The Cross of the Polish Seym From Jasna Góra altar of the homeland
Pauline Father Jan Pach OSPPE
The Cross in the Meeting Hall in the Seym of the Polish Republic has been causing opposition among people from the very beginning, who would like to eliminate God from the course of the Polish events and force the majority of Poles to forget that the polish identity is built on the fundament of the Cross and the Gospel of Jesus. One of the greatest Poles in the contemporary times spoke about it clearly, today Blessed John Paul II, on the Victory Square in Warsaw, on 2 June 1979: ‘For, the man cannot be completely understood without Christ. (...) Nor the history of Poland can be understood without Christ – first of all, the history of people who have passed and are passing through this land. (...) The history of the nation is, first of all, the history of people. And the history of the man happens in Christ’.
By what right do those, for whom the Cross is indifferent, want to take away it from us, deprive us of the sign of the salutary perspective of God’s love to the man and people’s love to one another in Jesus Christ? If the Cross is indifferent for them, why are they fighting against it? Maybe it is a painful expression of their remorse, if they still have it or a merciful call for the conversion of their hearts? Maybe the presence of the Cross in the Seym hall, consistent with the Preamble of the Constitution of the Polish Republic, is a rescue of the representatives of the Polish nation present there from the barbarism and degradation of their life to the level of slapdash and moral bottom which would be the beginning of the degradation of the Polish nation.
The history of the Cross of the Seym
It was in 1997. After receiving a phone call from the MPs of the Solidarity Electoral Action, who were asking for the Cross in the Seym hall, I addressed the Father General Izydor Matuszewski and Father Jan Golonka, asking for quick decisions. The decision was positive and quick. It had to be the Cross from Jasna Góra altar of the Homeland. The history of the Cross in the Seym is known. The weekly ‘Niedziela’ wrote about it in the editions 44/97 and 9/2010. I would like to cite here documents about the Cross which are in the archive of the curator of the Collections of the Votive Art in Jasna Góra – Father Jan Golonka. The first document is the letter of the prior of Jasna Gora at that time – Father Izydor Matuszewski, dating to the day of 16 October 1997 and addressed to the Seym of the Polish Republic, to the Political Party – Solidarity Electoral Action: ‘Jasna Góra, connecting with the newly created Parliament of the Polish Republic of 1997, wants to ensure about the memory of a prayer in front of the Holy Picture of Our Lady, the Queen of Poland, wishing successful debates as well as the strength for the mind and will in conducting Poland, especially in the reform of properly understood vital interest of the nation, also its spiritual and cultural heritage. Let us add a little gift to these wishes – the Cross. It is made from oak wood, covered with ebony, the material which had remained and was used for conservation of ebony and silver Jasna Góra Altar of the Homeland, the altar – throne of Our Lady, the Queen of Poland. The crucifix of Lord Christ is made of lime wood in XIX century. The Cross was connected into one unity through the conservator’s and carpenter’s atelier of Janusz Nabiałek from Czestochowa’.
Then let the documents speak. I will quote the bigger part of the letter of the Member of Parliament Tomasz Wójcik to the Prior of Jasna Góra: ‘The phone call with Father Jan Pach and Father Jan Golonka, the monastery guardian, on 16 X 1997, fruited with suitable decisions. On 18 X 1997 a Holy Mass for the intention of our Homeland was celebrated in front of the Wonderful Picture of Our Lady, during which the Cross, assigned for the Seym, was blessed. After the Holy Mass the delegation of parliamentarians including: the Senator Mrs Lidia Grabowska and the Member of Parliament Tomasz Wójcik, accompanied by Priest Kazimierz Kurek and Mr Zbigniew Bonarski [Częstochowa] with Solidarity Trade Union, transported the Cross into Warsaw. The Cross was deposited at the Convent of the Sisters Ursuline the Grey, and then at the Convent of the Sisters of the Holy Sacrament. Next, on 19 X 1997, at 6 pm, the Cross was transported to the Church under the invocation of St Stanislaw Kostka and deposited on the grave of the God’s Servant – Priest Jerzy Popiełuszko. After the Holy Mass, the Cross was transported to the building of the parliament and hung in the hall of plenary meetings, near the Polish Emblem and the Flag of the Polish Republic. The group of parliamentarians, after hanging the Cross, said a short prayer’.
Do not trample the holiness of the national altars
The fight against the cross and other signs of God’s presence in the everyday life of Poles did not begin together with the recent parliamentary elections. It lasts all the time. It reached its tragic culminating point after the Smolensk catastrophe when the Cross was maltreated, slandered, derided and profaned in Krakowskie Przedmieście. It was the beginning of a difficult to understand official acceptance of maltreating the Cross in the Polish life. The recent sneers at the Cross and any religious signs are only the aftermath of this agreement on trampling the holiness.
Let me recall a tale from my childhood which shows the perversity of the man who sneers at God. It is the time of autumn. It is drizzle and thick fog covers the neighbourhood of a village. Three robbers are breaking the windows of a church. They are forcing their way into the church on a ladder. One of the robbers is stepping in muddy boots on a white tablecloth of the altar above which is the Wonderful Picture of Our Lady. Next to the altar there are many votive offerings, the signs of gratitude of people who experienced God’s graciousness and the effectiveness of Our Lady’s intercession. One of the robbers is shouting and scolding his accomplice who has stepped on the altar: ‘Hey you! Be careful, or you will dirty the tablecloth!’ Whereas the other one is answering sneeringly: ‘Never mind! God does not look at dirty shoes but the clean heart!’ And he goes on tearing away the votive offerings of the altar. Then nothing happened; God did not strike with a thunder or did not knock down the robber. However, the robber was knocked down by his own conscience after years. He had been dying for some days until he forced himself to courage and asked a priest for a confession during which he admitted to all his sneers and his ill-treatment of God and people who went to church. He was dying with words: ‘I am dying, being reconciled with God. Tell people not to sneer at God or one day their own conscience will kill them! I plead you!’.
I believe in the wisdom of Polish parliamentarians who are the representatives of the believing majority of the nation and they will not allow for trampling the Cross which is a rock on which our free Poland is built!