As always, on this last Sunday of the month, we gather in this church in Zoliborz to celebrate the Holy Mass for Our Country and for those who suffer for her in whatever way. We are gathered in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We gather under the sign of Christ’s cross because we know that our crosses, the crosses of our lives, of pain, of suffering, of torment and humiliation from which our nation suffers, take on a never ending value and lead to victory when they are connected with the cross of our Lord, Jesus. Two years ago, “Solidarity” banners were hanging in our churches. They had been blessed in the churches, and so, we have the right that the churches celebrate the anniversaries of these blessings. Today we celebrate the second anniversary of “Solidarity” banner of one of our capital’s largest factories, The Passenger Car Factory. The banner displays the words “God, Faith, and Motherland” as well as the picture of St. Christopher, patron of drivers. So we pray today especially for the workers of that enterprise.
Two years ago, “Solidarity” banners were hanging in our churches. They had been blessed in the churches, and so, we have the right that the churches celebrate the anniversaries of these blessings. Today we celebrate the second anniversary of “Solidarity” banner of one of our capital’s largest factories, The Passenger Car Factory. The banner displays the words “God, Faith, and Motherland” as well as the picture of St. Christopher, patron of drivers. So we pray today especially for the workers of that enterprise.
Holy Mass for the Fatherland on September 25 1983 was celebrated by Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko who delivered the sermon.
We pray that they remain faithful to the vows that they made to this banner two years ago.
Although Jesus Christ was sent to the whole world to bring the Good News to all peoples and nations, He had a Motherland, His earthly Motherland. One which had its history, its religion and its culture. He obeyed some of the just laws of His country although none of them, as God, were binding for Him. This way, Christ wanted to point out how important to man is having his very own country. Every man is connected to his Motherland through his family and through his birthplace. Motherland is a community of its family culture, its more happy than history. That wealth of language, objects of art, of music, is its religion and customs. I would like, in our deliberations today to stop for a while at the word “culture”. I realize that that is a very broad subject. In this short time I would like to alert us, to just lightly touch some of the problems related to this concept.
Holy Father John Paul II during His first pilgrimage to our country, addressing the youth, said:
(…) Culture is an expression of man. It is the confirmation of his humanity. Man creates culture and through it, creates himself. Culture is a community property of the nation…1
Polish culture is that which supports the spiritual good of Poles. It defines us throughout our history much more than material power or political frontiers. It is thanks to our culture that the nation remained being itself in spite of such a long period of losing its independence. In our hearts, we were always independent because, from the very beginning, we had our own magnificent culture . Polish culture, from the start, carries within itself a clear Christian character. Christianity has always been reflected in the history of our thought, art, poetry, music, drama, ceramics, painting and sculpture.
Polish culture, for centuries, was inspired by the Gospel. Adam Mickiewicz, our national poet, in Books of the Polish Nation and its Pilgrimage2 wrote that a civilization to be truly worth of man must be Christian. Thanks to Christianity we are connected with western culture and that is why we could resist all the barbaric cultures. We could resist cultures superimposed on us by enemies or friends.
In post-war Poland, it was decided that God and Motherland will no longer be a part of national life, and that the young generation will be brought up without God… But it had been forgotten that God has no obligation to comply with anybody’s resolutions.
Today we need to bravely ask for the Nation’s right for God, for love, for freedom of conscience, for our culture and our inheritance. One cannot shape one’s history without past history, we must not forget about the Christian way of our Country. We must not cut the roots of our more than a thousand-year-old past, because a tree without roots will fall, as many examples in our past few decades indicate.
One must not drag the nation back to its starting level. One must not be silent when the nation’s culture, literature and art are pushed to the very end of its educational schedule, when the proven Christian morality is becoming to be replaced by the so called, social morality, when the teachers in Warsaw schools inform Christian parents that their children will be brought up in the spirit of laymen. The distancing of children away from Christian truths which, for centuries has been connected to Polish thinking, means distancing them from what Poland always stood for. It is, in fact a process of denationalization. School has to give children and young people love of Country, pride of national culture. It cannot be an institution superior to the nation, it cannot be centered on today only. It has to be the connecting link between the nation’s yesterday and the nation’s tomorrow. As long as school does not fulfill this duty, all the more it weighs on our Christian families.
Nation’s culture is also its morality. A Christian nation must be guided by, the proven over ages, Christian morality. A Christian nation has no need of the, so called, lay morality as it has no face and no hope, as the late Primate of the Millennium said. It creates a threat to the spiritual values of the nation and weakens the strengths which determine its unity.
Our Nation did not allow itself to be destroyed in spite of partitions, lost rebellions, Siberia, in spite of attempts to destroy its spirit in Russian and German labor camps. It had its deep roots firmly in the past centuries of national history. It did not allow itself to be destroyed because it fed on the history and culture of passed centuries.
What will the Nation feed on in the near future that the history and culture of today will provide? Will it be able to get nourishment from the false articles of the newspapers “Rzeczpospolita”, “Trybuna Ludu” or “Argumenty”? Stripping the souls of our youth of national culture from its proper, soaked in Christianity, marvelous past, being silent on historical facts? Will it feed on the spat upon “Solidarity”, the false accusations on its democratically elected by the nation leaders; will it feed on the throwing away of the crucifixes from schools and factories, about which policy our bishops speak in today’s news?
