PROCLAIMING CHRIST TO EVERY MAN
Urszula Buglewicz talks with archbishop Stanisław Budzik, the metropolitan of Lublin about evangelization retreats and peregrination of the copy of the Trybunalski Crucifix with relics of the Holy Cross Wood in parishes of the archdiocese of Lublin
URSZULA BUGLEWICZ: – In the archdiocese of Lublin a work of new evangelization began, which will comprise all parishes within over five years. Archbishop, how did the idea for the project ‘Come to the source. Retreat for the thirsty’ appear?
ARCHBISHOP STANISLAW BUDZIK: – The first source of inspiration was the Year of Faith announced by pope Benedict XVI. It was his last pastoral initiative before the unexpected retirement, somehow a spiritual testament. During the celebration of the Year of Faith I was sure that the issue of faith is so important for the Christian life, that we cannot limit ourselves only to the annual celebration. The Year of Faith should be an encouragement for further actions, leaving a deeper trace in the life of the local Church. The issue of new evangelization was in the first place, about which St. John Paul II had appealed during his first pilgrimage to Homeland in 1979 saying that also the Polish land and the Church in our Homeland need new evangelization. He often repeated this calling. There are many engaged priests in the archdiocese of Lublin who feel the need of the new evangelization, taking the example and the method from the contemporary renewal movements both in the universal Church and on the land of Lublin. One can see the need of engagement in this work of laymen who, beside priests and nuns will proclaim the Gospel, especially where a priest does not reach; who will go to those people, whom the Church in its traditional pastoral ministry does not comprise. Pope Francis and his urgent calling to proclaim the Gospel joyfully are inscribed in our reflections and intentions.
– Where is the innovation of the realized work?
– The basic passing of faith takes place in families and parishes all the time. Parish missions and retreats are inscribed in this traditional program of pastoral impact. Also the peregrination of the image of Divine Mercifulness, the Holy Cross or Our Lady of Częstochowa are a characteristic feature of pastoral ministry in Polish dioceses. The novelty of our program ‘Source’ and the peregrination of the relic of the Holy Cross is an attempt of ‘sailing out into the depth’ about which St. John Paul II often appealed in the beginning of the new millennium. We want to invite not only those who are already related to the Church, but also those who are away from Christ and the Church. So, an informative action is planned, also in the form in which members of groups and evangelical movements will go from house to house in order to encourage people to come and listen to the Good News about God who loves the man, and also in order to pray together and build a community.
The novelty of our evangelization retreat will be concentration on teaching the basic faith truths and participation of laymen supporting a priest. Besides the traditional form of teaching: a sermon or a teaching during the Holy Mass, we suggest another one – in the form of longer evangelization teachings. Our peregrination also differs from those experienced so far where an image or a figure is in a parish for one day: in our parish the Trybunalski crucifix with relics is adored for the whole week. Retreat last from Thursday to Sunday and the peregrination of the cross – from Saturday to Saturday, in all ten days of reflection and prayer.
– The idea of such an evangelization action came like a lightning. Was it getting mature in time?
– It was rather getting mature in an intensive dialogue. The inspiration was surely the Year of Faith and willingness that this initiative would leave a permanent trace in the diocese, so that God’s Word would get to every man. An encouragement for spiritual and theological development of the project was sanctifying the renewed chapel of Bishops of Lublin in the Metropolitan Curia and giving it the name of ‘Gifts of the Upper Room’. In the chapel there is a beautiful picture of the Last Supper which helps us realize the fact that the Upper Room is an important place. Pilgrims in the Holy Land remember that the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher there is the holiest place, where there is a place of Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ. A very important place is Nazareth where the Word became the Body, or Bethlehem where the Redeemer of the world was born. An extremely important place is also the Upper Room in which we received the gifts of Eucharist and priesthood, where Christ left us the commandment of love, where there was the Pentecost and where Mary appeared as the Mother of the Church. All these mysteries are reflected on in parishes during the peregrination of the Crucifix. The name ‘Source’ appeared among evangelizers concentrated around Fr. Michał Zybala, who is the main person responsible for organization of evangelical retreat. The accepted method – as it is seen and heard after the first weeks of functioning – is already bringing good fruits.
– Why did the crucifix become the sign of evangelization time?
