Wednesday, November 30, 2011

(49) 1 - The Church in Poland IV: Inroads of Secularism

THE GREAT THREAT OF SECULARISM
        Being in Catholic Poland, I thought I could say a quick prayer at the beginning of every class without worrying that some administrator will tell me that I am supposedly violating the Constitution.  But there is always that one person who complains and to the shock of some of my students I had to stop, but the President and the Dean do allow me to pass out a handout of common prayers in English only to those interested and say a general prayer at the beginning of the course only if nobody objects.  Just as saying prayers and the rosary in Polish helps me to learn the language, I believe that the handouts would help their English.  I won my fight for a general prayer, only at the beginning of the course and acceptable to any faith at Rio Grande, when the University lawyer conceded that a voluntary silent prayer would be acceptable.
        So the great cultural-spiritual war with secularism rages here also.  There is some anti-clericalism because of the few priests who abuse their position.  The Polish Constitution already prohibits abortion except where the health of the Mother is in danger, but that's a huge loophole if one can find a liberal doctor to certify that.  One woman was turned down for an abortion, but won her appeal with the “European Court of Human Rights” in Strasbourg which ruled that “Poland had violated the “Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms”.
There was a March for Life in Warsaw over an amendment to the Polish Constitution that would tighten the abortion law and guarantee the legal protection of life from conception to natural death.  The measure did not obtain the required 2/3 majority, but I’m sure they will try again.  In any event, Poland is one of the most advanced countries in the world regarding the legal protection of human life at all stages.  If that amendment to the Constitution ever passes, I can see a confrontation with theEuropean Union which could conceivably cause Poland to secede.  The President of Poland clearly said that Poland would not allow the European to infringe on its cultural values.
        The proposed European Union Constitution guarantees the so called right to choose and same sex marriage.  I'm disappointed that all of the countries, including the Polish Parliament, approved it, but the Irish people saved the day by vetoing it in a referendum.  The Polish President decided to wait for the Irish result before making his decision on signing.  Being the only person able to kill it would have placed a tremendous amount of pressure on him.  Now the Polish President stated that the Constitution is dead.....at least for now.
        It was even proposed in the previous more conservative Polish Parliament that the Government officially but symbolically declare that Christ is "King of Poland" as Mary traditionally is considered to be the "Queen of Poland".  It seems most of the clergy oppose it because that is not within the jurisdiction of Government even though Congress represents the people.  It would have been a great profession of faith and message to secular Europe and the world.  Both symbols are analogous to the "one nation under God" wording in the "Pledge of Allegiance" which the Knights of Columbus promoted and the U.S. Congress approved in 1954.
         Christianity is dying in Western Europe as secularism dominates.  Britain has been called a "Post Christian Society".  Britain, France, Germany, and the Netherlands are especially secular and materialistic.  I understand that many of the elderly are afraid to go to the hospital in Holland because of the fear of euthanasia without the patient's consent.  The member states have refused to write into the Constitution of the European Union any recognition of their Christian heritage.
        Secularism at its worst is atheistic and does not believe in the Bible, but only reason and empiricism (what can be shown by observation).  It’s materialistic and promotes complete eliminationof God from the public square..… even rejecting any prayer, reference to God, or religious practice in the public arena.  It denies the relevance of God in regard to individual morality and the morality of laws and policies.  Abortion, the homosexual life style, euthanasia, divorce, homosexual marriage or no marriage at all, etc. become a personal choice.  It usually allows religious freedom, but it must be kept within the confines of the church and the home, while forbidden in the public schools, government, and public places.
        Because of birth control and abortion, the reproduction rate is well below the replacement rate of two per adult female.  In Poland it is 1.2 per adult woman.  Thus there has been a shortage of young people to support the aging populations, especially in the more menial jobs.  Thus guest workers have been allowed to immigrate, many of whom are Muslim.  Shocking is a forecast that Western Europe will be 50% Muslim by 2050.  In the worst scenario, Islam could eventually dominate Europe, something that militant Islam could not do in its many conquests in the 15th, 16th, and 17th Centuries.  Already, the minarets of mosques are starting to break the skylines of major European cities.  Of course, as citizens they deserve the same rights as any other group.
        One of the top goals of Pope Benedict's papacy is the rechristanization of Europe.  I tell people and my students that they should not imitate secular America and Europe.  On the contrary, Poland andits people are called to be the leaders for the rechristianization of secular Europe.  I heard recently from a couple of people that Pope John Paul preached that same vision and for that reason was in favor of Poland joining the European Union. His thinking was that Poland could do more for Europe from within the European Union than from without.  This process may already be starting.  There's an article in the Sunday Visitor of April 1, 2007 (www.osv.com) on extensive Polish immigration into Britain as a force for reinvigorating the Catholic Church there.
        Over its long 1044 year history, Poland has overcome the invasion of the Tartars, occupations by the German Teutonic knights, the Swedes, the Turks and militant Islam, three foreign powers under the Partition for 125 years, Nazism, and Communism, but perhaps the most formidable enemy of all is materialistic Secularism because it is like a cancer that eats at the soul of a nation, weakens it, and eventually destroys true freedom.  The Church would probably be taxed; its charitable works would be restricted; and religion would have no expression outside the confines of the home or parish church.  In a secular culture, religion becomes irrelevant to many and they drift in unbelief.   Because of that threat, Pope John Paul II visited Poland no less than seven times and Pope Benedict XVI made his first pilgrimage abroad to Poland.
        The question for the future is:  Will Poland remain faithful?  According to Jaga’s spiritual director, Polish history has had some of the same cycles of faithfulness and prosperity followed by unfaithfulness and ruin so frequent in the Old Testament.  I think that God usually does not punish a people; He simply leaves them on their own and the moral laxity causes the country to decay from within and become weak, easy prey for expansionist neighbors. Poland like Israel has had many struggles over the centuries and ultimately prevailed because God continued to be with it, but the greatest threat of all is Secularism. Will it prevail again?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

(48) 1 - The Church in Poland III: The Domestic Church Movement (Domowy Kosciol & Oaza)

        We all attended a week long Cana Conference for married couples in 2008 and a two week family retreat called "Oaza" (Oasis) in both 2007 and 2008 as part of the Domowy Kościół (Domestic Church) founded by God's Servant Fr. Franciszek Blachnicki (1921-1987) to promote Christian marriage and family.  He spent several years in a Communist prison.  It is part of the broader Light-Life Movement to revive the Church in Poland after Communism.  

