When a few months ago we were announcing beginning a contest ‘On the 100th anniversary of regaining independence – prayer for Homeland’, we did not expect to be led so highly. I mainly its spiritual values and the presence of laureates at Jasna Góra, as well as our visit in the Presidential Palace in Warsaw and our meeting with the First Dame

Our visit in the Presidential Palace was a special award for laureates and organizers of the contest, prepared by prelate priest Zbigniew Kras – a Chaplain of President of Poland Andrzej Duda, an initiator of the contest and the chairperson of the jury.

An exceptional day

Wednesday 13 June this year began at 2 a.m. for some people. That time it was necessary to spend a lot of hours of travelling and time assigned for possible traffic jams, so as to arrive in Krakowskie Przedmieście in Warsaw at 11 o’clock, for example, from the Western-Pomeranian province, the province of Greater Poland and the province of Podkparpacie.

When we all completed formalities connected with checking checking a list of participants and safety control, we were greeted by the prelate priest Zbigniew Kras, who the contest participants had an occasion to meet on the day of results announcement – on 2 June this year, when at the end of the contest he celebrated the Holy Mass in the Chapel of the Miraculous Image of Our Lady at Jasna Góra in the intention of Homeland.

It had been the first visit in the headquarter of the Head of the State for nearly everybody. A special visit consisting of many parts: the Holy Mass in the Presidential Chapel, visiting the most important rooms of the palace and meeting with Agata Kornhauser-Duda – a spouse of the President of Poland. Also some treat in the Presidential Palace was planned, which is served at lunch time and called dinner. Everybody was wearing elegant clothes and hairstyles, prepared for that special day. A group of students of Primary School no. 11 from Przemyśl distinguished particularly, who arrived with their care-takers: s. Dorota Burczyk from the Convent of St. Michael the Arch-Angel, Fr. Paweł – a Carmelite, Aneta Jabłońska – a vice head-teacher of the school and Angelika Bugira – a religion teacher. The students from Przemyśl received a special invitation to the palace as a lot of interesting works had been sent to the contest from their school.

Life like a prayer

Eucharist for the contest community was presided over by Fr. prof. Krzysztof Pawlina – a rector of the Pontifical Theological Department in Warsaw, a director of Collegium Joanneum and a member of the contest jury. The Holy Mass was concelebrated by prelate priest Zbigniew Kras and Fr. Mariusz Frukacz from the editorial office of ‘Niedziela’. A beautiful music accompaniment for the Holy Mass was prepared by students from Przemyśl. It was so charming to see them stand on their toes in order to reach a microphone, for example when singing a psalm.

Looking at the contest from a time perspective, Fr. Kras reminded at the beginning of the Holy Mass that our starting point had been past historical and beautiful prayers of Poles, among the others, of Fr. Piotr Skarga and St. Andrzej Bobola. – Today we want to add Your prayers to all these well-known prayers, as Poland, Poles, we all are one family and we must pray in the intention of it. There are a lot patriotism forms and public care but a believer is aware that one can achieve more through a prayer than a sword, gun or another tool of fight – emphasized Fr. Kras. He also thanked the editorial office ‘Niedziela’ for disseminating the idea of the contest and organizing the action of prayer in the intention of our Homeland.

In his sermon, Fr. prof. Pawlina reminded about how disciples had told Jesus: ‘Lord, teach us to pray!’. A similar request had been expressed to the young generation by the organizers of the contest a few months earlier: ‘Help us to pray for Homeland at our times in which we live!’. Prayers being a respond to this request were put down on many pages. They are a testimony of authors’ courage – as my prayer, my request addressed to God is a personal experience and we need a lot of courage to share it with others – noted Fr. Pawlina. The written prayers will be helpful for those who cannot find any words to express love for Homeland or gratitude for independence.

Fr. Pawlina made his listeners aware that not only the very act of prayer is important but also our whole life should be a prayer, building a close relation with God. Necessity of working on one’s character is inscribed in everyone’s life. We must pay attention to it at our times, when there are a lot of available ways and possibilities to satisfy one’s desires. But we must also remember that uncritical satisfying our needs may make us people possessed by evil.

