A BOOK LIKE A KEYHOLE
Fr. MAREK ŁUCZAK
He is never discouraged by difficulties. ‘Let’s wait, as there is God. He will act!’- he used to say in difficult moments. He often experienced that what seemed impossible, did happen later
This testimony about archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki was given by Krzysztof Tadej, a famous film director and Catholic journalist. As he wrote, for many years in various circumstances, he had had a dialogue with the secretary of John Paul II (he had been with him for 9 years) and Benedict XVI (for 2 years). The fruit of those common talks is a book entitled: ‘A secretary of two popes’, published in the Literary Publishing House.
An adventure of life
It happened in January 1996. Fr. Stanisław Dziwisz phoned Fr. Mieczysław. He said that he wanted to talk. – I thought that the talk concerned receiving a letter of the Holy Father addressed to my superior, archbishop Marian Jaworski – archbishop Mokrzycki mentions after years. – Pope was in friendship with archbishop Jaworski and in this way they often contacted each other. Letters did not used to be sent by post. A lot of information concerned confidential matters, so they used to be given directly.
Fr. Dziwisz informed the guest that the Holy Father would be glad with his ministry as the second secretary. – I was surprised – the priest says, reminiscing that moment. – For me it was a shock. I would have expected everything, but not such an offer! I was a straightforward, ordinary priest, boy from eastern Poland, who had been working for a very short time in the Congregation for Divine Cult and Sacraments Discipline after studies in Rome….It was how his incredible life began.
Archbishop Mokrzycki, as Krzysztof Tadej commented in his book, had met very important and the most influential people of the world. He was a witness of life holiness of the two popes – every day, in the most private situations. And later in another place he saw fright and despair in people’s eyes. The tragedy which is always connected with the war. Humble and friendly. He comes from a small village in eastern Poland. He was brought up in a traditional Catholic family, one of many Polish families which is characterized with strong faith in God.
A witness of holiness
Since the time of beginning his work in Vatican, John Paul II and his cooperators had been a particular family for Fr. Mokrzycki. – I knew that he is wise, good – he mentions the Polish pope. – But being close to him, I was very surprised to see his greatness and holiness. I saw a man unusually related to God. I saw that he entrusted everything he was doing to God. God was in the first place for him. Besides that, he spent every moment on praying.
We find out from the book that John Paul II was a man of prayer, and we can also find out a lot of detailed information on the way how he prayed. For example, having woken up, still before having a morning wash, the Holy Father used to be lying in the form of the cross in his bedroom and say a piece of Rosary. Then he used to go to the chapel for the morning reflections, but also with a rosary in his hand. He had an ordinary rosary, made of grains which he had with himself all the time. In the last years, when he was confined in his movements, he did not pray when lying in the form of the cross any more.
Archbishop Mokrzycki was surprised by fascination of John Paul II with the saints. He was fascinated with their lives, choices they had had to do, and also with the fact how they had brought people closer to God. – He was looking for inspiration in their behaviours and asked them for their intercession – says archbishop Mokrzycki. – Every day I saw this great cult. John Paul II used to say a litany to the saints during a day. He had never missed mentioning saints during the Holy Mass.
The world of straightforwardness and good
Why is it worth reading the long interview - book of Krzysztof Tadej with archbishop Mokrzycki? Because this book is like a time vehicle, taking a reader to the time of the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. It is also like a keyhole thanks to which we can enter the world of papacy for a while, see the reality behind the Bronze Gate, which seems impenetrable, but, in fact, it is straightforward and good like bread. Particularly in today’s times when we are thrilled by straightforwardness and spontaneity of pope Francis, it is worth seeing that he had pioneers in pastoral ministry in his predecessors. We admire Francis that he moved in the House of St. Martha, but – as we find out from the memories of archbishop Mokrzycki – the bedroom of John Paul II was also very humble, according to his will. He did not want any golden decorations. There was a bed, chairs, a wardrobe and a desk, on which there was a big cross. On the wall there was a picture of Brother Albert Chmielowski.
An additional value of the book are photos of the private archive of archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki, which have not been published before, as well as photos of a photographer cooperating with ‘Niedziela’ – Grzegorz Gałązka. A lot of them is are original photos presenting the Holy Father with his Vatican family. Let’s add: a loving family.