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One of my friends said to me recently that she was told by someone at the Latin Mass that she goes to in her Parish that the laity aren’t supposed to make the responses at Mass, but are supposed to participate only inwardly and silently. This troubled me, for the first document promulgated by the Second Vatican Council was the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, which  stated in paragraph forty-eight that:

The Church, therefore, earnestly desires that Christ’s faithful, when present at this Mystery of Faith, should not be there as strangers or silent spectators.

Additionally, in paragraph fifty-four, we are told that:

Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.What is interesting to note is that this document was published in 1962, and hence these principles clearly apply to the Tridentine Mass said according to the Missal of 1962.

What I didn’t know however, was that this document was simply reiterating what had been made clear in the instruction De musica sacra et sacra liturgia, published under Pope Pius XII on September 3, 1958. The link to this fascinating and important document is given below:

http://www.adoremus.org/1958Intro-sac-mus.html

This doument is very important because it lays out specific guidelines as to how the laity should participate in the Tridentine Mass, both in the so called “Low Mass” and “High Mass”. Before looking at the specifics of what it says, “De Musica Sacra” lays out a very important principle:

Care must be taken that the faithful assist at low Mass, too, “not as strangers or mute spectators” (Divini cultus, Dec. 20, 1928: AAS 21 [1929] 40),

In paragrahp twenty-five “De musicra sacra” enumerates what the congregation should sing at the sung Mass:

In solemn Mass there are three degrees of the participation of the faithful: a) First, the congregation can sing the liturgical responses. These are: Amen; Et cum spiritu tuo; Gloria tibi, Domine; Habemus ad Dominum; Dignum et justum est; Sed libera nos a malo; Deo gratias. Every effort must be made that the faithful of the entire world learn to sing these responses.
b) Secondly, the congregation can sing the parts of the Ordinary of the Mass: Kyrie, eleison; Gloria in excelsis Deo; Credo; Sanctus-Benedictus; Agnus Dei. Every effort must be made that the faithful learn to sing these parts, particularly according to the simpler Gregorian melodies. But if they are unable to sing all these parts, there is no reason why they cannot sing the easier ones: Kyrie, eleison; Sanctus-Benedictus; Agnus Dei; the choir, then, can sing the Gloria, and Credo.Notice that the document says that “Every effort must be made that the faithful learn to sing these parts”. This is an extremely iomportant principle which Pope Pius X uttered in his 1902 Motu Proprio Tra Le Sollicitudine.

Lastly “De musica sacra” lists the responses that the faithful may say at the “low” or read Mass.

a) First, the congregation may make the easier liturgical responses to the prayers of the priest: Amen; Et cum spiritu tuo; Deo gratias; Gloria tibi Domine; Laus tibi, Christe; Habemus ad Dominum; Dignum et justum est; Sed libera nos a malo;
b) Secondly, the congregation may also say prayers, which, according to the rubrics, are said by the server, including the Confiteor, and the triple Domine non sum dignus before the faithful receive Holy Communion;
c) Thirdly, the congregation may say aloud with the celebrant parts of the Ordinary of the Mass: Gloria in excelsis Deo; Credo; Sanctus-Benedictus; Agnus Dei;
d) Fourthly, the congregation may also recite with the priest parts of the Proper of the Mass: Introit, Gradual, Offertory, Communion. Only more advanced groups who have been well trained will be able to participate with becoming dignity in this manner.32. Since the Pater Noster is a fitting, and ancient prayer of preparation for Communion, the entire congregation may recite this prayer in unison with the priest in low Masses; the Amen at the end is to be said by all. This is to be done only in Latin, never in the vernacular.

What is very important to note is that the Holy See refers to this participation as :

A final method of participation, and the most perfect formSo there is clearly much work to do to teach our faithful to “Say or sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass that pertain to them” (Cf.Sacrosanctum Concilium), and it is an undertaking that needs to be done in cooperation with our Priests, and with their support.

My own particular experience has been that our people are very happy to learn to participate more deeply in the Mass this way, and when taught properly, enter into the Mass with ever greater confidence and joy.

