A CALL FOR PEACE FROM MIECHÓW
A call for peace in the world, for stopping any discrimination for religious reasons, promoting the Holy Land and historical Miechów – were a message of the Second Day of Jerusalem. Dignitaries of the Knights’ Order of Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, dames and cavaliers of the Order from Poland, Europe and America, canonists from Miechów, pilgrims and tourists were praying together, getting to know one another and participating in festivities and concerts organized on this occasion on 15-16 September this year in Miechów, called as ‘Polish Jerusalem’ for this reason. Just right here, inside the basilica, there is the oldest and the most accurate replica of Jerusalem Grave of Christ in Europe. The Knights of the Holy Sepulchre – guardians of the Sepulchre arrived in Miechów (the Małopolska district, the diocese of Kielce) 849 years ago.
The program of the two-week celebrations matched parts of prayer, science, concert-artistic part and integration part as well as typically religious part devoted to the current matters of the Order.
The commander Karol BolesławSzlenker – a superior of Poland OESSH in his talk with the ‘Sunday’ emphasizes the dynamics of the development of the Order in our country. – During 16 years of its presence in Poland the number of the members of the Order increased from 4 to 240. Every year we celebrate investiture – this year in Lublin and the nearest one is going to be in Kielce – states the commander Szlenker and he emphasizes the idea of the Jerusalem Days in Miechów. – Our purpose is to send a readable signal to the world from Miechów – a place sanctified with a rich tradition of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre: our opposition against persecutions for faith, prayer for peace, spiritual supporting the Holy Father for the reason of his visit in Lebanon – he says.
Distinguished guests in Miechów
The celebrations of Jerusalem Days in Miechów were attended by among the others: the Great Master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem Cardinal Edwin Frederick, custodian of the Holy Land Father PierbattistaPizzaballa OFM, the senior primate cardinal JózefGlemp, the bishop of Kielce KazimierzRyczan, the bishop of DrohiczynAntoniPacyfikDydycz, bishop PiotrSkucha from Sosnowiec, bishop Jan Zającfrom Cracow, over 100 members of the Order – cavaliers and dames in characteristic cloaks with a red cross of Jerusalem, many representatives of confreres from England and Germany with the superior of England and Wales, canons of the Chapter of Miechów, the government representatives, representatives of the state, district and local authorities. There were also artists, reconstructive groups and also nuns from Jerusalem, managing the House of Peace on the Mount of Olives.
A message of the Great Master of the Order and the Custodian of the Holy Land
On Sunday 16 September this year all believers gathered in the basilica in Miechów were welcomed by prelate priest Jerzy Gredka, a custodian of the sanctuary of the Holy Sepulchre, a provost of the basilica in Miechów.
The solemn Sunday holy mass, finishing the Second Jerusalem Day in Miechów, was presided by the Great Master of the Order cardinal Edwin Frederick O’Brien, and the homily was given by the custodian of the Holy Land Father PierbattistaPizzaballa OFM. Referring to the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross in the homily, Father Pizzaballa stated that the replica of the Holy Sepulchre in Miechów has reminded pilgrimsfor ages of the place of death, the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ. He warned against treating the cross of Christ only as a symbol which is till not adored on the land of life and death of the Redeemer ‘as much as we would like it to be’. He appealed for everyday contact with the cross which means victory of life over death, for brave giving a testimony. – Life in the shadow of this unusual place – in Miechów it encourages everybody to accept everything which is concretized in the cross – he said.
The message for the members of the Order was passed on by the Great Master OESSH cardinal O’Brien. He reminded about the pastoral ministry of John Paul II and the role of the Church in Poland, ‘which survived a lot of crisis and was able to defend itself’, but he warned against a blind following examples of American and Western culture which lead to a ‘mass amnesia and the loss of faith’. Cardinal O’Brien emphasized the significance of the pilgrimage of Benedict XVI to Lebanon, during which the Pope asksimportant questions to the Christians all over the world and he expresses his admiration about a testimony and bravery of the Christians living on the Land of Jesus. – The radical Islam is getting rooted more and more in this part of the world.
I would like to ask Polish Catholics to give their good example of faith and strength – said the Great Master, thanking for care about ‘Polish Jerusalem’ in Miechów and help and a prayer shown on the Holy Land.
The Great Master Cardinal O’Brien said especially to the ‘Sunday’: - Our Order is facing a big task of renewal and strengthening of faith in contemporary Europe, which is going to be a subject of the meeting of the Great Magisterium in October this year in Rome. We hope that Catholics from all over the world will join our prayer. The Cardinal added that the Order is observing the pilgrimage of Benedict XVI to Lebanon, the current pronouncements of the Pope and media comments. He expressed his hope that the journey of the Holy Father has a chance to move the world in the matter of care about peace on the Holy Land and persecutions of the Christians in the world as well as discrimination for faith.
