Concern for sober Poland
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
August is the month of sobriety in the Polish Catholic and national tradition. This month is special in our history – month of national uprisings, month when we remember those who sacrificed their lives fighting for free and worthy Poland. Alcoholism is our big national problem, which the invaders and partitioners made bigger. The innkeepers approached those who were coming out of churches and in many cases alcohol was the pay. The addiction has remained and influenced the opinions about Poles – one can often hear in the West, ‘To drink like Pole.’ In the 1950s Poland’s Primate Cardinal Stefan Wyszynki decisively fought with alcoholism. He wrote the concern for the nation’s sobriety in the text of the Jasna Gora pledge, ‘O Victorious Lady of Jasna Gora! We promise to fight under Your banner a most holy and most difficult struggle with our national defects. We promise to declare war on laziness and recklessness, wastefulness, drunkenness, and promiscuity...’ The great Primate knew that pastoral ministry had to take people out of the slavery of drunkenness. Unfortunately, the sin of drunkenness, together with the tragedies of numerous families, still takes a heavy toll in our society. The statistics about the amount of alcohol consumed by every Polish citizen, including children, are horrifying... Today one must add beer to the bottles of alcohol; beer is especially popular with young people. The fruit of the nation’s alcoholism includes the huge number of road accidents. As the police register numerous people drive after having consumed alcohol, not realising the danger of death for the drivers and many other people. So many people die in road accidents that we should announce national mourning almost every week. We should add other disasters: concerning the families of alcoholics, broken marriages, children with the syndrome of alcoholic disease, poverty, theft and many others. Alcohol violates man’s dignity, injuring his mental powers, his ability to function in the society and to act morally, perverts his character; in a word, it ruins his health. Someone who overuses alcohol kills himself and others. And we know God’s commandment, ‘You will not kill!’ That’s why such a symbolic time is important since it reminds us of the problem, evokes solidarity with the families who fight against alcoholism; it stresses that as nation we want to live differently. Therefore, let us abstain from any alcohol in August and let us make penance to ask for God’s mercy for those who hurt others, not being able to give up their addiction. Sin is a complex matter – sins go in pairs. And so should actions against sins. Let us pray devoutly for the sobriety of our neighbours. Let us become involved in other pious works that have social influence. The month of sobriety is also an excellent occasion to create new beautiful customs of various celebrations, to appreciate the beauty of life in sobriety, the beauty of the environment we live in and the values of family happiness. We have so many intelligent, educated people, with perspectives for good lives. However, when a shadow of alcoholism appears their chances are lost and their huge human potential is wasted. Man becomes an unnecessary burden, makes a fool of himself and becomes a social threat. Let us ask the Good Shepherd that those who have fallen into alcoholism could find inner strengths to get out of the grid of the addiction, cold find support of their closest ones and endure in good. Nowadays, there are so many movements and actions aiming at helping those enslaved by the sin of drunkenness. Let us use the experiences of others and accept their help. Let us often present our requests to the Mother of God. In August let us also ask her to help our neighbours get rid of the sin of alcoholism. Since it is increasingly frequently that women, young people and children that drink alcohol, and even children in their mothers’ wombs, that are affected by alcoholism. The phenomenon has a national character; it strikes the society and family. Therefore, may our fervent request to the Most Holy Mother flow from Jasna Gora. We ask her to save Poland, to intercede for the grace of sobriety together with the feeling of personal dignity, the awareness of our human worth. Since God created us into his image we should do our best to have his Image be reflected in our lives, to be beautiful, bright and visible. Today we dedicate Mary Poland together with all its problems, especially the problem of alcoholism...