The Primate Is Arrested

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Our Lady of Czestochowa

Continuing the beautiful story of the heroic resistance of the Polish Church to the onslaught of Communism, we chronicle the arrest of the Primate, Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski.

 On the Feast of St.Ladyslaw, patron of Warsaw, the Cardinal offered Mass for his  seminarians early in the morning. The date was Friday, September 25th, 1953. That evening he preached at St. Anne’s Church, and in an act of classic Polish devotion and spirituality, blessed the faithful with the relics of St. Ladyslaw.

 There was tension in the air, though, and the faithful could sense that trouble was coming. As Andrzej Micewski relates in his autobiography, Cardinal Wyszynski, as the Cardinal left the rectory he spoke briefly to the young people, telling them to “Say the Rosary. You know Michelangelo’s  Last Judgement? God’s angel pulls man out of the abyss on a rosary. Say the Rosary for my intention” (Micewski, p.131)

He would not have to wait long for the Communists to come for his arrest, for just after he arrived home to the archiepiscopal residence on Miodawa Street and had turned out the lights for the evening, there was a banging at the door.  The Communist plainclothes police had come for Stefan Wyszynski, and in accordance with the plan of the authorities he was to be immediately removed from Warsaw.

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Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski

There are two aspects of this event that give us a deep insight into both the exemplary moral character of the Cardinal, and into his deep and indomitable faith.

Before the plainclothes police could enter the residence, the Cardinal’s dog Baca ran from the yard and bit one of the Communist officers. In an act of faithfulness to the Gospel, Cardinal Wyszynski, unsure of whether he was on his way to jail or to his death, calmly and quickly came to the aid of the policeman by dressing his wound.

After applying iodine to the wound and assuring the officer that the dog was not rabid, Cardinal Wyszynski prepared to leave for his exile by simply taking his breviary and rosary,  along with his coat.  Urged by the Sister in charge of the residence to take more of his belongings, the Cardinal replied by saying that “Sister, I will take nothing. I came to this house poor and I will leave it poor.” (Ibid. p.133)

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Bishop Michael Kozal

Interestingly enough, the coat that the Cardinal chose to take with him was the one given to him by a friend of Bishop Michael Kozal, murdered in Dachau, having belonged to the Bishop.  When he realized this, the Cardinal was glad, realizing that he had found an intercessor to whom he would pray a lot in his exile.

 As a Pole, his last act before leaving the residence is predictably telling.  As everyone went down the stairs,  “The Primate went into the chapel for a moment and then glanced at the picture of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa that was hanging above the entrance to the Hall of the Popes.”

 Thumbing through a copy of the beautiful new edition of The New Roman Missal (1962) published by Baronius Press, I  found the following quote:

“…every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the Priest and His Body, which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others.” (SacrosanctumConcilium,7)

This was a particular joy for me to read, for it brings to light one of the numerous theological treasures given to us by Vatican II, namely, that the action of the Mass is one that we, as members of the one Mystical Body of Christ are called to participate deeply in, both in our inward sentiments and dispositions, but also in our outward and external participation.

Believing  with our Holy Father that Vatican II is always to be interpreted in the light of the tradition thr Church, I was curious to see what the Popes of the twentieth century had to say regarding the question of  active participation in the Mass.

Starting with St. Pope Pius X’s   Motu Proprio  Tra le solicitudini (1903),  on the
renewal of sacred music, we find the Holy Father telling us that:

“the faithful assemble to draw that spirit from its primary and
indispensable source, that is, from active participation in the sacred
mysteries and in the public and solemn prayer of the Church.”

Going on to explain how this should be done, St. Pius X tells us that:

“In order that the faithful may more actively participate in the sacred
liturgy, let them be once again made to sing Gregorian chant as a
congregation.”

Developing this point further, in 1958, the Sacred Congregation of Rites issued the instruction, De Musica Sacra, which states that:

 “… the participation of those present becomes fuller (plenior) if to internal attention is joined external participation, expressed, that is
to say, by external actions such as the position of the body (genuflecting, standing, sitting), ceremonial gestures, or, in particular, the responses, prayers and singing .
 

