Join The Saints
Bishop Antoni Pacyfik Dydycz, OFMCap
Homily delivered at Jasna Gora on 18 September 2010
Support for Catholic press is an obligation of Catholics – these words of Pope Pius XII were recollected by Bishop Antoni Pacyfik Dydycz of Drohiczyn who presided over the Mass in the Basilica of Jasna Gora on 18 September 2010, during the Pilgrimage of the Employees, Readers and Friends of ‘Niedziela’. He reminded the gathered of the involvement of the Popes: the Blessed Pius IX, Leo XIII, St Pius X, Pius XI, and especially John Paul II in the development of the Catholic communications.
Another pilgrimage of the community and work of ‘Niedziela’ has gathered us here, in the shrine of Our lady of Czestochowa, with a special power because in the new circumstances it reminds us of the commandment of Christ, ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation’ (Mark 16:15).
‘Go out to the whole world’
Different people; all generations fall into oblivion, often very proud civilisations and self-confident ideologies. And this challenge of the Son of God has its own power. It is still vivid and answered by those who undertake the task of proclaiming the Good News. It happens at a child’s bed, in a church and a catechetical classroom but also in public transport, restaurants. Nevertheless, the commandment of Lord Jesus, for which we are extremely grateful, reaches human minds and hearts through the communications, i.e. press, radio, television, Internet and mobile phones.
An extraordinary thing. The Blessed Pius IX said that if the Apostle to the Nations had lived in the 19th century he would have cared for good newspapers very much so that the proclamation of the Kingdom of God could be effective. In turn Pope Leo XIII wrote in his encyclical of 15 October 1890, ‘it is the duty of the faithful efficaciously to support this press, both by refusing or ceasing to favour in any way the evil press; and also directly, by concurring, as far as each one can, in helping it to live and thrive: and in this matter We think that hitherto enough has not been done.’ With sadness do we receive this reproach of the Pope from Carpineto Romano, the place of his birth that the Holy Father Benedict XVI visited on 5 September 2010. It is time to reflect whether this reproach, made 120 years ago, is still valid…
But let us listen to what the successor of the Pope Gioacchino Pecci – Saint Pius X said about the Catholic press, ‘If there is some work deserving memory and collaboration of the faithful it is the Catholic press. Support for the Catholic press is an obligation of believers’ (30 June 1896). This Pope was concerned for good press when he was a bishop and then a cardinal – Patriarch of Venice. When he learnt about the financial problems of one of the Catholic newspapers he stated, ‘If I had to give up my pectoral (bishops’ cross) and pawned my furniture to ensure existence of this brave newspaper I would do it wholeheartedly’ (all quotations after ‘Pielgrzym’, 12 September 1908, p.1).
The day came when Pius XI blessed the Vatican Radio and began proclaiming the Good News for the first time through the microphone. And we could keep quoting and recollecting works showing the usage of the media that were available to the next Popes, including John Paul II. It was him that being the shepherd of the Church felt himself very well in the world of the media. He did a lot to renew and improve them. In his last message for the 39th World Communications Day he wrote referring to the Letter of St James (3:10), ‘The Sacred Scriptures remind us that words have an extraordinary power to bring people together or to divide them, to forge bonds of friendship or to provoke hostility’ (2005).
‘Proclaim the Good News’
We are thankful to the Popes of the last centuries for their unique interests in the communications. But one should notice that these appeals were heard. And looking back, considering our perspective, it is right to recollect that the newspapers having the Catholic profile began to be published in the difficult times when our Homeland was under the partitions. We have wonderful promoters including the Blessed Honorat Kozminski, the Blessed Ignacy Klopotowski and the Blessed Jerzy Matulewicz. We have ‘Pielgrzym’ [Pilgrim] published in Pomorze, ‘Przewodnik Katolicki’, published in Great Poland. The region of Silesia was not behind and neither was Galicia.
Looking at the period of 20 years between the wars one can speak about a certain development of the Catholic media. It was the great merit of St Maximilian Maria Kolbe. In that time ‘Niedziela’, published in Czestochowa, came into being. Today we are celebrating its origin, sufferings and restoration thanks to the efforts of our Reverend Monsignor. Therefore, evangelisation has involved the press, radio, television, Internet and mobile phones.