All this which would take place in a Christian country against its natural culture – the style of government and governing against Christian customs, or against personal rights of individuals or families – does not promote growth of culture. Only the nation which is spiritually free and one which loves truth can exist and create such future as that made by the insurgents who fell on the battlefields or, like the prophets who looked deep into the future, as Slowacki who, living in exile, could see in Poland’s future, the Poland which did not exist in Europe, a Pole on the throne of Peter. Only that nation which has a healthy soul and a sensitive con- science can create a daring future. Therefore, let us care about our freedom of spirit, do not let us be enslaved by scary tactics and fear. Let us not allow, even in the smallest cases, our Nation’s spirit to be poisoned.
Zygmund Krasinski warned us about this when he wrote:
Siberia means nothing, nothing scourge (…) However a Nation’s poisoned soul Is indeed a pain of pains…3
Pawel Wlotkowic already said that cultural goods and spiritual strength are not gained with iron and sword, with might, force and violence. But by freedom, love and respect for law. People are won over by an open heart and not by a closed fist. True knowledge, true wisdom, true culture, have no chains. Human mind cannot be subdued. And, therefore, one wonders when, for example, the administration of a school is frequently considered more important than the excellent teacher, one of world fame.
It is even worse, said Cardinal Wyszynski, when the country has its own people who are responsible for making certain that men of learning “think properly”, which is to say, not in relation to truth but in relation to politics.
All the attempts to control the freedom of mind, mind which generates culture, ruin the culture.
The patriotic rebellion of our workers in August of 1980, caused the professional culture creators realize this fully. Our actors, news reporters, writers, artists realized this well. Their consciences woke up just as the conscience of the Nation, made drowsy over the past decades, woke up. The year 1980 was difficult but showed great values, deep within the sleepy Nation, values like consideration, prudence and ability to cooperate.
Social, professional, economic, cultural and political con- science awoke. The conscience of creative groups. They spoke with their unbridled voices. They decided to serve the truth, to serve with their talents, their workshops. To serve truth in their Motherland. The same Motherland whom their grandfathers served.
To serve their Nation, Poland, without any hangers-on. But… where lies are as if officially nurtured, there is no room for truth. Truth is the negation and the disclosure of lies. And that is why a new war started. A battle with truth –freedom of speech, freedom, and the number of openly and loudly expressed opinions of the awakened consciences. Each call for human rights was regarded as enemy activity.
And yet, already in 1978 in his letter to minister Kakol, Primate of the Millennium wrote:
…protection of rights is not par excellence political, it is a duty of the citizen, and one has to look for the enemies of 118 socialism among the scared silent and not among those who want to learn the truth about Poland, a country crippled by official teachings…4
Conscience, once awoken, can more easily differenciate between truth and lies, it can more easily separate grain from chaff. It understands more easily that the great watch words and flying banners are empty if, at the same time, we keep in prisons and under arrest our brothers whose consciences are awake, who cared for the good of their country like, for example Severyn Jaworski, a Warsaw worker. When there are still arrests and dismissals from work, when we have a staff dedicated to observing and spying on others. Lately the centers of culture have been an example for us, especially the actors who, after December 13th 1981 have displayed a rare, in this post war time, strength of mind, courage and generosity.
Today, the Church looks with apprehension at new threats to the growth of Polish culture. The bishops have frequently expressed this when they wrote, among others, in February last year, that religion and culture have a basic meaning in trying to arrive at a social agreement. That is why the confirmation of full liberty for religious life and for the evolution of culture is vital. A display of this willingness would be, among others, the publication of Catholic writings according to the needs of believers and a guarantee of pluralism in cultural creativity.5 And yet, in February of this year, they stated that, with deep concern they watch the problems that profoundly affect the centers of culture.
And yet, in February of this year, they stated that, with deep concern they watch the problems that profoundly affect the centers of culture and
art whose participation in the life of the country is vital. People involved with arts and culture must have their earn- ings, work, and gathering rights guaranteed. Here the decision to disband unions of those who create culture, the actors, news reporters and lately the Society of Polish writers which has existed for the past 60 years, that means since the days of Stefan Zeromski, who started the society, is hard to believe and hurtful.
Unbelievable and harmful decisions – especially in view of the fact that the statutes of these organizations were confirmed by the same powers and none of them had changed their statutes during the martial law. Hence the question – How does one interpret the statement about which the bishops wrote a year ago, that the Wojskowa Rada Ocalenia Narodowego (martial law administration) in its proclamation of martial law stated that trade unions will be able to continue their activities in line with their statutes.
The widely spread censorship which deletes, especially in the Catholic literature – I underline Catholic, not pseudo- catholic – words, sentences, whole articles, true and brave thoughts, does not contribute to the development of culture. It crosses out that which was written by pens dipped in truth. But words, in order to survive, must be true. Because words which are not true, become garbage the next day, even if they happen to be printed in millions of copies. The chopped up, by the numerous decrees of censorship, Catholic writings, are a bad sign of current times.
Culture, in the end, is an honest dialogue and exchange of sentences, an honest war of words, but not an empty glass full of professional conversasionalists who one-sidedly spit at others by way of mass media. The Primate spoke about this clearly three weeks ago in Czestochowa.
Let us finish today’s deliberations directing ourselves to the Mother of God with the words of the Holy Father on March 31, last year:
We entrust, in a special way to You, Mother of God, the today and the tomorrow of our national culture. Let the life of our Nation extend and grow ever more fully…6
I ask you, as always to leave in a somber mood, in the same spirit which prevailed here in Church. Don’t let us allow any
one to destroy our prayer, our strengthening of the spirit.