Introduction by Paul Hensler:
In the summer of 1982 the Council of Religious Affairs requested dates for the second visit of Pope John Paul II to his homeland.
The price of the deal was simply this: the Church should keep its distance from Solidarity. The government feared that Father Popieluszko’s following, including all of the solidarity internees, would, upon release head straight for his church and pick up their opposition activities.
Department Four, the church monitoring arm chose to scare the priests by flattening tires, following their cars incessantly, bugging their offices and accumulating and manipulating information on the radical priests. This information was delivered to the Religious Council offices with great drama and each time the Council returned a letter saying ‘our priests are not meddling in politics.’
What degree of pressure and harassment on Popieluszko would have positive rather than negative effects? That was the calculation that had to be made in the offices of the Secret Police by ambitious, frustrated men. For any pressure on Church leaders to have a chance of success, Secret Police harassment would have to be carefully paced.
Holy Mass for The Fatherland on June 27, 1982 was celebrated by Father Jerzy Popieluszko who delivered the sermon.
We are now into the seventh month of the rules of Martial Law. In our homeland thousands are deprived of the liberty and millions continue to suffer. In this month, dedicated to the Heart of Jesus who suffered so much and continues to suffer for justice and peace, we gather in the church to make the most holy offering for those whom this martial law has touched the most. For those deprived of their freedom, the condemned, the arrested, the arrested. For those who were deprived of their work. For their families and above all for their children.
I beg you, Lord, look at this entire land.
Look at it, lend us your ear
Let our hope in your word not fade.
The Lord listens most readily to the child
when it wants happiness not for itself, but – for its brothers.
In this month, dedicated to the Heart of Jesus, we want to embrace in our hearts those who most need it. We want to embrace the children of families most affected by the martial law. Children are so very sensitive to injustice, which they cannot understand. The world of a child is so very delicate. Evil destroys the child’s mind most when it is sudden and cruel. Brutality and hate, which touched many families, must have its consequences. We have so many orphaned children in children’s homes. Children, alone and sad. Whose conscience will be burdened by these?
All of us, this large gathering of Your people, Lord Jesus, whose heart was pierced by evildoers, whose heart suffered so much, turn to You in our common prayer.
You, yourself were a child, and although You had a Heavenly Father, God gave You St. Joseph to be your father on earth.
You, Jesus suffered already as a child when You had to escape with your parents from Herod’s persecution. So You understand the pain of the children whose parents, although righteous and honest, have to hide from.
You understand the pain of children whose parents are interned or imprisoned. You understand the look of a child when he sees his father concerned about the family’s wellbe- ing. You understand. That is why, Lord Jesus, we feel that we hear Your responses:
Dear child, I know your pain because I have suffered with you when the bad people came armed with the regulations of martial law and took your father away. I know that no one can give you back the time you had without him and he will also never regain these moments. But, one of these days you will discover that he was taken away just because he wanted justice and you will be proud of him.
Help us, Lord Jesus to stand up to the challenge of the martial law for these children orphaned and wronged. Let there be no mother for whom we do not care, whom we do not help.
Give the mothers of these children, whose fathers are the voice of the millions of our countrymen hoping and believing in “Solidarity”, strength, courage and wisdom. You know, Lord Jesus, the 4 year old Jacek to whom the mother proudly said: “Son, your father was taken away, you have to take his place”. And when the boy asks why must the father be behind walls and barbed wire since he never did anything wrong, and sees the tears in his mother’s eyes, he knows in his own childish way. He knows and will take care of his mother.
You know the tearful 5 year old girl who calls out to her father as she visits him in the internment camp near Warsaw: “Daddy, come home or let me stay here with you”.
You, Jesus, know the pain and the anxiety of all the orphaned children’s hearts. That is why we believe that the suffering of our children and of our entire nation must bear some fruit. All that is great and beautiful is born from suffering. Just as the suffering, pain, tears and blood of our young people in 1970 gave birth to “Solidarity”. Yes, “Solidarity” grew out of suffering. Good tree must bear good fruit. The evil tree can only produce evil.
Martial law was defined by those who declared it, as the “necessary evil”, the “lesser evil”. Still it was always evil.
That is why the fruit it bears is evil. They will have a bad harvest.
Let our prayerfully declared sympathy and solidarity be with those who suffer, are abused, deceived, let our cry for freedom of the imprisoned, work for the unemployed, for happy childhood. Let it be, at the same time, the great cry for freedom of our Motherland. For freedom based on justice, goodness and love.