– The crucifix is the sign of God’s love to the man and teaches us that there is not love without sacrifice. ‘Forget that you are, when you speak that you love’ – Fr. Jan Twardowki warns us. Lublin had been a big place of pilgrimages to the valuable relic of the Holy Cross for ages, kept in the monastery of the Dominicans. Whereas, in the cathedral there is the Trybunalski Cross famous for graces, which was first the witness of courts in the Coronary Tribunal, later it was worshipped in the non-existing parish church of St. Michal, and it has been two hundred years when it is worshipped in the cathedral of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist. The crucifix is mainly the sign of our salvation. Once, at the times of St. Paul, it was foolishness and mischief for the pagans but for those who believed – was God’s power and wisdom. It is also similar today: there are many people who feel bothered by the cross. But for us it is and will remain – as St. John Paul II used to say – a key to understand the mystery of the man. So, when in 2012 our cathedral received relics of the Holy Cross brought from Vatican through Germany – we decided to place them in the copy of the Trybunalski Cross, like in the reliquary and send it for peregrination in the archdiocese. ‘Lord, you are going among us, on the stony road of life and you listen to words born from anxiety about tomorrow full of mystery’ – we pray in the Hour of Liturgy of the paschal period. One can say that days of evangelical retreat and adoration of the Cross are preaching and experiencing the most important mysteries of our faith in a community. Time of retreat – from Thursday to Sunday - are somehow parish triduum sacrum with Eucharist, adoration of the Cross and celebration of Resurrection on Sunday. Later a week after the end of the retreat the parish becomes the Upper Room, where the parish community gathered around Mary the Mother of the Church is expecting the Pentecost and thanks for the most important gifts of the Upper Room.
– Does the Sacrament of Confirmation given to the youth have its significance?
– This sacrament has a special dimension of evangelization. It helps believers realize the fact that they are obliged with the word and life to proclaim the Gospel; that they have faith not only to confess and defend but also to proclaim it, share it with others like with the most valuable treasure. In the end of the whole evangelization cycle, on Saturday, a bishop goes to the parish to give the sacrament of Confirmation to prepared representatives of the parish, and, first of all, to remind baptized believers and the confirmed that they are obliged to proclaim the Gospel.
– Archbishop, can we speak about any fruits of the realized work?
– I have already had an occasion to be in a few parishes in the end of the evangelical retreat: in the cathedral parish where the new evangelization started in this form and in parishes of Chełmno because in this region there are retreat and peregrination at the moment. I hear from everywhere that good fruit of this time of grace are already visible and I have had an occasion to see it. New forms of impact on participants surely have an influence on it, especially by testimonies given by laymen. A brave faith testimony of a layman has a great significance who says what God has done in his life through his faith. It is seen in the contemporary movements of religious renewal where such testimonies play a great role and bring good fruits. During retreat meetings also audio-video means are used which help everyone experience some truths anew. Also after traditional retreat there are good fruits in the individual life of participants, these are sometimes real conversions changing the life direction of the man. We wish there was a dimension of the community besides the individual fruits of the evangelical retreat: we wish there appeared a group of people who would like to do something good in their parish community, who would like to undertake evangelization, support priests in this work, give a testimony of faith and love. They can join the existing groups of renewal and initiate the new ones. Those who feel joy of being in a community and share their faith with others, will receive a possibility to continue the formation in a retreat house in Dobrowica near Lublin.
– Archbishop relies on laymen….
– The Year of Faith was proclaimed in the Church in relation to the 50th anniversary of starting debates of the Second Vatican Council which saw the value of laymen and reminded them that also they are responsible for the Church. Laymen are embodied into Christ through baptism, are God’s people, participate in mission of Christ and fulfill their mission for all people in the Church and all over the world. There would not be the Church without laymen. They are an essential part of God’s people, the body of the Church. An example of laymen is often more appealing than an example of a priest who preaches the Gospel somehow by the office and by duty. If the Gospel is preached by laymen, it influences many people in a mobilizing way. Their faith is ‘contagious’ in the good meaning of this word.
– What experience has Archbishop got in work with laymen?
– I started my priestly work as a vicar in the parish and sanctuary of Our Lady the Sorrowful in Limanowa, in the south of Poland, in the diocese of Tarnów. Priestly work is a constant contact with laymen. I reminisce the youth whom I catechized, as well as singing bands whose leader I was, altar boys whom I looked after. Conducting the choir was also formation and creating a community, among the others, through trips which were appreciated by the youth. I am glad to see that many of these people are still active in the Church and the society. Another phase of my priesthood were specialist studies at the university in Innsbruck. At that time in Austria there was a shortage of priests and it was more visible there than in our country how important responsibility of laymen for the Church is. When I returned from studies to Tarnów, bishop Józef Życiński arrived at the diocese. The Council for Apostolate of Laymen in the Episcopate was entrusted to him soon, I was its Secretary for some time. We used to go to Warsaw regularly, to the headquarter of the secretariat of the Polish Episcopal Conference, to meetings with leading representatives of laymen in Poland. At that time I met laymen engaged, loving the Church and inspiring the Polish Episcopal Conference for various actions.
To be continued.
In the second part of the interview which will be published in the next edition of ‘Niedziela’, archbishop Stanislaw Budzik will point to the time of visitation and mission of evangelization, taking place at the time of great jubilees experienced by the Church in Poland and in Lublin.