Church cannot silence the Spirit of Truth
Piotr Chmielinski, Milena Kindziuk, Artur Stelmasiak
'They try to give the impression that everything is relative: even the truths of faith would depend on the historical situation and on human evaluation. Yet the Church cannot silence the Spirit of Truth', said the Holy Father in Pilsudski Square in Warsaw. Quite unexpectedly the Pope found himself in the midst of a crowd of the faithful. He smiled, blessed the people and shook hands with them. He won the crowds with his humbleness and humility.
The moment Benedict XI arrived in the colourful Pilsudski Square in his popemobile, the tolling of the bells of Warsaw churches could be heard. Although the pilgrims were cold and completely wet they enthusiastically ran towards the barriers to see the Holy Father as close as possible. Then, standing in rain, they listened to what he said. Benedict XVI celebrated Mass exactly at the same place where John Paul II spoke 27 years ago.
In his homily Benedict XVI referred to the words, 'Let your Spirit descend, and renew the face of the earth,' which John Paul II uttered here in 1979. The faithful received these words with applause. He also reflected on the motto of his pilgrimage 'Be strong in the faith!' He cautioned against relativism of the tenets of the faith. 'They try to give the impression that everything is relative: even the truths of faith would depend on the historical situation and on human evaluation. Yet the Church cannot silence the Spirit of Truth.' He reminded the congregation that 'The successors of the Apostles, together with the Pope, are responsible for the truth of the Gospel, and all Christians are called to share in this responsibility.' The Pontiff explained that 'every Christian is bound to confront his own convictions continually with the teachings of the Gospel and of the Church's Tradition in the effort to remain faithful to the word of Christ, even when it is demanding and, humanly speaking, hard to understand.' In his homily he mentioned the Primate of the Millennium whom he had known. He told people that 'Entrusting ourselves to Christ, we lose nothing, we gain everything. In his hands our life acquires its true meaning'.
'The Holy Father presented the whole theology of faith and showed us how to care for it After all he came to Poland to strengthen our faith', Cardinal Stanislaw Nagy comments.
'I think that the appeal of the Holy Father 'Be strong in the faith' is very valuable. In my opinion Poland needs power flowing from faith', Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz tells 'Niedziela'.
'The most important moment, in my opinion, is when he spoke about chastity of faith. The Pope clearly stressed that today there are tendencies to falsify Christ's words and remove from the Gospel those truths which are uncomfortable' says Grzegorz Polak, columnist and author of books about John Paul II and Benedict XVI. He also noticed an echo of the teaching of Cardinal Ratzinger who fought for a true image of Christ as Saviour and not as someone who does not demand anything from man.
At the square Benedict XVI was greeted by the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Józef Glemp. Making a reference to one of the titles of the Pope, 'Pontifex,' Cardinal Glemp underlined that a 'pontifex' is the one who 'constructs bridges and joins distant elements or elements located on different levels.' Continuing his metaphor of bridges, Cardinal Primate indicated three spiritual bridges which, as he stressed 'call for a general overhaul.' The first of these is a bridge spanning the distance between earth and heaven, the road to sainthood. This was the bridge walked by: Mother Teresa, Father Maximilian Kolbe, Sister Faustina, and John Paul II. Another spiritual bridge he pointed to is the transition from the 'now' to the near and more distant 'tomorrow.' It is on this path that we 'change the face of the earth.' The third spiritual bridge leads from one man to another and while this 'distance seems short and simple,' still 'it is fraught with obstacles and potholes.'
The prayer of the faithful was recited in Polish, English, and Russian. The petitions were for the Catholic Church, politicians, and the sick; there was also a prayer of thanksgiving for the work of the Pontiffs.
Then gifts were carried to the altar. In contradistinction to previous papal Masses, this time the gifts of the altar were exclusively bread and wine. They were presented by: young people, the military, men religious, and a family from the Archdiocese of Warsaw.
Benedict XVI gave Holy Communion to several people; the first to receive it from the Holy Father was President of the Republic of Poland Lech Kaczynski. After the Holy Communion the Pope crowned the image of Our Lady of Piotrkow Trybunalski. The image has been inseparably connected with the tradition of Polish juridical system. Judges prayed before the picture for the grace of good discernment of the cases whereas those who were sentenced prayed for mercy. After the Royal Tribunal was closed in 1792 the picture was deposited in the Piotrkow archives. Then it found its way to the Francis Xavier Jesuit Church in Piotrkow, where it has remained until now.
Quite unexpectedly the Pope found himself in the midst of a crowd of the faithful. He smiled, blessed the people and shook hands with them. Fr Zygmunt Malacki, parish priest of St Stanislaw Kostka's Church in Warsaw, brought Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko's mother Marianna to the Pope who had given her Holy Communion.
'The Pope knew that she was the mother of the Polish Priest-Martyr. After having given her Holy Communion he smiled and she kissed his ring. Marianna cried with joy...,' says Fr Malacki.
Over 100 bishops and 20 priests from all over the world celebrated the Holy Mass that was said mostly in Polish. The representatives of the highest authorities, with Poland's President and Prime Minister, participated in the Mass. There were also guests from Byelorussia and Ukraine.
'We travelled the whole night. There are about one thousand pilgrims,' says Bozena Budzinowska who came to Warsaw from Grodno.
'It was raining but it does not matter! The most important thing is that we are cheerful and that we could meet the Holy Father', she adds smiling.
Polish people living in Germany were also present. There were banners in Benedict XVI's native language. About half a million pilgrims took part in the Mass at Pilsudski Square and its vicinity.
'This number is certainly connected with faith,' comments Rev. Prof. Witold Zdaniewicz, Institute of Statistics of the Catholic Church. Although he thinks that many people appeared here because they were curious.
'This is normal. It is good that people respect the Pope and want to welcome him. If Benedict XVI was honoured there is a change that people will deepen their faith under his influence,' he guesses.
The Holy Father flew in a helicopter from Warsaw to Czestochowa. He flew over the Shrine of Divine Providence that was being constructed in Wilanow.