Monday, May 29, 2006

Venit, Vidit, Vincit

Need I say more?

Miracle Picture

The Holy Father's prayer in Auschwitz-Birkenau is already being hailed as a miracle. Immediately upon praying for reconciliation forgiveness for sins against humanity, the sun came out after a cold and rainy day, and the sky looked like this:

Genesis 9:9-17:

"See, I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you
and with every living creature that was with you: all the birds, and the various tame and wild animals that were with you and came out of the ark.
I will establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood; there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth."
God added: "This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come, of the covenant between me and you and every living creature with you:
I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears in the clouds,
I will recall the covenant I have made between me and you and all living beings, so that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all mortal beings.
As the bow appears in the clouds, I will see it and recall the everlasting covenant that I have established between God and all living beings--all mortal creatures that are on earth."
God told Noah: "This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all mortal creatures that are on earth."


Saturday, May 27, 2006

Welcome to the Papal City

The Holy Father arrived here in Krakow last night, and addressed the thousands of youth who gathered under the "papal wondow" at the Archbishop's Palace.

At this very moment, the Holy Father is in Wadowice, and has just visited the home and parich church of the young Karol Wojtyla.

What greater confirmation of the holiness of John Paul the Great, than the Holy Father himself coming to visit and "follow in his footsteps."

The official sign on the market square in Wadowice says, "John Paul II the Great." Unbelievable.

I think any long reflection will have to wait, but I will keep you all updated. Pictures are forthcoming!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Witamy Ocja Swietego

Polish President Lech Kaczynski greets Pope Benedict XVI
More pictures here.


The Holy Father is finally here, and has arrived to remind Poles to "remain strong in the faith," a motto that refers to a famous speech by John Paul II, which he gave in 1979, and instructed Poles to "be strong with the strength of faith.

The German pope has to come to the most Catholic nation, his neighboring nation, to encourage reconciliation and to light the fire anew in the souls of Poles, who "have not been afraid, throughout history, to publicly proclaim their faith as a nation."

I will be trying to keep updates as current as possible, but for understandable reasons, I will be out and about, at the meetings with the Holy Father! More news to come...

Monday, May 15, 2006

Pictures from Procession

Hello, Your Eminence (Cardinal Macharski)

The street better be shut down for these guys!

Primate Glemp looks a bit confused.

Although I can't complain about his stole!

Saint Stanislaw Procession

Lots of Bishops and Cardinals...yay!
I cannot believe that time is passing by so fast here. It seems as if I was just in Rome for Easter, and then was with George Weigel here in Krakow, but those events were almost a month ago. In fact, the Church celebrated the Resurrection a month ago, tomorrow!

Time seems to really be flying by—especially with the end of Notre Dame’s school year, and graduation only a few days away, for all of my friends back home, “under the Dome.” To those seniors who will be graduating, know that you’re all in my prayers and in my thoughts, as I myself am nearing final exams, which linger in the future deceptively distant future!
In his famous poem, Stanislaw, the poet Karol Wojtyla writes:

Stanislaw may have thought: my word will hurt and convert you,
You will come as a penitent to the cathedral gate,
Emaciated by fasting, enlightened by a voice within,
To join the Lord’s table like the prodigal son.
The Word did not convert, the blood will:

Perhaps the bishop had no time to think,
Let this cup pass from me.

Reflecting here deeply on the martyrdom of St. Stanislaw, Karol Wojtyla reflected upon the deep and painful reality of the sufferings of Poland throughout the ages. The Metropolitan Archbishop of Krakow reflects on the legacy of his predecessor, the main patron of Poland, and a foundation of Polish Catholicism throughout the ages.

A sword falls on the soil of our freedom;
Blood pours onto the soil of our freedom;
And which weighs more?

