Founders' Day 2019

Bogdan Jaski

 Dear Confreres,

Below you will find two texts by Fr. Adam P. Błyszcz CR on the subject of Bogdan Jański and his ‘Diary’. We give them to you as an aid to prepare this year’s celebration of the Founders Day with the hope that they will help us to admire our elder brother even more, and convey this delight to those to whom we are sent. I also take this opportunity to once again thank the author of these reflections and those who translated it into Italian (Fr. Adam Dzwigoń CR) and into English (Fr. George Nowak CR). I am also inviting everyone who would like to share their own experience of Jański to send this kind of reflection to the Postulator General (, who will take care of their translation and dissemination.

May this be a fruitful celebration of our beginnings.

Andrzej Gieniusz CR
Postulator general


Bogdan Jański Has Been “Persecuting” Me For Years [1]

Fr. Adam Błyszcz CR

Have you ever had the experience of a person occupying your thoughts? Your memory? Your dreams? Yes? That's good. Because I have had the same experience. Bogdan Jański has been“persecuting”me for several decades. 

Today is the 174th anniversary of the death of the Servant of God, Bogdan Jański, one of the most intriguing figures of the Great Emigration. He died at the age of 33. Please do not simply think “oh, it’s Jesus’ age!” No! Absolutely not! Please do not interpret his life so sentimentally. Jański’s life deserves a closer look. 

Bogdan Jański was born in 1807 to a noble, though poor, family. His parents split up, and the responsibility for supporting himself and his two brothers fell on this youth’s (or perhaps child’s) shoulders. This certainly did not help Bogdan believe in love between a man and a woman. That situation probably pushed him to also look critically at his parents. He was in conflict with his mother. He was allegedly two days late for her funeral. But after many years, when Jański was buried in Rome, in the coat which he was wearing, the last letter he ever received from his mother was found sewn in... Do you remember the Memorialof Blaise Pascal? “Fire.  God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob…? Remember? 

His studies at the University of Warsaw (in two faculties: economics and law) were the time when he definitively parted with the Catholic Church. He did not like Christian morality, nor the servility of the Catholic clergy to the Tsar. He declares that he is an atheist. He drinks and attends the Warsaw brothels. Some of the libations organized by him and his friends take place in the basement of Warsaw churches. Despite the wild lifestyle, he finishes university with top honours. 

In 1828, he marries Alexandra “Ola” Zawadzka, a daughter of the colonel in the Napoleonic army. The most mysterious moment of his history. He alone can not answer the question why he marries this teenage woman. Love? Mercy? Ola is expecting a child from a relationship with another man who used her and abandoned her. Does he want to save her from slander? In a letter to his brothers, in which he explains the decision of marriage, he will write that he has anticipated (ah, the language) matrimonial matters with Ola.

Many years later, however, he will regret this decision. Marriage de facto lasted one day. After the Mass, Janski and his wife spent the wedding night and on the morning of the following day, he left for a professorial internship in Paris, Berlin and London. They will never meet again! Their marriage has (as we would say today) a virtual character. In correspondence, he reserves the right to write passionate journal cards, only for Ola. However, this does not prevent him from visiting public houses in Berlin and Paris. One day he records in his Diary how he was humiliated. He forgot an umbrella in one of these shrines. And on that day, for his misfortune, he visited two. He had to go back to these places and ask for that unfortunate umbrella. 

 We know that he seriously dealt with suicide at least twice. In order not to ruin his life, he wanted to flee to America. It seems that Jański has a depressive personality! His conversion, to some extent, repeats the trail of Saint Augustine. It begins with a moral reflection. It is impossible to live like a pig. The followers of the heretical Saint-Simon are helpful (in the case of Saint Augustine, they were Manicheans). He clings to them and tries to regulate his moral life according to their precepts. Before religious conversion is made, moral conversion takes place. 

