ON JASNA GÓRA PATHS OF THE POLISH POPE
FR. IZYDOR MATUSZEWSKI
John Paul II, who on 27 April 2014 on Sunday of Divine Mercifulness was raised to the altars as a Saint, is looking at us from the window in Heaven. We are standing before this window of Father’s Home, remembering the brightness of holiness of Mother’s Home at Jasna Góra.
Pope of Mother at Jasna Góra
This Home is the heart of the Polish land, the Upper Room of the conversion of the land image. At this home John Paul II was growing up. He was at Mother’s all the time, on knees, together with those among whom he appeared as a Pastor of the world. Mary, present here – in this sanctuary ‘living here’, as cardinal Karol Wojtyła used to say – is alive for pilgrims through the sign of the holy icon. In John Paul II Polish heritage of Mary’s religiousness became heritage of the whole Church. He showed the world Mother from whom he was learning courageous faith going beyond any limits.
Mary at Jasna Góra, Mother of faith of pilgrims
In the encyclical ‘Redemptoris Mater’ John Paul II called Mary’s sanctuaries as places of particular presence of Mary. He also confessed: ‘(…) how not to mention Jasna Góra on my homeland? One can speak about a kind of ‘geography’ of faith and Mary’s religiousness which comprises all places of particular pilgrimages of God’s People who are aiming at meeting with God’s Mother, in order to find strengthened faith within the reach of motherly presence of Her who ‘started believing’ (no 28).
The presence of Our Lady understood in this way, entrustment acts mentioned by the Pope in the encyclical of Jasna Góra, which we undertook here during his pilgrimages and his love to this place – all this allows us to speak about ‘Jasna Góra Mother of the Church of John Paul II, Mother who leads him as God’s Mother, Mother of his steadfast faith, Mother who reveals herself to us and is our close Companion and Mother accompanying us in the pilgrimage.
Pope John Paul II took his experience of Mary’s Polish Path to Rome and made a treasure out of his deepest love, immense trustfulness and son’s devotion to Our Lady for the whole Church. He included his complete entrustment to Mary in the bishopric and later the papal coat of arms, where he placed the capital letter ‘M’ and in his call: ‘Totus Tuus’. It was not only a symbol but also the whole program of his entrustment to Mary. He was learning his trustfulness to Mother on his knees, from the years of his childhood, making pilgrimages, especially to Kalwaria Zebrzydowska and to Jasna Góra. The world perceived John Paul II as Mary’s Pope, Pope of Black Madonna.
Maybe we, Poles, have not always perceived him in this way, but believers in the whole world did, and were grateful to him for this Polish religiousness towards Mary.
Jasna Góra Mother of entrustment
The message about Our Lady at Jasna Góra, Mother and Queen of Poles was included in the Pope’s words, often proclaimed from Rome, but also from Jasna Góra, during his apostolic pilgrimages. John Paul II always made pilgrimages here, ‘in order to tell everybody about his Mother, who not only has her picture here, but also her image, one of the most known and most worshipped in the world, and she is also present here in a particular way’ as it was beautifully said by the Pope during his first pilgrimage to Homeland in 1979. During his next pilgrimages to Czestochowa, John Paul II was developing his perspective of Jasna Góra entrustments to God’s Mother, entrusting the whole Church and the world to the Mother’s Heart.
The papal entrustments on 4 June 1979 is particularly significant, which John Paul II called a new Jasna Góra Entrustment Act. It is a summary of all previous Polish devotion Acts which John Paul II called ‘entrustment Acts’ and their development into the dimension of the universal Church.
The permanent entrustment to Mary of the Church in the whole world by the Holy Father, just at Jasna Góra, was the most important signs of trustfulness and worship to God’s Mother and radiation of holiness from Jasna Góra Home of Mother and Queen.
This papal, universal dimension of Jasna Góra Acts of entrustment to Our Lady is not surprising, because generally, Our Lady of Jasna Góra was considered as Mother of the Polish Pope. During six pilgrimages, when the Pope used to arrive at Jasna Góra – at least only for a short prayer – he became a teacher of entrustment to Mary for the whole Church. Consequently, he was realizing his desires which he expressed during the first pilgrimage that ‘Jasna Góra must impress all bishops’. It happened thanks to entrustment to Mary and a kind of ‘inviting the whole world full of believers to Czestochowa. The Pope understood Jasna Góra, first of all, as a redeeming event, not only as the reality of the Polish religiousness and history. The message coming from the teaching at Jasna Góra which John Paul II left to us, contains a great depth of Mary’s way of thinking. It is a prayer to Mother and Queen of Poles, to Mother of the Church, to whom he entrusted the fate of Jesus’ disciples in the whole world. The main thoughts of this papal reflection which reaches Mary’s tradition of the Church in Poland with its roots, especially religiousness to Mary of cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, dear for cardinal Karol Wojtyła, which can be summarized in the following way: Mary at Jasna Gora is present through intercession of the holy Image, the holy Icon. She is really alive here. She is here, she ‘lives’ here. She is Mother who is bringing and giving Jesus to us all the time. She is a lively Gospel. Mary, present in the holy Icon is a caring Mother who, like in Galilean Cana, sees the needs of Her children at Jasna Góra Cana and advises them. At Jasna Góra Calvary Mary stands as Mother of courageous faith, therefore Jesus still gives Her to us as our Mother. He entrusts us to his Mother. Mother’s gift requires taking Mary to our life, to our home of life with faith. It is establishing a covenant which requires mutuality from us. In the sphere of personal life, as well as community life of the Church in Poland, this gift is a call for faithfulness to the path of Jasna Góra lights. This is being in Jasna Góra Upper Room and accepting lights of the Holy Spirit so that the image of this earth would be changed.
Together with Saint John Paul II
The Holy Father John Paul II was still on the Jasna Góra path, he prayed to Mary present in the Miraculous Icon and he spoke to Her. He encouraged us to be faithful to God’s gifts and signs. Let’s bring closer our ears to these holy walls with Him, who shows us from Heaven a pilgrimage path on Jasna Góra paths, so that we could hear how our hearts beat in the Heart of Mother. Let’s also listen to his words addressed to Polish bishops in January 1993 in Rome: ‘The Sign [of Mary] is significant also for the future’. (…) Experiences of the past teach us in whom we should look for support, who is the Supreme ally of the Church and the Nation. What has been built between Our Lady, Mother of the Church, Queen of Poland and the Church and the Nation of Poland, is a kind of alliance’. He remained in it in the most faithful way, he strengthened this alliance with Mary and became for us the most valuable example.
Our faithfulness to the alliance with Mary will be the most valuable gist which we can give God for Saint John Paul II. Let it be realized in the son’s walking on the paths of the immense entrustment of the Pope to Our Lady. Faithfulness to John Paul II will be a return to paths of Jasna Góra lights, not appreciated by some groups in the recent years. The Holy Father grew up on the Polish land, in the light of rays of faith from Jasna Góra. Also today he remains praying. The Pope cannot be alone! Let’s kneel by Saint John Paul II at the feet of Jasna Góra Mother.
Let our vigil prayer with Saint Polish Pope be a seed of spring, a seed of image conversion of this earthly homeland, whose name is Poland, in whose heritage Karol Wojtyla was growing up to Heaven.