Known for his deep devotion to St.Stanislaw, whose place of martyrdom our archbishop and poet would visit quite often, it was here that he deepened his understanding of the meaning and the price of freedom. Each year, he led the St. Stanislaw Procession through the streets of Krakow to Skalka, the Church of St. Michael the Archangel, where the ancient Bishop of Krakow was martyred by Boleslaw the Bold, while saying Mass. It was on the feast day of his holy predecessor that Karol Wojtyla would preach homilies against the regime’s persecution and squelching of human rights. Just as the bishop of old had paid with his life for his faith, and for the true freedom that living the divine moral law brings, so he encouraged the modern Poles to “not be afraid” to stand up for the Truth, for true freedom can only be found in the Truth.

Yesterday, I had the blessed opportunity to attend this year’s St. Stanislaw Procession, which was moved from the feast of the bishop, to the Fifth Sunday of Lent. Arriving at the foot of Wawel Hill around 9:00 a.m., I was surprised by the number of people already processing by—representatives of schools, traditional guilds, government representatives, and parishes. Life-size, and larger-than-life size statues of Mary and the saints made their way past me, as I gazed with awe and wonder at some of the traditional and official costumes. The Order of the Holy Sepulcher processed by in its traditional capes, accompanied with representatives of various Krakow brotherhoods, some which donned traditional Cracovian dress-the long blue overcoat, the white blouse, and feathered-hats, which are very good representations of the traditional Polish noble dress of the 17th century. After the procession of guilds and associations, a virtual “parade of nuns” processed by (our famous “nun parade” at Notre Dame during last year’s Eucharistic Procession pales in comparison)! There were Carmelites, Dominicans, Franciscans, and many other sisters—close to a thousand, by my estimates! Following them, were representatives of the various male orders in Krakow, such as the Dominicans, Franciscans, Benedictines, Carmelites, Bernardines, Capuchins, Jesuits, etc. You name the order, they were there! After this procession of the Church militant, there came the Church Triumphant—huge gold and silver reliquaries of the patron saints of Poland and Krakow. Various orders carried their patron saints. Taking part in the procession were St. Hyacinth, the friend of St. Dominic, who brought the Dominicans to Poland; Saint Jadwiga, the Queen of Poland and wife of Grand Duke Jagiello; Saint Brother Albert, a nineteenth century Polish saints, and founder of the Albertine sisters and brothers; St. John Cantius, the professor and saint of the Academy of Krakow; St. Jozef Bilczewski, the professor of the Jagiellonian University, and archbishop of Lwow, who was canonized in October 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI. At the end of the procession, of course, were the relics of St. Stanislaw, the Cracovian “proto-martyr.”

At the end of the procession of the Church Triumphant, finally came the priests, bishops, archbishops, and cardinals of Poland! In attendance were Cardinal Dziwisz of Krakow, Cardinal Macharski of Krakow, Primate Jozef Glemp, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Warsaw-Gniezno, and Primate of Poland, Cardinal Gulbinkiewicz, the Archbishop of Wroclaw, and Cardinal Marian Jaworski, himself a good friend of Karol Wojytla, the former President of the Pontifical Academy in Krakow, and now the Metropolitan Archbishop of Lwow. Not to even mention Archbishop Kowalczyk, the papal nuncio, and a host of other Polish bishops, from throughout the entire country!

The procession followed the ancient “path of King Boleslaw,” retracing his steps from Wawel Hill to the Church where St. Stanislaw was martyred. Walking in the procession was an awesome and overwhelming experience. This was the very same procession that Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, Cardinal Adam Sapieha, and the many other famous bishops of Krakow had walked throughout the centuries. Walking the path was like walking through time, recollecting the death and life of the saints. Nova et vetera, ever ancient, ever new, I think, may be the only way to describe my experience. I will go down into the chronicles of time as one of the hundreds of thousands of people who have come together to worship and celebrate the death and glorious witness to the faith of such a great saint. Here, the laity came together with the princes of the Church—making the communion of saints so much more tangible.

