In this month, dedicated to the Heart of Jesus, the month of God’s grace descending upon the faithful, the historic month of the Holy Father’s John Paul II pilgrimage to His Motherland, we gather in prayer, at the Holy Mass for Our Fatherland and for all her difficulties. As always, we have the whole nation in our hearts and so, we include all who suffer, those imprisoned for their beliefs, those deprived of their jobs, those who have to hide, the working world, those in industry and agriculture, all the creative establishments and, above all, our youth and children who will face many problems and who are burdened with the responsibility for the future of our country. We also thank God today for the gift of the pilgrimage of the Holy Father and we ask God that this pilgrimage, this effort, will bring plentiful fruit. We pray that we not lose any of the great inheritance of God’s word as spoken to us by Holy Father.
Holy Mass for the Fatherland on June 26 1983 was celebrated by Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko who delivered the sermon.
Above the black night of our hurting country, above the weakening hope, above human suffering, above the tragic and painful events of the past year and a half, above the debasing of human dignity, above the worries of parents for their children’s future – above all this which is so difficult – above our Country, a ray of God’s grace in the person of the Holy Father John Paul II who visited our land, lit up. He came as the Messenger of Peace.
As He kissed His native land as if it were His mother’s hand, He uttered these words: “ Peace with You, Oh, Poland, My Motherland! Peace with You! And during the entire time of His visit and the hardships of pilgrimage, He was pointing out the road to peace for our Country. He touched upon all the problems with which we live daily with respect, understanding and courage.
Today we do not want to talk on these topics. They did not facilitate the pilgrimage of the Pope-Pole or our participation in it. We do not want to speak about the media, especially television, of the embarrassing low degree of responsibility regarding the enormous national problem. It was just spite on the part of weak and insignificant people. Let us be mute on this topic today.
Instead, with our prayer and our faith, we want to pay homage to the greatest Pole of the Millennium, the thousand years of our history. We want to ponder, if only for a moment, already today, the fantastic, rich inheritance of this visit that He left for us to contemplate.
Thanks be to God in the Highest that we come together for a year and a half now, to pray in this church in Zoliborz. to pray for our Country and for those who suffer for her. Let us ask The Almighty to reinforce us in our conviction that we were on the right path for raising a prayer for peace in our nation, for freedom, love and justice, for truth, for firming up our hope for the freedom of those in prisons, for respect of work, for nurturing our victories won in August 1980, for the great need of dialog, for national agreement based on honest principles and for so many other intentions…
Already at the airport, Holy Father spoke the famous words, that Poland is a special mother who has suffered much and who suffers anew. Immediately afterwards, He added:
I ask all those who suffer be especially close to me. I ask for it in Jesus’ words: “I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to see Me” (Mt 25, 36). I cannot visit all the sick and the imprisoned, the suffering, but I ask that they try to be close to me in spirit, that they support me as they always do. I am receiving, especially lately, many letters which prove this.1
And, among others, the prisoners on Rakowiecka Street responded. They offered fast and prayers throughout Holy Father’s visit in Poland.
Then, during the prayers in Jasna Gora, on June 19th, He prayed to the Holy Mother in a voice full of pain:
(…) I pray to You, Mother of our Nation for those who suffer – and for those who cause the suffering…2
Talking about freedom in the place where Poles always feel free, which means Jasna Gora, He said:
As children of God we cannot be slaves. Our being sons of God carries with it an inheritance of freedom (…) Freedom is given to man by God as a measure of his dignity (…) A country is truly sovereign if it governs the people and at the same time serves the common good of all and if it allows the nation to realize its worth and be itself….3
He frequently referred to the gains made in August 1980 and spoke of the need to build an understanding and a dialog on just this level. Already at the meeting with the President in Belvedere, Holy Father said:
(…) Although the life in our country since December 13th,1981 was put under the harsh rigor of martial law (…) I still cannot help hoping that the frequently announced social renewal based on principles achieved with such enormous effort on those breakthrough days of August 1980 and enclosed in “Understandings” (Porozumienia) will finally be realized. This renewal is vital for allowing Poland to retain her good name in the world, as well as the ability to come out of the internal crisis and save the suffering of many sons and daughters of our Nation, My compatriots…4
So, that means agreement through the recognition of the gains made in August 1980. Speaking about truth and justice in Wroclaw, He said that truth is the foundation of trust and the power of love. Man is ready to face even the most difficult, the most demanding truth when he does it in the spirit of love, but not under pressure. A nation’s trust is gained through truth and love. The thirst for justice in our Nation comes from the healthy ingredient of the Polish spirit, from the recognition and the respect for man’s work, from love of Country, and from solidarity which is the recognition of common good.
