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Father and Shepherd #8 | Three years of imprisonment

Family News Service / 29.11.2021
Kard. Wyszyński na wakacjach w Stryszawie, fot. Instytut Prymasowski
Kard. Wyszyński na wakacjach w Stryszawie, fot. Instytut Prymasowski

Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński the Primate of Poland has remained in the memory of Poles as a statesman, defender of faith and freedom of the homeland, advocate of unconditional human dignity.


On the night of 25th September 1953, Cardinal Wyszyński was arrested and deported from Warsaw. He was imprisoned for three years – in Rywałd, in Stoczek Warmiński, in Prudnik and finally in Komańcza. His Prison Notes testify to the fact that even in captivity he was an internally free man. It is enough to read the plan of the day he made and which he faithfully followed.

“Our lifestyle in Stoczek is established as follows:

5.00 am Get up.

5.45 Morning prayers and meditation.

6.15 Holy Mass of Father Stanisław.

7.00 My Holy Mass.

8.15 Breakfast and a walk.

9.00 Horae minores and a piece of the rosary.

9.30 Personal works.

13.00 Lunch and a walk (the second part of the rosary).

15.00 Vespers and completorium.

15.30 Personal works.

18.00 Matutinum cum Laudibus.

19.00 Supper.

20.00 Rosary service and evening prayers.

20.45 Private reading.

22.00 Rest “.

The Primate was aware of the harm done to him. However, he tried to watch over every instinct of thoughts, will and heart, so as not to succumb not only to hatred, but even dislike. In Prison Notes, he noted: “They won’t make me hate them.”

This did not mean passively submitting to unfair decisions by the government. From the beginning, he demanded that his situation be explained. On 28th September 1953 he wrote: “A man in oilcloth,” a tall, handsome man, still young, with an expressionless face, volunteered. I am explaining to him once again my position on the rape committed on me. ”

The prison was for the Primate, above all, a great spiritual torment. In Prison Notes, dated 3rd May 1954, we read:

“I am growing stones so heavy in my soul that I cannot hold this fruit of my life. So I am throwing them at Your feet, Mother, maybe on the way from these boulders you will be able to lead me to your Dear Son. Your Son did not want to turn stones into bread, because it is easier to reach the Son on a rocky road than on a road lined with logs. Perhaps the fruit of my womb, Mother, will also be blessed. Smile at my stones. That’s all I can do. The rest is up to you. And neither do I want them all to become bread. But let just one of these stones nourish my hungry soul.

Cardinal Wyszyński considered the painful and dramatic time of imprisonment a great grace. It was his desert where he met God in the depths of his being. In prison in Stoczek, on 8th December 1953, that he surrendered himself to the Mother of God. But not so that she would defend him. He wanted to obtain freedom for the Church at the cost of his own life. In the notes from 12th May 1956, we read: “I am asking you for one thing, that, having taken all mine, you would like to defend the Church of Christ. (…) Protect him with your maternal mantle, hide it in Your Heart. If you need it, kill me so that the Church of Your Son may live in Poland. ”

In isolation, in Komańcza, on 16th May 1956, he wrote the Jasna Góra Vows of the Nation as a renewal of the Vows of King Jan Kazimierz. They were secretly transported to Jasna Góra Monastery and were solemnly deposited there on 26th August 1956.

“The Polish nation has taken its oaths many times; although it kept faith in the Church, it did not get rid of many addictions and national vices that cannot be reconciled with the attitude of the believer. We are so often scandalous when unbelievers look at the lives of believers. Our moral weakness and instability, despite our strong faith, our moral relativism, our tendency to succumb to bad examples and currents trends, obeying various errors, sometimes simply absurd, the fall of marital morality, infidelity, promiscuity, intoxication – all this makes the moral and social division of the Nation it is shaky. We know how to stay in temples for hours, stand in the Jasna Góra square like an old oak tree, but we succumb easily to even the weakest excitement to all sins and vices. We are spiritually doubled, mentally broken, and therefore deprived of a lifestyle and national character. We know how to combine all of this with our attachment to the Church, which we do not listen to in everyday life; with our ardent prayer, from which we do not reap the proper fruit; with our devotion to the Most Pure Mother to whom everyday life is so opposed.

To overcome this duality, gain a moral plumb line, learn to overcome oneself, gain the bravery of faith and Christian life – this is a blessed pursuit of an almost conservative national instinct and Catholic sense.

” The program of the Jasna Góra Vows of the Nation became the content of the Great Novena before the Millennium of the Baptism of Poland. It was a comprehensive, consistent program embracing personal, family and social life, so that everything would be new in Christ with the help of His Mother. These are the themes for the nine years of the Great Novena: 1. Fidelity to God, the Cross, the Gospel, the Church and its shepherds; 2. Life in sanctifying grace; 3. Defence of life, soul and body; 4. Marital fidelity; 5. Family strong is God; 6. Youth faithful to Christ; 7. Social love and justice; 8. Fighting against national defects and acquiring virtues; 9. Honour the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The entire Great Novena was imbued with the spirit of mature Marian devotion. It was not nine years of talking about the Mother of God, but striving to live in accordance with God’s will, following her example and with her help.

The Jasna Góra Vows of the Nation is still an up-to-date program of renewal, an important religious commitment and social. The Holy Father John Paul II said: “These words of the Jasna Góra Vow from 1956 have not become obsolete. They are certainly not out of date. (…) They are valid under new conditions – and in a new way. They are even more than then a condition of our social maturity. The condition of our place in Europe, which, after breaking the post-Yalta divisions, is looking for ways to international unity ”.

Soon after the Jasna Góra Vows, the time of political thawing had come. After he was released, the Primate wanted to go straight to Jasna Góra Monastery. Released on 28th October 1956 at the request of the authorities, he came directly to the capital to calm the Polish society so that the Hungarian situation in Poland would not be repeated. He went to Jasna Góra on 2nd November. Then he said to Our Lady: “Silence would be most appropriate now. It is a very great and very important moment: meeting my Best Lady, Mother of Jasna Góra, who was all of me during the difficult but honourable days of my prison, when the Primate of Poland was given the joy of suffering insult to the name of God. The one in front of whom I am standing now has been my Strength and Perseverance, Light and Support, Consolation, Hope and continual help all this time – the true Virgin Help of Christians, Virgo Auxiliatrix! She helped me survive everything that happened to me by the hand of the Best Father. Thanks to her, I am here among you now! I come to her as a humble pilgrim to bring to her the toil and suffering of my three years of experience and to place my filial gratitude in her maternal hands, both for the years of torment and for my presence among you again ”.

Primate Wyszyński’s release from prison did not end the persecution of the Church. Various harassments continued: confiscation of church property and religious houses, taxes, taking clerics to the army, expelling religion from schools, removing crosses. Primate Wyszyński protested, argued for the rights of the Church, but never aimed at an armed confrontation. He counted on the help of the Holy Mother. He lived thanks to the thousand-year experience of the Church in Poland and the words of the Marian testament of Cardinal Hlond.

Father and Shepherd #1 | Childhood >>>

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Father and Shepherd #5 | Wartime exile >>>

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2024-06-15 23:15:14