The Mass was celebrated outside, in front of the quaint, Baroque church that is now built on the spot of the martyrdom. The altar had as a backdrop a huge Polish flag, in which was hung an image of Our Lady of Czestochowa—the very same one which adorned the altar during the celebration of the 900th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Stanislaw, during his first pilgrimage here in 1979, as Pope John Paul II. “Remain strong in the faith,” the motto on the backdrop reminded us, referring to both the witness of St. Stanislaw and St. Archbishop Bilczewski, and alluding to the theme of the upcoming pilgrimage of the Holy Father to Poland. Primate Glemp gave an amazing and powerful, direct homily about the dangers of the modern ideologies of secularism and consumerism. “Was this just a conflict between two personalities?” asked the cardinal, “between a stubborn bishop and a prideful king? Or is there something deeper here? Was it just about the conflict and tensions between the Church and the State? No, because we see that the two can co-exist side-by-side, and work for the common good.” Then, there must be something more behind the bloody murder of the bishop by the king, the cardinal reminded us. “This conflict was a conflict about the Truth, and the painful reality that the Truth requires action and needs to be defended.” Throughout the history of Poland, there were numerous examples of unjust regimes and people who persecuted the Truth—the Swedes during the “deluge” of the 17th century, Hitler and Stalin in the not-so-distant past. “But who is the enemy now? Can the enemy only be a person, or a group of people? Or can it also be an ideology—an ideology which appears positive on the outside, but is in its deepest core an ideology of an anti-Truth?” The cardinal blasted the modern and often-heard (and often debated) terms of “freedom, tolerance, and justice.” It is precisely behind such terms that evil can lurk, presenting itself as good, and taking many people along with it. Now, more than ever, Poland must stand true to her Christian past, and to live with the bravery and courage of St. Stanislaw, who was willing to put his life on the line by reminding the king about the immorality of his actions.

After the incredible Mass and homily, the procession began its way back to the seat of the Polish kings and bishops, Wawel Cathedral—only to be interrupted by a German-accented voice, speaking in Polish, “I greet all of the Poles gathered here today. Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of the assassination attempt on our beloved John Paul II, who was saved by the guiding hand of Mary…” Yes, Pope Benedict once again showed his proficiency and newly-learned skill of speaking Polish, by addressing the Poles on St. Peter’s square, and linking to Krakow via satellite, encouraging Poles to remain faithful to the same Mother that had protected this nation throughout the ages of history. I don’t know how this happened, but somehow I ended up in the front of the procession, right BEHIND the cardinals—and when I mean right, I mean about three feet away. All of the cardinals, but particularly Cardinal Macharski and Cardinal Dziwisz kept walking over to bless little children, the sick and the elderly. Seizing my chance, when he was coming back to file in the procession, I grabbed Cardinal Dziwisz and asked him for a blessing. I think my heart about stopped, since I was here, touching and being touched by a man who had held the Holy Father in his hands, during his dying moments. I was being blessed by the man who himself had lived under the same roof for over forty years with the greatest man and saint of our times. I felt the same way that I did in the cathedral during Cardinal Dziwisz’s ingress—my heart was pounding, I was completely overtaken with excitement and joy, and struck by the interior humility and magnanimity of the cardinal. I was most especially moved when he stopped to accept some flowers from a girl in her first communion dress, who had just received first communion, and who was able to get her picture with the cardinal.

Wow. I have come from Utah, a Mormon state, currently without even a bishop, to a city that has three cardinals, and which regularly attracts many more for events such as this one. I am truly learning what it means to be catholic—to be surrounded by a culture that is bigger than the mere addition of all of the churches and sacred places in town. It is a culture that is shaped and formed by the people who have come in the past, who are here now, and who will be here in the future. Being Catholic means being part of one great family, called to participate in the final and eternal communion with the saints, who accompany us on the journey, like they did in the procession. Being Catholic means being part of the family, the communion, in which all are children of God, and in which cardinals, children, the sick, and the young, are all journeying on a different road to the same place. The dock is the same, but some arrive by motorboat, some by sailboat, and some by swimming against the tide, until they are picked up and towed to shore. As Wojtyla expresses in the above-mentioned poem, we are all part of the Church where “the hidden breath of the Spirit will unify us all.” This Holy Spirit was present yesterday in the procession, through the witness of the saints, the participation and piety of the people from all ages and walks of life, and in the presence of the People of God (not to mention the windy, gusty day, which held off the rain until the minute I stepped into the trolley after the procession!

