Saturday, April 10, 2010

Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant

+ Lech Kaczynski + and Pope Benedict XVI

This morning began with a sad phone call from my mother, informing me that the President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, his wife, and the top officials of the Polish government were tragically killed in a plan crash near Smolensk, Russia. They were on their way to pay their respects to the 20,000+ Polish officers, clergymen, and intelligentsia who were killed by the Soviet army in 1940 near Katyn.

Among those who died in Katyn in 1940 were two of my great uncles, as well as my great grandfather, who was killed earlier by the Bolsheviks near the same area. Now, Poland has suffered another tragedy, and Katyn will forever be associated with dark times in the history of the Polish nation. president Kaczynski has paid the ultimate tribute, having given his very life, in memory of those who died in honor of their country and who died as patriots to defend Poland against the tyranny of Soviet domination. [A fact usually unknown and completely ignored by the West]

Kaczynski was a noble man, a just man, and a true patriotic president, who lived out his Roman Catholic faith through the political commitments he made. A staunch supporter of a free and democratic, modern Poland, he was nevertheless opposed to achieving this goal if it meant bowing down to the secularism of the European Union or the expansionist aims of the mob politics of Putin's Russia. He recognized that Poland finds itself in a very fragile situation, on the borderlands (as it has always been) between Russia and the West, and therefore needs to maintain a strong democratic presence of its own in it region.

Kaczynski often made public pilgrimages to major shrines, such as to the Black Madonna in Czestochowa, and was not ashamed of being seen praying in public, and asking for the guidance of Our Lady, who is the Queen of Poland. He has the occasion to meet multiple times with Pope Benedict, who encouraged him to keep the faith in the public square, as Poland seeks to navigate a delicate path, being a member of the EU, while seeking to be faithful to its own cultural heritage (which the rest of Europe has long forsaken).

For these reasons, his death is a great loss to the future of Poland--the Civic Platform party, a pro-Russian, pro-EU party to which the Prime Minister, Donald Tusk belongs, will probably only gain ground, as it has now lost one of its fiercest and most vocal critics. We can only pray that Kaczynski's death might inspire a new wave of patriotism in Poland, and encourage young Poles, especially politicians, to follow the example of Kaczynski, knowing that it is, indeed, possible to be a good Catholic and a good politician, and that sometimes this requires taking the hits, sacrificing, and yes...even paying with your life.

We can take consolation, knowing that it is the Feast of Divine Mercy, and on the eve of this feast, we can beg Our Lord to accept the soul of President Kaczynski, his wife, and the 94 other passengers of the airplane (including two bishops and four priests) into their eternal rewards.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Ora Pro Nobis

Today marks the five year anniversary of the passing of our beloved Holy Father, John Paul the Great. How fitting it is that this anniversary also falls on Good Friday!

I will never forget John Paul's last celebration of Good Friday--too sick and unable to move to be able to personally celebrate the via crucis. So he sat in his chapel, clinging to the crucifix, and participating via live feed--but more importantly, he participated by uniting his own burden, his own way of the cross, to the salvific and redemptive act of Christ on the cross. It was in these final moments of his life that we saw the man unvelied--a man whose busy, active life was always sustained by and given to the service of the glorious cross of Christ Jesus.

May we always have the courage to cling to this cross, and follow the motto of the Congregation of Holy Cross, the order that runs my alma mater--ave crux, spes unica.

May this Good Friday and Paschal Triduum lead us through the cross to the resurrection, and help us to daily live this mystery in our own lives.