       Catholic families are organized into teams of four to seven couples all over Poland for mutual support, monthly meetings with prayer and Bible Study at one of the homes, an occasional weekend of recollection, and an annual retreat of one of three levels.  Each team is chaired by a leader couple with a chaplain who moderates the meetings and provides spiritual guidance.

        The goal is for the husband and wife to build true unity, increase their mutual love, deepen their faith, and to sanctify each other.....providing in this way the appropriate conditions to raise the children in the faith and build their domestic church.  Members are also expected to engage in daily personal and family prayer. More information can be obtained from their multilingual website, www.dk.oaza.org.pl.  The Domestic Church Movement already exists in the United States mainly in ethnic Polish parishes.  Perhaps the time is ripe to expand it into mainstream American Catholicism.

        Our Oaza retreat was held at a beautiful retreat house, for which the people raised the money and built it with their own hands in the Diocese of Rzeszow.  Both retreats consist of daily Mass, devotions, adoration, homilies, Bible Study discussion groups, and a renewal  of marriage  vows with a party of celebration.  I've married Jaga four times now.  The afternoons and evenings are for family recreation and fun.  Young volunteers take care of the kids.  

      The Oaza movement devotes each day to each of the 15 traditional decades of the rosary.  The Christmas and Easter mysteries are celebrated as a community fun get together.  The people who attend are the best of the Polish Church and the future leaders.  It's amazing how they are so creative in having good clean hilarious fun with no need for alcohol.  Real Christian community and fellowship are quickly developed among the 11 to 17 families.  Lasting friendships are made as well. 

       The Christian tradition here is indeed beautiful.  The more difficult challenge is to follow the Church's teaching and put the faith into practice in our thinking and daily behavior.  The Polish Church is truly blessed and rich in the liturgy, the sacraments and devotions.....an example to the world.  At the same time, I would like to see a more active parish life in the neighborhood churches with more youth groups and more men's groups such as the Knights of Columbus which serve the parish and the community in many ways and sanctify its members.  A few chapters of the Knights of Columbus have already been organized in certain cities, but not in Kielce yet.  My sister-in-law's parish, "Christ the King" does have an ecumenical youth group, a women's rosary society that makes one day pilgrimages to shrines, and has couples going to each other's homes for Bible Study.

         Although the women seem to have little power in a clergy dominated Church, they seem to be the pillars of parish life.  It is time for the men to step up and take the lead, both in the domestic church and the parish under the supervision and guidance of the pastor.  If the Lord's kingdom is to be truly established in any country ("Thy kingdom come").....not as a theocracy dominated by the clergy, but where Christian principles permeate the thinking and behavior of every person at all levels of society (business, government, education, the professions, the unions, the trades, etc.).....I believe that it must be driven by the laymen with minimal clerical intervention except for moral guidance as needed.  The women and the clergy cannot do it alone.


        We met some wonderful people and made some great friends at the family retreats. Among them are Marek Kalczynski, Grzegorz, Asia & Krzysiek Gluch, and Wojtek & Dorota Jarczewski. The Gluchs invited us to an evening kielbasa roast at their home and the Jarczewskis invited us to their home in Kracow for a couple of days. We had a delightful time with both families that are now beautiful memories.
       

Monday, November 28, 2011

(47) 1 - The Church in Poland II: The Catholic Culture Throughout the Year

        Poland has 12 holy days of obligation in addition to Sunday, including the second day of Christmas and Easter Monday.  Both are considered national holidays in which schools and most businesses are closed.
        Christmas is a great experience here…..the sumptuous traditional Christmas Eve meatless dinner with varieties of fish, the decorated streets, the creche with live animals next to the Cathedral.  St. Nicolas rather than Santa Clause is the tradition.  Exchanging a piece of a wafer and a wish for the other person is traditional.  Christmas Day is an added bonus with a variety of meats and pastry.  Both December 25 & 26 are legal holidays.  All the Christmas decorations in the churches and on the streets stay up until the Feast of the Presentation on February 2.  Throughout January, parish priests visited all the families that requested it and blessed their homes.  Since Poland is on the most Eastern part of the time zone that begins in France, it would start getting dark here at around 3:30 pm.  Cars are supposed to keep their headlights on at all hours during the winter.
        Lent.  Daily Mass attendance greatly increases.  The Stations of the Cross are packed every Friday during Lent and on the fifth Sunday they sing the entire Book of Lamentations from the Bible at the Cathedral.  Palm Sunday is festive as people carried palms and feathers of different colors.  On Tuesday or Wednesday of Holy Week there is a candlelight procession with stops or stations along the route through the center of the city while the men carry a heavy cross.

        Throughout Holy Week and before, there are long confession lines.  Every church has adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on Holy Thursday as the altars were beautifully decorated.  On Good Friday evening, many people visit the churches to pray at the symbolic tomb of Christ.  As on All Soul’s Day, the people visit the graves of their loved ones on Holy Saturday.  Throughout the year the people are very faithful to their deceased loved ones and leave enclosed candles there.  At night, the cemeteries have the beautiful glow of candles.

        Easter is exciting here.  The Holy Saturday evening Easter Vigil Mass at Kielce's Basilica Cathedral is presided by the Bishop with a beautiful choir.  A few hours later there is a 6 am sunrise Mass preceded by a procession with the Blessed Sacrament.  We marched around the building three times amidst church bells, fire crackers, and a marching brass band that played beautifully.  It was inspiring!  In the U.S. the church would have been cited for disturbing the peace. 
 
       On April 2 we attended a memorial concert in the cathedral basilica with a beautiful choir on the anniversary of Pope John Paul’s death.  One of his old speeches were transmitted over the loud speakers.  That was followed by rosary attended by about a thousand people in front of the statue of the pontiff overlooking the plaza next to the cathedral.  For several days the people put vigil light candles enclosed in colored glass containers in front of the statue.   With over a thousand candles, it put off almost as much heat as a small bonfire on the chilly night. 
 
