Holy Mass for the Fatherland on November 27 1983 was celebrated by Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko who delivered the sermon.
We are united in front of Christ’s altar in our monthly Mass for Our Nation and those who suffer for it, who because of their imprisonment cannot pray together with us. On this day of November, we recall all those who gave their lives in the fight for the independence of their Motherland, the fight for freedom and social and personal justice. We remember and include in our prayers those killed on various war fronts, those tortured in Hitler’s camps and the Soviet labor camps, those forcefully evacuated, those exiled. We remember, and pray for our brothers who were taken from us by the present day Cains: our Underground and Home Army soldiers, the workers from Wielkopolska and Wybrzeze as well as those who fell in the past few years in the strange war between ruling powers and the Nation.
Christ’s death on the cross, in spite of the assumption of those who condemned Him, was not a defeat but a Victory. His blood on the cross became the source of salvation. It opened to humanity the road to return to God’s Kingdom in heaven. The Kingdom of truth, love, justice and peace. The duty of building a kingdom based on these very foundations is what Jesus Christ put on everyone who made a pact with Him in the sacrament of baptism. The Polish nation, sworn to Christ and His teachings, for more than a thousand years, has always been faithful to God and Country. The motto “God and Country” is an inherent element of our nation’s history. Poles could always connect their sacrifice of life, their suffering, with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, so nothing would be lost, so it would act as nourishment for future generations.
And there has been much suffering. much blood was shed in the past. Especially during the partitions, the various national uprisings, the rebellions. There were many. The Second World War brought great suffering, especially during the Warsaw Uprising.
Our pains did not end after the Second World War. They did not end after years of horror, after death camps, after the loss of millions in Hitler’s and Soviet camps. The Nation began to rebuild itself from the ruins of war. They looked, with hope, with their eyes filled with tears, to a better future. Tearful not only because so much blood was spilled, because they suffered so much, but that Poland, who to such a great extent contributed to the ending of the war and, as one of the victors, still lost one-third of its territory, the land which she will always love.
Our Nation has suffered a lot after the Second World War. Its sacrifice was that much greater because it was caused by today’s Cains, whom the very same Mother, our Nation’s Mother had nurtured. It is impossible to list all the post-war sufferings of our Nation.
However, let us look at least on some of them: the Nation suffered when her best sons of the Polish Underground and Home Army were dragged around the courts, tortured, exhausted by trials, sentenced to many years of prison, many got death sentences which were frequently carried out. At that time, the Church also suffered. Priests and bishops were put in prison. War against the Church was necessary for the war against the Nation.
The late Primate of Poland spent some years in prison for defending basic human rights. This great statesman tried, in spite of everything, to fulfill the evangelical maxim to give to Cesar what is Cesar’s and that which belongs to God, to God. He could no longer be silent when “Cesar” was reaching ever deeper for things that were God’s – human minds and human hearts.
Once the cup of poison was full, people began to protest. It was justified protest, because even those against whom it was directed, admitted it.
In 1956, in Poznan, workers called out: ”We want bread, we want freedom…we want religion!!” They were shot at for this. Innocent brothers’ blood was poured. Families were left fatherless, there were police interviews, there were beatings, there were arrests. This was the price, this suffering, and blood, for having the best sons of our Nation rehabilitated, many of them were already dead. This was the price for re- turning to freedom of the Primate of Poland.
However, those who carried out this innocent blood shed, had not been punished, the right lessons had not been learned. The pounding of the breasts was not sincere and in a short time, the Nation and the Church were humiliated anew. Seminaries were closed, they were deprived of the status of “higher education”. In order to interrupt their studies, seminarians had to complete two years of military service in special units. Academic youth were being humiliated, many had to interrupt their studies. The working class was turned against the students and the intelligencia.
It was through the painful experiences of the Millenium period, the experiences of our youth in 1968, through all the bitterness and humiliation that the cup of suffering was topped up in 1970. In the subsequent call for freedom, justice, and truth, for bread and love, the workers of Wybrzeze moved up to the front. Today we humbly bow our heads be- fore that tragic December 1970, before the executed brothers of Gdansk and Gdynia, before the innocent blood that was poured out.
