Reflection concerning pilgriming
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
I am impressed by the meeting with pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Lublin in Czarnca near Wloszczowa. Many priests joined that group. I could also take part in solemn Mass celebrated in the fields. The Mass was presided by Bishop Ryszard Karpinski. This is a great experience when 3,500 pilgrims participate in the liturgy, focusing on prayer, cordial friendship for one another: this is a real evangelisation for the observers. It was with joy that I could tell the pilgrims about the initiative of 'Niedziela' entitled 'The Bible in Family' and encourage them to get hold of the New Testament books, which we publish every month. (Our initiative was welcomed with great interest.) We have received many thanks for the idea to popularise Holy Scriptures to people who are in constant hurry. We prepared some food for them, expressing our gratitude for their openness to the evangelisation proposals. The faithful visit various shrines. The media publish articles, which are usually very accurate and interesting, based on sociological researches that show the figures of our pilgrimages. Scientists compare pilgrimages to Jasna Gora, to Lichen, to the Divine Mercy Shrine in Krakow-Lagiewniki, to the grave of Fr Jerzy Popieluszko or to Niepokalanow. These important observations let us evaluate the places of pilgrimages. However, one can see some competition between the Shrine in Czestochowa and the other places. But Jasna Gora is unrivalled as far as its meaning for the history of our nation is concerned. I do admire and honour the sanctuary in Lagiewniki and I do thank God that this place enjoys so much worship. But people can choose various ways to reach Lagiewniki, led by the need to trust in God's Mercy - today they are also inspired by the thought of the Servant of God John Paul II that reaches the souls of young people more and more in the contemporary world. Moreover, you can visit Lagiewniki during your sightseeing of Krakow; the sanctuary in Lagiewniki can be another place while visiting Krakow. But Jasna Gora has been the place of the worship of the Mother of Jesus for centuries; here we value her as the Queen of Poland. Pilgrims have always come only to her - Our Lady of Czestochowa. One can hear sometimes that pilgrims coming to Jasna Gora can only see the picture of Our Lady for a moment - and sometimes they cannot see it at all - and must go home. And they are sad since they would like to stay with Mary longer, would like to immerse in prayerful reflection and perhaps deepen their knowledge of faith. But Czestochowa lacks cheap accommodation and restaurants as well as places to celebrate services, to watch a religious film or listen to music and religious songs. At present everything is focused on the small area of the Jasna Gora Shrine and especially in the months of pilgrimages, one can use these facilities to a limited extent. Therefore, we are talking about the insufficient possibilities of Jasna Gora and Czestochowa considering pilgrimages and the fact that the city could have better chances for its development. One should mention that we do not mean a new theatre or cinema since pilgrims do not come to Jasna Gora to have a good time. They want to pray, do penance, receive graces of the sacraments and experience the Eucharist - their aim is religious.
Jasna Gora, in the past and at present, has been a fortress, small area directed to drive back enemies. But by enlarging its pastoral influence on the city of Czestochowa or on the parishes that host pilgrims, for example within the area of ca. 30 km, it could offer contemporary people more possibilities for reflection. Naturally, Jasna Gora would be the destination, would be in the hearts of all those who come to Mary but it would also dynamize the other believers so that they feel responsible for pilgrims and the aim of their journey. This would be a beautiful Marian pastoral ministry... Now these are my dreams but who knows what the future brings... The aim will always be Jasna Gora and a meeting with the Mother of God, which is so important to every Polish heart. When we hear 'Poland' we always think: Polish soul and this soul is expressed in the tones of the Jasna Gora walls, filled with pilgrims' prayers. There is no other place in Poland like the Shrine of Jasna Gora. Let us reflect on the mystery of the Shrine and try to listen what the Mother of God wants to tell us.