“We want God! ….. We want hope!”
A very significant Papal Mass took place on 2nd June 1979 in Victory Square, Warsaw, Poland.
It took place just a few months after (St) Pope John Paul II was elected Pope. One of the first of his very many overseas pilgrimages was to his beloved home country of Poland.
Recall that in 1979 Poland was still under Communist control. In the Twentieth Century, Poland endured two deadly political “-isms”: Nazism and Stalinism/Communism. Prior to this Poland enjoyed centuries of vibrant Catholic faith. Yet these two “-isms” attempted to stifle this deep-seated religious instinct from the people. They failed.
During the prophetic homily of this Mass, Pope John Paul preached: “Christ cannot be kept out of human history…. To exclude Christ is against humanity ….. Let your Spirit descend and let your Spirit renew the face of the earth.”
Spontaneously during this homily, the 250,000 congregation started interrupting the Pope’s words.
They started chanting an ancient Christian Latin hymn going back to Roman times. The chorus includes: “Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat.” In English: “Christ wins, Christ reigns, Christ commands.” I suppose in Australian English, a good general translation could be: We Want God!”
This Papal Mass with this inspiring homily, looking back from now, was the beginning of the end for Communism then politically controlling Poland. Soon afterward the Solidarity Movement was formed. The rest is history. Communism in Poland eventually collapsed.
Religious Instinct, whether in individuals or whole societies, can never be politically or philosophically eliminated. It is something natural to being a human. We are born with a religious instinct. Key philosophical questions of humanity are: Who am I? What am I doing? Where am I going? How can they be comprehensively answered without a reference to this religious instinct deep within us?
Thus, the general Human Right to Freedom of Religion and Belief protects this instinct. It is one of the key Human Rights. In Australia, at this time it is under pressure. It must be protected. How can we be a happy Australia without this protection?
“We Want God” is not simply a slogan for the Polish people. It is for all of us at all times. It is natural to our shared humanity. Consider carefully people who say, as is fashionable in Australia at this time, that they are not religious. Sometimes they are enslaved by a persuasive “-ism” of our times. We need to engage with them. There are so many “-isms” today. They are often presented in an attractive manner. But they yield such a meagre harvest of hope.
In this Covid-19 time, the word “hope” is used so often in the marketplace of life. So it ought! Where would we be without hope in the midst of the Coronavirus despair?
HOPE has a deep religious meaning. Catholics describe it as one of our theological virtues (CCC 1817-1821). In other words, it is a gift from God.
Let us ask the Lord to give us this gift of HOPE in abundance. Our need is great.
Once I heard how this word can be an acronym for us all, starting in our homes which have become like “little monasteries” in this virus time.
It is this: H.O.P.E. = Homes of Prayer Encounter.
When our homes are, indeed, places of prayer encounter they become deeper places of faith. Faith gives birth to HOPE. HOPE gives happiness.
May HOPE start in our homes!