        May, the Month of Mary.  May 1 was once a big Communist holiday, celebrating the "workers' paradise" under the "new order", now on the trash heap of history.  Now it's simply Labor Day as in most of the world and many here went to church on the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, heralding Mary's month, the beautiful month of May.  After Communism took over in 1947, the Cardinal Archbishop of Warsaw (August Hlond, I believe) said from his death bed: "Some day there will be victory, and that victory will belong to Mary".  Poland has always had a special devotion toMary.  I felt like a member of Mary's army when our 125 mile walking pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa marched through Kielce back in 1999.

        In 1683 the Turks were at the gates of Vienna, threatening to take the city and march on to the English Channel.  Jan Sobieski, the Polish King, responded to the desperate pleas of Austria and the other Western European powers,  On the way his army of excellent cavalry units stopped at the national shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa.  Then under the banner of Mary he  led a coalition of troops from several countries to decisively break the Turkish siege of Vienna and drive them back.  As a result, militant Islam was held in check until its revival in the 21st Century as the War on Terror. ....really the continuation of the same war.
        The Polish Pope John Paul II was instrumental in the defeat of Communism in Europe in 1989.  He had a special devotion to Mary, whom he credits for saving his life.  The bullet that miraculously changed direction and missed the vital organs in his chest rests in the crown of Our Lady of Fatima.  It was there in 1917 that Mary foretold the errors of Russia months before the October Revolution and also prophesied Russia's eventual conversion.  No one expected the collapse of European Communism at the time.  It was so sudden, reminiscent of Jericho when God told Joshua to march around the city seven times and blow the trumpets.......the walls of Jericho came tumbling down.  After 9/11 militant Islam is again a threat to the world.  Interesting is that Fatimah is the name of Mohammed favorite daughter and Muslims admire Mary.....perhaps some common ground for peaceful coexistence as brothers besides monotheism and the same roots in Abraham.

        The Polish people recognize Mary as the Queen of Poland and have a beautiful hymn to that effect which they frequently sing:  "Marijo Królowo Polski jestem przy tobie paniętam....."  The Cathedral of Kielce has the title of basilica because of a shrine it contains by the title of  "Merciful Mother of God of Kielce".  Each night after the 6 o'clock evening Mass, they cover her image with a beautifully engraved silver plate amidst a song and a trumpet salute.  They do the same at the national Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa.  That inspired me to think of our Knights of Columbus and pray in front of the image of the Queen Mother holding her little King of the universe:  "Mother, you are my queen; I am your knight.  Use me according to your Son's will."  Interesting is that in the Old Testament, the queen mother had a place of special honor and influence in the royal court of her son and so most Catholics believe in her intercessory role in the heavenly court.

        May is First Holy Communion month in Poland. They have the custom of parents and godparents going to confession a couple of days before and receiving Holy Communion with the child.  In addition the kids, parents, and godparents go to Communion for the next seven days at daily mass in full First Holy Communion garb.  The children then honor their mothers on Mother's Day which is celebrated on May 26.

        On May 18, Poland celebrates Pope John Paul's birthday. Our kids had to go in suits to their Catholic school.  Several schools had a program in the plaza with his statue next to the cathedral basilica.  I have heard more than once: "Everybody loves and admires him, but they don't follow him".  If only we would follow his teaching, the world would be a lot different.

        June is the month of the Sacred Heart all over the world.  Here they have devotions every day with benediction.  In May and October they have rosary and special devotions to Mary.  Corpus Christi, the Thursday after Trinity Sunday is both a holy day of obligation and a national holiday.  The Bishop presided at an open air mass in front of the Cathedral Basilica.  Then we and at least a thousand others marched in a procession with the Blessed Sacrament over twelve blocks under a pleasant sun with two stops for Benediction.  At one of those stops, they gave away loaves of bread which the people were supposed to break and share with others.  Could you imagine people kneeling on cobblestone streets?  The procession took about three hours along boulevards and streets.  There were probably another couple of thousand watching us along the way.  A marching band played solemn music at both the Mass and procession.  There are Marian processions in the churches as well.
 
        What a beautiful profession of faith in a demonstration of unity and solidarity!  Processions are opportunities for giving praise and glory in song along with meditation and prayer.  The public processions are well planned and the police have the route blocked from any traffic, which was sparse on a holiday morning.  Smaller processions continue daily for the next seven days around the smaller neighborhood churches.  If a Eucharistic procession would be done on the streets of an American city, non-Catholics would be curious and ask questions.  An announcement with a brief explanation could be put in the newspaper.  Thus a procession can be a tool for evangelizing.  A member of our stateside parish in the middle of the Baptist Bible Belt, a police officer, says that the town would cooperate if our parish would march in a Eucharistic procession on the streets.

        In the summer, the pilziemka (authentic pilgrimages) is the big devotion is the 125 mile walking pilgrimage along country roads and highways over seven days to the beautiful National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa.  Stephanie and I did it in 1999, but I don't know if I can do it now.  Americans go on pilgrimages on an airplane or an air conditioned bus.  Here it's like in the Middle Ages.....on foot.

        It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.....the camaraderie, the singing, the praying, etc.  Our group had about 800 people.  Other groups come from all over Poland.  It's beautifully organized.  A truck with all of our gear and a first aid van trailed us.  The police knew we were coming and simply directed traffic around us or the cars had to wait as we crossed.  Several leaders coordinated everything and directed traffic around us outside of the cities and towns.

       People would greet us at each town and give us refreshments, lodgings, or a meal in their homes or back yards.  There was an outdoor Mass each day and a big concelebrated one at the shrine itself with several of the other groups, numbering several thousand pilgrims.  Then the group dispersed and people were free to enjoy the shrine and then return to their homes by car, bus, or train.  Some Polish American groups make a similar walking pilgrimage to its counterpart in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
  
        November is the month of the Poor Souls. All Souls Day on the 2nd is big. I never saw it, but my family did. People place flowers and lit candles on the graves of their loved ones all year round, but flock to do the same on All Souls Day and pay homage to their beloved deceased. By nightfall, the entire cemetery is lit up by candle light and can be seen for miles. When a loved one dies, the family offers Masses for seven consecutive days. We Americans tend to almost cruelly canonize our departed loved ones in the funeral parlor and just assume they are in heaven and forget about them. Since we don't know whether they are in heaven yet, it is imperative to continue praying for them. If already in heaven, the merits go for another.