Speaking to workmen in Katowice, He said:
The entire world watched and continues to watch with awe everything which took place in Poland since August 1980. What gave the broad public opinion a lot to consider was the fact that the incidents were first of all about the moral order related to work and not the increase of pay for that work. They were also surprised by the fact that the actions were free of violence, that no one died or was wounded. Finally, also by the fact that the incidents of the Polish labor movement of the 80’s carried in them a visible ingredient of religion. (…) Social justice is based on respect and recognition of human rights with regard to each member of the society.5
And there are many laws pertaining to the working man, some of the most important are:
(…) the right to an honest wage. Honest, that means such which will be sufficient to maintain a family.6
(…) the right to meetings, this right, – said the Holy Father quoting the late Primate – is not imposed by someone, be- cause it is one’s birthright. Thus Therefore the State does not give us this right, it only has the duty to protect it and watch that it is not interfered with.7
The State may not superimpose any type of unions. The working man is not only a tool of production, he is its basis. Man must be considered first. Working man is the just partition of that which was jointly created. Man cannot work well when he sees no sense in his work, when he does not see it clearly, when it is somewhat obscure.
And we agree with the Holy Father when He said to the thousands of young people in Jasna Gora that we do not want Poland that comes at no cost. We can give our Country a great deal of ourselves, but we need a guarantee that our sacrifice will not be wasted.
We want the State to understand that it can only be strong when supported by its citizens. And that can be reached through respect of man, his conscience and, his beliefs.
The words that Holy Father spoke in Cracow will resound in our ears for a long time:
You must be strong by the power of Faith! (…) You must be strong by the power of Hope (…) You must be strong by the power of Love. Love (…) which will overcome every- thing… A nation, a special community of people, is called to victory – victory through the power of faith, hope and love. Let us go to victory through the power of truth, freedom and justice. 8
These are only some of the thoughts of the Holy Father on the road towards a better future which He showed us during the pilgrimage. We shall consider His ideas more thoroughly during our upcoming monthly Masses for Our Country. Yet , it depends on ourselves how we shall walk this path which he showed us. To what extent we shall look for our spot on this path. To what extent we will bravely do away with evil everywhere the Lord will put us every day. To what extent we will take deeply into our hearts the words of the Psalm which the Holy Father repeated so many times Blonia of Cracow: “The Lord is my shepherd… even when I walk through a dark valley, I fear no evil for You are at my side”.
We shall not be afraid of evil because we know today that He, John Paul II, the representative of Christ is with us with His whole heart and with all His might. We will not be afraid of evil because none other than the Lord is with us.
[closing remarks] Our so very large presence here sufficiently demonstrates our patriotic feelings. Let us not lose this renewing disposi- tion and let us not facilitate the bad moves of those who would like to ruin this environment of prayer and love for our Country.
1 Peace to You, Poland, My Homeland!, Editions du Dialogue, Paris 1985, p. 20.
2 As above, p. 155.
3 As above, p. 126.
4 As above, p. 126.
5 As above, p. 186.
6 As above, p. 186.
7 As abobe, p. 187.
8 As above, p. 256.