I Can Hardly Relate to God without Reference to these Jewels
An interview with Rev. Bryan Storey. Performed by Rev. Bolesław Szewc
2012 is the twentieth anniversary of the publication of ‘Inquiring Faith’ known also as ‘The Gift of Faith’ by Fr. Tadeusz Dajczer. Father, how do you perceive this book and other writings of Fr. Tadeusz?
Our Lord tells us that spiritual life is most vital. Fr. Tadeusz makes the involved challenges come alive.
Could you speak about the inspiration you have found in ‘Inquiring Faith’ or other writings of Father Tadeusz?
Well, there is so much that I do not know quite where to begin. For many years The Imitation of Christ and Devout Life of St Francis de Sales were my inspirations. Fr. Tadeusz seems to have absorbed all these writings and to have improved the insights. He helps us spiritually to live each day; when I was very ill he helped me tremendously to cope.
I can hardly wait to read lines from Father Tadeusz. Every line is more and more meaningful; I can hardly relate to God without reference to these jewels. It is doing more for me than The Imitation of Christ which helped me so much in my student days.
Inquiring Faith is rather like an introduction and the ground work but later on Father Tadeusz develops his thoughts very, very deeply indeed and helps us to get closer to God and to find peace, joy and love in a way that is indescribable.
Could you say, Father, that these writings have somehow affected your priestly life?
Oh yes, because the priestly life is empty without God and Father Tadeusz wonderfully leads us to deeper union with the Creator. I mean he teaches us how God is incredible love and that this love is very personal for each of us. Of course this is that we all want, a personal love. There is nothing more personal than the God’s love.
You said once that you could not solve your problems without spending many hours before Our Eucharistic Lord. Is this somehow related to the writings of Fr. Tadeusz?
Not so much in length of time, because Fr. Tadeusz is very keen on being with God always. He sort of tells us not to take much notice of time but to be with Him always; we humans are so full of many thoughts; we put God in a less important place in our lives. We need exclusive time to put this in a better order; otherwise we do not find Him. Father Tadeusz’s teachings on our Eucharistic Lord are quite outstanding.
You are in touch with several readers who read books of Fr. Tadeusz. What could you say about the reception of the books by them?
It varies but some people seem unfortunately to be unmoved. There are others who are greatly inspired. One lady I remember said she’d never really appreciated the Eucharist until she read The Mystery of Faith. It brought her to appreciate the Blessed Sacrament as nothing else had done. She could not stop talking about the book.
What can bring the books of Fr. Tadeusz to our Christian life?
He introduces lot of ideas, he shows us how to find God in adversity, how to find Him in loneliness, how to find Him when things are getting us down. He brings home to us the life of St. Augustine of Hippo. That great saint lost everything only to find God more. Father Tadeusz does this often in a variety of ways. He makes the Christian life ring true and meaningful.
The examples you have given show that these writings help us find true meaning to the events and experiences in our lives.
Oh yes, time and again he does it; he sheds light on living in the present moment. That’s a wonderful thing. I mean it is not his original idea of course but he makes it live; we don’t find God in haste and speed. We find Him in the present. He is not in the past nor in the future. God is in the present and He inspires us to find Him here and now. So that is all very wonderful.
We hear complaints coming from many sides. Does Father Tadeusz help with this?
He is very helpful because he inspires us to accept God in adversity. He inspires us to see God in disappointments. It’s so true to the Gospel. He positively shows how sufferings are opportunities to find God. This is very important in Christian living. If we run away from setbacks and sufferings instead of facing them we do not really find true light. He inspires us in this direction all the time. That’s how we find more of God.
Are these ideas essential for Christian life?
Without the sort of thoughts Fr. Tadeusz puts before us, Christian life is empty and nothing. We can be saying a lot of prayers, perhaps singing a lot of hymns and going through a lot of meaningless rituals, not going into the depths. The author takes us into the depths; he digs deeply and he brings us more fully to commitment. It is very vital to take up the sort of ideas that he is putting before us.
One priest suggested that the books by Fr Tadeusz are very Polish. Do you confirm this opinion?
I don’t really know why he said that. Some very good things come from Poland. Without these sort of insights we are a very poor Church. This is what we really need. We need depth; we need to return to the basics of the Gospel. Fr. Tadeusz never stops putting us in this direction.
What image of God is shown in writings of Fr. Tadeusz?
It is certainly not a God of fear or God promoting anxieties but One of great love. The great thing that I have found through reading Fr. Tadeusz’s works is that they reduce our fears and anxieties. St. Bernard said that the essence of Christianity is to reduce our fears and anxieties. Fr. Tadeusz inspires us into this direction. Of course it may all seem a little confusing and puzzling but if we persevere, we find this love which comes from Infinite Love itself; it’s beyond description, just wonderful. It all comes about through perseverance, patience and following the ideas Fr. Tadeusz puts before us.
How do you perceive the image of human being presented by Fr. Tadeusz?
A very wonderful presentation because he wants us all the time to put God first. The Lord tells us to seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and everything will be added unto us. So we are urged to go to God first to find more love. We then find more love for others. If we go to God first we are not rejecting others. We are making others more important. It is puzzling thing but that is the way it goes.