Building on this theme, Vatican II’s Constitution on The Sacred Liturgy  (article 14) says that:  

“Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should beled to that full, conscious and active participation in the ceremonies which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy.” In this same document, the beautiful theological reasons for the reason why we are called to this participation are given, namely that:
 

Such participation by the Christian people as a “chosen race, a
royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people” (I Pet. 2:9; 2:4-5)
is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.”

Lastly, the Council sets out a very important principle which needs to be remembered:

“In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else; for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true spirit of Christ . . .”

Finally, in a commentary on these principles. The late Msgr. Richard Schuler tells us that:
 “The word “full” (plena) refers to the integrally human fashion in which the baptized faithful take part in the liturgy, i.e., internally and externally.” 

To summarize then, St. Pius X said  in 1903 that the  whole
congregation should be singing the chant. By 1958, the sacred
congregation of rites recognized the right of the laity to say all the
responses. Vatican II in Sacrosanctum Concilium combined these two ideas by saying that:
“…the faithful should say and sing together in Latin those parts of the Mass that
pertai to them…”
    
It seems that there is then a fair amount of work to be done in the Lord’s vineyard to bring these beautiful ideals to fruition!   

This morning’s Mass in our parish was a particularly meaningful and beautiful one. It marked for us the return of the Mass our Holy Father has called the extraordinary form of the Roman rite.

 For many it is simply known as  the Latin Mass or Tridentine Mass. I must confess that although I had prayed for many years for the return of this particular expression of the one Eucharistic mystery, I had  for some weeks now been filled with some concern, hoping that such a change for both my children and the good people of our parish would be made intelligible and understandable for them.

 Happily, in this parish, which is dedicated to the maternal protection of Our Lady, my deepest hopes were fulfilled. One could almost feel her motherly care as the handouts were given to us that had the Proper of the mass printed in both Latin and English. When I realized  my good pastor had his microphone on so the people would actually be able to hear the beautiful prayers being said, I was greatly comforted. Being able to say the beautiful responses to Psalm 42 with other members of the congregation was deeply moving, imitating a practice first conceded by the Holy See in the 1920’s.

 When the Kyrie Eleison came, it was a particular joy to hear our people singing with the choir, thus fulfilling the wish of Pope St. Pius X in his Motu Proprio Tra Le Solicitudine that the congregation once again learn to sing Gregorian chant.  I couldn’t help but feel that the care with which my pastor tried to  help our people understand and follow along fulfilled the deepest wishes of the great pre-conciliar Fathers of the liturgical movement like Dr. Pius Parsch, whose wonderful work to draw the Christian people into participation in the liturgy was well known before the Council. In fact, Rev. Dr. Parsch’s work was a foreshadowing of that great call of Vatican II in 1962 that people should enter into ‘full, active and conscious participation’ in the holy mysteries (cf.Sacrosanctum Concilium), as well as ‘saying or singing in Latin those parts of the Mass that pertain to them’ (ibid.)

   So for the wonderful gift of these things I am deeply grateful to the Lord and His Holy Mother, for their presence was felt in a most special and comforting way this morning. A special thanks must be given to our current Holy Father  for making this beginning  which he has referred to in the past as both a ‘liturgical reconciliation’ and ‘the beginning of a new liturgical movement’ possible.

An Act of Dedication

This blog is dedicated to Our Lady, Mother of The Polish Nation. It is an act of gratitude  that seeks to tell in some way the beautiful story of a Polish  nation that stood fast in the twentieth century against attempts by both the Nazi’s and Soviet Communists to eviscerate her national heritage.

 It is also the story of the love of a nation tightly clasping the hands of it’s Mother in time of trial, and holding fast to her love. A love which resulted in the raising up of a spiritual son of the Polish nation who would go on to the throne of Peter. His name is Karol Jozef Wojtyla, and his story serves as a ‘light to the nations’ ( lumen gentium) that love is always stronger than anything that seeks to diminish or destroy it.

 We  hope to  explore some of the seminal moments and works of this beloved son of Poland, especially as they relate to the obligation to love, and confirm the beautiful truth expressed in the conciliar declaration Gaudium et Spes that man can only find the real meaning of his existence in the gift of self at the service of love.

