Letter to the Sisters of the Carmel at Auschwitz

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Pope John Paul II

Città del Vaticano       09/04/1993

Letter of Pope John Paul II to the sisters of the Carmel at Auschwitz

The following is a translation of a letter in Polish sent to the Sisters of the Carmel of Auschwitz by the Holy Father through Mgr. Tadeusz Rakoczy, Bishop of Bielsko-Zywiec

Dear Sisters,
"My vocation is love. Yes, I have discovered my place in the Church... the Church has a heart, a heart consumed by love... love gives me the key to my vocation... In the heart of the Church, my mother, I shall be love". (Autobiographical manuscripts, Lisieux 1957, 227-229).

These words of the Carmelite Saint of Lisieux speak of the essence of the vocation of each one of her Sisters at Carmel, of each one of you. It was to be love in the heart of the Church that each one of you came to Auschwitz.

We need to explain just how the heart of the Church should beat here, in this place. How necessary here is that love with which Christ loved each one to the end, here, where for so many years hatred and contempt have raged, sowing a harvest of destruction and death between people of so many nations.

Now the Church wills that you should move to another place in this same Auschwitz. Each of you tl is free to choose either to continue as a Carmelite there in this community, or to return to her community of origin. This is certainly a time of suffering for you. I beg Christ crucified and risen again to reveal to each one of you his will and your special vocation in the Carmelite way of life.

Oswiecim (Auschwitz) and everything connected with it, like the tragic heritage of Europe and of humanity, is always a kind of "call" for Carmel, particularly everything connected with the extermination of Auschwitz-Birkenau in the memory of people, of the sons and daughters of Israel, and at the same time all that is linked with the history of Poland, of our country. The way in which the future develops from this very sad past depends in great measure on the fact that the threshold of Auschwitz is guarded by "the love which is stronger than death" (S.S.:8:6). To you, dear Sisters, is entrusted in a special way the mystery of this redemptive love — the love that saves the world. How much is our 91 world of today — fifty years after the terrible war which, among other things, gave us Auschwitz —always threatened by hatred.

Dear Daughters of Carmel welcome at this time the "gaudium paschale" which the Church lives during Paschal time. Welcome also the blessing in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus who has conquered the world. (cf.ln.16:33).

Vatican, 9 April 1993
Joannes Paulus PP.II
(source: Osservatore Romano 16 April 1993)

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