Holy Mass for the Fatherland on March 27 1983 was celebrated by Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko, who delivered the sermon.
[homily] Holy Mass is the most perfect form of prayer which faithful people bring to God, the Father of peoples and nations. It is through our prayer that we wish to serve God and our neighbors. We want to include God in our difficult and painful concerns for our Nation.
Serving God means looking for ways into human hearts. Serving God means to speak of evil as a disease, which one has to reveal, in order to cure it. Serving God means to recognize evil and all its ways.
The description of the suffering and death of our Savior, just read, shows us how much Christ had to suffer, how much humiliation from those who did not want to accept the words of truth which He proclaimed, from those who unjustly sentenced Him to death on the cross. That was the reward pro- posed for Christ for His love and sacrifice for the good of humanity. They forgot; however, they did not want to under- stand that although Love and Truth may be crucified, they cannot be killed. Out there, on the cross, Truth and Love triumphed over evil, over death, over hate.
We are the disciples of Christ and that is why we understand how much the absence of Truth and, the triumph of hate, in our country, stands in the way of together building our Nation. It stands in the way of the dialog and the understanding among us, brothers. At Mass in the capital of Sal- vador, Holy Father said:
(…) pre-meditated and, deliberate lie is being constructed against the dialogue. It abuses man, employs false propaganda, excites aggression. The dialog becomes useless when both sides use ideology which denies human dignity, which considers struggle as the main force of history. They see the origin of law in power and, in the division into friends and enemies, as the alphabet of politics. A dialog is not a tactical weapon. It is a sincere attempt to find an answer and to find common ground among the worried, pained and tired peo ples who are thirsting for peace…¹
The problem, which we are considering today, is extremely difficult. However, its time appears appropriate. This is because, two days ago, Holy Father opened the Jubilee Year, the year of redemption and reconciliation. There is no doubt that the majority of our citizens expects understanding and agreement but, on honest conditions.
Polish bishops had been calling for an agreement from the beginning of martial law.
But, from the start, they clearly described the conditions for that pact. They decidedly rejected everything that was contrary to mutual understanding. And so, on December 15th, the bishops already concluded that the government decision to introduce martial law was a blow to the national expectations, and the hope that by reaching an understanding, our country’s existing problems could be solved. The bishops, therefore, promoted the need for dialogue and elimination of the radical means, which only resulted in beatings, loss of life and of health.
They often reminded that “Solidarity”, which defended the right to work is vital to the return to equilibrium in the life of our nation. In February, last year, they preached that the parties to a social agreement are, the governing body and a trustworthy representation of organized social groups, among them “Solidarity” who enjoyed a wide national approval.
And when, by the Act of October 8th,1982, the suspended unions were abolished, the Primate, speaking in Niepokalanow, stated that without consultation with the working classes, with whom the Church is so very involved, the most major element of social structure, and therefore, a serious partner of an authentic dialogue, was eliminated and that the delegalization of “Solidarity” as a union caused the nation a painful blow.
The church decidedly deplored the abuse of power by the authorities which took place in Kwidzyn with regard to those detained and the attempts to send mentally healthy detainees to a psychiatric facility.
Facts of forcing people to sign declarations contrary to their conscience were strongly condemned. So, on the one hand we had the stamp of power and force, while on the other, a call for social agreement, reconciliation and dialogue. What still bothers us today, what is it that does not serve reconciliation? Many of us present here could enumerate a lot of reasons, which make a national consensus difficult. Certainly the bitterness, the lack of mercy and the abuse which many of our sisters and brothers experience daily. The retention in pris ons of so many sisters and brothers for their different beliefs. All that certainly does not help in reconciliation. And beyond this, comes the longing of children for their imprisoned mothers and fathers, the tears of wives awaiting the return of their husbands and of mothers waiting for their sons and daughters, broken families, their worries and concerns.
Reconciliation is not served by holding up people who, in peace and composure, return to their homes from patriotic services.
Reconciliation is not served by the show of power on city streets in the vicinity of the faithful praying in churches or the bringing of provokers to churches, which happened a month ago in our neighborhood.
Reconciliation is not served by the constant lack of conditions where our youth could realize their moral growth in a framework of chosen principles, and learn about social life in youth organizations, which reflect their understanding of the world.
Reconciliation is not helped by the censored and chopped up by the decree of martial law of press articles, above all those in the true Catholic press, such as “Tygodnik Powszechny”, “Gosc Niedzielny”, or “Niedziela”. Nor by documents signed by magistrates, leaders of cadres which propose to ”Solidarity” activists to double their earnings in exchange for forming a new union in their workplace and, when they decide to remain faithful to their conscience, they receive a letter which demotes them and transfers them to another job at the opposite end of Warsaw. Here is one of those letters.
What I am saying at this moment, is not trying to get into politics. In my deliberation is the suffering of the father who worries about the material well being of his family.
But enough examples!
All these wrongdoings towards the nation need to be repaired, we must sit at the table with the common purpose of looking for the way out. Reconciliation must have one common purpose, the good of the Nation and the respect for human dignity. We must extend our hand to a reconciliation in the spirit of love, but at the same time, in the spirit of justice because, as the Holy Father said five years ago, there cannot be love without justice. Love is greater than justice and at the same time it is confirmed injustice. Our Nation wants reconciliation, wants agreement but, wants a guarantee, not verbal declarations. It wants the guarantee that it will not be cheated again, that its effort and work will not be wasted. It does not want the agreement to be a capitulation, giving up on the ideals, the longing and the belief in a better, a more worthy future. Let the Holy Week and Easter be for us a time of prayer, for us, who lift up the crosses of suffering, crosses of resurrection, the sign of victory, of good against evil, life against death, love against hate. Let this be a time of reflection that force does not win even though it triumphs for a while. We have the best example of this from the cross of Christ. There also was force, there was hate of Truth. But the force and the hate were conquered by the active love of Christ.
Let us then be strong in love praying for the brothers who went astray, without condemning anyone, but stamping out and unvailing the evil. Let us, His believers ask with Christ’s words, the words, which He uttered from the cross: “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do”. And to us, give us Christ, a better recognition of the work of love than that of power and hate.
[closing remarks] We remind everyone that our Masses for the Fatherland are celebrated in our church since October 1980, every last Sun day of the month. Because, unknown to us individuals lately attempted, via false posters, to change the dates, we declare that there will be no announcements of our Mass in town. Any posters therefore will be a provocation. Our Mass for the Fatherland will continue to be celebrated on the last Sunday in April, in May and in the following months. We ask the faithful not to listen to the provocators who are among us and try to call for manifestations or singing. Let us agree, that after the service, outside, only the provocators will sing and shout. Maintaining peace and composure, we shall find out who it is and how many of them are there. Let us, therefore show our maturity – let the provocators be disappointed. And you, brothers, who come here sent by others, if you want to serve the truth and honor your dignity, allow the faithful go home in peace.
¹ John Paul II, Appeal on the XVI World Day of Peace, 1/1/1983, “L’OR” 11/12/1982.