How Cigarettes and the Blessed Mother can Defeat a Bolshevik Army

Quite some time ago, I read a quote that had been sent to me by a number of people, but I wasn’t really sure what to say about it other than express disgust and disappointment. Sometimes you read these things said by Cardinals and it makes you wonder if they are Catholic, or unaware of what precisely the Church is here for. Said Cardinal Kasper:

“But it’s a heroic act, and heroism is not for the average Christian.”

(see the context in the news report here). Say what? This is a Cardinal! Before you throw something or smash your computer screen, though, let’s compare what he said to what Church tells us. First, Our Lord said, “Be perfect, as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”  And, 2000 years of Church history have shown us how. Says St. Maximillian Kolbe:

“There is no kind of heroism a soul cannot achieve with the help of the Immaculata.”

All Are Welcome (to be heroic)

Somehow, Cardinal Kasper’s expression sounds like it is not what is expected of us. We are Catholic precisely because we know that human nature cannot make us heroes, but grace given freely to those in the state of grace can easily make heroes of everyone. Mother Church does not hold back this grace from anyone. Truly, as far as the availability of sanctifying grace and heroic virtue, all truly are welcome. I cannot find where Jesus said, “Some of you should try to be perfect” or “a few of you could possibly be perfect.”  Rather, He said, “be perfect.”  Or, we can say, “be a hero!”

The good news of the Church is that she has all the stuff, know-how, and power to make anyone into a hero. That’s awesome! So why would a Cardinal push people away from this? Instead, should we not be exclaiming the means and tools by which Mother Church turns ordinary broken people and makes them move mountains? That’s the good news here:  you don’t need to change rules to be extraordinary, you have everything you need waiting for you to use.

Mortification is Force Multiplied By God to Move Mountains

Mary, Gate of Dawn (Ostrama Brama).

Mary, Gate of Dawn (Ostra Brama).

Mortification is one way we give something to God and He adds his grace to force multiply our effort. Why? In some ways because it makes us like God’s beloved Son, Who gave Himself for us. In other ways, because it is just that we pitch in. Deep in this concept though is another rule from Our Lord, that of both prayer and fasting. As explained in this post, you cannot escape mortification if you want to make things better. Fasting is a type of mortification. Mortification is doing your part in the work of salvation.

It always sounds like something for someone else, though. The concept that things can change on our efforts forgets that we have help from Heaven. Who else but our Blessed Mother is the first to be with us from Heaven?

How Cigarettes and our Triumphant Leader Crushed an Army

St. Maximillian Kolbe tells the story of the first Marshal of Poland, Marshal Jósef Piłsudski, who died in 1935, and how he crushed the Russians in Vilnius at Ostra Brama. Kolbe gives a lengthy account of Marshal’s love for the Blessed Mother. Said his priest:

Fr. Stanislaw Szurek quotes a personal declaration of the Marshal, “When I am at odds with myself, when all are against me, when the tempest of indignation and objections rages about me, when circumstances seem to be even hostile to my intentions, then I address this question to myself: How would my mother want me to behave in this case? And I do what I believe would most likely have been her advice, her will, without bothering myself with anything else…”

That paragraph is worth printing out, laminating, and keeping copies all over your house and work. I can see why St. Kolbe put it out there as an example to all! So that sets the stage of Marshal. And there’s more:

“he learnt from his mother to love the Mother of all men, and loved her in the image of the Virgin Mary of Ostra Brama“;  He rejoiced “in the fact that, in times when everyone was surrendering and humbling themselves before the Russian aggressor, this very oppressor of Poland had to humble himself in front of the Divine Mother of Ostra Brama, having to bare his head while passing by her house.”

“He was know by his relatives,” affirms Przegląd Powszechny, “to pray every day in front of the effigy of the Divine Mother of Ostra Brama, which used to hang above his bed, and from which he was never separated.” Senator Fr. Zebrowski related to me that when he went to Vilnius as Head of State, the Marshal did not want to go to beduntil they had provided him with a picture of the Divine Mother of Ostra Brama and placed it above his bed. In fact, the events of May, with my curiosity aroused, I went in search of the picture in the bedroom of the Marshal, in the Belvedere, and there, to my joy, the Divine Mother of Ostra Brama truly dominated the place.

Marshal’s response to the Bolshevik advance on Vilnius in 1919 was to save the image of Ostra Brama. How?  He told his aide, “Do you know what you should do? Our troops have to save the image of Ostra Brama. It is not an easy task.”

Heroism. Cardinal Kasper might have told him that not everyone could do that. Marshal knew the secret of how God can multiply his efforts through mortification, though. And so Marshal vowed three days of mortification.

Gazeta Kościelna relates, “The Marshal wanted to free Vilnius as soon as possible. While he was preparing himself to embark on this venture, in the spring of 1919, he said to Boleslaw Wieniawa-Długoszowski, ‘Young man, do You know what we are going to do? We are going in aid of the Divine Mother of Ostra Brama. It is not a trivial thing. I have promised to give up smoking for three days for the success of our expedition, and since it is a great consolation to have a companion in times of suffering, so you too will not smoke. I hope, in solidarity with me […] for three days”

The city gate to Vilnius, over which Ostra Brama (gate of Dawn) is. Photo by David Iliff, a href="" rel="nofollow">CC.

The city gate to Vilnius, over which Ostra Brama (gate of Dawn) is. Photo by David Iliff, CC.

Says his aide, who Marshal had mortify himself with him:

“At first, I thought he was joking, but as soon as I noticed that the Marshal was honoring his vow, I also decided to control myself and not smoke.”

