Poland, a host of the World Youth Day celebrating 1050th anniversary of its Christianisation, what kind of country is it? It is a country of Faustyna Kowalska, John Paul II, Lech Wałęsa, Maria Skłodowska-Curie and many more. It is a country of excellent sportsmen: Robert Lewandowski, Justyna Kowalczyk, Mariusz Wlazły and their enthusiastic supporters who are proudly wearing the national colours.
History of Poland starts like a fairy tale: once upon a time there was a man called Mieszko, who was a king of a local tribe named Polans. Nobody knew about him or his kingdom hidden in a forest. Everything changed when he married Czech princess Dobrawa and he was baptised in 966. He was probably an ordinary man, not particularly good but not a bad one either. Presumably, he was just an ordinary king at the time but he was also an extraordinary politician. He decided that he, his court and his country should be baptised. He decided to build his small country on Christian faith and tradition. By doing so he associated Poland with the Western Christian states. In the same time Mieszko managed to secure Polish independence and he is now remembered as one of the greatest Poles. Ten and a half centuries have passed. It’s a distant history now but we use it as a prolific source of inspiration, hence this year’s celebration of the event. History of Poland was shaped by the attempts in protecting its faith, its language and its borders from the Baltic Sea to the Carpathian Mountains, from Odra River to Bug River. For 1050 years our ancestors created their past, our present and next generation’s future in this very place. What were they inspired by? Lach Makowiecki in one of his songs suggest that it was “God, Homeland, Honour and rage”. One can say that Poland has a difficult past – numerous raids of foreign leaders, partitions, uprisings, wars, etc. Who haven’t heard about Oświęcim, Katyń, or the crush of the presidential plane near Smoleńsk? These and other turbulent moments in our history left their painful mark. A prisoner tortured during the Second World War engraved these words on the wall of his cell:
“It is easy to speak about Poland but it is more difficult to work for it and even more difficult to die for it and to suffer for it is the most difficult thing of all.”
This sentence resonates with us today not only in relation to our Homeland but also our faith. It is easier to talk about Christ than to sacrifice oneself for him. Everyone has his or her past, unique one but in some cases a difficult one. WE are our past but also our present and the future. When we link it with the Christ’s “yesterday, today and tomorrow” we can see everything in a different light, even things that require sacrifice are worth it. A person who entrust himself or herself to Christ can do great things! Just look at Mieszko, who started Polish Christianity. Look at others like John Paul II or Sister Faustina! They are just individuals but they are world famous.
Baptism symbolises new life, new beginning. It is a full submersion in Christ, which means becoming his child. Let this year, when we celebrate the International Youth Day and the anniversary of Christianisation of Poland, be the year of submersion in God. Let him renew yourself and your faith, in your thinking and actions. John Paul II in 1979 in Cracow said to the youth:
“You are the future of the world, the future of the nation, the future of the Church. Tomorrow is yours.”
I dedicate these words to you.