[opening remarks] We stand, at the altar of Christ united in the prayer for our Country and those who suffer for her most. In the month of December especially, pain, suffering and hope are intertwined.
Pain – because the anniversaries of our brothers and workers whose lives were taken in 1970 and 1981 are fresh in our minds. Suffering – because many of our brothers and sisters remain behind prison gates.
Hope – that in spite of everything, we will work for the true good of our Country and we shall feel that we are its managers. Hope, even betrayed, never dies.
Joy – because here God Himself comes down to man as a child in a manger in Bethlehem, to give strength to the people of good will in their battle for good, freedom and justice.
We place all these concerns and our joy on Christ’s altar asking that He transforms them into the grace of enduring in the hope of victory of good against evil. We especially join our hearts with those, interned a few day ago and arrested today, who have sent us the following greetings:
Holy Mass for the Fatherland on December 26 1982 was celebrated by Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko who delivered the sermon.
In these days of Christmas we are particularly united by the firm bond of human identity. In spite of being apart, our hearts and thoughts are with you present here with us, and we concelebrate this Holy Mass and the common pra- yer to God for happiness for everyone in our Country. We are apart in body against our will but, in our desire to serve good and to fight evil, we are united in the spirit of solidarity. May God aid us!
Interned Members of National Committee of “Solidarity”, Bialystock, 12/20/982
[homily] “And when John Paul said – Fatherland there was no shallow passion in it, rather the weight of the many difficult centuries of our past…”
Today we want to talk about the past year using the words of the Holy Father, His prayers, which He delivered on many occasions to the Mother of God for the intention of His countrymen. In the words of the great prayer of this entire year of marshal law, He enclosed all His pain, all His suffer- ing, as the nation’s best son. He was, and continues to be, the one who strengthens in us the hope that evil, force, hate, lies and disregard for human dignity, must be defeated. He encouraged us to fight in the defense of basic human rights.
In January, this year, He turned in prayer to Our Lady of Jasna Gora with these words:
“Why, for this six hundredth anniversary, they declared a state of martial law in a country which is a free and sovereign nation?”¹ And answering to the Christmas letters received from those interned, He prayed: “Be with us as we are with You”: Be with us, be with us – the imprisoned, the condemned to solitude without trial, be with all who suffer because of the imprisonment of their closest relatives. Oh Mother, you do remember that You, Yourself, was also imprisoned. Your Jasna Gora portrait was once retained on its way to Poland, but it was eventually freed. Mother, we beg You to help all who have been unjustly imprisoned, give them back their freedom.²
In February, after returning from Africa, He said to the Poles:
I will never forget the large square in Kaduna in Nigeria where I have blessed black deacons: among the hundreds of thousands there, was a group of Poles who raised a red and white banner with the word “Solidarity” on it.³
Then He explained: “Solidarity” is not just a name of concerns – above all, concerns for people interned or arrested, concerns about each day in our country, concern for the respect for man and the sovereignty of the nation. “Solidarity” is not just a name of a concern. It is the name of unity and togetherness… “Solidarity” is the deep, hard challenge which Polish people undertook in the eighties. This painful, difficult challenge is going through a painful purification.⁴
Unfortunately, this painful purification was interrupted in October.
In one of the prayers in March, Holy Father used the words of Polish bishops emphasizing that the ingredients of social agreement are:
(…) the ruling powers and the honest representatives of social groups. Honest Representatives. On cannot here exclude the representatives of the at the moment suspended labor unions, among them the widely acclaimed by the citizens Independent Union “Solidarity”.⁵
Today we know that the national agreement will be much more difficult to attain as the Union, which has been sup- ported by millions, has been abolished by martial law. And it is so hard for us to have faith in a situation when the people whom the world of labor trusted, having been guaranteed freedom by the Act of Abolition, were interned, and a few days ago, arrested. And, when instead of internment, our brothers were offered exile from their own country, the Apostolic Seat sent forth a clear and powerful words of prayer:
Today, as our Nation goes through another test, we loudly call out to You, Our Mother of Jasna Gora: Poland cannot deny space to Her own. Every human being has the right to his country of birth. No one can be condemned to emigration.⁶
On the anniversary of the attempt on His life, he said tearfully:
Since December 13th, I suffer with my Nation. Why do we not return to basics, which is the country’s right? Why alienation by force? Why is the country deprived of the only mature strength which consists of the rights of man. Receive my prayer, a prayer filled with pain, You who are Queen of
A nation cannot develop properly when it is deprived of those laws which guarantee the basic rights. And a country cannot be made strong by any force…⁷
One wants to add: Do not use force. Force is not a sign of strength, but weakness Those who could not win with heart or reason, attempt to win with force. Every show of force proves moral weakness. The greatest and the most enduring battles that humanity has experienced, which history knows, are the battles of human thought. The most abominable and the shortest are those of violence. The idea which requires force to prevail, dies of its own. The idea which is only kept alive by force, is warped. The idea which is capable of survival, can maintain itself. Millions follow it spontaneously.