The witness of St. Stanislaw teaches us that we need not ever fear professing the Truth, with our words and with our actions. We may offend some people, but this has happened in the past. We may pay for it, maybe even with our lives. Countless saints have already traveled this path. For this is the nature of the Church. The Polish Church has learned this particularly well, expressed by Fr. Popieluszko’s famous saying, “If you were to take a handful of Polish soil and squeeze it, it would drip with the blood of the martyrs.” For the Church is not an authoritarian dictator, but rather, the guardian of the Truth. And it is for this Truth that many people fear taking a stand. Yet, the saints have shown us that it is worth it. For my Church is a Church which is my

Root which I thrust
Into the past and future alike,
The sacrament of my being in God,
Who is the Father.

Let us never forget that it is in the Church that we learn to stand up for freedom. It is only in the Truth that we are set free. A sacrament is a sign, and this Church points us to our “being in the Father,” Who we cannot and will not fear. St. Stanislaw knew this, and he paid with his life. Are we ready to follow in his steps?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Planned Parenthood

Margaret Sanger: eugenist, feminist, racist, and founder of Planned Parenthood

I originally wrote this piece for a campus newspaper about three years ago, hence all of the Notre Dame references, but I think it still pertains. Just thought that I would re-post it, since Planned Parenthood is still a formiddable force, and the battle for Notre Dame still continues.

Sex. From MTV to Hollywood, from books to magazines, relationships and human sexuality dominate today’s culture. In fact, they are a part of human nature and have dominated every civilization in the past as well. All one has to do is to look in the Bible, or in the Greek epics to see teachings and attitudes about sex.

Recently, many events at this university have sparked people’s dialogue and discussion on the topic. Last year, controversy surrounded the performance of the “Vagina Monologues” on Ash Wednesday on this campus. (Various groups are once again scheduling to perform this offensive show on campus this year). Recently, two topics of the new “Theology on Tap” series held at Legends on Wednesday nights have been “Relationships” and “How Far is Too Far?” A short time ago, during National Respect Life Week, the Notre Dame/Saint Mary’s Right to Life club displayed a Cemetery for the Innocents on South Quad. This display graphically showed the sheer reality of the three thousand and six hundred children killed in abortion every day in the United States. In fact, 43,350,000 babies have been surgically aborted in the past thirty years. This is one third of our generation. A reason for widespread abortion our society is due to the support it receives from prominent organizations that are intent on promoting a cultural mentality aimed at eliminating the poor and the minorities in the name of “woman’s choice.”

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), contrary to popular belief, is the nation’s single largest abortion provider. This is not surprising however, when one looks at the origins of this evil organization. Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was a racist, a eugenist, and like Hitler, she was on a quest to create a perfect human race.

Margaret Higgins Sanger was born the sixth of eleven children into a large Irish family. Her mother died of tuberculosis at the age of fifty. Margaret blamed her mother’s death on the large number of pregnancies that her mother underwent. Later in her life, Margaret married and became the mother of three children that, according to her own writings, she should have killed. “The most merciful thing that the large family can do to one of its infant members is to kill it” (Woman and the New Race, 1920).

While she was studying to become a nurse, a career path that she never finished, she came to the conclusion that there are two parts to the human race, “fit” and “unfit.”

Free maternity care to the poor will encourage the healthier and more normal sections of the world to shoulder the burden of the unthinkable and indiscriminate fecundity of others…a dead and human waste. (Margaret Sanger, Pivot of Civilization, p. 177). [Emphasis added.]

The attentive reader would notice that Sanger seems to place herself in the “normal” sector of society, even though she came from a poor peasant family. The same reader cannot help but feel sorry for Sanger, who must “shoulder the burden” of the “unfit” people, clearly the “human waste” of society (the same people in which Blessed Mother Teresa saw the face of Christ).