Finally, in obedience to this heavenly mother, we hope to illumine souls as to some of the ‘dangers to the faith and life of Christians’ (cf. Jozef Ratzinger, The Ratzinger Report) in our day that Our Lady at Fatima warned would be spread by an atheistic and secular Russia throughout the world, and seek to propose the remedies given to us by this beautiful lady.

Lastly, we thank the Lord for the brilliant successor of the Polish Pope, Benedict XVI, in the hope that his long expressed desire for a ‘liturgical reconciliation’ may help us to long last achieve that renewal of the sacred liturgy so desired by the Second Vatican Council.

Vivat Polonia semper fidelis! (Long live Poland,always faithful!)

In 1949, the Soviets decided to build what they deemed a “workers’ paradise” in a town on the outskirts of Krakow. This new town was part of their campaign to break down the resistance of middle-class Krakowians to the Soviet program for Poland, a program that entailed the denial of one thousand years of Polish religious and cultural heritage.

The name of their new town was to be “Nowa Huta”, and the Soviets intended it to be a model example of the communist ideal of “a city without God”. This new town was to be filled with enormous blocks of workers’ apartments, some containing as many as 450 flats.

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Nowa Huta 2006.

The breakdown of community was essential to this new “city without God”, as there was to be no easy way for the Polish worker to vist with his neighbors. To quote the distinguished George Weigel, in his seminal work Witness To Hope, “If you wanted to visit a neighbor outside the two or three apartment module in which you lived, you went down the stair or elevator, left the building, reentered through another door, and then climbed the stairs or took the elevator up to your neighbor’s module.” (P.189)

In other words, you were to have little or no contact with your neighbor, because “Nowa Huta’s apartment blocks were aptly described as human filing cabinets, and the cabinets were deliberately designed to keep the files separated.”(Ibid.)

If the average Pole were to have minimal contact with his neighbor in this new Soviet “workers’paradise”, his contact with God was to be even less, for Nowa Huta was to be a town without a Church, and in Catholic Poland, this meant that Christ would not be allowed a place to dwell among his people. There lterally would “be no place for Him in the Inn”.

As the Communists refused the initial permits to build a Church in Nowa Huta, it was quickly destined to become a symbol of the implacable opposition between the Communist state and the Catholic Church.

Since this town fell in the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Krakow, the young newly appointed auxiliary Bishop of Krakow, Karol Wojtyla, opened the offensive by celebrating an open air Midnight Mass in Nowa Huta in 1959. To quote Witness To Hope again, “The great symbol for Nowa Hutas’ soul was the building of what became known as the ‘Ark Church’, which arose from the field in the Bienczyce neighborhood where Wojtyla had celebrated Midnight Mass since 1959.”(P.190)

This struggle for the soul of Nowa Huta (and with it, the Polish Nation) was not an easy one, and it was to go on for many years. It is a testimony to the indomitable faith of Poles, as it is the exercise of the episcopacy both bold and brave, for the future Archbishop of Krakow was to celebrate Midnight Mass in the open air cold for many years to come.

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Cardinal Wojtyla 1970.

In his Christmas Day Mass in the Wawel celebrated on December 25, 1963, he spoke of the Mass he had clebrated only hours earlier in a very cold Nowa Huta, “The Midnight Mass which I just said was celebrated in a great freeze. Several thousand people participated…What a closeness between this Midnight Mass in Nowa Huta and what I had seen in Bethlehem: a humble grotto open to the elements…” (Kalendarium P.225)

This heroic example of episcopal faith and perserverance inspired a courageous laity to not lose hope, for this struggle was to continue on. Led by the outanding now Cardinal Archbishop Wojtyla of Krakow, the citizens of Krakow gathered yet again in the cold and frigid open air of Nowa Huta for Midnight Mass on December 25, 1972. This is, in part, the exhortation given them by the now battle tested and proven Archbishop, “And we stand here, at this place, where the new – born Christ does not have a roof over his head…over His head. All of us gathered here invite Him and plead that here…where God is being born, unto these people, unto these many thousands of people, new people, people of hard work, people of great accomplishment – – that God may be born here, in accordance with the traditions of our Polish culture: under a roof!!!” (Ibid.)

