Thoughts for 11 November
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
For us, Poles living in the country and abroad, the day of 11 November is a great national holiday, the anniversary of regaining independence. This year we celebrate the 90th anniversary. Thanks to our national culture, carefully cherished and preserved in Polish homes, our country has returned to the European reality. After the hard years of the partitions Poland aspired to normality in a great hurry. The independence thought was very deepened and inspiring, which was very much influenced by the culture of the Great Immigration – one of the most wonderful chapters in the history of our nation, which was a great impulse for the development of the Polish spirit. The destruction during the dark times when Poland ceased to exist on the map of Europe was huge. But when we regained independence the Polish people showed talents and skills in many fields and we managed to succeed. We look at the year 1918 and the 20-year period between the wars with deep reflection. Today, almost 20 years after our liberation from the communist rules, we automatically want to compare those two periods... Unfortunately, our joy did not last long. World War II broke out and the Nazi occupation began. The Polish nation was destroyed by Hitlerism and Bolshevism, with the tragic symbol of Katyn. And again Poland was badly hurt and the alleged liberation from the German occupation pushed us into a long, even more destroying, regime since it was an attempt on the soul of the nation. It is good that today there are numerous enlightened Poles who show what those times were and show the people who served the good of Poland and not its criminal system although then we were told that it was the other way round. However, there are still many lies concerning the Polish People’s Republic, many emotions connected with it and many things to do as far as the interpretation of the historic facts and information included in textbooks is concerned. All these things are reflected in Poles’ patriotism. We have always paid attention to patriotism because it saved our nation from destruction. It is related to the issue of identity. Since the awareness who I am, what is my cultural background and environment and what is most meaningful to my community, what builds it, is extremely important. We, Poles, know that the history of our nation is strongly connected with our faith, which is confirmed, for example, by the motto of the Polish army ‘God, Honour, Homeland’ as well as the image-symbol of the Mother of God, which is commonly venerated. A picture of Mary was very often found during the exhumations of the murdered Poles. Today it is present in almost every Polish home. And this cultural identity is our strength. Wherever we go it makes us share similar feelings, needs and expectations. It is clearly seen in the big contemporary Polish immigration that often needs spiritual background – it is good that they need it! Since there are certain cosmopolitan tendencies in the world aiming at taking away people from their nation, so practically making them nobody. And one can more easily manipulate such people; tell them what is good and what is wrong although this leads to destruction in the future.
Our reply to those who would like to undermine the sense of patriotism in the times of globalisation is the example of the Holy Father John Paul II, a man who was wide open to the world, a great European and at the same time a great Pole and patriot. He used most beautiful words speaking about the importance of people’s roots, culture in which they grew up, their mother tongue. This does not lessen being open to other people, cultures and environments – on the contrary, it let you appreciate their essence, what is most beautiful in them; it lets you understand others, respect them and feel enriched by them. The patriotic anniversaries are always connected with remembering the hardships we suffered in our history. In truth we must remember that not all the things we did were wonderful and worthy of heroism; that our history included treasons, traitors and snoopers and even human beasts. However, we should remember that the most beautiful Polish ideals make us refer everything to Lord God and try to live to the measure of Christ. Let us then offer all the deeds of Polish people to the Divine Mercy and let us ask the Holy, Almighty and Immortal God for help in fulfilling the calling that he has showed us. And let us teach that to young people.