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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa
Queen of Poland

Prayer (From the Feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa, August 26)
Almighty and merciful God, you have wondrously given a constant protection to the Polish nation in the Blessed Virgin Mary and adorned her sacred picture at Jasna Gora with unusual veneration of the faithful. Graciously grant that, having such aid in the battles of our life, we may be victorious over our enemy at the moment of death. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

In 1683 the valiant Polish King Jan Sobieski marched to the gates of Vienna and saved western civilization from being overrun by Moslem hordes. In his message informing Pope Innocent XI that Christendom had been saved, the King wrote, "I came, I saw, God conquered." That sums up very well a thousand years of miraculous Polish history.

In what is arguably one of the most indefensible landscapes in the world, the Polish people ha
ve been overrun many times, but the soul of Poland has never been conquered. Their fortress is union with Christ in a nation under the Queenship of His Blessed Mother.

The Polish nation led the overthrow of the most murderous, totalitarian regime of all time. Pope John Paul II termed it a "victory of fidelity": "fidelity to Christ crucified in the moment of your own crucifixion";
fidelity to the Holy Spirit "who led you through the darkness"; fidelity to "Peter's successors and to the successors of the apostles, the bishops"; and "fidelity to the nation which is particularly expressed in solidarity with the persecuted and ... those who seek the truth and love freedom."

The Holy Father charged his countrymen with the task of building a free Church "on the basis of what you have brought to maturity during the years of trial."
Today Poland stands alone among the nations of what was once Christendom, in rejecting a new slavery of secular humanism, materialism and hedonism. Forged in the fire of the twentieth century, will she once again be the instrument God uses to save western civilization?

I have been moved to learn about Poland and its role in salvific history, by Pope John Paul II, by the life and martyrdom of Father Jerzy Popieluszko, and by extraordinarily good and loving Polish people who became my best friends when I lived in Jersey City, New Jersey. Those friends and I confronted evil, and with prayer, perseverance, solidarity and hope, we watched as "God conquered."

On this day, commemorated by a Polish language Mass and Jersey City's Polish Festival, I send my love and very best wishes to the Committee for the Defense of Our Lady of Czestochowa Church and all those who helped us. Sto Lat!

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