| By Bishop Raica

Polish Mass Homily

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus - Na wieki wieków!

I’m overjoyed to be with you this evening to celebrate our Catholic faith and our Polish heritage.  The Catholic faithful of Poland have inspired the world by the depth of their faith, their indomitable spirit, and the tenacity with which they live the Christian faith.

Where else would we find a country who five years ago through an act of (Sejm) Parliament, named Christ - the King of Poland, (certainly not here where we have a hard time invoking the name of God lest we offend someone)?

Where else would we find a country and a people who have struggled mightily to maintain their Christian and Catholic identity in the midst of persecution and after continuous obstacles?

Where else would we find a country so devoted to the Blessed Mother – Our Lady of Częstochowa – the Black Madonna, who continues to guide and protect this great land of our ancestors?

Where else would we find a country whose beliefs are so strong the believers displayed their belief by encircling the country to pray the rosary to promote and protect life and family?

Where else would we find a country who has given us great Catholic saints, witnesses and martyrs: Pope St. John Paul II (Karol Wojtyła), for one, whose passion for theater, sports, and life catapulted him to be the successor of Peter over and against all odds?

Where else would we find a country and her people so tenacious that when Pope John Paul visited Warsaw for the first time after his election to the See of Peter, would a new hope be raised in Poland for freedom, a way forward without the firing of a shot? You remember it – in Plac Piłsudskiego (Victory Square).

Where else would we find telling words echoed for future generations: “For man cannot be fully understood without Christ. Or rather, man is incapable of understanding himself fully without Christ.”  … “Therefore, Christ cannot be kept out of the history of man in any part of the globe, at any longitude or latitude of geography. The exclusion of Christ from the history of man is an act against man”?

Yes, this son of Poland, given to the Church has inspired so many as he continues to guide the hearts, minds, and souls of many today.  For me, he remained an inspiration of priestly dedication and joy and a witness to hope. Poland remains a source of joy and pride in my heritage, as well as her many saints gifted to the Christian community: St. Faustyna Kowalska, St. Stanislaus, St. Hedwig, St. Maximilian Kolbe. And many others who have witnessed the very power of Christ in their lives.

Poland has given the world so much and I say “thank you” for this bold witness to faith.

My friends, today we also commemorate the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael who have also given the world much. There is a fascination with angels, especially at Christmas time. Many churches include angels in their art, architecture, and music. It’s a certain something that guides us in a hidden invisible but real way. Today, the Church reflects upon three major angels called archangels – Michael, Gabriel, Raphael. These three great messengers intervene and announce the Glad Tidings in a special way. They appear throughout the Bible and play instrumental roles in the mission of God in the world. The great defender in the book of Daniel is Michael, whose name means “Who is like God?” He combats Satan, he escorts the faithful to heaven at their hour of death, he champions all Christians and the Church. Gabriel, whose name means “Strength of God,” announced to Zechariah the birth of John the Baptist and to Mary that through her the Word would become flesh and thus begin our salvation. He is mentioned in Daniel and the Gospel of St. Luke. Finally, Raphael, whose name means “Medicine of God,” who was the great healer of Tobit’s vision in the Book of the same name.

We are the recipients of their divine activity present in our world. In some ways, we have been touched by an angel as well in ways we will never know. Together the Church rejoices in the gift of the angels – who behold the face of God, and who nudge us at right moments communicating with us God’s message of love and affection in ways we will never know. Scripture gives us only a few examples as if to let us know of the great divine help available to us. They are true gifts that we recall and honor on this day.

May we honor the archangels as we honor the great saints from Poland. We give thanks to the Lord for the message of hope we receive to bring the gifts of faith to enrich the faithful of the Diocese of Birmingham that we cannot live without Christ and that without Christ we will never have a complete understanding of our nature and mission. In the end, and in the depths of our hearts, we echo the spontaneous words of the Polish people in Victory Square: “We want God! Chcemy Boga!”

May God bless you!

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