BETWEEN THE GOLGOTHA AND THE TABOR MOUNTAIN
Fr. Marek Łuczak talks with bishop Grzegorz Ryś about the condition of the Polish Church, its image, strength of the Christian message and also about the Congress of the New Evangelization
FR. MAREK ŁUCZAK: - On the one hand Jesus assured us that hell’s gates will not overcome the Church, but on the other hand – we have a historic experience of places on the map of the world, where Christianity was flourishing and today it is only in memory. How to cope with this problem?
BISHOP GRZEGORZ RYŚ: – It is important to have a humble attitude towards it. There is such a belief which comes to me sometimes, that Jesus promised the Church that it would not die but it does not mean that this assurance concerns the Church in Poland. In my memory there is still very lively reflection of Urs von Balthasar for whom a breakthrough place in Jesus’ life is his going up the Tabor Mountain. He has been popular till this moment, is listened to and does a lot of miracles. And later, after the Tabor Mountain, there is only a road to Jerusalem. One can say that he is consciously aiming at his paschal destination: death and resurrection. As if his disciples were not catching up with Him. The Tabor Mountain was easier, with its moment of glory. This road must be followed also by the Church which does it in every generation. It has moments of Tabor and Golgotha Mountains. In Northern Africa for the Church the third century and the beginning of the fourth century are, undoubtedly, the Tabor Mountain and, later, it went to Jerusalem. However, we cannot say that this Church died completely because we still live with its fruits. Nobody imagines today’s theology without the thoughts of St. Augustine or Cyprian. Their decisions are still current and important for us.
- Which place in Poland are we in? Before the year 1989 it seemed that we were in Jerusalem and it was the Tabor Mountain in many respects. Today it could seem that we are on the Tabor Mountain, and it turns out to be Jerusalem…
- The final destination for the Church will always be Jerusalem. Jesus sometimes gives us moments of triumph about which we sometimes think in categories of some satisfaction, however, what is important is the road which we do not like, but it cleans us. Our example is still Christ’s servant’s attitude who washes his disciples’ feet.
- Such an attitude deserves the name of love. The first Christians raised delight in their observers who could sometimes shout with astonishment: look how they love one another! Shouldn’t we see a way in Caritas for a new evangelization?
- The purpose of the new evangelization is not a method which is something secondary. The key thing is proclaiming the person of Jesus Christ, encouraging others to make a personal relationship with Him. We cannot speak about deeds of love without a deeper experience of love from Jesus Christ. The new evangelization concerns not only proclaiming but also the event.
- Here the person of Benedict XVI comes to mind, who wrote that our faith in resurrection determines whether we proclaim Christ who was, who is…
- This is a chorus repeated also by other popes. If Jesus resurrected, it means that he lives, and thanks to it, I can meet Him, listen to Him, be with Him in communion.
- Let’s return to the question about love. It does not concern the fact that there is lack of it, but that there is lack of good propaganda in the Church.
- That is true but we must emphasize that it would not be good to compete with others. We do not want to bring love to boast. I believe that the good returns. St. Augustine was sure that the good spreads itself. The good undoubtedly spreads and here we must mention not only the Caritas organization, but also the excellent work of religious communities serving all over the country to the disabled or the homeless. We must speak about it but not necessarily to make a good image of oneself. If one speaks about such actions, vocations appear thanks to it.
- Do we have any determination to fight with the negative propaganda? After all mass media often accuse the Church of issues with which it has nothing in common.
- However, we cannot allow anybody to impose any rhetoric upon us. If we deal with slander, every man and every community has a right to defend themselves. It is necessary to dement when we are dealing with a lie. However, it is not a duty of the whole Church to correct opinions being an abuse but there are suitable services for it. It concerns the fact not to lose the basic and most important message which is proclaiming Jesus Christ.
- There must be a question asked about the forthcoming Congress of the New Evangelization…
- We can say that the congress which is going to take place in Skrzatusz (diocese of Koszalin and Kołobrzeg) on 28-31 May, which is very soon. It has already been the third event of this type, and this year the issue is going to concentrate on the topic of evangelization of village communities. Evangelization of big cities looks similar in Łódź or Warsaw. The village is much more varied: it looks different on the post-communist areas, different in Podkarpacie and different in Opole district. There are places where every Sunday 20 percent of people come to church, there are also such communities where nearly everyone participates in the Holy Mass on Sunday, but it does not mean that they do not need evangelization. The village offers something which is not in big cities. Surely, such a value is the closeness of a relationship. In cities people are anonymous, in the village they know one another, and evangelization is aimed at passing message from one person to another. One must realize what the Pope Francis described in the ‘Evangelia gaudium’. This document underlines the value of the folk religiousness. It has a great potential: understanding the cross, fraternity, openness to the mystery. Everyone who comes to Szkrzatusz will be able not only to share their experiences with others, but also learn something from those whom we want to evangelize.