The Papal Day
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
The day of 16th October has especially become embedded in the memory of Polish people. I always feel deeply moved when I listen to the words of the cardinal who announced that the cardinal of Krakow became pope. And I remember the first words of the Holy Father, words that were so cordial and dynamic at the same time - he was only 58 years old. Then there were requests for prayer at Jasna Gora and everywhere. This prayerful memory has become part of Poland's history for good, as well as part of Poles all over the world and the stories of numerous people who met the great Polish Pope.
It is good that the Episcopate has established 16 October as a feast day in Poland. Today we remember the Holy Father in a slightly different way. This year John Paul II is with us in heaven, in the window of Heavenly Father. Unfortunately, he is not among us, who are alive.
It is a unique time for all of us because we pray for the beatification, canonisation of the Servant of God John Paul II. This is a wonderful time, time of great prayer and deeper reflection. Various programmes in the media - radio, television - and those that are realized in town markets or theatres, contribute to that prayer. The Holy Father is remembered in numerous talks, memoirs, concerts, performances, films, etc., so in manifold forms, which are and can be works of people of good will and love for John Paul II.
The motto of the 5th Papal Day is the words: John Paul II, the Advocate of Truth. The truth was the thing the Holy Father enjoyed most. During his pilgrimages he approached people all over the world and proclaimed the truth everywhere. When he had considerable difficulties in realizing his mission of the advocate of truth he addressed believers: 'I am speaking to you and for you!' in order to help the enslaved nations express those thoughts and words, which could arouse the conscience of persecutors and rulers. He spoke during the marshal law when we had rigid censorship and closed mouth. He transmitted the truth as a hero since he struggled against regimes that opposed the truth and gagged its mouth. Now whole nations are grateful to the Servant of God John Paul II that he marched openly with a spark of the truth and proclaimed it boldly.
'John Paul II, Advocate of Truth' - these words are important and strong. The world of great governments and coalitions, which are sometimes entangled in lies, needs the truth. For the truth will set us free. And if the world is to be free from evil it must stand on the truth, which is so important in the lives of states and nations. We do realize how much harm through lies we experienced in our homeland and how many people were harmed, injured and killed by lies.
In Krakow Fr Karol Wojtyla, as bishop and professor, proclaimed the truth in a determined way. And today he can be an example and patron of priests, bishops, and teachers and teach them how to be advocates of truth.
The day of 16 October should make us all do an examination of conscience: are we followers of John Paul II, the Advocate of Truth? Do we defend the truth and are we faithful to it? Do we observe the rules, which flow from accepting the truth as a fundamental condition? The truth is the power, which sets from evil, iniquity, evil conscience and improper human relationships. The truth will tell us what is good, just and right and what serves the nation.
Thus, when we are thinking about our homeland today, when we remember our harms and our hard past, we should begin with asking about the truth. The person who lives in truth and has a clear conscience will be good for Poland. John Paul II challenges us to follow the truth, to follow his reflections on his fatherland in the spirit of the love for the truth about our history as well as the history of Europe and the world. Let us remember about his reflections on the philosophy of man, on the truth about man, on particular activities in social, economic and educational spheres. This is a great space that is verified and healed by the truth. The Polish Pope served it through his speeches during 27 years of his pontificate, which have been collected in 51 volumes. Their contents give witness to the hard work of the Holy Father not only for the cause of his fatherland but most of all for the universal Church and all humanity.
We must follow him in the spirit of the love for the truth as people who are obliged to follow the truth, remembering the words of Jesus from the Gospel: 'The truth will set you free'.