[opening remarks] As always, we stand before Christ to prayerfully enrich our country, so we can take to our hearts all the most difficult concerns of our Homeland. All those who suffer injustice, especially those arrested last month.
Those unjustly committed, those who have to hide in an attempt to retain their dignity and clear conscience, those deprived of work and, in different ways deprived of human dignity, our dear brothers from the Cracow Commission of Solidarity who are in prison maintaining their position and staying faithful to our ideals. In a special way, we shall pray for the Warsaw miners who, two years ago had their banner blessed in this church. The banner which was and is interwoven with our search for freedom, justice and love. We ask St Florian, the patron saint of miners, to help retain in our hearts all the ideals so, that soon, they may become a reality in front of which all hate and violence will have to kneel. And that everyone in the country will deserve to live and to work.
Holy Mass for the Fatherland on April 24 1983 was celebrated by Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko who delivered the sermon.
[homily] The words of the Gospel, which we have just heard, refer in particular, to people who work hard. “Come to me all you who labor and I will give you rest…”. Hard working people require a special understanding of their efforts, hardship and sweat. Work is the unquestionable companion of man. It has to save him, to ennoble him. Thus man cannot be a slave of his work and one must not see only the material values in man. One cannot build his personal, social or professional life on the material alone. Materialism cannot stand above the spiritual side of man.
Stanislaw Witkiewicz, already in 1904 asked:
“What constitutes a nation’s power? Material gains or ideals? – and he answered: “whenever great ideals disappear from the life of a nation, then the society breaks up into small groups functioning within the boundaries of their interests only, into groups aiming at small targets…”¹.
The more divided are the people, the easier it is to govern them. Divide and Govern – we all know that saying. It is easy to divide the country when the life of its citizens knows no correct proportion between the material and the spiritual.
The working man is supposed to ennoble the material and, through his work, also ennoble himself. But, in the meantime, as Pope Pius XI wrote in the encyclical Quadrogesimo Anno –
“Matter leaves the workshop ennobled, but the man becomes worse, he is miserable, wasted, like a young invalid…”².
Today, let us try to consider together why work in our country is often not the factor that increases man’s worth, his dignity. What is the reason that the country, which could in the past come to the aid of others, today, must drown in debt and stretch out its hand for charity? Why is man, so often, just a robot whose duty is to fulfill the plans of designers, he must do it perfectly, and it is best when he does it with his mouth shut?
I believe that everyone here present could give many reasons. Let us look at some of them. In order to attain the social and economic goals, one does not have to break up with God.
Lack of justice and truth. Therefore: injustice and lies. If you create a situation when the working people, in order to provide for a family of several members, must work extra hours on Sundays, you destroy human conscience. You destroy families. You deprive children of the time their parents should give them. An hour of honest work must be paid an honest wage, a just wage. To increase his earnings a miner goes to work on Sundays at the price of Sunday Mass, the price of time he should be with his family, the price of his own rest. Will he, without this rest, work well on Monday? And the miner wonders when for his Sunday‘s work he receives twice the rate, he asks himself: “I have mined the same amount of coal on Sunday as I did on Friday, and maybe less, but I received more pay. When did they cheat me, on Friday or on Sunday?
Who in our country is responsible for the crooked practices at work when we state that all goes well, that we meet all targets, yet, the working man knows best that the reality is different.
Effort and work require an inner order, healthy moral principles and even religious stimuli and motives in order to serve man well. Economics requires help from moral strength. Work provider must be directed by sense of justice. A person cannot be deprived of work or promotion, because he thinks differently, because he bothers someone’s conscience, because his moral or political viewpoint is different or, because he was active in “Solidarity”. All this does not help the recovery from our economic crisis. I dare believe that it actually worsens the situation.
Lack of God. It has been desired for decades, at all costs, according to plan, to exclude officially God from the social and economic reconstruction. And if there is no God, there are no commandments. There is lack of Christian morality which has deep roots in the proven thousand year old tradition of our country.
God, prayer and work combined help man to see sense in his life and in his toil. Man, who works hard, without God, without prayer, without ideals, will stumble on the ground as a bird with only one wing. He will not be able to soar high and see great possibilities, add more sense to the life on earth. He will be as a wounded bird circling around his beak. The late Primate of the Millenium understood this well when he said: “Open the gates of your factories, workshops, clinics and other places of work – from the tops of factory chimneys down to the depth of the mines – to pour into it a new life…”³, to pour into it God. In time of “Solidarity” it was proved that, in Lack of freedom. Here I will remind you of a fragment of the late Primate Stanislaw Wyszynski, cited already in January:
(…) The working world in the past decade experienced many disappointments and restrictions. Working people, as well as the entire country lived through the trauma with respect to basic personal rights, limitation of free thinking, of personal points of view, belief in God, upbringing of the young generation. All this was trampled upon. In the area of manual work, a special model was introduced of people obliged to silence and to extra productive work ethic…⁴
So the personal character of work had been lost. And, when “Solidarity” was born out of the pain and abuse of the workforce, it was only just a great cry of the working people for justice and a better realization that we work in our country and for ourselves, a loud call for respect for the working man. We experienced then a process of awakening and the realization that we want to be responsible for our people, for our future, for our family lives, for our social lives and even for the way we are governed by service and not by might.
