Curious and often suprising are the paths upon which God leads us. Out of the blue I was asked to accompany our parish priest, parishioners and other pilgrims to Poland to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of our parish, Saint Hedwig’s.
I have only been here just over a day, and already I love the land and its people. My feeble attempts to speak their language are met with amusement, but, at least I think, some degree of pleasure and gratitude.
After arriving mid-Friday (Poland time, GMT +2), we spent this morning, Saturday, on a walking tour of Warsaw. The city was largely destroyed by the Nazis, but rebuilt by the indomitable Poles. Although still showing signs of the subsequent Communist oppression, the city, at least the old part, displays its former glory, with many buildings reconstructed from paintings and historical accounts. Two of my own highlights so far have been praying Compline by the cross commemorating the site where Pope John Paul II said Mass on his own first pilgrimage to Poland (at least as Pope!), in front of thousands upon thousands of his native people, presaging the downfall of Communism in Poland a decade later.
I also enjoyed a bit of solo quiet time in the small but splendid Baroque church where a very young Chopin first played the organ. A religious Sister was prayng at the altar rail, and turned around, I thought with some mild rebuke, when I snapped a photo with my newly-acquired, hand-me-down tablet, which makes an unnecessary ‘click’ when you take a picture.
We have now travelled to the north-west of Poland, the Kashuby area, many of whose descendants live in the small town of Barry’s Bay, where I teach and live. They say the Kashubians emigrated there due to its simliarity to their homeland. From what I have seen of the wooded area dotted with lakes, they are likely right.
I will have more to say about Poland, one of the few truly Catholic countries left in the world, but even here alas, like the land of my own lineage, Ireland, the faith is under attack, and slowly being eroded by secularism.
But we will see! I have hope for Poland, (and Ireland as well!). Tomorrow is an outdoor Mass with the bishop, and a tour of the Kashuby region.
May 16, 2015
Saint Andrew Bobola
Saint Brendan the Navigator