And again, in the next months we have prayers in which pain is intertwined with concern for our country. Here are the words of the Holy Father spoken in the fall, this year: We embrace with our warmest care those whom the consequences of martial law tore away from their families, from their normal daily work and life. We are concerned about the lot of those interned to whom the nation and the Church can bring some help. Ever more often we are concerned for the arrested and the convicted to whom neither the nation nor the Church has hardly any access. We most anxiously think of those imprisoned who attempt hunger strikes. All these brothers and sisters of our are a part of us, just as the six million who gave their lives during the second world war. The nation has the right, and the duty to be concerned for them, it has the right to intercede, to make certain that all human rights are being adhered to. Are we not the believers of Christ who said: “I was in prison and you came to me” (Mt 25, 36).
Through the prism of truth about the cross of Christ, we must look at all the crosses in our land… Many are these crosses, many are interned, in prisons, condemned. Many are beaten and deprived of their dignity. Many are the families and communities who suffer…⁸
One could still continue for a long time and, with the greatest adoration, to listen to the words of Holy Father ex- pressed with concern for His native land, for this Nation. We remind ourselves about them. Not to cause unrest, nor to play on personal feelings of people. We remember the experiences of the past year to learn a lesson that grain of care for our homeland dropped on our Polish soil in August 1980, watered by blood, tears, suffering and pain of our sisters and brothers last year, must bear good fruit. A great tree of free- dom and justice will grow. We must never lose this hope. Be- cause within our Nation there is enough strength for fruitful action and fruitful effort for the good of our homeland. This Nation, which brings, through our Holy Father, as a gift to God, its painful experience. This Nation is capable of many sacrifices and wants true, real peace. It needs a guarantee that its efforts will not be wasted. Today, we understand much better the words of Norvid: “It is not necessary to bow to circumstances nor to command the truth to leave the room”. We do not need to bow to circumstances…
Let us ask the Mother of God, who gave God to the world, that in our country all the people of good will are able to build our future on the foundations of justice, love, goodness, peace and solidarity of human hearts and consciences.
Our Lady of Jasna Gora, You know best how the millions of Polish hearts thirst for truth, justice, freedom and love. Accept this plea and let the powers of good bring victory to our Nation which for centuries calls You Mother and Queen.
[closing remarks] I wish to thank all for the prayers for our country and to thank those who suffer for her so much. We all know how much our Homeland needs today God’s blessing and our prayers.
I especially want to thank those from the world of entertainment. Most of all you, dear actors who, during this time of martial law, have helped us to pray better and deeper for our country and for bringing to us the words of our Polish patriotic and religious poetry.
You have been missed by us in our homes during the whole year. But your long absence from radio and television, your uncompromising stand on solidarity with those who are now being punished is for us, the symbol of the fight for the good, for justice and true freedom.
Thanks to your stand, you have become closer and more dear to us in our thoughts and hearts. I sincerely thank all present here and through you, all who have retained the dignity of the acting profession. May God bless you!
1 Martial Law in Poland. Words of the Pope 1/20/1982, “L’OR” 1/1982.
2 Martial Law in Poland. Words of the Pope 1/27/1982, “L’OR” 1/1982.
3 Martial Law in Poland. Words of the Pope 2/24/1982, “L’OR” 2/1982.
4 Martial Law in Poland. Words of the Pope 2/24/1982, “L’OR” 2/1982.
5 Martial Law in Poland. Words of the Pope 3/17/1982, “L’OR” 3/1982.
6 Martial Law in Poland. Words of the Pope 4/28/1982, “L’OR” 4/1982.
7 Martial Law in Poland. Words of the Pope 5/19/1982, “L’OR” 5/1982.
8 Martial Law in Poland. Words of the Pope 9/8/1982, “L’OR” 9/1982.