Beatification of John Paul II – Polish Westerplatte
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
We are quickly approaching 1 May 2011 – Divine Mercy Sunday which the Holy Father Benedict XVI assigned as the day of John Paul II’s beatification. Poland has waited for the news impatiently – the whole Church has awaited the day. And the Divine Providence caused that the French nun Marie Simon-Pierre was miraculously healed through the intercession of John Paul II. This fact was considered as a beatification miracle. The situation is extraordinary because it is the successor of John Paul II, and earlier his collaborator, that will beatify his predecessor. It has never happened in the Church. It testifies about certain obviousness of John Paul II’s sanctity, which was visible in the meaningful chanting of the believers gathered during the Pope’s funeral Mass – Santo subito. The Holy Father Benedict XVI himself is going to beatify his predecessor. In their dioceses all bishops worldwide thank Lord God for this gift of raising the Pope to the altars; this great Pope who appointed so many of them and beatified so many of their countrymen. We are as if the day before the beatification. One of the Polish hierarchs called it a Polish Westerplatte. We know how significant this seaside military centre was during World War II, what example it has become and how deeply John Paul II reflected on it during one of his pilgrimages to Poland. When we were losing so much we knew that we had some strengths in us, we knew what we strove for. And now when Poland is in a very difficult economic situation since although the economic factors show development and achievements we know that Polish families are not well, we can see poverty and thus we must remind ourselves of the directions of our beloved Countryman. And the situation is not easy at all. Our national economy has practically fallen and actually we do not know who owns our industry. The huge and terrible administration machine, which is being developed, makes our lives hard. Additionally, the position of Poland in the world looks poor – after the Smolensk plane crash we can see how other countries ignore us and how many matters we cannot cope with. John Paul II is a model for us in many ways and he is also a model of a great patriot. He was a shepherd of the whole Church but at the same time we knew that he loved his homeland and nation very much. He agonised over all defeats and failures that fell on his countrymen. After marshal law had been imposed he came to us and spoke to us and for us who experienced the pillory of communist slavery… Now John Paul II, being in the house of the Father, is admonishing us. We would like to draw from his teaching that is so important to Poles. What was most important to him? It is a question about the teaching of our Pope. This question is included in the contest of ‘Niedziela’ on the occasion of his beatification. What do we remember, what is important to us, what mustn’t we forget and overlook? This great pontificate should be rediscovered and should awake our Catholic and Christian awareness. Therefore, we try to look at John Paul II’ speeches and thoughts included in books and Catholic press. They are still valid. Dear Shepherds of souls, there is no sense waiting for some improvement of Catholic awareness if families do not read the Bible, if they do not have any contacts with Catholic press, if they do not make any resolutions to use Catholic media. Let us not delude ourselves, others will shout us down! If we speak about Westerplatte for Poland it also means the awakening of Poles’ patriotic consciousness. Let us not give our homeland to those who want to separate it from the teaching of the Church. Let us desire such a Poland which John Paul II dreamt of. Therefore, we are turning our thoughts to him before his beatification. Let he reveal our raison d’etat, let him inspire our consciences; let him show our historical roots and perspectives to achieve. He is a reliable, close and wonderful authority since he was our brother. Yes, the beatification of John Paul II is Poland’s Westerplatte in the third millennium. We are not going to have another Westerplatte. Thus let it shine with embers of faith, love and deed.