As every month, our love of God and Country brings us to Christ’s altar. What gathers us, is the concern for our Country. As always, so in this month, anxieties and joys are intertwined with hurts, suffering and hope. Joy, because together with the Holy Father, our countryman, we could rejoice for Lech Walesa’s Noble Prize, and through him, for the whole working world which searched, and still is searching for the good of the nation by way of reconciliation and peace. The pain, because our brothers are still in prisons, punished for their beliefs. Take all of this, all that brings us joy and all that hurts us, Oh, Mother of the Holy Rosary, and set it on the Almighty’s altar. And, in return, obtain for us greater and stronger faith, hope and love.
Holy Mass for the Fatherland on October 30 1983 celebrated by Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko who delivered the sermon.
Holy Father, we want so very much to include in the words of our letter, written with the ink of love, our thanks for Your goodness, Your wisdom, Your faith, hope and incalculable love. To thank You for being the best son of our Nation. We want to offer You our love of God and Country. We want to thank You for calling on the world on the very first day of Your pontificate, to open wide the doors for Christ . For breathing the Holy Spirit on Your Motherland during Your first pilgrimage with Your prayer and Your words expressed in Warsaw. We remember them well:
“Let your Spirit come down and renew the face of the earth!”
We thank You for Your confirmation of our history and national recollections which gave us a moral renewal. For this renewal that in spite of various experiences still goes on today. At the time of a particular enslavement of our Nation, You were, and still are, the one who strengthens in us the hope of victory of good over evil, love over might, truth over lies.
Your prayer to the Queen of Poland, the Lady of Jasna Gora, in time of martial law, is the most significant expression of Your concern for our Country. You have concern for all of us, You responded to the letters of those interned who wrote asking You to be with them, as they were with You. You answered them with this prayer:
Be with them, Oh, Mother, be with them, with those who are sentenced to forced separation, without being convicted, with all who suffer the imprisonment of their loved ones.¹
When, instead of prison, our brothers were offered exile, You painfully called out:
In Poland we cannot lack space for Poles. Each man has the right to his country. No one can be sentenced to exile.²
We are grateful to You for taking care of the so very dear to us word “Solidarity”. That you have always noticed it as it appeared on banners. It was You, Holy Father who tearfully mentioned on your return from Africa that You will not forget how in the Grand Square in Kaduna , in Nigeria, where among thousands was a group of Poles with the red and white banner and the word “Solidarity” on it. And You explained on that occasion that –solidarity – is not a name for concern, but it is the name for togetherness and unity. It is the deep challenge which Polish people have taken on as a challenge in the 80’s.³
There is no other man who would so bravely brand evil and all its works. No one who would experience so deeply the concern for His Nation as You do, Holy Father.
Your prayer would frequently be filled with pain, “Since December 13th – You said, through tears, on the anniversary of the attempt on Your life – Since December 13th I suffer with my Nation”. And, on the same day, You reminded us that that a nation cannot be made strong by force.
We thank You for Your interest in everything that took place in our Country. You were concerned about those in prison that wanted to go on hunger strike.
We are probably most grateful to You, Holy Father, for Your second pilgrimage, in June. For that kiss of Your native soil which You treated as if it were Your mother’s hand. For Your blessing of peace and Your showing us the way to lasting peace in our Nation. For Your courage to touch all the problems with which we live.
We thank You that, already in Belveder, You said that the understanding in our Nation can only be reached if the achievements of August ’80 are recognized.
Our workers fought for the recognition and fostering of them, not for their systematic liquidation.
We are particularly grateful . We, who gather here in this church in Zoliborz to pray for our Nation and those who suffer for her. Because You have strengthened us in our conviction that we are on the right path when we offer our prayers for peace in our Country for truth, love and justice, for strengthening our hope, and for freedom for those imprisoned innocents, for respect of work, protection our the ideals of August 1980, and for solidarity of hearts and minds.
We are grateful for the words of encouragement directed at the youth in Czestochowa at the Appeal at Jasna Gora, even though we had to miss the opportunity of your meeting with the Youth, at least in the Palace Square, as You had done four years ago, during Your first pilgrimage to our land.
We are grateful for being reminded of the words of the late Primate of the Millenium that the right to meet as a union is a birth right given to us by the Creator. It is not given by any body. And that the government does not give us that right. It only has the duty to defend it and to protect it.
