Culture of feasts and daily life
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
We all do remember the unique, one of its kind, meeting which we describe as ‘Christmas Eve’. This meeting has its own traditions in Polish families. Nowadays our relatives often come to their homes from distant lands. They long for this special evening, for the Christmas Eve dishes with their taste reminding us of our childhood. During this extraordinary time one can have a strong sense of the family mood. Memories come back, evoking tears. There is a lot of warmth and love although we do not understand why. Apart from Christmas Eve there are other Christmas meetings. These are meetings in companies, schools, universities, various organizations and they have a social dimension. Sometimes priests are invited to such meetings – to bless the wafers, dishes, to lead prayers, to read the Gospel passages. These are important meetings, giving the environments of science or work a special, human character, marked by sincerity and cordiality, expressing our cultural roots. Before Christmas I went to the Regional Centre for Heart and Vascular Diseases ‘World Polonia’ in Czestochowa. I had the chance to get to know the medical staff, including the well-known Prof. Marian Zembala from Zabrze and Dr. Tadeusz Zebik, the director of the centre. I could participate in the Christmas Eve meeting in the hospital. I could listen to the doctors’ speeches about the ethos of their work and meetings with patients. Prof. Zembala said that every patient was a sanctity for him. This very important statement came for a known specialist who showed a proper attitude of medical staff towards patients. I realized that it was essential for the medical world to organize such meetings during which they talked about the sick and those in need; those who should be cared for with love. What great joy when you can listen to your doctors and representatives of the whole medical staff, saying that their greatest joy is their patients who have been enjoying their lives... Such Christmas meetings with people working together, teams functioning at various levels of medical care, who are cordial to one another, show their joy while meeting at the Christmas table. One can see that they enjoy their company and certainly this helps them in their daily work to serve the sick that often fear diagnoses, treatments or arduous therapies. Then you notice especially those who are to care for the sick and you are particularly sensitive to their attitude. Every sentence, its intonation, words and the way of expression matter. Every friendly look of the nurse or the orderly matters. And you have a feeling of true gratitude for these people. It is also an occasion for moral evaluation: to evaluate what kind of doctors and nurses we have. There are so many sick people around us and medical services are very important elements of our social life. We look at the situation of health service in our country. We analyze the bills concerning medical services and we often wonder whether the government really follows the principles of social love. We have great achievements in the development of medicine. Human life is being prolonged and one should thank God for that. But medical services are increasingly more expensive since their standards are higher. The legislators and the government should know that health services must be properly financed. Therefore, one of the questions directed to the future MPs should concern their attitudes towards health service. One needs a proper culture of Christmas Eve celebrated in a hospital chapel or hall as well as in any other place of work, not speaking about the strictly family environment. Then one can have a sincere look at other people, together with their problems, not only their personal problems but family ones as well, in a wider scale as a social group.
Today we thank Lord God for all the Polish Christmas Eves that are part of Christmas culture and make Christmas have family and social dimension. These Christmas Eves become real signs of the Nativity, when Jesus, the Son of God, comes to all of us to testify that God is Love and that we, his children, are to follow his way.