought. ‘I don’t understand this one myself!’

‘This passage is one of the most difficult in the Bible… and it has been interpreted in many ways…’, as I said this, I began to pray for help to the Holy Spirit. Suddenly it hit me! The words took on the familiar glow.

‘Dad, what was the difference between Jesus’ disciples and the crowds that followed him?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘The crowds were with him a few hours a day or a few days a week. The disciples stayed with him 24 hours a day, each day of the week. They had a close relationship with Jesus—that is what made them different from the crowd. This is what you can have and what you need in order to understand the secrets of the kingdom,  that is the Word of God itself. To those who remain in close relationship with Jesus, the understanding of the Word will be added. From those who do not have a relationship with Jesus, their status, fame will be taken away, even if they were a learned Pharisee or had a PhD in Theology…

‘Ah, so, it’s about a close relationship with Jesus?’

‘Yes, Dad, it’s about a 24/7 friendship.’

If I had tried to talk to my father-in-law about friendship with Jesus one week before, he would have only given me a surprised look… 

‘Thank you, Holy Spirit!’, I said in my heart.

(c) 2011 Andrzej Solecki

Click on links below to read separate chapters.
Introduction Personal Story of a Life-changing Situation
Chapter 1 The Tools
Chapter 2 Communism and the Trouble with Grazyna
Chapter 3 Intuition and Resuscitation
Chapter 4 Post-Wedding Bash
Chapter 5 My Great Revolution
Chapter 6 Bonfire, Bicycle and Freaks
Chapter 7 “Don’t Drink!” and Staszek’s Story
Chapter 8 Adventures With the Light of the Word

copyright © 2012  Living Bulwark
publishing address: Park Royal Business Centre, 9-17 Park Royal Road, Suite 108, London NW10 7LQ, United Kingdom
email: living.bulwark@yahoo.com