Poland thanks God

Artur Stelmasiak

The June date of the Thanksgiving Day is to express our gratitude and memory of John Paul II whose pilgrimages began on the first days of June.

On Sunday, 1 June 2008, during the First Thanksgiving Day, the Polish bishops, clergy and faithful will pray in Warsaw, in front of the Shrine of Divine Providence, which is being constructed. At noon, during a solemn Mass Poland’s Primate Cardinal Jozef Glemp and Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz will recite a symbolic Act of Thanksgiving for fully independent Poland. The essence of the day is to thank Divine Providence for all things that have happened, for Poland and for every day, for mankind and the world around us. Thanks to the TV broadcast whole Poland will be able to participate in this celebration. On the occasion of the First Thanksgiving Day Archbishop Nycz wrote a pastoral letter to be read in all churches. ‘The Thanksgiving Day is a time when one can thank those who carry good and smile to us. Therefore, I would like to say today: thank you that you are here, that you abide in the Polish Church, support her and pray’, Archbishop Nycz writes to Poles. Numerous people of good will have been involved in preparing the First Thanksgiving Day. The public media broadcast spots promoting gratitude among Poles and a special service has been initiated in the Internet  www.dziekuje.pl. ‘Niedziela’ has joined the idea of promoting gratitude. It has been preparing its readers to this new feast for several weeks. Since it occurs that we do not often say the words ‘thank you’... we seldom thank one another and we seldom thank God.

Why in June?

The idea of the Thanksgiving Day continues the historical initiative of the Four Year Sejm of 1792, which was the construction of the Shrine of Divine Providence, i.e. a votive gift of the Polish nation offered to Divine Providence for independent Poland, for the Polish Pope and the Primate of the Millennium Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski. Why do we celebrate the Thanksgiving Day on the first Sunday of June? The date is not incidental. Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz, who initiated the idea, says that many Poles associates this month with the Polish Pope in a special way. ‘The June date of the Thanksgiving Day is to express our gratitude and memory of John Paul II, who pilgrimages began on the first days of June’, says the Metropolitan of Warsaw. Whereas Piotr Gawel, a member of the executive board of the Centre of Divine Providence, focuses on the pilgrimage of John Paul II in 1991. ‘This was the first pilgrimage to independent Poland and its motto was, ‘In all circumstances give thanks. Do not quench the Spirit.’ ‘Then we did not listen to the Pope attentively. We had to wait 17 years to tell God ‘thank you’, Gawel stresses.

Why should we thank?

Thanksgiving strengthens interpersonal relationships and relationships between man and God. ‘We want to learn to say ‘thank you’ on this day. To form the attitude of gratitude. To thank in families, to thank our neighbours and to thank in the dimension of social and national life’ stresses Archbishop Nycz. In his opinion the attitude of gratitude builds very important interpersonal relationships without which our lives will be unbearable.
The attitude of gratitude helps us avoid all kinds of claims. We can realise how much we owe to others. Each of us has been helped many a time. ‘We should sincerely thank those who give us so much every day. And moreover, we should thank Lord God who has led our nation on the winding ways of history for ages’, the Metropolitan of Warsaw stresses.

Centre of gratitude

A few months ago Archbishop Nycz created the Centre of Divine Providence, which aims at promoting the idea of thanksgiving and the idea of the sacral-cultural-educational complex in Warsaw-Wilanow. ‘We do not want the idea of thanksgiving end when the building has been completed but we want it to be vivid and creative after the constructed has been finished’ stresses Archbishop Nycz. Therefore, the specialists in the Centre are working on a long-standing concept for this shrine of national memory.
Within the campaign promoting the First Thanksgiving Day the Centre has sent leaflets about the idea of the Thanksgiving Day to all parishes. ‘We want the message of the Thanksgiving Day to reach every parish and every Pole so that they could join us and support the construction of the national votive gift of gratitude in a material and spiritual way. Our real votive gift is not the walls but Poland that is thankful to God’, Piotr Gawel explains.

"Niedziela" 22/2008

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl