Introduction by Paul Hensler:
As the first anniversary of martial law approached Father Jerzy became more and more aware that the regimes letter writing campaign against him was causing concern with his Primate, Cardinal Glemp.
He had to find a way to continue speaking the truth – but find others to say the actual words. In his sermon at the Fatherland Mass of August 29, he uses the quotes of three powerful church leaders to deliver his anti-government message.; First, Pope John Paul II, “The first love of those who govern is the love of those whom they govern”, then a quote from the late Cardinal Wyszynski, “Governments cannot be tyrants and a country cannot become an organized prison” and finally Primate Glemp” First, release Lech Walesa, Second, release all the interned.”
It seemed that Father Popieluszko could not be deflected from his mission by the needling policies of the authorities, but he was becoming dog-tired. Small signs showed that the police and its informer network were drawing their web closer around him.
The sermon of Father Jerzy Popieluszko, August 29, 1982:
Holy Mass for the Fatherland on August 29, 1982 was celebrated by Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko who delivered the sermon.
As each month, on the last Sunday, we gather at Christ’s altar to send up our prayers for the freedom of our Country. Free- dom which, as Monsignor Bogucki said a month ago, is not ours through anyone’s grace, but is given to us by God. Man was created free to such an extent that even God will not take it from him. That is why those who, having no right to do this, in restricting personal freedom, do evil. Today we want to include in our prayers all of our country’s painful issues. Especially we want to include those who suffer for her most. We feel united and free in our prayers. We trust in the help from our Holy Mother, Queen of Poland and we call out to Her from the depths of our hearts: as free people, with songs, with prayers, with suffering, with tears take these to the throne of God.
Holy Father John Paul II, in his proclamation on the Day of Peace, which had also been reported in our press, says:
Government is service. To govern means to serve. The first love of these who govern is the love of those whom they govern, those who are governed by them. If this were the case, if this great Christian truth would finally be realized, if the governing powers were moral, if their basic principles were governed by Christian ethic, how different would life, co-existence, work and co-operation be today. But, in the mean- time, we have become witnesses of tyrannic countries where citizens are addressed in procurator, or police like tones.¹
Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, Primate of the Millenium who died a year ago, said, on January 6th last year that:
The citizen has become the greatest enemy of government. Why is it so? – asks the Primate,- and he answers: Because the citizen has been robbed of his rights and has lost the urge to fulfill his obligations. Governments cannot be tyrants – called out the Primate – and a country cannot be- come an organized prison…²
“Solidarity” was born two years ago in the second half of August, in an atmosphere of pain and heartache, physical and spiritual fatigue, as the workers, supported both by the intelligentsia and the world of culture, knelt together at the open air altars.
We recall those moments when on August 31st 1980, people gathered in front of the gates of Huta Warszawa in order to join the striking miners at the celebration of Holy Mass. Because it was Sunday. It was then that God was included in the fight to restore the dignity of the working man, because we knew that only with God we can march towards the victory of the just cause.
What can be said today, on the second anniversary of the many patriotic movements of the nation? What can be said today when, on a December night last year, the pacts of Wybrzeże and Śląsk were cruelly and painfully broken. When the sudden and painful blow was struck and the wound is still bleeding. It is not a mortal wound because one cannot kill something which is immortal. One cannot kill hope. And “Solidarity” was and is the hope of millions of Poles, hope ever stronger as it is connected to God through prayer.
“Solidarity” was spreading in the nation like a strong tree which, in spite of damaged roots, grows new ones. And although storms rock this tree, although they have cut off its glorious crown, it still hangs on to its native soil and receives, from our hearts and prayers, the sap of life which allows it to endure and bear good fruit.
In spite of the painful experiences of the past few months, the nation is still ever ready for sacrifice for the good of our Motherland. But only the nation who is respected by its leaders, who does not live in constant insecurity and uncertainty, a nation who does not feel that it lives in an organized prison, that can willingly accept the challenge. One cannot talk of a joint effort to build one’s country when human rights are not respected and when human dignity is not respected, as for example, the incident that recently took place ago in the internment camp in Kwidzyń³ ( about which we have been authoritatively informed, in words of protest, by the bishop of Warminsk). There are still so many of our countrymen being held in internment camps and in prisons.
And that is why, a few days ago, the Primate, addressing the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims gathered at the feet of The Queen of Poland in Jasna Góra, clearly described the conditions necessary for starting again to build together. They need no discussion because they express the will of a nation who loves the Fatherland.
First – release of Lech Wałęsa (applause by the gathering).
Second release of all the interned.
Next – reinstatement of labor unions, beginning preparations for amnesty and
finally, establishing the exact date for the Pope’s visit. (applause)
All this comprises the intention of our prayerful call offered at this Mass for Our Fatherland.
Let us end our deliberations with the words of the Holy Father when He prayed for our Countrys:
Receive our prayer full of suffering. You, who are the Queen of Poland and You, Patrons of our Nation. You are the Queen of Poland since way back… Take all of our Nation into Your care, let it progress for Your glory.⁴
Today a letter from the Polish Episcopate is being read in all churches. We want to draw your attention to a few sentences in that letter:
“The Bishops are aware that the upcoming second anniversary of the social agreements is not only of historical value, but it strongly influences formation of an attitude among Poles, as well as the actual reality of the situation in Poland. Therefore, for the good of the entire nation, we strongly request everyone to celebrate this anniversary in the spirit of national dignity and peace such as that created when we all pray together at the altars of our Lord. We encourage all the faithful to pray.”
Let us accept the blessing for enduring in hope.
¹ Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, Clear conscience at the basis of the renewal of national life, Warsaw, 1/6/1981, also in Church in service of the Nation. Teachings of the Primate of Poland in times of renewal in Poland, August 1980-May 1981, Rome 1981 p.176.
² Same source as quoted above.
³ Refers to the very cruel beating of prisoners in Kwidzin camp. It was also mentioned by the Primate in his sermon on Jasna Gora delivered on August 26982. See: John Paul II, Primate and Episcopate of Poland on martial law, p. 292.
⁴ Martial law in Poland. Words of the Pope on May 19 1982 see “L’OR” 5/1982.