(46) 1 - The Church in Poland I: The Catholic Culture

       After my mother died in January 2006, my wife Jaga wanted to take care of her ailing father.  Thus we decided to give our four children the opportunity to learn the culture and language of Poland by having them go to school there.  They arrived in June 2006 and I joined them a week before Christmas.  I taught during the spring semester and we returned to the United States in August 2007.  The next year I returned to teach in March 2008 and the rest of the family rejoined me in May.  We returned to Rio Grande, Ohio in August and took John-Paul to Ave Maria University near Naples, Florida to begin college.  Our experience there as a family and my teaching in Poland is detailed in Blogs 43, 44, and 45.    
       While in Poland, I wrote about our experiences in there, but did not have much chance to share it with others.  The following is what I wrote up on the Church in Poland while there to share with you in a series of four articles.  Even though we're talking about Poland 2007 and 2008,  You can still get a good idea about living in Poland and its reality today.
       I am sharing my observations of different aspects of Poland in six sets or chapters:  1) The Church; 2) The Economy (Blog #53); 3) Tourist Attractions; 4) The People and Their Culture; 5) The Schools and the Youth; and 6) Contributions of Poland to America and Western Civilization.  If you are of Polish descent, the last one will make you really proud of your heritage.  I found the research I did on it to be fascinating.  


       This set of observations or Chapter 1 is a series or four on The Church in Poland. 


THE CATHOLIC CULTURE 
        I love the Catholic culture here.  Generally parents name their new babies after a saint.  Here they don't celebrate the birthday of a friend, but his/her name day, the feast day of  the saint with the same name.  Within families, they celebrate both.  It's easier to remember that way.  Little roadside shrines dot the countryside.
        Vocations to the priesthood and the religious life are abundant, although decreasing under the influence of secularism.  Mass and the sacraments are so available here…..four masses per day at the cathedral and the evening mass is usually concelebrated by at least three priests.  Thus daily mass is so easy for us.  In addition, there is Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament throughout the day when Mass is not going on.  Usually at least one of the eight priests assigned to the cathedral, three of whom are retired, is on duty to hear confessions most of the day, everyday (6 am – 7 pm) throughout the year and they are occupied for the most part.  In the U.S. priests are not easily accessible to hear confessions as when I was a kid.  Our Christmas and Easter Penance services with a team of three or four priests are a great idea, but most parishioners don’t bother.  Have we Americans lost our sense of sin?
        Priests walk through the town in their cassocks and nuns in their traditional religious habits.  In Mexico, a law still on the books (now ignored) from the persecutions of the 1920s, prohibits that.  As much as they tried through the schools, the controlled press, and outright persecution, the Communists could not stamp out the faith in Poland.  In fact, people were stronger in their faith under Communism than now due to the current influence of European secularism and materialistic consumerism.  Maybe (tongue in cheek) what the Americas and Western Europe need is an old fashioned persecution.....to strengthen the Faith.
       Mass is packed on Sundays and new churches are being built even though only 30-35% of Catholics regularly attend weekly.  That’s about the same as for Catholics in the United States.  Fallen away and drifting Catholics are also common here.  Similarly cohabitation before marriage and divorce are problems.  Since most people cannot or will not adequately support the Church, most priests manage financially through mass stipends and teaching Religion in the public schools.
        People participate reasonably well at Mass.  Instead of using missalettes or songbooks in church, they project PowerPoint slides onto a screen to the left or right of the main altar......quite innovative and economical.  
        As in many parts of the world, the pillars of the Church are the women, not the men.  My Polish wife, Jadwiga, strongly advocates that the men must take the lead in the home regarding the faith.  According to research, if the mother take the lead, there is only a 17% probability that the children will be faithful to the Church in later life.  However, if the father takes the lead, the probability jumps to about 70%.  Measures are already taken to strengthen fatherhood .  See the international websites, www.dads.org of the St. Joseph Covenant Keepers, www.fatherhood.org and the Polish www.tato.net.  The Knights of Columbus (www.kofc.org) should do much more in that area with its members in Poland and the Americas.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

