CLOSER TO GOD AND PEOPLE ON HOLIDAY
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
Time of holiday from the perspective of Częstochowa is time of pilgrimages to Jasna Góra. Majority of pilgrims are young, physically fit, happy people, looking through eyes glittering with love to God and people. The idea of pilgrimages belongs to the universal dimension, in each religion, journeys to holy places are recorded. Christianity has many holy places, to which believers make journeys. Apart from the Holy Land, there is a Route of St. Jacob and many pilgrimage places in particular countries. In Poland people make pilgrimages especially to sanctuaries of Mary, where they pray, participate in Holy Masses, where they go to confessions. The fruit of pilgrimages is often conversion. A man who is praying, often experiences revelation - God gives him a grace of more faith, more love. Being converted, people become different, because they are filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit. This grace fills their hearts, gives them a new power. Life of a converted man becomes internally richer, and look becomes wider, because more concentrated on the essence of existence. Parents often notice that their daughter returned from a pilgrimages with her changed behavior, is happy, prays a lot and is more friendly to parents and her brothers or sisters.
But, sometimes, a son or a daughter come back from a pilgrimage, with a changed behavior, but in a completely different way: they are engrossed in reflection, silent, difficult in contact. It may be a sign that, for example, they met with a sect, which poured different messages into their hearts, with an order not to tell anybody. It is a very dangerous issue, which requires an immediate attention, because it may be a state of a deep heretical infection. May there be no such situations.
A pilgrimage contains penitential elements - and even elements of suffering, because pilgrimages are connected with a big physical effort, but they also give purification: pilgrims use holy sacraments, among the others, the confession, the Holy Communion, they pray a lot and realize Divine Commandments. This all contributes to reconciliation with God and loving Him more. So, basically, there are no doubts that a pilgrimage is a beautiful advantage on the road of faith. I personally made foot pilgrimages from Warsaw to Częstochowa and I know how much spiritual strength a pilgrimage give us, by putting difficult demands. When our legs are hurting, when we are not physically fit, when we must get up early in order to set off, we must overcome our weaknesses. And later, everything is compensated by the common prayer, singing, meals and awareness of a special human value in God's eyes.
I cordially encourage everybody to make pilgrimages, and also to be together with pilgrims. There is such a way of making pilgrimages - making a pilgrimage in a spiritual way. Many elderly people who, might have made pilgrimages long time ago, today are not able to do it, but they can remain in a spiritual relation with pilgrims. They can participate in pilgrimages through following phases of a route, sometimes they can arrive in Eucharist at stopping places and show their hospitability towards those pilgrims who are going through their places of living. This is a beautiful way of making pilgrimages which also results in internal enrichment.
Holiday means more time, longer days and a possibility of prayer with a beauty of nature. This is a chance for reading a religious book, getting interested in the Catholic press. I am also impressed myself by the prayer ofbreviary, which is really concentrated on reciting psalms, as well as other readings. Psalms teach how the man should think about God, they teach us fear of God. The Liturgy of the Hours, that is, the prayer of breviary, is beautiful and rich. It is joyful that many laymen, not only clergy or nuns recite the breviary. Because the breviary helps us be in closeness with God. I encourage everybody to this form of a prayer, especially now, when there is more time. It strongly adheres to the beauty, which is contemplated in holiday. I even thought that maybe in 'Niedziela' we should print texts of psalms, readings, hymns of breviary, which build our religiousness. Surely, it would enliven our way of referring to God.
So, we have started holiday time. Let it be full of God, religious reflection and prayer. Let's be glad of blessed places which God let us visit, let's be glad of excellent human possibilities - especially possibilities of a young man, who is happy, singing and strong. And, let's be glad of the youth of God, who never gets old, who is full of wisdom, love and infinite mercy - Who exists.