St. Stanislaus Kotska
This is the story of a remarkable young man with the funny name of Stanislaus who found the secret of real happiness.
The name Stanislaus was very common in Poland where he lived. As he grew, people began to notice that he was different from other boys: he was an exceptionally good and noble boy. He was honest and upright and would never do anything wrong, and he was fortunate to be born into a noble and wealthy family that could afford to give him a good education and the hope of a rich and comfortable lifestyle when he grew up.
When Stanislaus was fourteen years old, he was sent away to school, to a Jesuit college in Vienna along with his older brother Paul. His brother was a bit of a bully and tried as hard as he could to make sure Stanislaus had a bad time at school. He played pranks, told stories, and said unkind things to his brother every chance he got. But Stanislaus refused to let the constant cruelty get him down and he tried as hard as he could to return his brother's unkindness with goodness.
Bullying soon became the least of Stanislaus' troubles. He fell gravely ill, and was so sick that the doctors thought he would probably die. In the long quiet hours he spent in bed, sometimes in pain, sometimes almost too tired to think, he spoke to his friends: the saints in heaven. It was amazing to have friends who could be with you all the time... He was never alone! He was especially friendly with the brave little martyr St. Barbara, who stood up to her pagan father when he asked her to sin and paid for her courage with her life.
One night, as he lay in his bed, a bright light filled his room and he saw something more beautiful than he could have ever imagined. Two angels were standing on either side of his pillow and they carried a ciborium containing the Body of Christ. Stanislaus could not believe his eyes! Jesus had come down to visit him all the way from heaven! The angels gave him Holy Communion and then they left the young boy in bed, wrapped up in the arms of Jesus, sleeping more peacefully than he had ever slept before.
From then on, Stanislaus found the courage he needed to face his illness and his brother's mean tricks because he kept the secret about the angels, his best of friends, within his heart at all times. But God had big plans for the gentle-hearted Polish boy and he was not finished with him yet.
Maybe the angel's visit had been a preparation, maybe a sign of things to come, for before long Mary, Our Blessed Mother herself, visited Stanislaus in a vision and asked a great thing of him. She asked him to be her special son, to be a priest in the Society of Jesus and to bring the Eucharist, the bread of angels, to countless others. She asked him to be just like the angels that had visited him, a Christ bearer, a messenger of God's love Who desires to be with us when we are lonely or sick or frightened or sad. When she left, Stanislaus sat up in bed. He was cured!
Of course Stanislaus said yes to what Our Lady had asked of him. Unfortunately, his father said no. He wanted his son to be a rich and important man like himself and not some poor missionary bound to catch his death by a foreign sickness in a far off land. Stanislaus was brought home directly and forbidden to think of such a thing as becoming a priest. But Stanislaus knew just what to do. He asked his special friend, St. Barbara to help his father understand just what God was asking of him. After all she knew all about fathers and how to stand up to them. Stanislaus’ little friend did something better than helping Stanislaus stand up to his father, she changed his father’s mind! Stanislaus was allowed to travel to Rome and begin the Jesuit novitiate, or period of study and prayer before one is ordained a priest.
The young Stanislaus , building on the fine qualities that made him stand out as a boy, was a remarkable seminarian. He knew deep down that God was with him, and was so thankful for His presence that Stanislaus would do anything to give Jesus to his fellow seminarians and to everyone he met. Stanislaus wanted his friends to come to know God which they did through the words and actions of Stanislaus and in a special way through his fervour during Mass. He would never forget the angels who had brought Jesus to him when he needed Him most, years ago before when he lay on his sick bed in Vienna. They had looked at our Lord with such adoring eyes, they the angels had held Jesus so carefully for He was their king and their God. They had sung with such beautiful voices in thanksgiving as they gave Stanislaus Holy Communion.
The young seminarian loved Jesus so very much, and did such a good job imitating his heavenly visitors that after only ten months, God let Stanislaus home to live in heaven forever. You can imagine the joy he felt when he met Jesus, Mary, the angels and all his friends the saints, especially little Barbara. Stanislaus never got the chance to call the King of angels down from Heaven as a priest because the King had called him, the noble hearted Polish boy, up to Heaven.