(45) Our Experience in Poland III: Our Family Adapting to Poland

       Our kids have adapted beautifully to Poland and doing very well with the very difficult and grammatically complicated (much more so than Spanish) Polish language.  Evidence?  They have Polish friends with whom they have sleepovers.  Last year (2007) John-Paul had a girl friend.   He took her to their school’s equivalent to the American prom.  My first thought was: There goes any possibility of the priesthood.  But on second thought:  if he indeed has a vocation and that's strictly between him and God, the Lord will take care of it and of course, that's his choice.  Parents have no right to pressure their children into a career choice.  I think young men should have a relationship with a girl or girls before making a firm decision on the priesthood. They'll be better priests that way.  Pope John Paul had a female friend before making his decision and she remained a friend until he died.  He's more advanced socially than I was at his age.  Since then, they broke up, but are still friends.   
       The boys like Stephanie.  Last year (2007) she turned sweet 16 with a nice surprise party to celebrate it.  Here she's on her school's basketball team which won the Kielce city (250,000 population) championship.  Since scholastic basketball is primitive here, she dominates like a female Michael Jordan in scoring over 20 points/game which is over 80% of her team's offense.  After Easter, for better competition, she and John-Paul joined a basketball club of mostly boys and a couple of girls. 
       A boy was pursuing Stephanie and while Jaga & I were taking a walk we saw her on a busy boulevard on the back of a motor scooter.  So she had a boy friend for a while.  Stefcia's great in bucking the culture and wearing modest clothes while ignoring the comments and showing the example.  She's convinced that a girl can dress modestly and still look beautiful although finding modest clothes takes some effort, including finding clothes on the internet.  Stephanie thinks that she has made better friends here than in the United States.  Naomi, as little sister three years younger, looks at her every move with great interest and mixes well with John-Paul's and Stephanie's friends.
       Joseph is big on chess and was on his school's chess team.  He's good at it and made the regional tournament for his age group and did well.  At that early age they have chess tournaments.  He's getting good at soccer in playing against Polish competition.  Naomi mixes very well, making friends easily. John-Paul and Stephanie went with their parish chapter of the international ecumenical Christian youth group, “Taize” to Paris-France for their international meeting and to another one in Zagreb-Croatia, where they stayed with a family for five days over New Year’s Day.  In May they went with their classes to Zakopanie, the Alps of Poland for five days as a field trip.  The kids don’t like museums, but I'm making them go to the several we have in Kielce.
      Academically, I wasn't satisfied with our children in Poland.  Their Polish is good for everyday conversation, but Polish in the classroom is at a much higher level.. There's a lot they didn't understand and reading is difficult for them.  Homework takes longer than in the U.S. since they often have to use a dictionary.  Furthermore, they didn't have the same motivation as they would have in the States because they thought that their grades didn't count for anything.  The teachers were easier on them and didn't push them as the rest.  And our kids took advantage of that.  I would have  preferred that the teachers push our kids the same as the rest instead of treating them as guests and prima donnas.  We're proud of our kids for their spirituality, especially John-Paul and Stephanie.  They go to daily mass on their own and remind us about praying the daily rosary at home.  Naomi and Joseph, however, need prodding. 
            A month after returning to the States in August of last year (2007), my father-in-law died.  Jaga took care of him for over a year.  He survived both the Nazis and Communism.  As a young man during World War II, the Nazi occupiers forced him to work on a farm in Germany.  After being mistreated by the farmer he had to work for, he slugged him and escaped to work on another farm.  About five years ago, the German Government gave him a few thousand dollars in compensation as part of a larger program.  Somehow he supported his family during the difficult fifties and sixties.  During the severe housing shortage at the time, his family had to live in what is the kitchen of his current eight room house. Little by little, they bought out the rest of the house and rented them out as required by law. Eventually the housimng shortage allievated and the renters moved out.
            This summer (2008) and last we participated in two 15 day family retreats as part of the OAZA program.  It was fun, prayer, and deepening the faith through daily Mass, homilies, devotions, discussion groups, Bible studies.  In addition, we took short trips in Poland.   The dollar is weaker than ever and that makes travel very expensive.   I always wanted to be an altar boy as a kid, but never was chosen because I didn't belong to the parish of the Catholic school I attended.  So my aspiration was fulfilled as the men and boys take turns being altar servers.  I'm also a lector at our parish church back home.  So is Jaga, but she really shines when she reads in Polish here.  The community life and fellowship is great.  John-Paul, Stephanie, and Naomi take care of the kids, also a great experience.
            Back in the U.S. for the 2007-08 school year after 14 months in Poland, both Stephanie (then 16) as a sophomore and John-Paul as a senior both played varsity basketball for their South Gallia High School.  Playing also for the JV team, Stephanie scored 20 points in a game.  At the same time she takes all of her courses at the University of Rio Grande as John-Paul had been doing in his three previous high school years.  Ohio's PSO program simultaneously gives college credit and high school credits for the same college course.  Both did beautifully.  This past year (07-08), John-Paul made all A's and Stephanie only one B (it turned out to be the only one in four years of high school/PSO).  Since the State of Ohio mandates a variety of courses for high school courses, John-Paul  did not have a particular major as such, but at 19 did receive both a high school diploma and an Associate Degree in General Studies.  At Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, he'll major in Math or Chemistry and perhaps a minor in Theology. It turned out that upon coming home, John-Paul received a letter from Ave Maria University (near Naples, Florida) offering him a full tuition scholarship. So instead of going north, we made an about face and headed for Florida.
            Naomi (then 13) had enough of home schooling and entered Junior HIgh (7th Grade) at Gallia Academy.  She was in the choral group and is blossoming as a student with all A's.  Since we were concerned about socialization, we put our rather shy Joseph (then 10) in the 5th Grade.  He also made all A's.   He was the free style champion for eight year olds for West Virginia and Ohio, but he got tired of all that training and gave it up for now.  He played soccer, basketball, and baseball in the kids' leagues.  To the consternation of this transplanted Pittsburgher, he's a big Chicago Cub fan.  After dishing out all that money, it's about time they win something.  At least Joseph admits to being a Pittsburgh Steeler fan. 
         My cousin, Fr. Thomas Loya, who married Jaga and me in the Catholic Byzantine Rite is gaining an international reputation as an expert on the "Theology of the Body".  He speaks all over the United States and has appeared two or three times on EWTN, the international Catholic cable channel.  You can hear him on-line at www.relevantradio.com on Thursday mornings 7-8 am (CST) and at 11:30 am EST on EWTN Radio accessible on www.ewtn.com.  You can also hear his archived Light of East programs on the website, www.byzantinecatholic.com.  His brother Greg just announced that he will be studying to become a deacon while working full time and maintaining a beautiful family of 8 kids.
        Our address while in Poland (early March through the middle of August (2008) is as follows:
                                                                 Mała 4/28
                                                                 Kielce, Poland 25-302
Phone from the United States: 011-48-41-341-5755.  011 is international access, 48 is the area code for Poland, and 41 is the area code for Kielce.  Almost certainly the person who answers will speak English.  Another alternative is my daughter Stephanie's cell phone in Poland, but that would be expensive.  It is 011-48-78-194-4275. Via computer (www.yahoo.com) and a speaker-microphone headset, one can call here for 2.4 cents per minute.  We can call the USA for one cent per minute, cheaper than calling outside of our immediate area within the state of Ohio.  My e-mail address is pauls@rio.edu. 
       If any of you will be in Europe between March and August (2008), stop over and see us.  We’d love to see you.  It’s not the Hilton, but you can be our houseguests and stay in our guest room in the old but large 8 room house that Dźiadek (Grandpa) Gajda left for his family.  Let us stay in touch and keep each other in our prayers.  God bless.