Lack of respect for human worth. Countries where man can be abused, where man can be falsely accused under the cover of a “so called” law, where regulations are not intended for the benefit of the individual, but against him, where they are introduced against him to torment him, cannot function well. Our bishops have sent to the authorities memoranda about the regulations pertaining to the value of the individual.
And, indeed already in ancient times Tacit wrote on this subject: “The less healthy a country is, the more rules and regulations it has”. It might be better perhaps, to seek a patient somewhere other than in our society?
Lack of love. Where there is lack of justice, where there is force, lies, hate, lack of respect for human dignity, there is no room for love, no room for heart, no room for selflessness, no room for sacrifice. Without these values – we must never forget this – it will be difficult to give true sense to work, it will be difficult to take the country out of all types of crisis. And love must go together with bravery.
Allow me to quote the Primate, who died two years ago.
(…) A Christian fulfills his professional, family, national, and citizenship duties only when he is brave, when he bravely expresses his principles, when he is not ashamed of them and, does not deny them because of fear for himself or his for his daily bread.
Woe to the nation whose people do not govern bravely. They then stop being citizens and become slaves! It is courage, which makes citizens out of people, because a brave man is aware of his rights in society and of his duties, which weigh on him. A person is a citizen when he holds on to his rights, when he defends them and when he exercises his professional, family, national and religious obligations in accordance with them.
If a citizen gives up his virtue of bravery, even if he were an easy target to timidity or fear, he becomes a slave and the greatest damage is to himself, his humanity, his family, his profession, the nation, the country and the Church.
Woe to the rulers who want to attract a citizen for the price of fear or slavery. Then they rule not people, but – excuse the word – things. Frightening citizens lowers the rulers authority. National, cultural, and social life is cheapened. Courage is the basic element of citizenship. This is why next to the prerequisite of Christian love, is the duty to be brave…⁵
Let us, then, be brave in love, courage and hope. Let us be convinced that nothing, which once happened, can be erased from the story of our nation. Let us be convinced that the stories of the eighties as related to the word “Solidarity” – as the Holy Father said on May 3rd last year:
(…) they also have an important meaning in the life of our Nation, its drive to being ourselves, and the will to shape the future. Even though we have had an historical experience, let us not lose the conviction that these events, as some time ago our Constitution of May 3rd, will shape the life of our Nation. Because they come from the soul, they answer to its spirit. A nation must live by its own spirit if it wants to live!…⁶.
We may think today, as it sometimes happens in history, that we have lost, that we have fought a useless battle, that we have needlessly exposed ourselves. However, we must believe that time will come when all our efforts and our difficulties – today fruitless – will bear fruit for the good of our beloved Homeland.
[closing remarks] I thank everybody for their prayers and their brave, as always, stand. I remind you of the words of the Monsignor at the beginning of Mass, to be equally composed on leaving the church so no one with intentions different from ours can tempt us. Our intention is to become stronger in our love for our Country and in the prayer for that intention. Let us agree that, just like last month, the singing and the outcries outside the church will be by those who wish to provoke us, those who do not desire the good of Our Nation. We shall see who they are, if there are any….And, if it turns out that they are not here, we shall be pleased.
I want to direct my sincere thanks to our brothers, the miners who came to this Mass not only from Huta Warszawa, but also from Huta Lenina, Huta Kosciuszko, Hutmen, Hutmasz and from other mining enterprises of our entire country.
1 Stanislaw Witkiewicz, Treason or Lack of Character, see: “Kultura” 7/8, Paris 1977, p. 5.
2 Pius XI, Encycical Quadragesimo Anno, #135.
3 Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, Coal stone Buildings on Holy Mountains, also in Social Teachings 1946-1981, p. 66.
4 Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, Church is the Closest Help for Your Goals. To NSZZ “Solidarnosc” Wielkopolska Gniezno Region 2/4/1981, also in Church in Service of the Nation, p. 224.
5 Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, That You May Be Brave and Determined- sermon at the closing of retreat for doctors, Warsaw 4/3/1960, also in Blessing of Professional Work, Societe d’Editions Internationales, Paris 1963, p. 191-192.
6 John Paul II, I want to make the journey to Jasna Gora, “L’OR” 4/1982.