A beautiful accent of the Holy Mass was awarding prelate priest Zbigniew Kras with the most important distinction by ‘Niedziela’ – a statuette ‘Sursum COrda. Lidia Dudkiewicz -the editor-in-chief of the weekly, awarding the priest with the statuette, emphasized that it was thanking for the permanent prayer of the Priest the Chaplain of the President of Poland for Homeland, for the good of Poland and Poles as well as an expression of acknowledgment for the initiative of organizing the Contest together with ‘Niedziela’, entitled: ‘For the 100th anniversary of regaining independence – prayer for Homeland’, under the National Patronage of the President of Poland on the Day of the 100th anniversary of Independence Regaining and for presiding over the Contest Commission.

Also awards and distinctions were handed to the contest participants who had not been able to be present at the solemn contest gala in the aula of ‘Niedziela’ in Częstochowa before. At the end of the Holy Mass we were praying for Homeland with the words of St. Andrzej Bobola.

A day in the Presidential Palace

Although the Presidential Palace has a short history – as it was built in 1994 – there are a lot of valuable souvenirs in it. There are tables built in the walls there, which commemorate visits of two popes: St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI. There is also a cross cut out from fragments of steel of New York buildings World Trade centre, destroyed during terroristic assassinations on 11 September 2001. In the Presidential Chapel there is the Cross Virtuti Militari found on the spot of the tragedy at Smoleńsk and there is also a tablet commemorating the victims of the tragedy, under which the president Andrzej Duda lays a white-red bouquet of flowers on the 10th of every month. There is also a glass-case with the relics of 13 people consecrated as saints, among the others, St. John Paul II, St. Andrzej Bobola, St. Kinga, beatified Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko, St. Joanna Beretta Molli, and Polish priests the martyrs from Pariacoto.

The chaplain of the President of Poland devoted a lot of his time to our big group. He told us about the purpose of particular representative rooms of the Presidential Palace and other rooms of this building, including the main hall where official delegations are greeted. We saw a Flag Hall where Polish flags of various history periods are on the walls, a Paintings Hall and also a White Hall named Lech Kaczyński, Rococo Hall, a Blue Hall. The chaplain told us about various places of the palace and also about a winter garden.

In the Column Hall – the same where there are meetings with the diplomatic corps and professors nominations are granted, we met with the spouse of the President of Poland. Agata Kornhauser-Duda congratulated the laureates of the contest entitled: ‘On the 100th anniversary of independence regaining – prayer for Homeland’. – I and my husband are glad about every initiative like that –the First Dame said to the laureates of the contest, members of the jury and editors of ‘Niedziela’. The spouse of the president of Poland knew a lot about the contest organized by ‘Niedziela’. She emphasized that she was impressed by the prayers illustrating joy and pride of independence and care about Homeland. She knew that also texts of prayer from abroad had been attached to the contest. She enumerated the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Norway, Ukraine and Belarus.

To the request of the First Dame the Editor-in-Chief of ‘Niedziela’ Lidia Dudkiewicz reminded about the idea of the contest and presented its proceeding closely. She thanked for comprising the contest with the National Patronage of the President of Poland Andrzej Duda on the 100th anniversary of Independence Regaining. She also mentioned that among foreign participants of the contest in which the main reward is a pilgrimage to Italy, there was the ambassador of Poland for the Holy See Janusz Kotański. – So, he could win his return home in Rome – she said smiling. Authors of the rewarded texts read out their works, which the First Dame awarded with applause, and they told everybody about their individual understanding patriotism. There was also a moment for giving the First Dame special occasional cards made by children and for photos taken together. The most beautiful photos are those on which children are literally tucked in the spouse of the President of Poland or they are running in order to keep a longer meeting with her. This is an excellent souvenir maintaining the memory of the exceptional meeting in the cathedral with unusual people in the unusual place.

Translated by Aneta Amrozik

Niedziela 25/2018 (24 IV 2018)

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