Friday, November 25, 2011

(44) Our Experience in Poland II: Teaching There

        I ran into a college student, who started to speak in half decent English at a Kebab fast food place here in Kielce, Poland when he heard us talking.  I mentioned that I would enjoy collaborating with his college, which has Business and English as its principle majors.....maybe teach a course or two, give talks, seminars, etc.  Within a few days he arranged a meeting with the President of Wyższa Szkoła Umiejętności (WSU), Dr. Andrzej Błachut. 
      I accepted teaching on Fridays and Saturdays anywhere up to 18 hours per week for an average of eight hours a week a combination of Business and English to eight sections of a Master's Program for English majors.....primarily English teachers.  Their English is quite good, but with a thick Polish-British accent.  They are also being trained as interpreters and translators.  To do that effectively in a business environment, they must have a general knowledge of business concepts as well as terms.  Otherwise, their translations won't make sense.  I've seen enough of poor translations from Polish to English in my three visits here.  As always, I try to integrate the social teachings of the Church (common to most faiths) in my courses where applicable.  It's not for the money (a very low $390/credit/semester, which is about the same as an adjunct receives at the University of Rio Grande with no benefits), but an opportunity to make a contribution and feel useful plus the experience and challenge of teaching in another country besides Peru and the USA. 
            The president of the college asked me to co-author a book which combines basic business principles with the linguistic aspects of Business English.  I've done two chapters so far.    I'm trying to make it simple with an integration of social responsibility, ethics, and the social teachings of the Church with a model of business as an interdependent internal community which is also part of the larger community which surrounds it .  Higher education here is quite secular.  So I don't know whether he'll see it through on the underwriting for publication.  I'm determined to get it published in one way or another..  
            Dr. Błachut also asked me to be officially a full time faculty member, while only being required to teach the Spring semester.....as he facetiously expressed, dividing my time between my two loves, Poland and the USA.  I could get in deeper of the proposed deal with Clark University of Boston goes through.  A group of their professors would teach here and give Clark University degrees.  It appears dormant for now.
            I accepted his offer and taught Negotiations this past Spring and expect to return next March.  Besides Business deals in sales, mergers, etc., I included labor negotiations and conflict negotiations, i.e., peacemaking and reconciliation, again integrated with Christian principles without necessarily calling it that.  The class did practice negotiations involving the recent Yahoo vs. Microsoft and a labor management contract.   If anyone is interested, I'd be happy to send you my class notes by e mail.  For the first time I typed them up instead of doing them by long hand.  Thus I was able to give them to my students. 
       Monetarily it's not much, but medical and dental insurance is included in the package.  It came in handy for Jaga when she returned for her father's funeral September of last year, for dental work, for Stephanie, and for Joseph when he broke his thumb this summer.  Anyhow, I'm not doing this for the money.  The same as America desperately needs Polish priests to alleviate the severe  shortage of vocations, I think Poland can use a few missionaries, Polish-American and foreign with an aspiration to serve where needed and contribute a little to the Church and the economic development of the country which has so much potential.  It helps to have a native speaker giving different viewpoints on business with an integration with the teachings of the Church.  It's such a privilege to pay back in a small way what Poland has done for Western Civilization and America.  So I feel like I'm a missionary again as I was in Peru for 14 years doing the same things, but in Spanish.  Native priests usually can't reach students in the University who have already fallen away from the faith.  As in the United States they are numerous.  Of course, I can't preach, but Polish and foreign lay people can be very effective witnesses.
      Already they have heard of the University of Rio Grande, where I am Professor Emeritus after I retired.  Since Scott Morrissey asked me a few years ago to keep my eyes open for good soccer prospects in Poland and confirmed it again, I told my some 160  students about our soccer team as being one of the best in American collegiate sports.  They know that there is a possible soccer scholarship opportunity at Rio for a top notch player and any prospect would have to present himself in action on a video tape as the first step.  One of my students is a Forward for one of the local soccer teams.  Soccer is big here; they just built a new 15,500 seat stadium in this city of 300,000.  I know that there's a very remote possibility of my coming up with something, but there's always a chance. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

(43) Our Experience in Poland I: Living There



Our family with Grandma on Christmas 2005, a few weeks before she died at the age of 97.  Jaga and I flank her with John Paul (16), Joseph (8), Stephanie (14), and Naomi (11).

After my mother died in January 2006, Jaga wanted to spend a year in Poland to take care of her ailing father 83 year old father.  At the same time, this would be an opportunity for our four children to go to a Polish school and learn the language well.  They already could speak some Polish which they picked up from their mother, visits from relatives, and visits to Poland.  They left in June 2006 and I joined them in December and stumbled upon a teaching position in March 2007 for the Spring semester at a local college.  We returned to Rio Grande in August 2007.