We are grateful for Your words on Blonie in Cracow when You asked us to be strengthened through the power of faith, hope and love.
Love, which endures everything.
When You stated that a nation, a gathering of people, is called to victory exactly by that power of faith, hope and love. The power of truth, freedom and justice.
We are grateful that at the Capuchine church you embraced, with father’s love, the mother of Grzegorz ⁴, and recently sent her a note which said:
Dear Madam, I strongly believe that She, who feels most deeply, and understands the agony of a loss of Her dearest Son, will aid you in trying to “be yourself” to others.⁵
And, last month, when the leader of the world of the working man, Lech Walesa received the Nobel Prize, You also have participated in that prize just like all Your country- men who love their Motherland. This is a tribute to the entire Nation, to its honorable stand in the times of abuse of human dignity, times of lies and injustice. You wrote, with joy, in Your telegram, words of sincere congratulation, emphasizing that, with this award, the efforts undertaken to resolve the difficult problems of the working people in Poland, in a peaceful way of honest dialogue and cooperation, were recognized.You, Holy Father have sent from the distant Vatican Your wishes, while in the country, there were people who, in spite of everything, with an inexplicable obstinacy do not stop from defaming and humiliating the laureate, forgetting that they are also degrading the entire patriotic world of labor and, even more so, the idea of a sincere dialogue and agreement.
We turn our thoughts back to the day when the world stopped in fear because of the attempt on Your life, on May 13th 1981.
The churches in Warsaw and other cities were crowded with people who prayed for your return to health.Warsaw workers spontaneously raised an altar outside their factory. They hang banners saying : “Holy Father we pray for You” and attended Mass for Your intention, kneeling on the streets.
How much we have admired, and still admire, Your goodness when still on the same day, You forgave the one who armed, threatened Your life, because You knew that he was only a blind weapon of Satan acting from afar.
We are thankful to You, Holy Father for every word, for every kind gesture, for each fatherly warning and rebuke. We thank You , as our countryman living abroad, who lamented the thoughtlessness of the “extremists” of “Solidarity” who dangerously rocked the boat, responding:
“Oh, those extremists of ours, Kosciuszko, Pilsudski…”
We thank you for imitating Christ in love, but also in holy exasperation. Are You not, as Christ, firmly punishing the hypocrisy of Pharisees when You decisively reached to the article in which one of the high ranking bureaucrats of a friendly nation wrote cynically:
“John Paul apparently also demands peace, but it is hard to believe, as He does not support the peace movement”
You responded at the first opportunity, that one must not mistake peace with the blind obedience to force, with frightening and enslaving man and nation. That only he is a true patriot who acknowledges other nation’s right to patriotism.
Once, in Castel Gandolfo, You said that whenever You see on the television screen how people make a cross out of flowers in the Square or by St.Anne’s church, you are touched. Today we sympathize with You that you are de- prived of even that joy. That instead of flower crosses all you can see is the Victory Square all dug up for quite a long time now, and near the church of St.Anne, only the reinforced patrols.
We follow every one of Your mission travels, and how we envy that other countries have an opportunity to be with You while we, Your countrymen are denied it. We often wonder why, if, only for example in Rio de Janeiro where You knelt down to kiss Brazilian soil, they erected a nice commemorative plaque.
Why in different places in the world and not in our Motherland?
We remember all this today as the five years of Your Pontificate have gone by. We remember and realize what great gift we have received from God for our world and for our Country in Your person, Holy Father, John Paul II. We ask You today to keep in prayer Your and our Home in which there is still so much injustice, where people are still imprisoned without being sentenced, while the culprits enjoy freedom. Pray for the Country where there is still so much unrest and so many lies. The Country where, at the same time, in spite of everything, hope grows and solidarity of hearts and minds of people of good will still keeps growing. We ask you finally, beloved Holy Father, like those interned did, we ask You, be with us, be with us in prayer and in heart, as we are with You today.
I thank everybody for praying together and sincerely appeal to you… we know, that Satan, like a screaming lion, circles about, and would devour anyone. Let us behave with dignity, as always. Let us leave in silence. In a prayerful mode. We must not allow anybody to ruin this atmosphere of prayer.