Sofia Tajber was born on June 23, 1890 in Biala Podlaska, Poland and is the fifteenth child in her family. She was raised in a Catholic, religious family. Her father owned a factory in which three-hundred poverty workers were employed. The sociable atmosphere at home, where the parents enthusiastically discussed the betterment of conditions for their employees, began to shape the heart and mind of the child.
Her involvement with them at an early age led her to become sensitive to human misery and to the plight of the poor. Sofia’s mother, her spiritual guide, died when she was twelve. She spent her youth in Zytomierz (which now belongs to Ukraine) where she went through a faith crisis influenced by the material of atheist philosophers. Malicious attacks on the Church and clergy greatly influenced her. She stopped praying and left the Church.
Blessed with beauty and talent, Sophia also possessed an exquisite soprano voice and a talent for music. In 1911, seeking happiness and satisfaction in the arts, she began her studies of music and voice in Kijow and continued her education in Berlin and Krakow. However, her musical achievements brought her no happiness or peace. Sofia’s eight-year separation from the Church was interrupted by World War I and the Russian Revolution. She witnessed atrocities, repressions, and the corruption of man. She was horrified by the indignities inflicted upon humanity by humanity. To see people suffering in this manner had a great impact on her.
During this time, Sofia deeply experienced how difficult it was to live without the light of faith. She underwent a total conversion to Jesus and the Catholic faith. In referring to her eight-year abandonment of the Church, Sofia noted: “All my life I was searching, and whoever seeks, shall find.”
In 1915, she made her peace with God in the reconciliatory repose of the confessional. Sofia then began a systematic approach to sanctification. After a few years, she hardly recognized herself. She explained this transformation: “I must note that from the moment I recognized, accepted, and understood the Divine love of God in every human being, I never again doubted His love for me, and it became my support and refuge.”
Along the road of love, and gratitude toward God, Sophia experienced a great supernatural enlightenment and uplifting. During this time, she felt called to begin a new religious community based on the principles of love, gratitude, and loyalty to God. Her spiritual experiences convinced her that love was the strength of life and the key to happiness. This special new community would be based on the contemplation and adoration of the most Holy Soul of Christ.
Gathering with two of her friends, first candidates, they presented their plans to the Church authorities. On October 24, 1923, their first religious house was opened in Pradnik Bialy, a suburb of Krakow, Poland as a Catholic Organization for the Formation of a Religious Life in Honor of the Most Holy Soul of Christ. Sofia (Mother Paula called in the Community) became its first superior.
In 1949 after acquiring 95 members and 16 convents located in five different dioceses of Poland, the Community received canonical approval and the society became a religious community. Having a great desire to save souls from society’s increasing materialism, Mother Paula urged people to use the Soul of Christ as an example. She hoped that this new devotion would help to deliver souls from evil influences. Mother Tajber constantly felt Christ’s insistence: “Let me live in souls.” She understood this as Christ’s desire to abide freely within each one of us, and as children of God, liken us to Himself as heirs of God. Next, He wants to work through us, transmitting His thoughts, intentions and perfection through us; and lastly, to inspire and redeem souls through our work. Through His dwelling in us, Christ desires to emanate throughout the world.
Mother Tajber was convinced that since the results of sin are destructive to society, only with our own sanctification could we reach out and redeem souls. She left the Sisters and whole Church a great spiritual heritage. The day before she died she told her Sisters with a smile on her lips: “Live by Jesus and love one another.” Mother Paula Sofia passed away on May 28, 1963 in the state of holiness. The bishop of Krakow, Karol Wotyla, the future pope, John Paul II, conducted the funeral.
In His homily, he said: “The deceased was an exceptional devotee and, to say the least, not merely a devotee but an apostle of the Most Holy Soul of Christ the Lord…This in a way reveals to us as well her own soul, the depth of this soul of hers.” Next, he pointed out that the wish of the Foundress was that the Congregation would continue the apostolate of the Most Holy Soul after her death: “The departed wished that the love and devotion which she rendered to the mystery of the Most Holy Soul of the Savior would be shared by others, and by you yourselves. At the same time, she wished that this love and devotion to the Most Holy Soul of the Savior, once it has become your share, would find external expression in action, in deeds of love for our neighbor, and in the service of others. For this reason also, she gave your Congregation a character that is not purely contemplative but rather both contemplative and active. She demanded and continue to demand from you your service – the service of the people, your neighbors, and the Church.”
The canonization procedure for Mother Paula began on November 9, 1993 in Krakow.
Lord Jesus Christ, Who wish to live in the souls of men and see our life in accord with the Gospel, assist us through the intercession of the Servant of God Mother Paula, so that we might live according to Your Holy Will. I ask you also, Lord to grant me the favor of….. for which I humbly beg through Her intercession. Amen.
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