Sunday, 12 February 2012

Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko

Icon, Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko, drawn by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Poster from Polish Film Festival, 2009
 I recall first hearning about Fr.  Jerzy Popiełuszko some years ago when a dear Polish friend of mine took me to see a documentary about him at a Polish film festival.  The story of his life was so inspiring, showing how he became a martyr for the Faith in the late 20th century when Poland was still under Communist oppression.  I was deeply moved as it is an unforgetable story.  Since then, an actual feature-length film has come out and was shown at the Polish Film Festival held here in Toronto/Mississauga in 2009 (see poster above). 

I was delighted when I heard the news of his forthcoming beatification back in late 2009.  I was pretty certain that he was already in Heaven prior to that announcement, but since that time I have been able to ask him to pray for me and with me with the certain knowledge that he now definitely has direct access to the "Throne Room"!  I have been wanting to do an icon of him for some time and kept praying about it until God's grace inspired me to do so.

Since you may not have heard of him, let me briefly tell you his story.

Jerzy Popiełuszko (September 14, 1947 – October 19, 1984) was a Roman Catholic priest from Poland associated with the Solidarity union. He was murdered by three agents of the Polish communist internal intelligence agency, the Służba Bezpieczeństwa, (English: Security Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs) who were shortly thereafter tried and convicted of the murder. He has been recognized as a martyr by the Church.

Jerzy Popiełuszko was a charismatic priest who was first sent to strikers in the Warsaw Steelworks. Thereafter he was associated with workers and trade unionists from the Solidarity movement who opposed the Communist regime in Poland. Popiełuszko's sermons were routinely broadcast by Radio Free Europe, and thus became famous throughout Poland for their uncom-promising stance against the regime.

The Służba Bezpieczeństwa tried to silence or intimidate him. When their techniques did not work, they fabricated evidence against him; he was arrested in 1983, but soon released on intervention of the clergy and pardoned by an amnesty.  A car accident was set up to kill Jerzy Popiełuszko on October 13, 1984, but he escaped it. The alternative plan was to kidnap him, and this plan was carried out on October 19, 1984. The priest was beaten and murdered by three Security Police officers under the direction of a superior. Then his body was dumped into the Vistula Water Reservoir near Włocławek from where it was recovered on October 30, 1984.

News of the political murder caused an uproar throughout Poland, and the murderers and one of their superiors were convicted of the crime. More than 250,000 people, including Lech Wałęsa, attended his funeral on November 3, 1984. Despite the murder and its repercussions, the Communist regime remained in power until 1989. Popiełuszko's murderers were jailed but released later as part of an amnesty.

Marianna Popiełuszko
attending the beatification
of her son, 2010
In 1997, the Roman Catholic Church started the process of his beatification. On December 19, 2009, it was announced that Pope Benedict XVI had approved the decree of beatification of Father Popiełuszko. He was beatified on June 6, 2010 in Warsaw's Piłsudski Square. His mother, Marianna Popiełuszko, who had reached 100 years of age a few days earlier, was present at the event.


Unusual Art Forms

I am always on the look out for unusual types of art, especially folk art.  Just this week I received emails about two such types of art in my inbox.  The first pps showed the work of a Russian artist who creates creatures from cedar wood chips.  These are lasting works which people want to purchase, but which he will not sell.  The second pps showed temporary works of "art" created from fruits, veggies, nuts and grains in the form of giant floats.  These floats are entries in a parade which takes place in the Netherlands, using creations built entirely of edible products.  (I do hope they have a big vegetarian cook-out once the parade is finished!).  I hope you find the following of interest -- apologies if you have also seen one or both of these pps productions.

Owl made from cedar wood chips by Sergey Bobkov

Other creatures made from cedar wood chips by Sergey Bobkov
(artist in background)

Dragon from parade in the Netherlands
Everything used in the creation is from some sort of
fruit, vegetables, nuts or grains.
Friendly dragon from parade in the Netherlands
Everything used in the creation is from some sort of
fruit, vegetables, nuts or grains.
Owl from parade in the Netherlands
Everything used in the creation is from some sort of
fruit, vegetables, nuts or grains.


Suki and Sallie

What kind of mischief
can I get into next? 
(NOT when she is
Have I told you about my discovery that it is a very good thing for me to have company?  Yes, and not only company, but noisy company!  Let me explain. 

Over time, I have noticed that the louder the company, the more stressed Suki becomes (this might be because we normally live in a profoundly silent home).  Normally, I wouldn't think that stressing out my cat would be a good thing, but it turns out to be the case with Suki.  Why?  because after getting all stressed out, she will get into her "crow's nest" bed and sleep deeply for hours.  No matter what I do, she rarely awakens which means that I don't have to watch out for the "cat between the legs almost tripping me" problem.  Nor is there any sandbox cleaning to be done.  In fact, I often have to awaken her to tell her that it is time to eat "din-din".

Today, for example, I had three visitors in the late morning.  They were from St. Michael's Cathedral and had come to bring me Holy Communion (alleluia!).  One of the three is a bit louder than the rest of us so with her voice combined with the other two plus me, Suki was quite "stressed" by the time they left after being here for about 30 minutes .  She crawled into her bed and has been deeply asleep ever since.  Normally, I wouldn't be able to see the clock reach 1 p.m. without having to deal with Suki begging for her lunch -- but not so today.  She is sound asleep.  I feel a bit like I think young mothers must feel when the baby takes an unexpectedly long nap giving them a bit of a breather.  Of course, mothers have to be a bit concerned if the nap lasts for too long, but I can just enjoy every quiet moment.

As for me, I am doing well today.  I didn't feel well enough to try to go out on such a cold day, but I have had a pleasant day at home, especially since the Lord came to visit me in Holy Communion.  What a blessing is the service to shut-ins.  I am so grateful for the generosity of the parishioners who are willing to go to all the extra effort to bring Holy Communion  (plus a bit of a visit) to all those members who are unable to get to Mass for one reason or another -- especially on a cold day like this one.  Truly, I feel doubly blessed.

I am asking Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko to intercede for all of you who read this blog, for myself and for all those who look to us for prayer.  May one of us, if God so wills, be the means by which Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko is deemed by the Church to be St. Jerzy Popiełuszko!

May the peace of God be with us all. Amen.

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