  In 2008 John-Paul finished his senior year in high school, Stephanie 10th Grade, Naomi 7th Grade, and Joseph 5th Grade.  In March 2008 I returned to teach for a semester and the family joined me at the end of May.  We returned to the States in August 2008 and haven't been back since.  
While in Poland, I wrote about our experiences there, but did not have much chance to share it with others.  The following is what I wrote up while in Poland to share with you in a series of three articles.  Even though we're talking about Poland 2007 and 2008,  You can still get a good idea about living in Poland and its reality today. 
In future blogs, I will share by observations of different aspects of Poland:  1) The Church (Blog #46); 2) The Economy (Blog #53); 3) Tourist Attractions; 4) The People and Their Culture; 5) The Schools and the Youth; and 6) Contributions of Poland to America and Western Civilization.  If you are of Polish descent, the last one will make you really proud of your heritage.  I found the research I did on it to be fascinating.
Living There
       After a year in Poland, we came back for the last 2007-08 school year and we're back for the summer.  First let me review our year of being immersed in the culture from June 2006 to August 2007.          
       My wife, Jadwiga (Jaga) took care of my mother for five years until she died at the age of 97 in January of 2006.  Mom was a pioneer in female dentistry, having graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Dentistry in 1933.  On the Pennsylvania State Board Exam she made the top grade in her class.  She was frustrated by the fact that men as well as women would assume that male dentists did better work and she would have to fix many botched jobs.  During the Depression and the rest of the pre-dental insurance era she would charge $2.00 for a filling and wouldn't charge nuns and priests at all.   No wonder she was horrified at the prices dentists charge today.   Health care in general was very moderately priced.  She took great satisfaction in serving people and never made much money out of it.       
       At the same time her 84 year old father was ailing and senile.  Jaga then wanted to take care of him for a while in his last days.  So we thought that it would be great for our kids to learn Polish well while gaining an international experience and learning the beautiful Polish culture.  They went to a local Catholic school, Szkoła St. Stanisław for the entire 2006-2007 school year.  I had dreams of buying a used van and a tent and camp all over Europe for both tourism and pilgrimage to the holy sites the following summer.  My family had been here in Kielce, Poland since June 2006 to take care of my ailing father-in-law.  Since I had many things to take care of at home, I didn’t join them until December 19 just in time for Christmas. 
It's a good thing I did stay in the United States because I was able to see my brother Fred in August after our 50th Duquesne High School Class of 1956 Reunion.  Little did I know then that he would die in his sleep in October.  It was surprising how many people came to the wake and funeral.  In his own way he made an impact.  People raved about his generosity, his cheerfulness and sense of humor despite all of his mental and physical problems.  Fred confronted all of his handicaps and setbacks with such courage.  He was determined to make a contribution to the community and he did.  He would have given anything to have had a steady job, but instead volunteered to help the patients at the Kane Hospital for something like 20 years.  When other people had problems he would cheer them up with kind words and wisdom.      
       Things were crazy in my preparing to leave the United States for a period of 8 months.....so much to clear up.....taxes, making provisions to take care of the house, utilities, bills, packing, ticket, providing continuity with my work with the parish and the Knights of Columbus, etc., etc.  Then it was off to Poland a week before Christmas (2006) and settling in with my family.  A bit of a shock was seeing it starting to get dark at 3:30 pm because of both being at the same latitude in Canada above Maine and being in the eastern end of the European Union time zone. They had stayed with my sister-in-law's family since June, but it was very crowded for five Sebastians, let alone me as one more.  Thus we had to move with my father-in-law to his former home which was in a state of disrepair.  That involved a lot of renovation, painting, etc.  By Easter (2007), it was quite livable. 
       It took a month, along with a lot of pushing, just to obtain a telephone connection, let alone an internet connection which we obtain another week or two later.   It is broad band and we don't have to use dial-up like in Rio Grande and tie up the telephone.  It reminds me of Peru.  Things move very slowly here.  Poland is progressing rapidly with a high 6% growth rate, more industry, and greater internal & external investment after overthrowing Communism in 1989.  But it is held back by the heritage from socialism of bureaucracy and low productivity in both the public and private sectors. 
              We were roughing it a little until April (2007) with our wood/coal stoves for each room.  That means getting fuel from the wood or coal shed and starting and keeping the stoves going.  We now appreciate central heating and other conveniences we take for granted at home.  I think that the three greatest things we can give our kids are: 1) spiritual formation, i.e., the faith, 2) a work ethic, and 3) a love for learning.  Poland was part if it. Only time will tell how well we have done in those three areas. The jury is still out.
            Along those same lines, we wanted them to have a taste of farm work.  So as a family we picked strawberries for a few five hour days.  This year (2008) I tried it for the experience one day.  I picked a total of three baskets and got $3.00 for my efforts and being sore all over for a couple of days.  Now we appreciate the farmer and all of the work involved in something as simple as strawberries.....planting, cultivating, picking them, and bringing them to market.  I think that every intellectual and seminarian should have at least one day on the farm picking strawberries.  Pope John Paul II, as a young man during the German occupation, had to do backbreaking work at a stone quarry.  This gave him great insights into the tremendous dignity of the worker and his work as collaborating with God in creation which is ongoing.  From that experience came his second encyclical, 'Laborem Exjercens" was a deep spiritualization of work.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

(42) Blessed Padre Miguel Pro S.J.: 20th Century Mexican Martyr for Christ the King

       Today, just a few days after the feast of Christ the King, we celebrate the feast day of Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro, a Jesuit priest. He was born in Guadalupe in the state of Zacatecas, Mexico on January 13, 1891, the third of 11 children (four died in infancy) of a mining engineer and a pious and charitable mother. Two of his sisters entered the convent. He was a high spirited and happy kid. Growing up among miners, he developed a special love for the working classes. 
  
        In his youth, Miguel contracted a life threatening brain infection. The medical prognosis was that even if he did survive, he would be almost an imbecile. His father, prayed to Our Lady of Guadalupe and placed her image before him. Miraculously, he was suddenly cured. Another time, his foot got caught in a railroad track. As the speeding train thundered toward him, Miguel desperately prayed to Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of Mexico and all the Americas, to spare him from purgatory. Again Mary saved his life as he barely pulled his foot out of the shoe in the last second. God had a special mission for Miguel that continues from heaven and his story that inspires millions.

       In Mexico, a new constitution for the country had been signed.  Five articles of the 1917 Constitution of Mexico were particularly aimed at suppression of the Catholic Church. Article 3 mandated secular education in schools, prohibiting the Church from participating in primary and secondary education. Article 5 outlawed monastic religious orders. Article 24 forbade public worship outside of church buildings, while Article 27 restricted religious organizations' rights to own property. Finally, Article 130 took away basic civil rights of members of the clergy: priests and religious were prevented from wearing their habits, were denied the right to vote, and were not permitted to comment on public affairs in the press. Most of the anti-clerical provisions of the constitution were removed in 1998.

        In 1911 at the age of 20 he entered the Jesuit Novitiate. Since it is the most intellectual order of the Church, he underwent years of intense study. Because of the Mexican Revolution, anti-clericalism, and intense persecution, he and the other Jesuits fled to Los Gatos, California, where he spent the rest of his novitiate. His major studies were in Granada, Spain (1915-1919). Then he taught in Nicaragua (1919-1922), and finished his theological studies in Enghien, Belgium, where he was finally ordained in 1925. His first assignment as a priest was to work with the miners of Charleroi, Belgium. Despite the socialist and communist tendencies of the workers, he was able to win them over and preach the Gospel to them (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miguel_Pro ).

         After three unsuccessful operations for severe stomach ulcers, his superiors allowed him to return to Mexico in 1926 in spite of religious persecution. The churches were closed and priests were in hiding. During the 1920s, Mexico was ruled by the virulently anti-Catholic President Plutarco Calles, who began what Graham Greene called “the fiercest persecution of religion anywhere since the reign of Elizabeth”.  During the month of October 1927, 300 Catholics were executed for publicly professing their faith. Calles once openly boasted: “I have a personal hatred for Christ”.  In 1921, a terrorist placed a bomb mixed with flowers before the venerable image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Every window in the basilica was broken, an image of St. James was destroyed, and a bronze cross was bent out of shape. But nothing happened either to the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe nor the glass covering. 

        Among the many Catholic groups who most vigorously opposed the oppressive Calles regime were the Cristeros. It amounted to a civil war, referred to as the Cristero War which caused 90,000 deaths from 1926-1929.  Padre Miguel and two of his brothers were involved in the Cristero Movement in opposition. Blessed Miguel clandestinely under different disguises heroically ministered to the people.......assisting the poor of Mexico City with their temporal and spiritual needs.