Marshal sent his troops into Vilnius, instructing them to remove their hats in honor of Ostra Brama and provide her a military salute as they passed through the gate where her image was. He was aware, as every reader here should be, that Mary, our Queen, is the Triumphant Leader, Invincible Champion.

They routed the Bolshevik Russians out and freed the city!

Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn (Ostra Brama) today:


Photo by David Iliff, CC.

What are you going to do to be a hero?

With our Mother, any of it is possible!




This article, How Cigarettes and the Blessed Mother can Defeat a Bolshevik Army is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
Do not repost the entire article without written permission. Reasonable excerpts may be reposted so long as it is linked to this page.

John B. Manos

John B. Manos, Esq. is an attorney and chemical engineer. He has a dog, Fyo, and likes photography, astronomy, and dusty old books published by Benziger Brothers. He is the President of the Bellarmine Forum.
  • susanna says:

    Beautiful title Gate of Dawn.

  • Halina says:

    Mr. Manos,
    Your article on Marshall Pilsudski has given me terrible headache. Over and over we are discovering how the history of every country has been distorted, to the liking and evil purposes of the enemies of God. And the Pilate’s in every age ask….”What is truth?” Today’s motto is ‘Who cares about truth!’
    How is it possible to refute and expose their propaganda, the lies they believe and promote. How to make good people understand and believe that they are ‘worshiping golden calf.’ In a country as Poland that is so divided and infiltrated with enemies that want to devour her, and poison their hearts with materialism, modernism, liberalism, enough poison to destroy true Catholicism. As in every age only the ‘remnant’ carry the torch of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
    Such is the ‘lie’ of the so-called heroism, patriotism and Catholicism of the Masonic Marshal Josef Pilsudski (Kosciuszko, Pulaski). All of 19th and 20th centuries were most tragic for Poland (the world), caused a terrible infiltration and division among Poles, which exists till today. The so-called Polish hero Pilsudski was the creation of enemies of Poland, of the holy Church. As in every age and so is today, propaganda, lies, errors has rights, but as we know (like in the holy Church), truth has no rights, and is persecuted. In short, the true Patriots and Catholics loving ‘truth’, in the fear of God, have slowly but surely dug out, pictures, transcripts, letters, written by witnesses…etc., they accuse Pilsudski as a traitor to the ‘Crown of the Kingdom of Poland’, an agent for Germany and Austria, who had a tendency to invest himself with a cult of hero-worship, who cleverly used for his political ambitions and honors, clever enough to embellish his own military activities with legends. So clever to surround himself with influential politicians, who did not oppose him, so clever to surround himself with clergy that was worldly, under the banner of the ‘Ostra Brama.’ (Is it not how the enemy within the Holy Church works and operates today?). Piłsudski believed in a multicultural Poland – a home of nations (sounds familiar?). Only God knows if this man had any Catholic Faith, he was married to a Protestant woman, had a reputation of an adulterer, he shamelessly pursued his passions all known to his soldiers. His sympathizers, like all sympathizers of lies, keep it alive and defend with all their might, especially, that the infiltrators of the holy Church chime in the same note…..Ave Maria! (not for long, God is Just……Thanks Be To God!).

    Poland is a country which inherited, and at the same time played her part in the development of European culture. Situated in the heart of the continent, between the Carpathian Mountains and the Baltic Sea, between her worst enemies Germany (Protestants), and Russia (Bolsheviks – 75% Russian Jews, and Communists), and not too far off Protestant England. Hence, Poland came under the influence in the course of ten centuries of all the major migrations, conflicts and crucial economic and social changes experienced by Europe since the Middle Ages. There were times also when the Kingdom of Poland disappeared from the political map of the world, simply because with neighbors (mentioned above), who needs enemies.
    Among many twisted events and ruinous aims of her enemies against Catholic Poland, was the most obvious (and resented by many), her claim to be ‘The Christ of nations’, and ‘the conscience of the world.’ To understand, history of Poland (including countries, that not long ago were professing Catholic Creed), is to understand why Our Lord and Saviour was Crucified, and this is no exaggeration, but rather something to ponder about. This might be hard to understand for American Catholics, who were born and live in Protestant country. Where Catholicism has become almost on the same level with the heretical man-made so-called religions. Blindness, lukewarm, ignorance to ‘truth’ comes from God, on those who don’t love His Truth. The remnant faithful Catholics in Poland (world), are true heroes, who shed their blood for their faith, fearing God, not ‘men.’ But there are other so-called Poles, Nationalists, that are enemies worshiping the ‘golden calf’, the so-called legendary heroes that want to stampede all that is true Catholicism, among them many wolves in the sheep’s clothes.

    Propaganda is the greatest enemy of history, ultimately of God......the effects are of history that evolves (same with holy Religion), and accommodates the times and whims of the world. Clearly, every Catholic ought to relate to lies that will never die, for instance ‘Inquisition’ and ‘the Crusades,’ among so many others.

    Wrong translation of “Ostra Brama”, the proper translation means “Sharp Gate”, not ‘the gate of dawn.’

    By the way, the story that is surfing around the internet supposedly told by Maximilian Kolbe, praising Pilsudski (sigh!) is just another ‘lie’ that won’t die. Very holy priest (persecuted by the wolves in the sheep’s clothes), Fr. Natanek from Zakopane (Southern Poland), just spoke about pictures that are found (among so much more evidence), showing the dignitaries from all over Europe, Hitler for one, who attended in 1935, the Funeral Mass for the their ‘useful fool’. (imagine that). But who cares???
    So, the followers of the “Life, Truth, Way” in humility, holy perseverance, holy hope….follow the Royal Way of the Cross! Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find……and the truth will set you free!

  • Halina says:

    Thank you. I will check with my sources in Poland.

    Saint Maximilian Kolbe, pray for us!

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