Are we using these means fully? The answer is not easy since the enemy does not sleep. Any persecutions testify to that. The years of the Nazi occupation and the rules of the communism totalitarianism did great harm to the Catholic communications. It turns out that the enemy of God and man feels unique fear of the communications. And this fear is completely understandable from his position. Since the Catholic communications proclaim the Good News, i.e. the truth and love. They defend every life. They defend morality in individual and public lives. They care for healthy families in all their aspects. They show an extraordinary care for proper education of children and young people.
Thanks to good communications the temple of God opens for people on the earth as we have read in the Revelation. It is them that show ‘a woman, adorned with the sun’ (12:1). It is them that try to warn in due time against another sign striking life. And thanks to them much good can be saved. They as if prepare the place, ‘victory and power and empire for ever have been won by our God’ (Revelation 12:10).
So we should not be surprised by the terrible hostility we are also facing at present, especially from those media for which universal human values: life, truth, justice, respect for human dignity and love, are, unfortunately, subjects of more or less open derisions.
Let us remember about all people
The Good News about life and death, development and perfection should be proclaimed in all times and to all people so that we acquire a specific skill ‘to join the saints’, to which St Paul encourages us in the Letter to the Colossians (1:12), and this it turn will allow us to have a clearer look at the world and each man. Since Lord Jesus came to the world, leaving us an exceptional example, solid teaching and the most meaningful testimony of love, giving his life for us. And thanks to that ‘all things were created through him and for him’ (see Col 1:17).
But speaking frankly, we are not always able to reach human mind and heart with the Good News. What can we do then? We should not give up because it would be a sign of littleness and weak faith. Is it sufficient to grumble about bad times and various obstacles? It cannot be a good solution, either. First of all, because there are no bad times as such!
We should focus on the communications. It was not by accident that Vatican Council II emphasises that speaking about all these communications we must remember their human and social dimensions. These are means of communication between people. And that’s why they cannot lie, juxtapose one another, manipulate human views, support mean interests as it happens in some secular media although it need not – because of that they are called mass media, i.e. means for masses, for any way of steering masses. The Catholic media cannot behave like that since they are social communications. They origin from Christian anthropology, seeing people as beings created by God, having immortal souls and bodies. One should never forget that only man has been gifted with reason and free will. And here we are reaching the crux of the matter when we want to save man from disinformation. One should see man as a whole. One should not forget about the Redemption. There should be no division between freedom and reason in man. Unfortunately, we can see such a fragmentary treatment of man in out times. But information is essentially merged with formation since only a properly formed man, according to his nature, can use information fruitfully. And this is what we should care for. The Catholic communications, directing minds and hearts towards Christ, teach an integral attitude towards life where reason and free will go together, strengthen and secure each other.
Always remember about the Mother
We can see this special unity of reason and will in the cross in the most complete way. Christ – dying, humiliated fully, suffering terribly. All that was human had the right to rebel. However, Lord Jesus remembered the Father’s will. Lord Jesus knew why he suffered. And because of that he could say the moving words, ‘Woman, this is your son’ and to us, ‘This is your mother’ (John 19:26-27).
What a unique sign of inner unity and greatness of humanity! What a perspective for all those who think about man, write about him, inform him and form him at the same time! ‘Niedziela’ has been conducting this mission for several decades. Sunday as the Lord’s Day is a beautiful gesture of the Creator for man. Lord God treats us integrally. And he shows us the need of labour and the need of rest so that we can look at the past and reflect whether any good happened. But we should think about future and what we are to do. Prayer flowing from the discovery of the biblical dimension of Sunday directs us towards the Eucharist so that we can discover the full character of humanity in Jesus Christ and learn to use harmoniously all the possibilities that God gives us.
We can find all these things in ‘Niedziela’ published in Czestochowa: in the papal teaching, news service, reports and testimonies, experiences of individuals, families and social groups. And we should not omit the editorials of the Editor-in-chief! It is thanks to the fact when we think ‘Sunday’ we have in mind immediately all what the Holy Scripture speaks about the resurrection and what is found in the weekly. Always together! May it continue!
And may the Queen of Jasna Gora, throughout ages wandering on the Polish roads to take part in the Eucharist on Sunday, leading Jesus by the hand, carry a copy of ‘Sunday’ in the other hand…