                                                  
This is a rare photo of Pro, taken while he preached a conference to the chauffeurs (bus and taxi drivers) and disguised



This is a rare photo of Blessed Pro, taken while he preached a conference to the chauffeurs (bus and taxi drivers) and disguised as a mechanic.

        In his own words, "Imagine fifty noisy chauffeurs, their Tejano (Texan) cap and a lock of hair over the eye and spitting prodigiously. Fine types with their rough, unpolished manners..." (In Spanish, he called them people of "pro" which means "quality or goodness.") He continued, "Needless to stress the solemnity of the conferences in a spacious yard, surrounded with an iron grating. Disguised as a mechanic, my cap pulled over my forehead, I elbow my sympathetic congregation... (he had to keep them moving around, in his words, "like cattle", so people passing by wouldn't realize it was a religious conference where he was preaching). God bless every chauffeur in the world!" This is taken from Ann Ball's book above. You can obtain it from her web site at (http://annball.com/books/miguel.shtml)

The Message of Father Pro
       "We ought to speak, shout out against injustices, with confidence and without fear. We proclaim the principles of the Church, the reign of love, without forgetting that it is also a reign of justice." - Miguel Agustin Pro, S.J.
A Prayer of Father Pro
       "Does our life become from day to day more painful, more oppressive, more replete with afflictions? Blessed be He a thousand times who desires it so. If life be harder, love makes it also stronger, and only this love, grounded on suffering, can carry the Cross of my Lord Jesus Christ. Love without egotism, without relying on self, but enkindling in the depth of the heart an ardent thirst to love and suffer for all those around us: a thirst that neither misfortune nor contempt can extinguish... I believe, O Lord; but strengthen my faith... Heart of Jesus, I love Thee; but increase my love. Heart of Jesus, I trust in Thee; but give greater vigor to my confidence. Heart of Jesus, I give my heart to Thee; but so enclose it in Thee that it may never be separated from Thee. Heart of Jesus, I am all Thine; but take care of my promise so that I may be able to put it in practice even unto the complete sacrifice of my life.
                                           
                                                       
        Falsely accused of being part of a plot to assassinate the tyrannical former Mexican President Álvaro Obregón during his election campaign, Fr. Pro and his brother Humberto were wanted men and became fugitives.  Betrayed to police, they were sentenced to death without any legal process. With that as a pretext, the Calles regime rounded up a number of others for a mass execution. Below is a mug shot of Blessed Padre Miguel Pro made by the police on the day of the execution. Notice his heroic serenity, certainly a reflection of his tremendous faith.

        The Government called the Press to cover the execution of the “plotters” to intimate other Cristeros as well as the people in general and show Catholics, particularly priests as a cowardly people who would give up their faith when faced with death. Among the many photos of the execution on November 23, 1927 are the following:
                           


        One soldier apologized while taking Padre Pro from the jail to the execution site. When the Major in charge asked Blessed Miguel Padre Pro whether he wanted to express a last will. He only asked for permission to pray which was granted (above left photo). He blessed and forgave his executioners, even thanking them (for the privilege of being a martyr for Christ). Then the saintly Jesuit said: "May God have mercy on you. May God bless you." He briskly walked to the stake and bravely refused to be blind folded. Standing erect with a crucifix in one hand and a rosary in the other (above right), the future saint raised his arms in a cruciform in an imitation of Christ, the position of our Lord and King's passion and death on the cross. Just after the command “Ready, aim”, the valiant priest cried out: “Viva Cristo Rey!”.......”Long live Christ the King”.  A split second later his body was riddled with bullets.
           The first shots of the firing squad may have failed to kill Padre Pro.  To make sure a 20th Century centurion is shown on the right shooting him point blank in the head.  The father of the two executed brothers found the corpses of his sons in the hospital and tenderly kissed each one.  He comforted his daughter: “There is nothing to weep over, my child.” How true regarding a saint in Heaven, who never had to make the stopover in purgatory.  Blessed Miguel's childhood prayer was answered.

        The strategy of making this a show execution backfired.  On the following day, thirty thousand people bravely flocked to the funeral and its procession (See photo below). As they silently drove along, flowers were strewn before the martyrs’ path and dropped down from hundreds of balconies. Then the chanting started. Before long, thousands were picking it up. And the thundering roar that shook the capital city on the day that the beloved Padre Pro was buried, was soon echoing all over Mexico: "Long live the martyrs! Long live the Mexican clergy! Long live the Catholic religion! Long live our bishops and priests! Long live the Pope! Lord, if You want martyrs, here is our blood!" (Taken from www.thesacredheart.com/sts/pro.htm)

                                                                                 

      The photos gave such eloquent testimony of his faith and courage that the regime forbade even the very possession of one of these photos.  Pictures on newspapers all over Mexico and the world embolden the Cristeros to continue on. Eventually, the persecution decreased.  However, there still were anti-clerical and anti-Catholic laws on the books that were gradually overlooked and most were repealed.  As far as I know, priests and nuns cannot wear habits or clerical garb. Private Catholic schools are still not permitted and the freedom of the Church to exercise its mission is limited.


        Blessed Padre Miguel Pro became a martyr and hero among the people.  Although better known in the United States than Mexico, the young Jesuit priest became a national and international hero. On September 25, 1988, Padre Miguel was beatified by Pope John Paul II, who then said:

      “Neither suffering nor serious illness, neither the exhausting ministerial activity, frequently carried out in difficult and dangerous circumstances, could stifle the radiating and contagious joy which he brought to his life for Christ and which nothing could take away. Indeed, the deepest root of self-sacrificing surrender for the lowly was his passionate love for Jesus Christ and his ardent desire to be conformed to him, even unto death.[8]

        Eventually he will be a canonized saint of the Catholic Church. Relics of Blessed Miguel Pro can be found in the Mary chapel of St. Raphael the Archangel Catholic Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. More information about the life of Blessed Miguel Pro can be found at:

        For an eloquent homily by Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix on Blessed Miguel Pro, go to


    The persecutions in Mexico (1920s), Spain (1930s), Nazism, Communism, radical Islamic Militancy, and Secularism are all part of a common struggle as prophetically noted by a Cardinal Karol Wojtyla in 1976, two years before becoming Pope:

We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel and the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine providence. It is a trial which the whole Church… must take up.” (Karol Cardinal Wojtyla Sept. 1976)