Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Archbishop Thomas Wenski - The Archdiocese of Miami
Homily delivered by Archbishop Thomas Wenski at the Mass to commemorate the one year anniversary of the crash of the Polish Air Force plane at Our Lady of Czestochowa Polish Mission on May 10, 2011.
In the movie, Karol, a man who became pope, we see a young woman who is a member of the then Father Wojtyla’s circle of young student friends. She is distraught because she and her husband are about to flee Poland because of the harassment of the communist authorities. Fr. Wojtyla consoles her. Whenever you are, he assures her, you will still be Polish.
Wherever you are, you will still be Polish. Today, - even though we are far from Poland, and even though I was born here and do not speak the Polish language fluently, we all gather to give witness to our Polishness. Nasz Polskosc.
And we so by remembering those who died –simply because they were Poles. We remember those murdered by the Soviets in the forests of Katyn; and we remember those Poles who died in the tragic plane crash last year as they traveled to honor those fallen sons of Poland. These 96 Polish men and women, leaders of Polish society and government, died while on a mission to honor the memory of Katyn; to honor the truth about Katyn.
This ceremony tonight is a witness to our Polishness – but also a witness to the truth.
For years the truth about what happened in Katyn was denied and distorted and covered up. In Poland during the years of communism, every effort was made to erase Katyn from Poland’s official history, but the truth of Katyn could not be erased from the hearts and minds of Poles. In the face of lies that sought to deny Soviet responsibility –told not only in Poland but sometimes even outside of Poland where sometimes they were believed, one only needed to say: Katyn 1940.
I would ask you to remember the moving homily Pope John Paul II preached on the eve of Pentecost Sunday on June 2, 1979 in Warsaw’s Victory Square. There he spoke of the theme of his first encyclical, Redemptor Hominis, but with a particular Polish application. In Redemptor Hominis, the Pope reminds us that Jesus as true God and true Man, reveals to us not only who God is but who we are. Because of this, he said in Warsaw, we cannot understand who man is without Christ, and we cannot understand what Poland is and why it survive so much over the centuries, without Christ.
Our identity as Poles and as Catholics was forged in Poland’s baptism in 966. Thanks to our 1,000 year history, the Catholic faith has become “enfleshed” in Poland’s identity as a nation and as a people. Could Poland have survived the years of Partition without its Catholic faith? Without faith in Christ, could Poland have survived the years of communist tyranny? Only Christ can explain our attachment to our “Polishness”. If Poles preserved the faith, the faith also preserved us as Poles, the faith has kept alive our dignity and our identity as Poles. Is precisely because of our faith, that no matter wherever we are, we can still be Polish.
In Warsaw, on that Pentecost vigil, the Holy Father called down the Holy Spirit to renew the land, that Polish land. That prayer did not go unanswered. Today, we honor the memory of so many Poles who gave their lives for their freedom and ours. As we do so may that same Holy Spirit renew the hearts and minds of all Poles –in Poland and through Polonia - so that our Polishness will continue to be an effective expression of our Catholic faith and always a living witness to the truth.