The Presence of Christ in the Community
Witness: Blessed Methodius Dominic Trčka – Redemptorist faithful to his vocation
[Father Metod Lukačik CSsR]
I am standing next to the relic of the Blessed Redemptorist, martyr, Methodius Dominic Trčka. We are in the minor basilica of the Redemptorists in Michalovce, where Blessed Methodius served as a missionary and as the first vice provincial of the Michalovce vice province. I find that very important, that the last beatified Redemptorists are martyrs: four martyrs from Ukraine, six martyrs from Spain (Quenca) and Blessed martyr Methodius from Slovakia. (He comes from today’s Czech Republic, the former Province of Prague). Who is a martyr? A martyr is a radical witness of God’s love. A martyr preaches this love and testifies to it with the sacrifice of his life. I think that we, Redemptorists, should replicate this same spirit of sacrifice. We must be able to offer everything to God and for our brothers and our mission. We must be able to offer our talents, our heart, our forces, our health, and all our time to preach plentiful redemption. This exemplifies the story of martyr, Blessed Methodius.
[Father Miroslav Bujdoš CSsR]
One of the most important challenges for a man, I believe, is to make a decision to be faithful to his values, regardless of the circumstances, in which he lives. We Christians, must especially be faithful when all circumstances suggest that everything is going wrong, and convince us that we have been abandoned by God. Success defined in this world is different from success defined in the Bible. One of the definitions of success according to the Bible is the question of being faithful to our vocation given from God.
Why am I stressing these challenges in the above paragraph? I will explain it to you through an episode from my confrere‘s life: Blessed Methodius Dominic Trčka. It is a privilege to be an inspiration for others. That privilege was given to Blessed Methodius Dominic. One of his confreres remembered him by saying: „He had an extraordinary elegance in presenting himself, kindness, great secrecy, diplomatic talent and a spirit of leadership. He was joyful and he brought joy. He carried difficulties in a silent and heroic way. He was popular and respected in general.“ When Blessed Methodius was spending Christmas in a prison, he provoked guards by singing innocent carols. As a consequence, he paid for it with his life.
When during the night of 13th April 1950 all of the monks were taken forcibly to isolation camps, Blessed Methodius ended up in the Podoliniec camp, and was later moved to the Leopoldów camp several times. Testifications of his fellow prisoners say that he was ready to concede to all faults and take all responsibilities to protect his confreres.
One wise man once said that „There is something more sorrowful than loss of wealth – loss of hope.“ This is the biggest danger and biggest pain for humans. Lack of hope leads to resignation, grief, and depression. If we want a life different from others, we must do things in a way different from others. If we desire an unusual life, if we really wish for a high quality of life, we must do everything in an extraordinary way – better than other people. Paul, the Apostle, underscored it in these words: „…and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom 2:12).
Blessed Methodius Dominic realized it very quickly. In a letter to his family before Christmas 1958 he wrote, „Beloved, Christmas is coming. I think about you and the whole family. Let God give you the grace of joy. I wish you that with all my heart. I will remember you in my prayers. I am in good health. I wish you good fortune, God’s blessing and health in this new year. I won’t forget you. Greetings for the whole family. Your uncle, Methodius Dominic”. He was not aware then, that that Christmas in 1958 would be the last in his life here on Earth.
The whole story is described by Anton Neuwirth, a doctor, who was his fellow prisoner in Leopoldów: „…During Christmas Eve Father Trčka was sitting at the window and singing religious songs… A guard saw him sitting there. He opened the small window and was listening to him. Despite the fact, that Father Trčka was singing very quietly, the guard must have understood what the song was about… When he realized that he was singing religious songs, he called the officer of the guard. The officer came with an escort and they escorted Father Methodius Dominic to the correction.“
The correction was a very strict area of the jail. When someone disobeyed the rules, he was taken to the correction as a punishment. There was a very specific regime. First of all, there was complete darkness. Usually there was one small window, which could be closed with an iron flap. There was also a concrete floor and a bed with a concrete mattress, making it very cold. Projecting mats disturbed prisoners who wanted to rest, preventing them from a good sleep. Prisoners were allocated only one blanket. Food was distributed once every two days.
Blessed Father Methodius Dominic quickly became ill with pneumonia while in the correction. His temperature reached 40 degrees celsius. He contracted tuberculosis and eventually died at 9 am, 23 March 1959. Our confrere, Redemptorist, Father Jan Mastiliak, who today is a servant of God, cared for Blessed Father Methodius Dominic during his last days. As one historian has marked, „A saint was taking care of another saint.“ A fellow prisoner, Doctor A. Neuwirth, remembers these words of Blessed Methodius Dominic just before his death, „I feel no anger. I am not angry with them“. Bishop of Presov, Blessed Peter Paul Gojdič used to call Blessed Methodius Dominic, „The pillar of his eparchy.“ His superiors in noviciate described him in this way, „Among Redemptorists he was regarded as a man of average talent, but was very perseverant, ready to develop himself. He tried to be creative and resourceful.“
I wish each of us courage to be faithful to our vocation despite all failures, misunderstandings, disappointments and loneliness!
Blessed Methodius Dominic Trčka, intercede for us!
Authors: Metod Lukačik, CSsR; Miroslav Bujdoš, CSsS
Translation: Dominik Król, CSsR