In relation to the 1050th anniversary of Poland Baptism – Lidia Dudkiewicz talks with archbishop Wojciech Polak about liberating power of Christianity, roads of individual and national revival
LIDIA DUDKIEWICZ: - Primate notes that the time of particular grace connected with the 1050th anniversary of Poland Baptism should be perceived in three dimensions: reflection, thanksgiving and a testimony. Could Primate explain Readers of ‘Niedziela’ what meanings are concealed in these notions?
ARCHBISHOP WOJCIECH POLAK: The Jubilee ceremonies are, first of all, an invitation for reflection. We want to reflect on our Christian heritage and look for roads together, on which Lord wants to lead us. Our particular occasion for it is the Meeting in Gniezno which will be held soon, on 11 to 13 March 2016, under the motto ‘Europe of new beginnings. Liberating power of Christianity’. Our thanksgiving for the gift of faith will be expressed during the main celebrations, which will be held on 14 April in Gniezno and on 15 and 16 April in Poznań. As for the space of a testimony, it opens up to us every day, also thanks to the ongoing Jubilee of Mercifulness. Nevertheless, we are supposed to become witness both during the World Youth Days in Cracow in July and during days preceding the meeting with Pope, in particular dioceses. Providence gives us a lot of possibilities to share faith and strengthen one another in faith.
- In March we celebrate the 1050th anniversary of Poland Baptism during the 10th Meeting in Gniezno…
- The preparations for this event were accompanied by a clear need of deep revival of the Church, Poland and Europe in the contemporary life. We believe that its beginning can be the examination of conscience of the Polish Christianity and return to the sources of Baptism. I cordially invite to Gniezno, where through a prayer, discussions, workshops and artistic events we will want to experience the liberating power of the Gospel and learn to be its witnesses. I hope that the ecumenical meetings of the Christians from Central-Eastern Europe will help us taking responsibility for the future of the Church, Homeland and our common continent. People interested in participation in it, can gain needed information on the website: www.zjazd.org.
- Can I ask for giving the most important events of the jubilee ceremonies in Gniezno and Poznań?
- On 14 April which is the date of baptism of Mieszko I, the Polish Episcopate with invited guests – at the helm of the Papal Legate and President of the Polish Republic Andrzej Duda – will thank in the cathedral in Gniezno, to Mother of all churches in Poland, for grace of Baptism of our Homeland. Moreover, missionaries will be sent to the tombs and relics, in order to bring the Good News to the far corners of the world. They express our gratitude for grace of Baptism and a sign of vitality of the Polish Church. In Gniezno, on this day, there will also be debates of the Polish Episcopal Conference, of historical character, to a great extent. From Lech Hill, on which St. John Paul II said the words on 3 June 1979: ‘I greet Poland, baptized here over a thousand years ago!’, we will hear a message in which we will thank God for faith, hope and love, for the Church, holy sacraments and all kinds of grace which Lord gave to our Homeland during the past 1050 years. We will also ask for grace of faithfulness to God and Gospel and a needed light to face challenges which baptized people are going to face. Bishops will also go to Ostrów Lednicki to express a Profession of Faith and listen to the beating of the jubilee bell ‘Mieszko and Dobrawa’. At the end of the ceremonies in Gniezno, there is also planned a film projection prepared by the National Culture Centre.
During other days in Poznań, debates of the Polish Episcopal Conference will be continued as well as a prayer. It is worth emphasizing that on 15 April, on the occasion of the 1050th anniversary of Poland Baptism and establishment of Poland, there will also be a National Meeting there. Next day on INEA Stadium there are planned joyful celebration and an evangelization meeting.
- ‘Poland, nation of baptized people, do you still live with the novelty of this sacrament?’ - this question was asked by Primate in one of Your statements. Could I ask Primate for some reflection on this issue?
- In the interview quoted by You, Editor, I was trying to express it in a different way, asking believers: ‘How are you – as the Christians – salt and light in the world?’. The ongoing jubilee year should encourage everyone of us to give a sincere answer to the question and pray sincerely for the gift of conversion, both the individual and community one. The grace of the sacrament is not limited to the very moment of the baptism celebration, but is able to change our life, just now. That is true that a lot of issues and concerns overshadows this novelty. However, we cannot forget that we belong to Christ and His power is revealed mostly when we experience our weakness, tiredness and difficulties. Being close to Him, we participate in His priestly mission. And it means that every day we are supposed to become a selfless gift for others. In the Church also everybody, priests and laymen, received particular prophetic vocation. Our life should show the beauty of the Gospel, also in the social, public and professional dimension. As the baptized, we experience royal reigning of Christ, whose mercifulness is bigger than our sin. Thanks to it, we can win evil with the good every day, beginning with ourselves, our families, communities and groups and ending with responsibility for our Homeland.
- Primate of the Millennium prepared the Nation for the Millennium of Poland Baptism through the Great Novena which lasted from 1957 to 1966. It was a nationwide repair program…
- 1000 years of history, marked with the struggle of a lot of generations of Poles, which wanted to understand and fulfill God’s will, required a suitable preparation. Hence the God’s servant, cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, imprisoned by the communist authorities, prepared a program of the Great Novena which helped Poles experience this great anniversary in a proper way. Today, 50 years after those events, we are in a completely different social and historical situation. What was impossible for the contemporary generation of Poles, is completely obvious. The times in which we live, are not, however, deprived of dangers and our everyday choices do not always go together with God’s will. Being aware of it, in every corner of our Homeland, and particularly in front of the Icon of the Queen of Poland, we want to pray for those who belong to the Church through baptism and are responsible for ‘whole spiritual heritage whose name is Poland’, according to the words of St. John Paul II, said in Cracow on 10 June 1979.
- Referring to the Novena preparing for the Millennium of Poland Baptism, at present at Jasna Góra, for nine months there are disputes, being reflection on realization of Jasna Góra Nation’s Vows from 1956. The effect of the disputes is to be a Report of Jasna Góra 2016, showing what Poland is like in the 1050th anniversary of its Baptism. What – in Primate’s opinion – will this examination of Poles’ conscience be like?
- An authentic prayer leads to a deep reflection and action. Particular initiatives lead to it, like debates at Jasna Góra – in one of them, on 20 March 2016,, I will have an occasion to participate in it. Surely, they help us experience the anniversary of Poland Baptism not only as a historical memory of this event, but also as time of understanding and full acceptance of God’s will towards us. After all, the examination of conscience is more than a balance of profits and losses. First of all, this is a sincere meeting with God – only He is able to raise us, heal our wounds and give us hope for a further road. I hope that the so-called Report of Jasna Góra 2016 is preparing us for the ceremony in a good way, which will take place on 3 May 2016 at Jasna Góra. Referring to the heritage of Primate of Millennium, we will make an act of entrustment to Our Lady. We will ask for a gift of growing in social love – which does not exclude people who think differently or who are not even friends – for overcoming all divisions and for a more mature form of the Polish democracy.
It is impossible to deny that we will have to consider our human weaknesses. However, we are saved by this salutary awareness that our life and actions are final in the hands of the very God. Such faith never allows us to stop engaging in our life and vocation, but strengthens us in undertaking tasks which are determined by the Gospel.