The heart of the synodal Church can only be a personal relationship with God. Only when we have a personal experience of God, the Father, can we be brothers and sisters in Christ for one another, going out to the world with the Gospel and showing the richness of faith – said Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, the President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, in a reflection during the Jasna Góra Appeal, on the eve of the solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Queen of Poland.
The President of the Episcopate pointed out that Mary’s maternal protection is especially necessary for us during the synod on synodality. „For we live under the strong pressure of a culture of temporariness. Everything is only for a while: marriage, religious life, priesthood. This gives rise to a sense of uncertainty about tomorrow and builds distrust towards other people,” he stated.
Archbishop Gądecki noted that „for many months we have been listening to Pope Francis’ invitation and to each other, and it seems that we have been able to gather in Prague all that hurts people, what they want from the Church and what they would like to change in it. However, it turned out that the sensus fidei, or the sense of faith, is often missing in all of this, that Catholics do not know the teaching of the Church”.
The president of the Polish Bishops’ Conference pointed out that to be a missionary Church is to „perceive the existential wounds of people, humanity and God’s creation, and to act in order to resolve them”. He added that „the synodal Church – with the help of Mary – can help us heal these wounds. She can help us to reconcile with ourselves, with our neighbours, with creation and with God.”
Press Office of the Polish Bishops’ Conference
The complete text of the Appeal reflection follows:
Great Mother of God, Queen of Poland,
At the hour of the Appeal prayer, we stand before Your miraculous image to entrust to You our Homeland, the whole Church in Poland, all Poles at home and abroad.
“Thy is the image, like a mirror
Radiant, though in hiding;
God’s light, when it falls upon it,
You send back to us, reflected”.
- At this time of the Appeal, we ask you, O Mary, how it happened that you, being a humble and simple girl from Nazareth, became the Queen of the World, and also the Queen of our Homeland?
The answer is quite simple. Your royal dignity was born of Your divine motherhood. You became Queen because you gave birth to a Son who is the King of the universe. You carried Him in your womb, you gave birth to Him, you cared for His upbringing, you accompanied Him during His public activity up to the Cross, and then from the Cenacle to the Pentecost.
But we call you Queen of Poland not only because of your divine motherhood. You are also Queen because, united as the new Eve to the new Adam, you cooperated in the redemption of people. Taken body and soul into heavenly glory, you were „exalted by the Lord as Queen of the universe, that you might be the more fully conformed to your Son, the Lord of lords (Rev19: 16) and the conqueror of sin and death” (Lumen Gentium, 59).
To properly understand the truth of your kingship, it is necessary to refer to the logic of the kingdom of God, which is different from the logic of the states of this world. Christ experienced royal exaltation because He humbled Himself and became the Servant of Salvation. You, Mary, became and are Queen because you are the Servant of the Lord.
- And henceforth you are concerned for the welfare of the whole human race. You care for each one of us; you surround the entire People of God with your maternal care. Pope Francis reminded us of some aspects of this care in simple images, namely:
A mother helps her children grow up and wants them to grow strong; that is why she teaches them not to be lazy — which can also derive from a certain kind of well-being — not to sink into a comfortable lifestyle, contenting themselves with possessions. The mother takes care that her children develop better, that they grow strong, capable of accepting responsibilities, engaging in life, and striving for great ideals.
A mother then thinks of the health of her children, teaching them also to face the difficulties of life. You do not teach, you do not take care of health by avoiding problems, as though life were a motorway with no obstacles. The mother helps her children to see the problems of life realistically and not to get lost in them… She does not always take the child along the safe road, because in that way the child cannot develop, but neither does she leave the child only on the risky path, because that is dangerous. A mother knows how to balance things.
A good mother not only accompanies her children in their growth, without avoiding the problems and challenges of life; a good mother also helps them to make definitive decisions with freedom. This is not easy, but a mother knows how to do it. But what does freedom mean? It is certainly not doing whatever you want, allowing yourself to be dominated by the passions, to pass from one experience to another without discernment, to follow the fashions of the day… No, that is not freedom! Freedom is given to us so that we know how to make good decisions in life! Mary as a good mother teaches us to be, like her, capable of making definitive decisions; definitive choices, at this moment in a time controlled by, so to speak, a philosophy of the provisional (cf. Pope Francis, Mary takes care of us like a good mother. Rosary service at the Basilica of Our Lady Major – 4.05.2013).
- This maternal care of Mary is especially necessary for us during the synod on synodality. For we live under the strong pressure of the culture of the provisional. Everything is only for a while: marriage, religious life, priesthood. This brings a sense of uncertainty about the future and builds distrust toward other people.
For many months we have been listening to Pope Francis’ invitation and to one another, and it seems that we have been able to gather in Prague all that hurts people, what they want from the Church and what they would like to change in it. However, it turned out that the sensus fidei, or the sense of faith, is often missing in all of this, that Catholics do not know the teaching of the Church. “Looking at the results of the consultation, I get the impression,” said Archbishop Jan Graubner of Prague, “that many people limit themselves to expressing their own opinion, but listen little to the voice of the Holy Spirit. If we do not listen attentively to the Holy Spirit, our Guide, we will cease to be pilgrims on our way to the Father’s house and will become wandering vagabonds, homeless people”. In a similar vein, the Archbishop of Stockholm, Cardinal Anders Arborelius, spoke out, firmly rejecting – as unbiblical – the view that the decisions of the majority are the same as the voice of the Holy Spirit.
As a result of the synodal European consultation in Prague, various voices and proposals emerged. At this meeting, some demanded inclusion, i.e. the inclusion of homosexual, LGBT+ persons, the ordination of married men, the ordination of women to the priesthood, and the participation in Holy Communion of divorced, remarried persons.
That is why the Prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who is ending his ministry, warned us of the schism in the Church, in view of emerging demands for reforms “contrary to the continuity of the faith of the Church, to the Word of God, to the tradition of the Church”. He pointed out that the future of the Church, and humanity, is not built on schisms. He expressed the hope that there is still much room for dialogue in the Church and that we can arrive at reforms that are appropriate for our times.
Besides, since Vatican II, the Church has already provided for synodal structures at all levels, such as priestly and pastoral councils. It is necessary to strengthen these structures because they do not exist to a sufficient degree, everywhere in the universal Church. However, this should not be confused with democracy. For there is a huge difference between the belief that functioning listening structures are needed and the position that bishops must be bound by the results of votes: “For the Church is hierarchical, not democratic”.
The heart of the synodal Church can only be a personal relationship with God. Only when we have a personal experience of God the Father we can be brothers and sisters in Christ for one another, going out into the world with the Gospel and showing the riches of the faith. Nurturing this relationship requires a commitment to the journey of conversion. We believe that the foundation of all our actions, desires, and proposals must be personal and communal conversion and unity with Christ.
To be a missionary Church means to see the existential wounds of people, humanity, and God’s creation and to act to resolve them. The synodal Church, with the help of Mary, can help us to heal these wounds. It can help us to reconcile with ourselves, with our neighbors, with creation, and with God.
Thus, Mary, our Mother and Queen, into your hands we place with great confidence the fate of the synod on synodality:
„Hail, without stain conceived,
In whom the eternal Word dwelt,
Hail, O Holy Mary,
Hail, O Queen!…”
(Teofil Lenartowicz, Salve Regina)
Translated from Polish original by Sr. Ewa Dobrzelecka / Office for Foreign Communication of the Polish Bishops’ Conference