Although the Nation, once again, believed the enthusiastic declarations and trusted them, already in 1976 workers of Ursus and Radom had to call out for worthy conditions of life and work. In response, they received insulting words, loss of jobs and shameful – not the accused, but the judges –ruling.
Still, the suffering of the Nation does bear fruit. The blood of our brothers and their pain allowed for the birth of a new generation, people made wiser by the experiences of years past. In August 1980, the maturity of the people united in a common effort of structuring their country in love, came through. “Solidarity” demonstrated that a Nation, united with God and brothers, is capable of achieving much. Let no one say that “Solidarity” has lost. It is marching to victory. It marches slowly. But it ever more powerfully works its way into the nation. It may still need to suffer more, it has to be tempered, like gold in the crucible… But August 1980 showed the right way for the new generation of people, people who live in the love of truth, sobriety, courage and brotherly love.
If the authorities would want to understand the words of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, written at the time of minister Kakol, that the potential enemy of a country and its structure, is he who silences the truth, he who lies.1 If they would try to understand that the life of man, the life of a nation, is like soil; if you plant in it chaff – you get weeds, and when you plant it with grain, the grain of truth, love and respect for human dignity, you harvest fruit, plentiful fruit. How very different would then look the life of our people, even in this difficult reality in which we found ourselves after the war. But alas… So, let us continue with our reflections.
We have already spoken of the sufferings of our Nation since December 13, 1981, at our monthly Masses. So today, let us only mention the blameless death of our brothers, the miners from Wujek, of the deaths of our brothers from Lublin, Nowa Huta and other places, of the horrific crime against Grzesiu Przemyk. Let us mention those very many sisters and brothers who were beaten and humiliated. Let us remind ourselves of the internment camps spread through- out almost our entire country. About the tears of mothers, fathers, children, wives, and husbands. About those imprisoned already for almost two years – without having been sentenced – the leaders of “Solidarnosc” and the Committee of Protection of Labor.2 Let us mention those who, for many long months were and still are a long way from their families because they do not want to defy their consciences by a conditional return.
About those deprived of their jobs and worried about their families surviving. About the youth who are told to remove crosses from the walls of their schools, crosses which are the symbol of their faith, about teachers, who are fired because they want to give their pupils the basis of patriotism. About the use of mass media to distribute false accusations of people who enjoy good reputation. Of the humiliating lines in front of shops, people with food stamps in their hand. About paid informers….
On this November evening, we want to realize clearly that this is an enormous amount of suffering of our Nation, which we must not forget, we must humbly offer it to God as a trusting prayer. This offering of blood, pain, tears, and humiliation set at the feet of Christ, is too great not to be returned to us by God as a gift of true freedom, justice, and love. Too great not to lead to the resurrection of our Nation, as it happened in 1918 when it appeared impossible that the three occupying powers were defeated all at one time. Impossible in human terms, but God showed that, for Him everything is possible.
Perhaps we should add to the effectiveness of this cup some more of our personal involvement? Perhaps there is still not enough of our depriving ourselves, not enough solidarity among ourselves? Not enough courage to uncover the evil, not enough caring for those who suffer, those wronged or imprisoned? Perhaps there is still within us too much selfishness, fear, too much drinking, too many people willing to sell themselves, people without their own opinion, those wanting to win at the cost of others? Perhaps there are still not enough of those who are true to the ideals for which our brothers poured out their blood? Let the November of 1918 encourage all those who today are still discouraged, low in spirit and afraid. Let it encourage us to work on ourselves and on others, to confirm and multiply the hope that: when the people are true to God,
Let the November of 1918 encourage all those who today are still discouraged, low in spirit and afraid. Let it encourage us to work on ourselves and on others, to confirm and multiply the hope that: when the people are true to God, Church, and Country, when they live by their faith, hope, truth and solidarity, God has the power to lead the Nation to freedom.