Holy Family

Holy Family

Friday, March 4, 2011

Feast of Saint Casimir

Good morning. Today we celebrate the Feast of Saint Casimir. He is the Patron Saint of Poland. As I gave thought this morning to the story of Saint Casimir and as I reflected upon today’s first reading from the Book of Sirach, I was reminded of my trip to Krakow in 2006. In September of 2006 I was given the opportunity to present at the European Brief Therapy Conference in Krakow Poland. I sat here this morning reflecting upon the words found in the Book of Sirach: “Yet these also were godly men whose virtues have not been forgotten; Their wealth remains in their families, their heritage with their descendants; Through God’s covenant with them their family endures, their posterity, for their sake. And for all time their progeny will endure, their glory will never be blotted out.” (Sirach 44: 10-13) And, I thought, “Oh my God! How so very appropriate!” I was astonished that this scripture passage regarding the faith heritage of the Jewish people should fall upon the same day we recall the life of Saint Casimir, the Patron Saint of Poland. You could have knocked me over with a feather. You may ask “Why?” I was so astounded with this timing of the scriptural reading from Sirach and the celebration of the Feast of Saint Casimir. A clue lies in the words of our Blessed Pope John Paul II in his historic homily at the Mass celebrated in Victory Square, Warsaw on June 2, 1979. In his homily, Pope John Paul II indicated that we cannot “understand the history of the Polish nation without Christ.”
During the course of my visit in 2006 to Krakow I had the opportunity to do a little bit of touring, I would have hoped for more opportunity to visit and should God afford me the opportunity I hope one day to revisit Krakow. In the course of my visit I was given the opportunity to visit two very diametrically opposing representations of the heritage of mankind. One place I visited was Auschwitz and another place I visited was the Salt Mine at Wieliczka. There could not be two more opposite metaphorical representations of mankind’s relationship with God and humankind. The one, Auschwitz, represents man as the higher order, that man in and of himself has the answers and is not in need of God. Auschwitz represents a way of life that subscribes to a way of thinking free of any higher order, it proposed a systemic better ordering of science and economics as being the answer to man’s pursuit of happiness. The other, the Salt Mine of Wieliczka represents thousands of years of the Polish People’s awareness and reliance upon a Higher Order. Deep under ground are amazing sculptural representations of the history of Poland and this very proud people’s relationship with God. Deep within the earth are sculptures created by the miners throughout the centuries, including one of King Casimir, the father of Saint Casimir. George Weigel, the author of Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II suggests that the Salt Mine of Wieliczka is a metaphor for the special character of Polish Catholicism and its relationship to national history. I have to agree.
During the course of my very limited visit to Krakow, I came to an awareness of something Saint Casimir was aware of, and our late Pope John Paul II was most certainly aware of and prayerfully hoped for, “that Poland, which has belonged to Europe for centuries, will find its proper place in the structures of the European community. Not only will it not lose its own identity, but it will enrich the continent and the world with its tradition.” (Kraków – Balice Airport
Monday, 19 August 2002) Indeed it has much tradition, a tradition based upon the Goodness of God and a proper relationship and order with Our Creator. One needs to know that despite being eliminated from European geography for 123 years, the Polish People never lost it sense of cultural and religious heritage. In the brief amount of days I was afforded to visit Poland I came to an awareness of how the heritage of a people can stand up against the faltering beliefs and the insidious ways of a secular and materialistic world, a world that was so vividly made apparent to me in my visit to Auschwitz. Pope John Paul II, in some of his final words to his native Polish people warned of a greater threat than that they knew under the Soviets; he warned them to be alert to “unheard of dangers” in the new millennium, and not to fall victim to false concepts of freedom, of “freedom without truth and responsibility.” (Mass in Blonie Park, August 18,2002) He was warning his Native Poles of the perils of falling prey to the false allure of materialism. Pope John Paul II made it clear that much strength is to be found in a heritage that embraces healthy family values. Is it any wonder that the divorce rate in Poland is so low in comparison to other places throughout the World? Blogoslawiony swieto sw Kazimierza! Blessed Feast of Saint Casimir! Szczesc Boze! God bless you! Make a great day!

Today we recall the good life, gifts, and works of Saint Casimir of Poland.

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