'Lord, stay in our Families'
Fr Krzysztof Pawlina
'Lord, stay in our Families' is the motto of the 3rd National Eucharistic Congress. But Lord Jesus seems to be saying 'Family, stay with me'. Why is this so? For many Polish families Mass has stopped being the centre of sanctification, the source of joy and the place of reference for love, which is patient, kind and endures whatever comes. What has happened that we have lost our ability to celebrate? We have lost the awareness that we ourselves are the temple - God's temple.
Temples as storehouses
Communism, especially under Stalin's regime, loved changing temples into storehouses. There were storehouses for building materials, for fertilizers, for salt... The more caustic substance, the better because it covered up the traces of sanctity of those places quicker. The engineers of souls seemed to think that if all sanctuaries, sources of life for Christians, had been destroyed men would have been liberated and happy at last. Our times witness other ideas of man's liberation. If communism wanted to change temples of stone and brick into storehouses consumptionism aims at destroying temples of human hearts. Today we are to become storehouses - our imagination, memory and heart.
During annual visitation of parishioners some priest asked a child like any priest usually does: 'Do you go to church?' 'Yes, I go with my parents'. 'And where do you go?' 'Which church?' 'Here, nearby, this colourful one'. 'What is it called?' 'I do not know. My daddy always says: We are going to Carrefour...' New modern sanctuaries.
On Sunday parking places near shopping centres are packed with cars. People with hunger for experiences hurry to see the new delivery of dreams, illusions, plastic substitutes for happy life. And afterwards they come back home; their boots are full but their hearts are sad. Why so empty when it is full? There is hunger that one cannot appease. If a family loses sight of the altar it stops appreciating ordinary table as a meeting place at which family community is nourished and renewed. If family members do not meet it is as if family did not exist. The members are close but at the same time they are very far. They live under one roof but they live as if in a shelter. And people do not grow in a shelter. They are not being brought up, they are only provided with a shelter.
Therefore, there is a mess of values in us. There is a storehouse in which God's matters have been mixed with human ones. Like in supermarkets, books are sold with noodles. And the most important question is not what but how much it is.
So when Sunday comes family does not know what to do - so many proposals and so little money. What is important and what is most important? Where can we learn that? Where can we look for order of hearts? Is this holy hour not for that? The hour of Mass when we are with God who chooses what is most important - he loves his friends and dies for them.
Therefore, back to the question: 'Do I know what is important and what is most important?'
'What is Mass for?' 'What can it give to me?'
Today young people wear an amulet instead of a religious medallion, a mobile phone in their hand, a computer with Internet access on the desk. And in he evening tens of thousand television programmes. The whole world at hand. This is life. You will say, 'What else do I need?' 'Here everything is vibrant with life!'
'If this is so, why are you crying while everyone is asleep?'
'Why do you vegetate without dreams, hope and joy...?'
If you have everything what is important and you lack what is most important - then you do not really want to live.
And the Church celebrates Mass every day so that we have life and have it to the full.
A treasure to reach with your hand. The supernatural source vibrates with life.
You will say, 'This is not for me. I do not feel it. I am bored at a Mass'.
We come from the world which is a spectacle attacking our senses, imagination, intellect. Billboards, which are bigger and bigger, want to make us kneel.
Someone who enters a church is so dazzled by light that he cannot see white bread and is so deafened that he cannot hear: This is my Body... Take and eat... Do it in remembrance of Me. Mass is very modest - the real presence of Lord Jesus himself is the treasure.
For centuries the Church has guarded what is most essential in such a way as not to cover this piece of bread.
Mass will not entertain you, will not present intellectual arguments, will not be one of many attractions. It gives nourishment for eternal life. Here we return to what is most important.
Whoever eats this bread will live forever.
In the centre of Warsaw the billboards show a picture of wilderness and a bottle of juice. The picture is so realistic that we begin being thirsty. And the inscription: Fullness of life. Do we really need so little to live to the full, live like a human being, live as a child of God?
We should hang this inscription on all churches: Here is the fullness of life! Here is the source of sources...
Fullness of life
Mass is not only a rite which happens beside me. If we let this happen Mass can become an event, which draws us to its inner part. It gives sense to everything what we take with us, what transforms our inner part.
How can we experience Mass every day?
Among young Christians in America there is a custom to wear a special bracelet. When you raise your hand to pray you can see the engraved inscription: 'What would Jesus do?', which means how he would behave if he were me.
A few years ago some insane person barged with a gun into some American school and began shooting. One eyewitness, who had miraculously survived, said that everyone tried to save his life. He was saved by his classmate, a girl who shielded him from bullets. Why did she do this? Why did she receive a bullet directed to him? He could not answer that question unless he remembered that in the critical moment the girl held her hand up. So she had the words of the bracelet before her eyes: What would Jesus do? Her action was the answer. She understood the love of Jesus in this way.
Live like Jesus did
Every Mass reminds us as much as it could of what Jesus did for me, for You, for every man on earth.
When we leave the church we cannot forget this. I know what Jesus did and I know what I should do: love like he did, forgive like him, fight like him, die like him, rise from the dead like him.
Love like him. Is it not that once we spoke the marriage oath: I will love you and honour you. Where can we get strength for that after five, ten or thirty years? Is it not from Christ whose love never gets old? Family without sacrificial and faithful love, without accepting cross and perseverance is bound to disintegrate. It is not possible to live painlessly for years. The cross is always a part of family. And the world says: You do not like her - dismiss her. He is useless - throw him away.
The closer to God we are the more we can be faithful to people. Closeness to God makes us closer to man.
To fight like him - when father must build a house, when he must find a new job, when he must teach his son courage.
We are going to Jesus who fought for his Father's cause, who does not sleep, who is always on the move, whose sweat fell to the ground like drops of blood, who was faithful to the end. To rise from the dead like him - when everything ends, love cools off, children are not ideal, when life slips through your fingers, when we feel everything is over, our dreams are crushed by a grave stone. Then you should say: This is great mystery of faith. Jesus, we proclaim your death, but we proclaim your Resurrection as well.
'Every human life', Marta Robin said, 'is Calvary and every soul is Golgotha on which everybody must silently drink the cup of his own life. Every Christian life is Mass; every soul in this world is the host. Do not look for the host outside. You will find this host inside'.
When you experience Mass it never ends.
When we go out after Mass we begin a liturgy of our life. John Paul II said at the end of the Mass celebrated in the stadium in Warsaw, 'May this Mass go on, may it go on...
And Sister Nulla writes in her collections of poems, 'Mass is over. Mass begins'.
What does it mean?
Saint Leo the Great wrote, 'Our participation in the Body and Blood of Christ makes us change in what we have received'.
We were bought and paid for...
Whom do we owe our lives to?
We are enjoying our lives and we are not always aware whom we owe them to. Like children who do not know who their parents are.
The church, celebrating the Eucharist, tells us who paid for us and died for us. How precious my life is if Jesus paid for it dying on the cross. Jesus lives in me.
'Stay with us, Lord', the apostles asked him on the road to Emmaus.
Today Jesus is walking with us and asking humbly, 'Stay with me, man. You will not get lost with me. You will find yourself with me, you will win with me'.
If you love us so much, Lord, we say this to you: Mane nobiscum Domine.