How do you assess the book ‘Inquiring Faith’ in comparison with the following books ‘Meditations on the Eucharist’.
Well, I find “Inquiring Faith” very good but it is more like an manual; it does introduce us to great ideas but without the special inspiration of the later books. The later books I find much more inspiring, really because they are really deeper and more personal.
What in these writings touched you more than other things?
Well, there are so many ideas but Pounding Waves is a very good section where we see that God is all the time trying to get into us with His love but we all the time preventing it. This to me is a very, very powerful. God is striking me, striking me, striking me like a wave of love but my hard heart is preventing His coming in. So I have to be more humble, I have to forget myself, I have to let Him reduce my ego so that this love can come in. This is very, very powerful. There are other pieces which are very powerful too.
You have mentioned the meditation on St. Augustine of Hippo.
I find it particularly valuable for us priests because when you think that Augustine lost everything he set out to achieve and yet he found more of God, this is very, very wonderful because we priests often think that our life’s work is perhaps useless or is being rubbished by somebody else or falling to pieces. Augustine shows that God loves us through all this; with a greater discovery of this truth, we can go on we go forward.
Do you return to some pieces to meditate on them?
Oh yes I do it time and again; it never ends, like the piece about finding God best in a losing situation. In the desert, even in despondency and depressions we can find God. So these pieces are very, very powerful. We are always forgetting the message; we get inspired by it and then forget it. So we need to return to it time and again.
How do you see the role of these writings in your life?
Many things, writings and people had inspired me throughout my life but somehow Fr. Tadeusz goes beyond them all, he goes into things very deeply. This is all very natural to him. He introduces me to the reality of God I have never experienced before. It is all very wonderful. The author is so realistic, he starts here and now in the present moment introducing better and stronger ideas of God. So for all the inspirations in life I find wonderful, nothing compares with this.
What message coming from the writings do you see for those who commit sins?
The message I see is one of tremendous hope because he sees us sinners as especially loved by God. I think of that quotation from St. Catherine of Siena. She says that in time of serious sexual temptation God is near, He is present, near to help us. This is a particularly strong and inspiring message. I spoke about this with somebody recently and he said: ’how wonderful to think that God is there to help me in this situation.’
To me seems that even an overwhelming temptation and overwhelming evil, God is still loving me through all this. He is wonderful inspiration and helps me not to go on sinning. We know from our faith that there is no temptation which is beyond our power to resist. Father Tadeusz helps us to see this with greater clarity.
What is the goal in human life according to the writings of Fr. Tadeusz?
To find God in the present moment. This is the goal, finding God everywhere because to find God everywhere is to find the reality of everybody and everything. So the apparent dilemma of seeking God or others is resolved by finding others through God. So we need to put God first. That is where Fr. Tadeusz helps us very much. To find God not in haste, not in the past, not in a future but in the present moment. The future is best cared for by living in the present. Living in the present doesn’t exclude the future but means not being over-anxious about the future. So if we seek God in the present, we approach the future more easily.
Do you meet people who follow these insights?
Unfortunately not many but I meet some who find great inspiration in just waiting and being patient, waiting for things to improve. Waiting on God, depending on God, seeing God in all things, being prepared to spend a lot of time with God. So I do think it offers a great help to all sorts of people. Unfortunately not enough people are interested.
How do you benefit from writings of Fr. Tadeusz concerning Our Lady?
One of his writings concerning Our Lady inspired me to have a deeper love of the Blessed Virgin. That deeper love of the Blessed Virgin always leads me to a deeper love of her Son. That is why I know it is true, because she always pushes me. Whenever I say ‘Mary, Mary’, she pushes me towards the Sacred Heart. This is her role. Her role is always to be God centred; this is really wonderful; she is the humble one, she is the mirror of humility because she only knows God. That is wonderful too because it all brings us more and more to the Creator through the love of Mary. She is constantly promoting the continuing descent of the Holy Spirit.
Some people think that excessive devotion to Our Lady may conceal God.
Oh, this is quite impossible, quite impossible, because Our Lady is so God centred. She would not have it. So if we try to make something more of her than she is, she will not have it. She always pushes us towards God. So it is ridiculous to suggest that great devotion to Our Lady takes away from God, quite ridiculous.
We know that God lives in us and can act in us. Doesn’t it diminish the glory of the Lord if we say in our prayers: Mary live in me; Mary love in me, act in me etc.?
I don’t find it like this. Our Lady finds it impossible to do anything other than promote Her Son. She leads us to God all the time. So it is a puzzling thing. To have communion of life with Mary serves the greatest possible communion with her Son.
In our human nature we may be confused whether we wish to be united with Our Lady or with Jesus Christ.
Our human nature at times is confusing. It was confusing to me at first. Yet because I didn’t understand, Mary kept pushing us towards God. That is all she knows. She is totally God centred. That is what is so wonderful; promoting humility and the Holy Spirit mean everything to her.
Tintagel, Cornwall, UK, 20th of June 2012.