THANKSGIVING FOR THE HOLY FATHER BENEDICT XVI
Reflection during Jasna Góra Appeal prayer on 12 February 2013
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
Queen of Poland, Mother of Word and Mother of the Church!
Today we are coming to you, full of anxiety and deep reflection. We are looking at Peter’s boat – the boat of the Church. The helmsman of the boat – the Holy Father Beneidct XVI is leaving his paddles. He states that he is too old, tired and steering this boat is not easy. Let somebody else come, who is younger, stronger and will steer this boat further….
We fully admire pope Benedict XVI. He undertook a task of a great helmsman after John Paul II and took us to a beautiful journey by the boat of the Church. He did not change a route, but sailed the route marked by his beloved predecessor. He did not find it easy, there were often raging storms and winds, flinging Peter’s barge. But Benedict XVI was leading the holy boat of the Church in a skillful and beautiful way.
So much love was expressed towards his papal pilgrimages, being a continuation of apostolic visits of John Paul II. He visited peoples and nations, reminded about the most important matters for God’s Kingdom. We also reminiscent, Mary, his visit in Your sanctuary at Jasna Góra, where he was welcomed with great friendliness and where memory about him will be for ever.
Poland is grateful to this Pope for the beatification process crowned with the beatification of our compatriot John Paul II, but also for other beatifications or canonizations, among the others, so important for us, Poles, beatification of Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko. We are proud of these heroes of spirit, they enrich our souls, they are an example of faith and loving God over everything and now we can pray to them.
The Holy Father made his decision after thorough and deep reflection on all circumstances. You, Mother of the Church, were surely the first to get to know his thoughts and the deepest intentions, You were helping him to understand whether his decision is right. And surely, like you, he had to consult this important decision with God, which brings new unusual circumstances into the Church. For, responsibility for the Church is high, which is taken by every successor of St. Peter, every bishop of Rome. Today’s time shows best how difficult it is to preside over the community of the Church. After all, we must tell you, our Lady, reigning at Jasna Góra about our problems, with which the universal Church is struggling, as well as our Polish church is. Today the forces of evil undertook a special fight against Christ, the very God, Christianity, against everything which is connected with our faith. Therefore Benedict XVI proclaimed the year 2013 the Year of Faith. It is a big bell, a kind of alarm of the Holy Father towards forces which cumulated in the world – including the boundaries of the European Union and in United Nations Organization – in order to dismantle the Christian culture, morality and faith.
We are believers in Christ, we call ourselves Christians, we live in national communities, among our brothers and sisters. It would seem a normal thing, that we should be satisfied because we are following friendship and love towards our neighbor. This is our Christian culture and within it we should find ourselves as brothers and sisters. But the evil spirit has possessed some environments. The evil spirit opposes to human normality in Europe and all over the world. The so-called fashionable philosophies, having their source in Marxism, in the ideology of French enlightenment, in the Bolshevik revolution, Nazism, Hegelianism and in what was brought by cultural revolution Mao Tse-tung in China and the revolution of Fidel Castro on Cuba, are already picking their harvest and are obelisks which symbolize the contemporary atheism. The gender revolution is going through today’s world, which originates from atheism and praises liberal ideas, excluding the man from divine law and divine order. This picture of the world painted in front of Your eyes, Mother and our Queen, shows perfectly the background of the moment when the Holy Father is leaving the rudders of Peter’s boat to his successor. We express a deep feeling of gratitude for Benedict XVI for the fact that since the year 2005, since the death of blessed John Paul II, he has been leading the Church of Christ so beautifully and responsibly. His difficult decision opens somehow our eyes to the significance of the papal pontificate. Benedict XVI showed to us that the Church must be loved over everything, understood and we must care about its identity. It is related with a grace of primacy. This primacy presided over by Benedict XVI caused that despite many attacks by the evil, the Church is still shining with a bright radius, lightening humankind and life roads of a particular man.
Today we are aware of the great work of the Holy Father Benedict XVI and we express our gratitude for being shown the Church as the Bride of Christ, although suffering and disrespected, is serving to God to the supreme extent. At the moment of replacement of its helmsman the Church is in quite a difficult and gentle situation – this is what the change of guard in a boat looks like. A new pope will surely undertake the work of his predecessors. His first task is going to maintain the identity of the Church all the time, both the theological and pastoral identity, and also the identity based on showing the Church to us as the Bride of Christ. The spousal love is a sign of the Church which will never betray Christ and will show faithfulness to Him till the boundaries of eternity. Today we are standing in front of You, Mary, with pope Benedict XVI, sunk in thoughts, in a prayer for the holy Church. We are bringing to You our worries about the universal Church, about the Church in Europe and the Church in Poland. Recently we took farewell of the great primate Józef Glemp in the Warsaw cathedral, today we are saying thanks to pope Benedict XVI leaving his ministry.
You, who are Mother of the Church, intercede for him, especially to Your Son. Also, teach us, believers, how to be aware of the Church, who we are and what treasure we have and how much we are responsible for it; teach us to be aware of the fact that we create one people of God whose purpose is the final salvation and eternal life. We are also addressing the request to you for conversion of many people in our nation, who are also on the way to eternity. But if we are dreaming of salvation, we must take care of our presence in the Church, for roads of grace, for a prayer, especially the one which is said in families. Without a prayer, without any relation of the man and God there is emptiness, a sad reality, in which satan is carousing, there is unhappiness and despair. We are frightened by these terms but how real and our reality they may become. Therefore we must take a serious attitude towards matters taught by the Church, reminding us that the purpose of humankind is finally the Only God in the Holy Trinity. And there is no other beautiful purpose than only fulfillment in God – regardless what will be said by impious people or envoys of prince of darkness about it. As Christian believers we must stand in the holy Church in a humble and ordinary way and realize the fact that we love the Church, we are its faithful children and we want to live and die in it. This faith in the holy Church is confessed by us during the Sunday holy mass – we say: ‘I believe in one universal and apostolic Church’…This is our faith of the Church.
Mother of Word, Mother of the Church, take our thanksgiving prayer today for the ministry of the Holy Father Benedict XVI. And help us in asking God for much health and strength for him, so that he could serve to the holy Church in a way which will be given to him by Divine providence. We are also asking you for help in a good election of his successor – help us pray for the grace for cardinals who will be electing a new governor of Christ. And give strength to the whole Church, so that it would faithfully maintain at the confession of St. Peter which is a guarantee for the unity of God’s people aiming to Heavenly Homeland under the leadership of the Pope.