Our Polish matters
Fr Zbigniew Suchy
With certain embarrassment did I accept the proposal of Rev. Msgr. Ireneusz Skubis to write a reflection on the speech of Archbishop Jozef Michalik of Przemysl, the President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, during the Feast of Corpus Christi in Przemysl. But I also felt proud that it was from here, the city situated on the San River, that the signal ‘satis’ went into the Polish Church. Stop being silent and compliant towards the attempts of the media to dismantle the Polish Church by destroying conscience, by imposing liberal and even libertarian models of behaviour. On rainy Thursday, 22 May 2008, the power of faithfulness to Christ and a certain example that following Jesus faithfully must evoke religious enthusiasm were revealed.
Heavy rain made many of us who were going to the Salesian Church doubt whether the procession would take place at all. Archbishop Michalik decided that it should be held. ‘We cannot yield to such a small obstacle to break up the tradition’, he said at the beginning of the Mass. While we were going along the streets in heavy rain Archbishop Michalik did not know whether the faithful would stay to the end of the procession. He thought that he would preach his sermon in the Archcathedral. But when he saw a sea of umbrellas at the second altar, which was traditionally the place to deliver a homily, he decided to preach to the enduring believers there.
Words of truth
Silence fell after his first words. You could feel that the power of faith of the believers inspired the preacher. And it stopped raining heavily. The words began tuning to the rhythm of the believers’ hearts. One could feel that the faithful took the preacher’s pastoral concern to their hearts. There was deep silence. It even deepened when the faithful heard the words, ‘What have we reached? In the Catholic country a non-believing journalist, whom someone in Paris or London or New York dictate what to write, suggests who should be the shepherd of the flock?’ I think that I was not the only one that felt relieved. At last someone called a spade a spade. Since the time of flagellation of the Church in Poland after the appointment of Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus the hierarchs have sunk into a state of apathy that has made the faithful suffer. Then there was a struggle for the shepherd in the Diocese of Gdansk. When in his homily the new Metropolitan of Gdansk opposed the secular understanding of bishop’s role; the understanding that contradicted the role of the Holy Spirit in the appointment, the casus of the Bishop of Wloclawek appeared. It was refined, deliberately targeted. I had a grudge that there was no protest. The Historical Commission of the Church finished their activities. Its pronouncement was clear and understandable. However, someone tried to wreak havoc. I felt hurt that many Catholics chose to believe the denunciation in the press than the statements of the Commission established by the bishops and it was done in the situation when other social groups refused to be subject to vetting. When I read the laments of the press I knew why those words hurt, ‘At the same time there are so many positive things that are happening in Poland. One can see dynamism of life; there are many Catholic weeklies. It is worth reading ‘Niedziela’, ‘Milujcie sie’ [Love one another], Gosc Niedzielny [Sunday Visitor], ‘Nasz Dziennik’. We have Television Trwam and fortunately, we have Radio Maryja and it is good that it exists.’
He expressed our thoughts
That day I was also with Archbishop Michalik in Augustow. It was late. After dinner our host returned to the parish house after having driven the guests, and he burst upstairs. After a while I heard the voice of Archbishop Michalik. Radio Maryja repeated the morning homily. The next day Archbishop Michalik and his peers celebrated their 44th anniversary of ordination in Filipow. The priests listened to his sermon on the way to Filipow. You should see those tired-out priests who enthusiastically congratulated their distinguished colleague the words he had said as if they thanked him that he had expressed their thoughts, their efforts in struggling with the all-present liberal totalitarianism of the media. Yes, this is no exaggeration. When Gustaw Holoubek died the portal ‘Onet’ had mourning colours, the television changed its programme, broadcasting documentaries and films with Holoubek. And this is the way it should be. But this esteem concerning great personalities should be fairly divided. When Fr Albert Krapiec died the public and commercial media kept quiet. Then I remembered the words of the Book of Wisdom, ‘They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace’ (3:2). The ‘priests’ of the cosmopolitan vision of Poland began thinking foolishly that being silenced they would kill the great Patriot and his teaching. But we have ‘Nasz Dziennik’, ‘Niedziela’ and Television Trwam. Those days of the big fiasco of the only right theses uttered by the prophets of the agora of globalisation this voice of the Sage could be heard.
Thank you, Shepherd!
Many of us felt hope that the pulpit would become an important place in the boiling waves of contemporary sailing through the rough see of confusion, abounding in peaks of icebergs of lies and manipulation of human minds and consciences, that it would become a bridge from which you, our Shepherds, would lead safely, although not without difficulties, your sheep to their ports of destinations; to these places in which we would find the confirmation of our ways until you passed our sailing to the Steersman in whose authority you shared. And it is worthy because as we heard, and which was not mentioned in the above commentaries – they did not express concern but they raised an outcry that those who wanted to control people’s souls, not having the right to do it, were wronged – those who were manipulated awake to life, want to participate in creating Poland for themselves and their children. Therefore, one should often repeat as a wise father repeats to his children that ‘as people who are around Jesus we have the right to be present with him in the streets of our towns and villages, in our Parliament, when bills are passed, in various situations which many a times evoke questions or try to smuggle one’s interests. Ethics, morality, God’s law cannot be separated from any situation of life. I think that before the procession took place we had prepared it by our prayers, meditation and receiving Christ in our hearts. Like Jesus, before he instituted the Eucharist he had prepared his disciples to that unique event, which was his will of salvation, desiring to realise salvation in a human way through the sacramental presence among us, through the presence in the Church. Consequently, nobody is devoid of human voice, of the voice of the Church that speaks in a human way about sin, about the truth, about justice, but cries and convinces people about the Divine Mercy.’ The numerous phone calls to our Archdiocesan Radio, to the editorial board of the edition of ‘Niedziela’ in Przemysl, asking whether the sermon would be repeated or printed tell us that these people, in spite of the rain, proved their love for Jesus, that they loved him as the Way as well as the Truth, which they were hungry for. You, Shepherds, must not allow to see that people, experiencing hunger, reach for poisoned food that destroys their spiritual health! The reaction of the press, that was not pleased to hear those words, confirms that they are some forces that want monopoly for everything, including the matters, which they do not believe in and which they do not understand. Let us repeat our request directed to our Bishops, ‘In the power of Christ protect us from the bubonic plague of lies, from hunger of the truth. May God repay you!