This moving example of patient and humble perserverance was to eventually pay off, for on May 15, 1977, the great Cardinal of Krakow was able to consecrate the new ‘Ark Church’, in which Mary, Queen of Poland was saving her people. What is especially noteworthy and instructive, is that the cornerstone for this great Church was stone taken from the tomb of St. Peter, donated by Pope Paul VI.

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Surveying the Ark Church at Nowa Huta.

So, on this Christmas Day 2006, may we on Long Island find strength and hope in this beautiful story, one intended by Providence to inspire Catholics around the world with an example of the heroism a courageous Bishop can inspire in his laity, all the while attatched in faith and spirit to the Succesor of St. Peter.

May all of us on Long Island pray this Christmas, that the sacrifices necessary to preserve our Catholic faith in the face of more subtle yet similar attempts to weaken it, be never lacking. May the example of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, give similar encouragement to our Bishops, always united in mind and heart with our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI

Nolite timere. Be not afraid! Merry Christmas!!!

After his ingress into Gniezno. the new Archbishop began his program of renewing the national spirit in preparation for the thousand-year anniversary of Polish Christianity. The focus of his plan would be complete entrustment to Mary in the struggle for to preserve an endangered national faith.

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Soviet soldiers being heckled by a crowd.

Radiating a tender love of Our Lady, the Primate set about lighting a beacon of faith in postwar Poland. Knowing that the Polish people as a whole had to oppose the the subjugation and Marxist indoctrination of their country, Archbishop Wyszynski decided to light a torch of faith, hope and love for the nation.

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St. Johns, Warsaw.

He began his mission by rebuilding fifty churches in Warsaw, including the Cathedral, all of which lay in ruins. Needing to make up for the loss of over three thousand priests in the war, he paid close attention to the seminaries, personally leading retreats as well as being present for all important feasts and holidays.

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Church of Our Lady Queen of the Polish Crown, Warsaw.

Wanting to preserve the close bonds between the church and its people, Wyszynski had a strong desire to exercise his fatherly leadership to a nation deprived of independent leadership. Being in two and three places at time, confirming, inspecting and dropping in on parish churches and monasteries, he found himself in the midst of the people, whose parishes were soon creating more opportunities to be with their Primate.

To strenghten the ties of the Polish Episcopate, the new primate sought frequent meetings of the nation’s bishops. They would come to meet every two months, as the Archbishop felt that the unity and strength of the Church would be the best way to counter the coming threats of communism.

Interestingly enough, a gift from the first parish he visited prophetically symbolized the primate’s future destiny, as the parishioners gave him a painting representing Christ the King. In this painting, Our Lord’s hands are bound, with a soldier holding Him by the shoulders. The Primate hung it in his office in Gniezno, where it was to become a symbol of his fate.

Ominous clouds quickly gathered on the horizon, for at the same time Archbishop Wyszynski was taking over the leadership of the Polish Church, the leader of the Communist Party was demanding the separation of Church and state, as well as the laicization of education. This was clearly a portent of future events.

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Soviets.

As Adam Micewski puts it, “Within the country, Stalinist totalitarianism was being articulated in concrete and highly dangerous steps: the forced collectivisation of agriculture…the elimination of private property…the spreading terror of the security forces. Scholarship, culture, and the media were submitted to purely political control and the most rigid version of Marxist orthodoxy. Everything was brought into line with the economic and political dictates of the Eastern bloc…” (Micewski, p.58-59)

Additionally, in an attempt to split the Church, an organization of “patriotic priests” friendly to the government was created by the communists to try and compromise the authority of the
bishops.

On January 1, 1952, the Vatican was attacked in the Polish communist press as having “a negative attitude toward the needs of contemporary Poland” and of giving in to the NATO alliance.

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On a visit to a parish.