On 16 September after the main holy mass the Guardians of the Holy Sepulchre, led by cardinal O’Brien and the commander Szlekier, were praying in the chapel of the Holy Sepulchre in the intention of peace in the world, for all nations of the Near East, for leaders of countries of this region and, among the others, in the intention of ‘breaking walls of hostility and division’ and ‘respect of human rights’.
During the Second Day of Jerusalem in Miechów the Chapter of the Order Gloria of the Polish Superiority awarded people merited for the Order in a special way, giving them the Order Gloria. The historical acts involved sanctifying the building of the Superiority of the Polish Order which is in the restored and adapted for this purpose building near a monastery neighboring with the basilica in Miechów, as well as giving the honor of the custodian of the building of the Superiority to the commander StanisławOsmenda, an inhabitant of Miechów, holding a function of a secular person responsible for ceremonies in the Order.
The meeting in Miechów is also an occasion for an integration of members of the Order spread in whole Poland, a common prayer and reflection on the mission of the Guardians of the Holy Speulchre in Poland and the world. The dame commander of the Order DanutaOrzechowska from Radom, cybernetics, an academic teacher, now the treasurer of the Order says to the ‘Sunday’: My presence in the structures of the Order is still a great mystery for me because it is God who said His ‘yes’ towards my person. I serve with my knowledge, and having a contact with young people I can make the idea of the Order popular as well as intentions of peace in the world and give a testimony.
A scientific session and a word of bishop Ryczan
Moreover, the popularization of the idea of peace in the world and 800-year-old tradition of the Custody of the Holy Land were developed by the scientific session entitled ‘History of Custody of the Holy Land’ which took place on 15 September in the Culture Centre in Miechów. Its moderator was prelate priest dr. Jerzy Bielecki, a rector of the Lower Seminary in Częstochowa. – Through giving conferences, we were trying to bring closer the history of the Order and presence of the guardians of the Holy Sepulchre in Miechów, show the significance of Miechów land and the exceptional character of the sanctuary as well as a long-aged care of Franciscans about the Holy Land – said Fr. Bielecki.
The History of the Custody of the Holy Land was brought closer to the participants of the session by Father dr. NarcyzKlimas on pastoral ministry of Polish Brothers from the seminary in the pastoral ministry to the Holy Land - said Father dr. Jerzy Kraj from the Information Centre in Jerusalem, whereas the current situation in the Custody of the Holy Land was represented by Father PierbattistaPizzaballa OFM.
The main point of the religious part of the celebrations was the Holy Mass on Saturday 15 September celebrated by dignitaries with the homily of bishop KazimierzRyczan. Bishop of Kielce and also a member of the Knight’s Order of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem devoted his reflections to Our Lady of Sorrows and mission given to Her by Her crucified Son. – Sorrowful Mother, from the road to Calvary send Simon of Cyrene to people falling under the weight of the cross. They live among us – said bishop Ryczan. He noted that Maryja returned from Golgotha as Mother of every man from: ‘Israel, Albania, America. Africa, Poland, Germany, Russia’. Bishop of Kielce appealed to everybody not to be afraid of the radio which has Her name. – Radio Maryja will not disappoint us in our life because it proclaims glory of Maryja, because it leads everybody to Calvary so that they could understand God’s intentions. There will always be people like Simon of Cyrene in Poland, there will always be people like Veronica, if we take Our Lady from Calvary to our life – said bishop Ryczan.
And around the basilica…
The Days of Jerusalem in Miechów concentrated also on the basilica, where it was unusually loud, joyful, colorful, and even…exotic, because, for example, young pipers from Częstochowa were performing their music , and behind the walls of the monastery a knight’s village appeared. The scene on the market square was full of dances and shows, and young people were also given awards for a contest about the Holy Land. The stalls on the market square were tempting with a balm of Capuchins, lentils soup and tasty honey.
It was the first time in Miechów when nuns had arrived from Jerusalem, organizing a money collection for the sake of House of Peace on the Olives Mount, where there are 26 children aged 3-18 under their care at present, including inhabitants of Africa and Palestine. The stall of the nuns was surrounded by crowds and they hope to have a permanent contact with Miechów.
The evening program finishing the Days was enriched by, among the others, the band ‘Donegal’ with Celtic music, an actor AndrzejSeweryn and his recital in the basilica of God’s Grave and MajaSikorowska with the band ‘Kroke’ on the market square in Miechów.
The organizer of the Jerusalem Days in Miechów were: Knights of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the Commissioners of the Holy Land of the Franciscan Order and the parish of Miechów and the self-governing authorities of Miechów town.