In 1920, Margaret Sanger founded the American Birth Control League (ABCL). To promote this organization, she used such ingenious slogans as, “Birth Control: To Create a Race of Thoroughbreds” (“Birth Control Review,” November, 1921, vol. V, no. 11; p. 2). This slogan surely attracted a large following!

In 1930, Sanger changed the name of the ABCL to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. This organization promoted, held to, and taught Sanger’s philosophy of the human race, which she developed in 1932 in a work entitled “Plan for Peace.” She presented seven points and methods that she believed would bring about communal peace and create a unified and “fit” human race. Among these points were ideas to close immigration to aliens who were “feebleminded” and “idiots.” She also promoted a policy of sterilization and segregation to those whose traits might be deficient. Apportioning land to segregated persons under “competent instructors” was another on of her brilliant ideas to create the perfect human race. (See the sidebar for her complete policies).

According to Sanger, anybody who promotes sterilization and segregation should be seen as a hero. In fact, the Planned Parenthood website publishes a quote that praises her efforts, “There is a striking kinship between our movement and Margaret Sanger’s early efforts…Our sure beginning in the struggle for equality through nonviolent direct action may not have been so resolute without the tradition established by Margaret Sanger and people like her” (, October 27, 2003).
Surely, abortion is a direct action. The “nonviolent” aspect of it might be questioned however, when a human body is either ripped or crushed apart by the surgical forceps of the abortionist. Clearly, Sanger established a great tradition in which sterilization, racism, eugenics, contraception, and abortion should be promoted.

Not only did Sanger believe in the inferiority of the lower classes, as is clearly evident in her prior quotes, but she was also a racist. In the April 1933 issue of the “Birth Control Review,” Sanger stated that, “blacks, soldiers, and Jews are a menace to the race.” Knowing how unpopular her beliefs were, however, she stated that, “We do not want the word to get out that we want to exterminate the Negro Population” (Letter to Clarence J. Gamble, M.D., December 10, 1939).

Planned Parenthood clearly follows its founder’s principles, even today. As much as the organization would like to be seen as a benevolent organization dedicated to women’s care, it is a covert operation that is dedicated to genocide and racial and economic cleansing. Planned Parenthood tries to conceal Sanger’s real views and to justify them through “historical context,” yet to see the truth, all one has to do is read her books, Woman and the New Race or Pivot of Civilization, (which are available online at to see for herself what kind of “benevolence” Sanger advocated.

Clearly, Margaret Sanger, the “heroic” champion of “women’s rights,” was not such a gallant figure after all. She was a hypocritical racist who was intent on purifying society and building a culture of “fit” people who would dominate the poor and the social outcasts. Perhaps what is even more disturbing is that the American taxpayer, whether or not he wants to support racism and murder, does so. The PPFA received $240.9 million in taxpayer money last year (, October 27th, 2003).

Isn’t it time that we start to stand up to face this behemoth? People are dying because of the dark agenda of Planned Parenthood. Isn’t it time that young people start to take a stand for their faith and their beliefs? We will not stand for racism, death, and social or economic discrimination. As Blessed Pier Giorgio Frasati, the patron of young people, stated so wisely not too long ago, “To live without faith, without a heritage to defend, without battling constantly for truth, is not to live, but to ‘get along;’ we must never just ‘get along.’” Aren’t we the Fightin’ Irish? Perhaps we should ask ourselves how this heritage applies to our lives, other than just football. Surely, the “Fightin” refers to more than just a game of football.Let us, “that American youth always so ready and eager to throw themselves wholeheartedly into every worth and noble venture and for whom obstacles are but a challenge to their courage, may [we] seize the torch of faith and carry it full-flaming to the ends of the earth until all men may see and know Jesus Christ!” These words from Pope Pius XII can certainly direct us today. Attend events like Theology on Tap. Become active in promoting a culture of life. The opportunities at Our Lady’s University are endless. It is time that faithful Christians unite and stand against the Planned Parenthoods of our society.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Heretics All

Since the recent trend in blog poems has turned to Hillaire Belloc, (see the Holy Whapping) here's one of his that I like!