The Archbishop’s response to this New Year’s Day attack were a testimony of his courage and fortitude. “Whatever God demands – I shall fulfill. It is all the same to me whether I have to sow words and examples, or my own blood, as long as Poland remains Christ’s kingdom” (Micewski p.73)

While working to divide the church, and attempting to cut off the attachment of the people to her through the new program of “laicization of education”, the government also tried to strike at the heart of Polish morality by the corruption of the legal system. This first attack came with a proposed change in the penal code making the penalty for abortion less than that that of destroying trees.

Next came a nefarious campaign of intensified pressure on the church through increased taxation, liquidation of Catholic kindergartens and the seizing of monastic houses.

Of particular relevance to Catholics in our time is the fact that as the crisis in his country worsened, the Archbishop’s attachment to the Holy Father only deepened. As Micewski quotes the Primate, “I need Rome like the air, like drops of water on thirsty lips. All day I suffer from this insuperable longing. I pray for the Holy Father all day…” (Micewski, p.82)The assault on the Church continued. On July 1, 1952, while the Archbishop was on retreat at Jasna Gora with priests from Warsaw, he first heard the news that the government was liquidating the minor seminaries.

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The Primate with priests.

Attacking the Church from all sides, the government attempted to destroy the Catholic press through censorship and sabotaged distribution. As Micewski tells us, “…the Sunday Guest in Katowice had been suspended by the authorities, and Sunday in Czestochowa had been trimmed from 100,000 to 10,300 copies. In Gorzow, the censors were clipping more than 60 percent of each week’s text in the Catholic Weekly. By these methods the authorities hoped to drive the publications into bankruptcy, but the Primate reminded the editor’s that out of apostolic considerations they should keep operating, even at a loss.” (Micewski, p.96)

In the midst of this systematic campaign to destroy the Church and install a new religion of atheistic ideology on the Nation, Providence was to strenghten the hand of the Primate with a telegram from Rome announcing the elevation of Stefan Wyszynski to the College of Cardinals in the coming January, 12, 1953 consistory.

However with this joyful telegram came news that the government was going to try to attempt to take over the episcopate beginning with the forced election of a “vicar capitular” to run the Diocese of Katowice. However on November 30, 1952, the Primate informed the priest in question that his forced election was invalid. The authorities however, were now demanding the election of a “vicar capitular” in Krakow, where the staff of the curia had been arrested – as the government wanted to make Katowice a model for which to take over the Church.

On December 12, the Primate spoke:

“We may have the right to sacrifice ourselves, but we may not sacrifice the dioceses, the Church, and the faithful. Where the bishops and priests disappear, so does the Church. It is up to us to defend a clergy that has been exhausted by the war and the concentration camps and today shows itself more ready to come to an agreement (with the government) than ever…At the moment the Polish nation is leaning on the maternal shoulder of the Church. We must act, therefore, in such a way that the nation does not lose its grip on this shoulder” (Micewski, p.99)

For Archbishop Wyszynski, the government’s attempt to take over the dioceses through the expulsion of its leadership on trumped- up charges was the final straw, as the government had already thrown religion out of the schools, liquidated the Catholic press and created pseudo- catholic groups. Poland’s rulers had created a vision of the Church subject to them. While the pseudo-catholics would not speak the truth, the Primate would, even though he knew the price he would have to pay would be a high one:

“Similarly, if we are given the choice between personal sacrifice or turning over the church administration into a tool of the secular authorities – we shall not waver. We shall follow the apostolic voice of our calling and priestly conscience, with inner peace in the consciousness that we have not given the least reason for our persecution, that suffering shall become a part of our share in the affairs of Christ and Christ’s church. We cannot place what belongs to God on the altar of Caesar. Non possumus! (We cannot!) ( emhasis added, Micewski p.116)

For the Primate, the Church would stand together with the Catholic nation during this period of sufferings and assaults. Finally, the prohetic words came, “I will choose imprisonment over privilege, because in prison I will be at the side of the most tormented ones. Privilege could be a sign of leaving the Church’s proper road of truth and love” (Micewski, p.129)

The price the Primate was to pay for his fidelity to the Church and the Polish nation would be a remarkable sign to both the nation and the world of a good shepherd willing to stand fast in the defense of the sheep.

This heroic shepherd would spend the next three years in imprisoned exile.

The spiritual testament composed during this exile will be explored in the next installment.