Excerpts from the homily delivered by H.E. Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, the Primate of Poland, on May 24, 1964, at the tomb of the Servant of God Fr. Stanislaus Papczynski in Gora Kalwaria near Warsaw
(…) We are gathered here by the memory of a holy man, the Servant of God Stanislaus Papczynski who came from his distant southern mountainous homeland. He took up a residence here, worked, strove for holiness, and then was called before the Father of all life. His life demonstrates that God’s plan revealed through Christ can be accepted and fulfilled by people …
Timeliness of the Personage
(…) We are gathered at the place where lay the mortal remains of a man who not only knew Christ, but also lived by His Truth … Looking at those mortal remains, we remember that it is not enough to believe in God, but that it is necessary to live by truths that He revealed and Christ retold.
The life of the Servant of God Stanislaus Papczynski proves that it is possible to abide by God’s truths. Often, it may seem that Christ’s teachings are far too difficult, even impossible to abide by; and yet, there are so many saints! And how many more people there are, of whom we know nothing, who haven’t been elevated to the altars and obtained the opinion of holiness, but who proved with their lives that God’s commandments can be fulfilled, particularly those most important ones: “You shall love the Lord, your God … You shall love your neighbor as yourself … ”
Father Stanislaus Papczynski was born far from here, in the south of Poland, but here he came. He reflected on the ways of keeping the Polish nation faithful to God and Jesus’ Cross, to the Gospels, and the Church. He pointed out three, probably the most important principles, by which one should live in order to preserve one’s faithfulness to God.
Today, as we stand on the threshold of the Millennium of the christening of Poland, when in two-year’s time, in the year 1966, we will recall the great grace granted by the Lord to our nation, we shall zealously strive to fulfill the testament of the Servant of God Stanislaus.
Father Papczyński knew well his people and their strength and power. For this reason, he gave his people counsels that remain up-to-date in our times. His life and person are still timely; this is the reason why we petition the Holy See for his beatification and canonization, in other words: for his elevation to the altars so that he may receive public veneration at the shrines. But before it comes to pass we all have to imitate him.
Honoring the Virgin Mother of God
The Servant of God Stanislaus knew well that, for keeping the nation united and close to God, it was necessary to direct its attention to the Handmaid of the Lord, Mary. For this reason, he fervently advocated the veneration of the Mother of God, especially the devotion to her Immaculate Conception. This is his first commandment left to us. How forcibly it still speaks to us today! We know that everyone needs a mother in this valley of tears. For this reason, the Heavenly Father gave a mother – Mary – to His Son. And from His Cross, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, pointed out to the humble Handmaid who stood at His feet, and said to John: “This is your mother.” We understand that Jesus’ Mother is the Mother of us all. And we, the children of the Polish Nation, which from the first day of its Christian life, sang glory to Mary: “Virgin Mother of God, Mary glorified by the Lord,” we understand that the Virgin Mother of God and all people, Our Lady Help of the Christians, always remains with us both in happy and in sad times, in times of national disaster and misery, when everyone else would desert us. She did not abandon Christ on the Cross, and she does not abandon her children in sufferings. Neither did she forsake us during the millennia of our history full of trials and torments.
In following the magnificent example of the Servant of God Stanislaus, during the time of this Great Novena, the Polish Bishops also point to you Mary, Mother of God and all people, and encourage you to put all your daily concerns, troubles, and toils into the care of Mary, Our Lady Help of the Christians, and to give yourselves into her motherly, sweet bondage for your entire life.
Prayer for the Deceased
The second point in Fr. Stanislaus’s program is prayer, which reminds us that we are destined not for this earth only, but also for eternal life. Father Papczyński commanded his disciples and members of his Order to pray for the deceased. Praying was intended not only as support for the departed, but primarily as a reminder that we do not have our permanent residence here, but rather that we await for another to come. And just like the earthly remains of the Servant of God Stanislaus, that are resting here, also our remains will be put in the earth at some point and will wait there for the resurrection of our bodies.
The modern world needs to be reminded of the great truth that men are called for eternal life and that their life does not end here, on earth. Our faith in eternal life has a very important meaning: it teaches us to respect men. We must always remember that man is the most important, most precious, most splendid work of God.
It seems that this matter has been also forgotten in the Servant of God Stanislaus’s lifetime, because he began a fight for justice for both the Nation and a single person. Until today, this struggle is not over yet …
It is important to remember man’s ultimate destiny in order to respect his dignity. It is important to remember that even though man dies, he will live forever; that everything will pass but man shall remain; that even tallest plant chimneys will fall down but the smallest baby that dies in its mother’s hands and is put into the ground shall rise again because the Heavenly Father will resurrect it on the final day. This truth must pierce the earth and show us heaven. Our faith in the infinite, eternal life of man is the condition for justice in this world. From it comes the appeal to pray for the deceased, which Fr. Stanislaus made part of the program of his life and his Order; it also is a reminder that a man that we place in the ground does not die, but shall life forever.
Getting to Know God’s Truths
And this is his third recommendation. One of the basics of the Marian Order and Congregation is to teach the truths of the faith, the catechism, and lessons of religion.
Such was the teaching of the Servant of God Stanislaus three centuries ago. In modern Poland, bishops and priests consider this as their most important task. For we do not speak of anything else but of teaching the truths of the faith! So many letters have been addressed by Polish Bishops to you, the parents! So many reminders have been given to the young people! Remember: in order to love God it is necessary to get to know Him.
The Church addresses in particular you, the young people, with a program described by three phrases: to get to know Christ, to get to love Christ, and to profess Christ. Those are the guidelines for you, dear young people, for modern times, so that you may stay faithful to Christ; and also for you, Catholic families, that you may be strong through God. And this is the third important point of Fr. Stanislaus’s program of action.
You can decide for yourselves now, if this man, who died three hundred years ago, outlived his times, if his spirit is still reigning not only over this hill, but also over the life of the whole of Poland! O how very timely are his recommendations and how urgent it is to fulfill them! Thus, it is small wonder that our hearts draw us to this place.
Dearest children! How glad I am to see you in such great numbers gathered late at night here, around this little church carefully restored through the efforts of the Marian Fathers, which contains the remains of their Founder.
Before we leave, let us give thanks to God for the strength He has given to people and let us promise to fulfill the program of the Servant of God Stanislaus. Let us be faithful to the Mother of Christ, giving her great honor, especially to her Immaculate Conception. Let us remember the high dignity of man, of which we are reminded by the prayer for those who have already left this world but who will rise again. And finally, let us consider as our primary duty the need to get to know Christ more closely, to get to love Him and to proclaim Him, before the others …
I most cordially encourage you all to persevere in your faithfulness to God, to Christ and His Cross, to the Gospels, and the Holy Church particularly now – on the threshold of the Jubilee when we all shall sing “Te Deum” to our Nation on the 1,000th anniversary of the Christening of Poland …