 The outbreak of the November Uprising marks for Jański, a radical change in his identity. Someone who consider himself as a Frenchman becomes a Pole. This is evident, for example, in the way of using the name. No longer Theodore, but Bogdan. In his notes that have survived to our day, he clearly indicates that he wants to be Polish. He meets Adam Mickiewicz, who impresses him with his attachment to the Catholic Church. They live together for a few months. Jański deals with the publishing of Pan Tadeusz. He also translates Konrad Wallenrod into French. Mickiewicz contacts him with contemporary luminaries of the Catholic Church in France. Interestingly, after many years they will find themselves, just like Mickiewicz, outside the Church. 

 Bogdan Jański, however, returns to the communion with the Church. He returns as he left - with conviction. His confession lasts several months.It is only after the fifth meeting with the confessor that he receives absolution. As he himself confesses - this is his first valid confession since the time of the first Holy Communion. 

 He is painfully experiencing divisions of Polish emigration. He realizes the suffering of so many young insurgents, who paid their price, losing everything, for participation in the November Uprising. These young, talented and idealistic people have been pushed to the provinces by the French authorities. They feel that their life project has been ruined. They usually drown this frustration in alcohol. Jański, with enthusiasm typical of the neophyte, seeks them out on all routes of emigrant poverty (and the poor). He has a special bond with Jerome Kajsiewicz (who will become the most outstanding Polish preacher after Piotr Skarga) and with Peter Semenenko, (who will be considered the greatest Catholic thinker of 19th century Poland). Convinced that Christianity can not be lived alone, they will create the first community (the so-called House of Jański), from which after a few years, the present-day Congregation of the Resurrectionists will emerge. 

 Jański will not see it. This untimely death is to some extent a price that he pays for his life. He was a reveler, which had to affect his health. After conversion, he did not spare himself. He worked to pay the debts of his friends, and to keep the work in which he saw God's plan. He left behind numerous articles published in French magazines and journals (available at this address: - from depths of a life of someone addicted to alcohol and sex, to take up the fight for the dignity of his existence. 

 It is from this experience of grace and hardship, that one of the basic assumptions of the resurrection spirituality takes place, which forces Jański's spiritual sons to confess that we are nothing, that evil draws us, and that without God, we are unable to do anything. However, God does not stop loving us. Thanks to Jański's everyday notes, we realize that this love of God comes to us in arduous everyday life. This love of God changed Jański, and made him one of the most luminous figures of the Polish Church.


[1] Originally published by DEon and reprinted here with the permission of its editorial board.


Bogdan Jański and his „Diary”

Fr. Adam Błyszcz CR


 When we look at an album of the works of some outstanding painter or sculptor, from time to time we come across interesting details which reveal either masterful artistry or the innovative technique of the artist. 

 The life of every person can be told by a sequence of dates and events. But one can specifically focus on certain details, details of the life of such a man, details which show his mastery and innovation. The same is true of the story of Bogdan Jański, a young Pole who lived only 33 years, then passed into the Church’s history as the founder of a religious community, the Congregation of the Resurrection, which was finally constituted a few years after he died in 1840, in Rome. 

 If I were to make such a specific focus on the history of Jański's life, I am convinced that it would concentrate on his personal diary, which he kept from the middle of October 1828 until the end of 1839. At least this is how it appears in the critical edition of the Diary, which is available at:

 We owe the Diary’s existence to the fact that Jański, as a 21-year-old graduate of the University of Warsaw, won a competition organized by one of the scientific institutions of the day, to become a professor of a nascent polytechnic institute, with a grant to study in Western Europe for a few years. It was June 1828, and one of the duties of the scholarship holder was to keep a travel journal, in which he was supposed to "record his scientific observations and all things worth remembering." 

 At the very beginning, Jański had some difficulty with that. (He would later learn to be more selective with the information) We can see this in his first entries: in one village the wheels of the carriage had fallen off – the carriage on which he was traveling to Paris; and three days after this accident, in another village, he married Alexandra Zawadzka, the wife to whom he said goodbye the next day, and as it turns out, whom he would never see again. Let us not condemn the young diarist Jański for his lack of selectivity, remembering that the King of France, Louis XVI (1754 - 1791) in his diary, dated July 14, 1789 (Bastille Day), noted one word: “rien!” (Nothing!)

