“It begins with Mass, the great engine of life. Then the regular prayers of the rosary, Breviary, meditations through the rest of the day and in the car. My spiritual reading is from journals and the classics. I don’t meditate while sculpting. If I’m working on Jesus’ knuckles – that’s what I’m concentrating on.” Father Tony Brankin, St. Odilo's Parish, Berwyn, Illinois
On Nov. 19, when Poland and the Polish people, from the bishops to the government, did that ( Proclaimed Christ the King) through the Jubilee Act of Acceptance, their example became a testimony to the world to do the same. Catholic Register
I spent a wonderful day with the lady I love trolling the shops on Lake Street in Oak Park, while Chicago took on its first snow toupee of the year. We hit bookshops, hat stores and that great Indian Restaurant The Khyber Pass. It was a lovely continuation for a day begun at Mass.
I had gone to Mass at Sacred Heart in Morgan Park with Father Gallagher, an octogenarian hero, who spent most of his priesthood as a missionary in Mexico, who must be the greatest homilist in my Church. Sweetly and succinctly, Father Gallagher relates the Gospel to the daily lives of the blue collar worshipers, who enjoy saying the Memorare after the Creed and singing the standards at Mass.
The only match to Father Gallagher's simple and no-nonsense path to the Cross is a sermon by Father Tony Brankin, pastor of St. Odilio's in Berwyn.
My lady friend attends Mass at St. Odilo's when not singing at St. John Cantius Church and old Polish parish rated the most beautiful Church in America. It is.
The Polish attend to the smallest details in all things, from Copernicus to Madame Curie to Pope St. John Paul II. Poles are one of the largest ethnic (white) demographics in Chicago. They are arguably the most organized (non-Alinsky) of Chicago's neighbors: Polish National Alliance,Polish Roman Catholic Union, the magnificent Copernicus Center and any number of the many morphed credit unions and savings and loans.
Miss Sullivan, the lovely and elegant lady who deigns to be seen in public with me, showed me a homily by Father Brankin. It celebrated the fact that Poland, in this Jubilee Year announced by Pope Francis, proclaimed Jesus Christ the King of Poland - both Church and State.
"Immortal King of Ages Lord Jesus Christ, our God and Savior! In the Jubilee Year 1050 anniversary of the Baptism of Polish [people], in the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, here we Poles stand in front of you (together with their authorities, clergy and laity) to acknowledge your reign, surrender to Thy law, entrust and take you to our homeland and the whole nation…We confess before heaven and earth, that your reign we need…Wishing to worship the majesty of Thy power and glory, with great faith and love, we cry out: Rule us Christ!”
So prayed the Polish bishops at the Church of Divine Mercy in Krakow, Poland, on Nov. 19 in a major ceremony formally declaring Jesus Christ as King of Poland. It was the day before the feast of Christ the King in the Church’s liturgical calendar. Poland’s President Andrzei Duda took part along with thousands of pilgrims in the Mass and ceremony. (Scroll down to read the entire prayer-declaration here.) The ceremony marked the end of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy and the 1,050 anniversary of Polish Christianity.
I had heard of this, but had not lodged it into my tiny brain's 'full attention chamber.' Father Brankin praised the fact that people of faith can and do live meaningful and important lives with faith active in every aspect. In fact, politicians and the government wholly agreed.
On television, Senator Jan Maria Jackowski explained that the faith is the strength of Poland. He said “if we keep our core values, we build the common good. However…if we forget about the great heritage of this force that gives us faith and what gives us the heritage of the Gospel, it would not be so good. We see what is happening in the countries where de-Christianization is progressing at a rapid pace.”Father Brankin, whose flock includes many, many, many immigrants from Mexico, Central America and Poland, as well as Czechs, Ukrainians and Lithuanians, honored the Poles. The Chicago newspapers wholly ignored this event, so did the Catholic New World. There was plenty on the new Cardinal, diversity workshops at UCCB, kids wearing Red for Cardinal Cupich, but no mention of Poland's most severe blow to world secularism.
Father Brankin always argues that spiritual life must begin with attendance at Mass. I know many Catholics who consider themselves to be more 'spiritual' than active. That is like joining a club and never attending a meeting. Too many of us no longer want to go to Mass. Let's be Unitarians.
That's cool. Mass is what keeps me from going off the rails and craving my baser instincts. I told the kids at Brother Rice that I attend services and receive the Eucharist every morning at St. John Fisher - no brag, just fact.
" Does that mean you are Holy?" asked one chap from St. John Fisher Parish, with more than a spoonful of obvious irony.
I told him. " No, not by a jug full. It does make me less of a jerk, however. Somewhat."
Kids, like all of us are pulled to be secular, overly cynical and fundamentally intolerant, by the broader HBO culture. Poland seems to have kicked that trend to the curb.
I went to Mass yesterday, met my lovely friend, heard from her about Father Brankin's homily, delighted in Poland's stand to proclaim Christ it's King, and noted the lack of coverage - ignoring is also a sharp form of censorship.
God Bless Poland. God Bless great priests. God Bless young people. God whack the media on the back of the noggin. It will not do much, but would be a start.