Nihil novi



Furious attacks on the Church, and in particular against those priests and bishops who have not yet given in and do not want to flow along with the current of "progress". Faces of participants of marches against hate convoluted with hatred, fists flying here and there, someone swinging an axe at an altar (in Rypin for example), symbols of Christian faith covered in sewage – first by the "artistic high society" and now everyone can be an artist.

Manipulation, continually trickling on large TV stations, even more evident on large websites, intended to show the Church and Christianity as Sodom and Gomorrah, where even 10 righteous cannot be found. John Paul II who seemingly not so long ago brought the vast majority of us together with his holiness and authority is now becoming an object of a campaign of insinuations which even Jerzy Urban could not have dreamt about 40 years ago. Is it happening now? Are we approaching the end? The final battle? Whilst working on a volume of 16th century history of Poland, a true "golden age" of our culture and for Poland, I came across a Latin poem. Translated into English it starts off like this: "Curse the priests, have no other than contempt for heaven dwellers, / Vituperate recognised customs, fasts, divine prayers, / Ridicule and gainsay Ecumenical Councils' decrees, / Sneer at rituals, indulgences and church curses. / And value prayers not at all, reject confession. / Be gone with Divine service, Holy bread in churches! / Let your self-esteem outgrow you more than is decent. / Priests, kings, they are nought but manure, / Pay no heed to the Bible, ancient truths if you like, / Contradict the words of doctors, deeds of Saints. / Become a skilful deceiver, learn to lie well, / Make your superiors the laughingstock of the masses, break / The bonds of religious vows and spread confusion everywhere. / That's how you are to be...." That's how a diplomat, bishop and poet Andrzej Krzycki described the efforts made by opponents of the Church five hundred year ago in response to the start of the Lutheran revolution ("Commandments for a good Lutheran", trans. into Polish by E. Jędrkiewicz). We have already had it. And not only in bp. Krzycki's poem, but also within the reality he was submerged in, in calls for a revival and in the actions which followed these calls: sacking of churches, burning of paintings, exiling (if they were lucky) monks and nuns from monasteries. That was taking place in Gdańsk in 1524. And am I trying to suggest, through this recollection, that that is the essence of Lutheranism? No, I will leave such divagations to theologists. In earnest I tap into that inestimable goodness which brings greater glory to God the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, a Lutheran or Wacław of Szamotuły, our Kalvin (who created during the same period as Krzycki did). And I understand that the wretchedness of Popes such as Alexander VI Borgia had to give rise to outrage, reaction and revolt. In the same way as the real presence of the "lavender mafia" in Church hierarchy causes outrage. If we see our own weakness and seek grace, a healing movement might arise from this protest against outrage. But evil can also come of it, if we believe that we can take God's place and derogate the Church to the level of our own desires. And of the Church is unyielding – destroy, in the name of one's own rights and in the name of "the light of reason" and "progress". In another 16th century text I find words which describe our current situation no less accurately: "Today Satan uses the same methods as he did right from the beginning, which he also applied during our unfortunate age seducing neighbouring nations: [...] assumes the form of an »angel of light«. He ascribes his own meaning to the words of God". Yes, this is an old story. Not something new. In writing the words quoted above, card. Stanisław Hozjusz did not settle for a melancholy reflection but took up the fight. The same fight so concisely described by a song written by Wacław of Szamotuły in 1549 entitled "General confession". He pleaded with the same God as Hozjusz did: "And bring convincing victory over hosts of the enemy: Body with light and Satan – enemies of ours". Peace – happiness, but fighting is our heavenly being. I repeat that truth to myself, written by another poet, this time a Catholic one in late 16th century, when I look upon our age and despair. The age-long struggle continues, and we are part of it. We have to choose which side we are on.

 

Prof. Andrzej Nowak

 

Tekst ukazał się w tygodniku DoRzeczy 33/2019