Heretics all, whoever you may be,
In Tarbes or Nimes, or over the sea,
You never shall have good words from me.
Caritas non conturbat me.

But Catholic men that live upon wine
Are deep in the water, and frank, and fine;
Wherever I travel I find it so,
Benedicamus Domino.

On childing women that are forelorn,
And men that sweat in nothing but scorn:
That is on all that ever were born,
Miserere Domine.

To my poor self on my deathbed,
And all my dear companions dead,
Because of the love that I bore them,
Dona Eis Requiem.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Tischner Days

Fr. Jozef Tischner

This week, the 6th annual Tischner Days will be held in Krakow, celebrating the work of Fr. Jozef Tischner, the philosopher and friend of JPII. Though I couldn't find an English site for this year's events, here is some information on those of years past.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Work and Freedom

Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko Celebrates Mass in 1982

Today is the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, and also May Day. While the mandatory attendance at the communist party marches is now a thing of the past, the day is still a national holiday, turning into “Europe’s longest weekend.” May 3rd is also a national holiday, the anniversary of the passing of the historic Constitution of May 3, 1791. Mane people, especially in the United States, where knowledge of Polish and Central European history, in general, is at a miserable low, do not realize that this constitution was the second written constitution in the world, and the first in Europe. At the time, it was hailed by such people as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington as an amazing act of bravery and hope for the cause of freedom and democracy.
These days are a great time to reflect in the blessings of freedom, and to be thankful for what we have in the United States. Yesterday, I was in Warsaw, and visitied a place that I have come to be very attached to—the 1930’s, “Modernist Gothic” church of St. Stanislaw Kostka, in northern Warsaw’s Zoliborz neighborhood. Though the church is nestled into a block of apartments, and remains largely unnoticed by many people who pass by, it is perhaps on of the most important places in the Polish fight and struggle for freedom in the 1980’s, which led to the fall of communism throughout Central and Eastern Europe.
As one walks into the church yard, through the front gate, his sight is immediately drawn to the grave in the right hand side, which bears the name of “Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko: Murdered October 19th, 1984. Lived 37 years.” Here lie the mortal remains of one of the most beloved and widely hated priests in the Polish People’s Republic of the 1980’s. His body lies under a giant marble cross, which upon examination, one realizes that it is the cross of a Rosary, which surrounds it, made of stones that are connected by giant steel chain links. The grave steadily draws hundreds of people a day, both from Warsaw, and from outside of the city. John Paul II came to pray at the grave in 1987.
Born in 1947, at the height of some of the most turbulent times in the history of modern Poland, Adam Popieluszko was known to be a quiet and simple boy, born on a farm in a small Mazovian town. His parents instilled in him a sense of piety, and instructed him in his faith as a young boy. His contemplative nature soon led him to realize that he might have a vocation to the priesthood, and he joined the seminary at a fairly young age. In the 1950’s, the Polish Church was at the height of its persecution, as the communist authorities sought to dominate it by persecuting and arresting clergy. A dramatic moment came when Stefan Cardinal Wyszinski, the “Primate of the Millennium,” was placed under house arrest by the authorities, who tapped his phone lines and kept their eyes on him. Only by the end of the decade was there a “thaw,” when the Polish Church gained more rights, after the authorities realized that it would be impossible to battle with an institution that was the very soul and spiritual strength of the nation.
By the late 1970’s, Fr. Jerzy had been ordained, and was known for his quiet and simple ministry, both to the poor, and to young people. He always brought great joy to the sick in the hospital, where he was a chaplain. Never a very social person by nature, he enjoyed taking solitary kayaking, hiking, and skiing trips on his own, where he was able to experience the quiet majesty of the Lord in His Creation.
The 1980’s were marked by the now-famous rise of the Solidarity trade union, which was the beginning of a breath of freedom in the nation that had become accustomed to the iron grip and absurdity of a false ideology. The government realize that their ideology could not take hold in the hearts and souls of the Polish nation, so they sought to use any means necessary to suppress rebellions or movements for freedom. This fear if losing power, of course, was seen in the now-famous declaration of martial law by General Jaruzelski on December 13th, 1981.