 Jański was therefore obliged to write a travel journal. "At that time, there was a literary fashion for writing one’s impressions from journeys, but usually the observational material dominated the author's literary creativity. It was both fashion and an educational help; the diary was to be an exercise, a help in self-improvement and shaping the sense of observation, reflection, correct inference in a young person." 

 Jański himself probably did not realize the favour that had been done to him by the Government Commission for Religious Denominations and Public Enlightenment, in ordering him to keep a travel journal, which after a few years would become his personal diary. 

 What does it mean to have a personal diary before us?

 It seems to us that we are dealing with a record of something that is very personal, and very honest, in which a person reveals himself radically and incontrovertibly. These expectations are supported by the fundamental assumption that a personal diary is written only for oneself; that apart from the author of the notes, there is no other recipient. This exclusivity, then, is to some extent a guarantee of the sincerity of the record. And this, to some extent, becomes the condition for the veracity of the notes. 

 Honesty - truth - authenticity are the three things that determine the value of every personal diary.

 Jański did not anticipate the publication of his notes, he even postulated their destruction. He was afraid of the scandals that could be triggered by it. Perhaps it is because on many pages of the Diary we can find sketches of his examination of conscience, preparations for the Sacrament of Confession. For a believer, there is nothing more intimate, but it also meant that the exclusivity of the personal diary had been opened – with the writing of an examination of conscience, two other recipients appear: God and the Church, before whom confessions are made. 

 Perhaps another detail should be pointed out, and our attention directed, to these examinations of conscience. I am struck by one detail: Jański visits two brothels one evening, because he is looking for a woman whom he will like (and he writes about it in the Diary humorously in the context of the lost umbrella, on November 18, 1830), and after a few years in the same Diary he would reproach himself for looking at some women (seeing probably traces of his former promiscuity) out of distraction and curiosity (recorded on January 6, 1838)! How much does one need to work on oneself (or maybe you do not need any work at all) to regain the ability of such an innocent look? Many of us know the stories of the great Russian writer Varlam Shalamov, a prisoner of the Soviet gulags.  In one of them, he tells the story of two prisoners whose punishment had ended, but who had to remain in the village camp. They enjoyed a limited freedom. One day, they went hunting in the Taiga Forest, and it was not until one of them, after aiming at an animal, held back from shooting, and realized that with this gesture, the humanity that they wanted to deprive him of in the camp had returned to him.

 Is it unseemly to read something that was not written for us? For decades, this fear had caused the Congregation of the Resurrection to decide not to print the Diary, until the year 2000.  At the beginning of the 21st century, Jański's Diary was published for the encouragement of those who struggle with their weaknesses, who seek freedom in the midst of a world in which they are subject to so many enslavements, because in the contest, there is freedom. 

 Our first discovery, reading Jański's Diary, is the conviction that we have access to Bogdan’s EGO, to its essence, its history, and we look for something in it that could be a help to us. 

 In the years 1953 - 1966, the Parisian "Culture" published the journal of the outstanding Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz. In his unique style, he began by writing: "Monday - me; Tuesday - me; Wednesday - me; Thursday - me. " So, we might ask, is the protagonist, the only hero of the diary, the author of the notes, his self? 

 No. Each journal is an effort to write day after day, and the key element of any journal is time. The author is the second, but perhaps, the more important protagonist of a diary.  Time is not neutral. The present is coloured by the events of everyday life. This life, however, has a suggestion of irrelevance and insignificance sewn into itself. It must have hurt someone like Jański, who was convinced of his historic mission. A mission that was supposed to go beyond NOW. In fact, on every page of his diary, we have traces of this wrestling with the duties of daily life, which have stolen from him his valuable time! And which, not only seemed to be irrelevant, but did not offer any perspective of the whole. Let us not be surprised by Louis XVI, whom I mentioned a little earlier, that on July 14, 1789, who did not notice the destruction of the Bastille and the upcoming revolution that changed not only France, but the whole world. Everyday life does not propose or guarantee the perspective of the whole, but neither is any other time given to us but the present, each day. After some time, Jański accepted this fact and made it a building block of his sanctity. Did the habit of keeping a journal help him in this, that is, a reflective approach to everyday life? I think so, because in the contest there is not only freedom, but also reflection.