Lednica is Jesus
Karolina Jadczyk talks to Fr Jan Gora, OP, initiator of the meetings in Lednica.
KAROLINA JADCZYK: -You have been connected with Lednica. This is your work. It seems that you give all your energy to this and what does Lednica give to you?
FR JAN GORA, OP: - It gives me all. Lednica gives me a lot. The feeling of sense. Lednica is the engine of my pastoral ministry. Lednica is my university. This is a large space, almost 36 hectares of meadow, but it is also a huge space in the minds of hearts of young people who choose Christ and want to follow him enthusiastically. Lednica gives me space in the hearts and minds of the youth, their confidence. This is a mutual relationship, resonance. I have the feeling of sense. I know what I live for. I live for them but they react similarly. Lednica is as if resonance and aliquot to the action of Mieszko who put his trust in Christ. This is a decision to choose Christ many times, repeated action, sounding in hearts, minds of our youth and culminating in the apostolic availability, i.e. person and action, I repeat after Karol Wojtyla. 'Send me!' the motto of this year's meeting in Lednica - we follow Jesus, we are ready to follow him and not only to choose him. Send us, send me - it is me that is ready to follow Christ. This is what Lednica is about.
- Lednica means choosing Christ as Lord and Saviour. The Pope said that it was not enough to cross the threshold but one should launch into the deep. What does this mean to a concrete young person?
- As a young friar I heard the older repeating that I needed to go deeper. I got irritated and did not know exactly what it meant. Now I know. It means to have references, relationships and associations. Association is a weapon of the intelligent or intellectual person. I think that my task is simply building these associations, which will positively burden human minds and hearts with Christ. This is depth. This is the quantity, multiplicity of positive associations, this positive ambiguity that make concepts be covered with content, emotions, feelings, associations, recollections, memory but at the same time they sound fresh today and radiate to the future. This is a fantastic magic of the language - this is what was yesterday, i.e. roots - memory, but also what is today - freshness - what I am saying, not reading but saying and at the same time this is to radiate to the future. In my opinion this is depth. Christ was yesterday, Christ is today - really, concretely, but Christ will also be tomorrow. And the thing is that we should do all things in unity with Christ.
- In some way the co-initiator of Lednica was the Holy Father John Paul II. How are things going on when he is not with us?
- The Pope participated in the meetings in Lednica. He prepared messages, gave his blessing and then he watched the tape, being deeply moved. I always sent him a tape. I think that the Pope's involvement, his enthusiasm and love for Polish youth are sufficient to the end of the world. This is great potential, we have a big treasure: eight Pope's messages directed to the youth gathered at Lednica! They become a catechism, eight points of growth of the personality of our youth. Even now the Pope is present although he is not physically with us. I feel his presence every day. That's why we have decided to open John Paul II House, not a museum, so that he were with us; the house where I am going to feed people. On the ground floor I will distribute soup and bread and on the first floor I will give the teaching of John Paul II. Each day when I fall asleep I say, 'You have framed me for that so help me now'. I pray these words to him. And the Pope helps me. And I follow one command. When I asked him how I was to invite him to Lednica he answered, 'Using arguments.' So I also use arguments while talking to the Pope since the language you address God and saints is the same language they use to answer you. If someone speaks the language of united Europe he gets the answer in the language of united Europe. Similarly, if someone speaks to God or the Pope, "Give', the Pope answers, 'Here your are.'
- Lednica is a big confessional. The fields where a priest and a young person stand can make a profound impression...
- Yes, yes, yes. I am very glad that Lednica is a confessional because Lednica shortens the way to Jesus. Lednica is Jesus, this is the choice of Jesus, and this is Holy Communion and confession. Nobody wanted to believe that there would be silence before the Blessed Sacrament. This silence is dazzlingly beautiful, solemn. And then these wonderful hearts of young people can talk to Jesus. I am very happy then. I want to cry and I do not want to refute any arguments, any malice. The silence of thousands of young people adoring the Blessed Sacrament is simply the only and the strongest argument.
- Gate in the form of Fish, which means the sign of Jonah, i.e. the cross...
- And Christ, Christ himself. 'Ichtis' means fish. Fish is 'ichtis'. Naturally, some associate it with ichthyologic ointment for the treatment of ulcers and boils but this is fish ointment for the boils of being a sinner - Christ as the medicine. For the boil of modernity - Christ as the medicine, our healing, signpost, fish, fish, fish, Christ, Christ, Christ.
- Lednica is a multitude of symbols: rings, tablets of the Decalogue, Bible-shaped gingerbread... Why is John Paul II's handkerchief a symbol this year?
- Because the handkerchief of John Paul II always impressed me. The tired, sick Pope held a handkerchief on his right knee. And at the moments of weakness he wiped his mouth as if smiling to people. This handkerchief was victory over his weakness, illness. I nicked one handkerchief from the Holy Father in December 2004. The Pope looked and waved his hand. During the evening meeting in the Vatican Cardinal Dziwisz gave me another handkerchief officially, to copy it. And this is to accompany the words, 'You must be stronger than the conditions you are to live under.' I thought that this handkerchief would be an excellent symbol - you must wipe your forehead to think anew, you must wipe your eyes to see the world anew, to wipe off your nose to take a deep breath, to wipe your mouth to find words of love, to wipe your face to be a completely new man of the JP2 generation. And this is it. I make all things new.
- What are young people bringing to Lednica this year?
- Most of all they are bringing themselves. As always we want people bring stones with their names or soil from the places they come from. I think this will be a tradition that there will be soil from all over the world in Lednica. And first of all people bring themselves, their generous hearts and souls and they will receive handkerchiefs of John Paul II. I am looking forward to the service so that they will wipe their faces, so that they show their faces in the sunset, so that they see themselves as people of the new JP2 generation. This will be the most beautiful thing. And then Holy Communion, common singing. This is a symphony since God's matter is always symphonic. These are chords and inversions, marvellous keys. You should remember that this is faith translated into culture, this is dance, singing, architecture, art; this is what the Pope spoke about - translating faith into contemporary word in God who is man's word.