THIS IS A GREAT PRIEST –THE LATE CARDINAL STANISŁAW NAGY
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
We hear or say the words: ‘I was lucky’ when something good happened to us, thanks to which we are internally rich and happy. There are many such events in our life. Referring to the Gospel, we can say that young men were lucky who met an excellent Interlocutor on their way one day, who was Jesus Christ. Being impressed by his person, they followed him, often shedding their blood.
It similarly happens in our life. Here a moment comes that we get to know the man who turns out to be a significant person for us, somehow we accidentally join the environments or structures which influence our whole life with their atmosphere. For, we were lucky to have met the wonderful man, wonderful people. It was surely so with the environment of John Paul II. The contact with Karol Wojtyła had an influence on life of many young people, so many groups were created through the initiative of the later pope and have been working beautifully till today. These people are beautiful witnesses of faith now, who impress with independence in thinking, courage and faithfulness to ideals.
His close contacts with John Paul II were presented in an interesting way by the late Cardinal Stanisław Nagy. When he was raised to the cardinal’s dignity, he defined his relationship with the Holy Father through the word of closeness. Extremely humble and modest, in his pronouncements he did not dare to call himself friend of John Paul II, although he was his friend. Because cardinal Nagy was an exceptional man also for John Paul II. The Holy Father needed his great knowledge and competence, and cardinal Nagy was a man of an unusual format, anyway, he had a strong position in the Church, the teaching of the Church, in the Episcopate and he also distinguished with his good manners and tactful behavior.
There is no place here for details of so many talks and discussion with him, but we must say that Cardinal was watching current events thoroughly, and that he could look at them with great sensibility, perspective and always considering the human welfare. Therefore, we owe him a lot as an editorial team. The providence placed him much closer to John Paul II, when he became cardinal. Thanks to it, he did not lose a contact with the Polish reality, he was diligently observing what was happening in Poland, he also talked with the Holy Father a lot, about Catholic mass media. He also touched on these issues in talks with me. We talked about texts in the weekly ‘Sunday’, he pointed to the needs to which we should react. He always showed his great wisdom and it was certain that the Church was the heart of thoughts and life of Cardinal. He was a real messenger of thoughts of John Paul II. When we were wondering what attitude of the Holy Father might be in a particular issue, we could as well ask Cardinal about it.
Once he asked me whether I would be able to undertake a kind of a controversial issue, concerning the defence of the Church. A slightly embarrassing issue but because it was necessary, I answered without hesitation: yes. I knew that what he was suggesting, resulted from his rich reflections and from discussions on the supreme ecclesiastical levels. However, for some reasons the defined text was not published. Cardinal Nagy accepted it without any comment, he did not ask about it – as always, anyway – about details. I could only accept the message in a friendly and beautiful way.
Texts of Cardinal, despite their being very coherent with my reflections and close to me from the ecclesiastical point of view, were not easy. It was him who drew my attention to the fact that we cannot allow for forgetting about the prominent ethics expert and the great friend of John Paul II – Fr. Prof. Tadeusz Styczeń SDB. He undertook writing a book about him entitled ‘Witnesses of the Great Pope’(272. volume of the Library of ‘Sunday’) and he asked me for a text which he intended to include in the book, because I also knew Fr. Tadeusz. Using the great knowledge of cardinal Nagy from the sphere of ecclesiology, I used to ask him for reflections about the Church - we published them in the book entitled ‘Thinking about my Church’ (277, volume of the Library of ‘Sunday’). The publication is very valuable, with the knowledge explaining some issues connected with the Polish Church and also showing great love of Cardinal to the Church and Homeland. Questions to cardinal Nagy were concentrated on the issue: Poland, what happened with you?, which has been undertaken now by the Nationwide Congress of Catholics ‘Stop atheism’, held on 16 June this year at Jasna Góra.
Cardinal Nagy was trying to publish his texts in magazines which were familiar to him and he knew they were faithful to the Church. He appreciated ‘Our Journal’ and was often a guest on his pages. He also appreciated Radio Maryja and Television Trwam and he had an attitude full of love towards Father Tadeusz Rydzyk.
He was a man of the truth, who did not succumb to circumstances. He wanted greatness of his Homeland. His dream was that Homeland would have righteous politicians, and it would not undergo fashions, especially the customs coming to us so strongly. He wanted our Polish culture to be the culture of the Gospel. He knew very well, that faithfulness to the Christian national heritage is a guarantee of our greatness.
Cardinal Stanisław Nagy was aware of the fact that great Polish hierarchs played an important role in the life of the nation: cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, John Paul II, archbishop Ignacy Tokarczuk. He was looking around in our Church and was looking for people in it, who could persuade the nation to live with the Gospel. It was a great search, sometimes desperate, friendly and sentimental.
Like a father waiting for his prodigal son’s return, cardinal Nagy dreamt about a kind of reflection of the nation, about its return to the right road.
He moved in his wheelchair in the recent time. Being physically constrained, he remained clever, great and wise in spirit. Once Father Jacek Woroniecki wrote about cardinal August Hlond, that he had been ‘vir desideriorum’ – a statesman of great desires. Cardinal Stanisław Nagy was also ‘vir desideriorum’ – a man waiting for somebody who would stick to these values, like blessed John Paul II, the Primate of the Millennium or archbishop Ignacy Tokarczuk. He wanted it so much…
He also noticed the greatness of the Polish Church in the world and he was glad with the work of many bishops about which he usually told. He also believed that this or that one, maybe apostolically less determined bishop would show his pastoral power. He was always full of hope and good thought. His faith was great, his trustfulness to Christ and God’s Heart was great. In talks the strictly religious thread was always in the first place.
‘Ecce sacerdos magnus’ – This is a great priest- today the life of cardinal Stanisław Nagy can be summarized so, who was a great man loving the Eucharist and Eucharistic Jesus, who subtly presided over his convent community, although he always felt to be only its ordinary brother. And in our hearts he left us a permanent sign of good, beauty and Divine wisdom, and let him be a sign of the holy memory and a signpost for us.