It was during these difficult times that Fr. Popieluszko was inspired to begin saying a Mass for the Nation once a month, from the temporary altar that was set up on the balcony in front of the church. From this location, high above the thousands of Poles who would gather to pray for freedom and an end to violence against the dignity of the human person, Fr. Jerzy would preach firm, but peaceful, homilies, condemning the unjust actions and persecutions of the government. It was from this balcony that Poles could hear about the freedom that they longed for, and be inspired to pursue it. “Conquer evil with good,” Fr. Jerzy would repeat after St. Paul, always condemning the use of force against the injustice.
His homilies revealed the power of an idea. Never encouraging anybody to fight with violence, and always encouraging to act prudently, resolutely, and justly in resisting the government, the authorities grew nervous about the possible loss of power, and about this simple “priest” who darted to challenge the state. His preaching of the Truth made the communist government ever more nervous and determined to protect their lies and falsehoods.
Throughout 1984, Fr. Jerzy was faced with many troubles. Although he believed that he was truly called to say this Mass for the intention of freedom, he grew tired of the continuous pressure by the government, which threatened him with jail, and other forms of punishment. The constant psychological stress made him consider leaving to Rome to study and rest, but in the end, he decided to stay with his people, even though several attempts on his life had been made. On October 19th, 1984, Fr. Popieluszko was asked to participate in a Mass and Rosary in Bydgoszcz. His last words at the Rosary meditation were, “Let us pray to be free from fear and fright, but first of all, from the desire for revenge and violence.” These words are striking, and were lived out by the man who spoke them.
On his way to Torun, Polish SB (secret police) officials stopped his car, dressed up as regular traffic officers. They then forced him to hand over the car keys. The driver was taken out, and he was arrested and taken to a police car. He was then thrown into the trunk, after being stunned by beating over the head. However, one of the officers became afraid, and he jumped out of the moving car. Car malfunctions also began to plague the “kidnappers,” and they realizes that Fr. Jerzy was also trying to set himself free. Upon stopping the car, Fr. Jerzy jumped out of the trunk and began to run for help. The kidnappers caught up to him, and beat him to the point of unconsciousness, throwing him again into the trunk. Coming back to consciousness, Fr. Jerzy began trying to set himself free, once again. The officials parked the car near a forest, and began to beat him with sticks, threatening him with a gun. After he lost consciousness once again, they bound his arms and legs and proceeded to drive a few miles down the road again. Once again stopping, they beat him again, and tied a noose around his neck, connected to his legs, so that when he tried to move his legs, he would begin to choke himself. He was still alive, though not conscious.
Deliberating what to do next, they decided to stop at the Wloclawek Dam on the Vistula River, where the threw Fr. Jerzy into the river to drown him. It is not known whether he was still alive at this time or not.
The nest day, the official television report informed the country that Fr. Jerzy had been “kidnapped,” though nobody believes the report. Ten days later, his body was found in the river, and he was hailed a martyr and a true hero.
Fr. Jerzy’s process for beatification is moving forward, and he has been declared “venerable.” He is only one victim of a regime that sought to limit the freedom that man is called to. This freedom, as John Paul II stated, “is not only given as a gift, but also as a task and responsibility.”
So many people take the gift of freedom for granted, and do not appreciate the sacrifices that have been made in order to secure its blessings. How many times, do people take for granted their freedom to worship, to criticize a government, to speak about the Truth? There are many Catholics in the United States who take their faith for granted, and do not realize that people in the MODERN WORLD are dying for their faith!
These questions are all worthy questions to ponder and to reflect on as we celebrate this weekend in Poland, and as Memorial Day nears back in the United States. Perhaps we can all appreciate in a new way the faith that has been given us as the greatest gift, and which we so often take for granted!