Sunday, October 25, 2009

October 25 - Jerzy Popieluszko, Martyr, Victim of Communism, Enemy of the State

Innocent and uninteresting sounds in the middle of the night had a different meaning for Jerzy. That scratching or tapping noise might be a tree branch but it might also be a Soviet agent coming to intimidate or execute him while he slept. Worse than the occasional sound was the oppressive and seemingly unnatural silence. He'd find himself wondering aloud if it wasn't perhaps too quiet as if there was somebody trying to be silent. Jerzy had reason to worry: he was an enemy of the state and considered a type of thought criminal. He encouraged the Polish trade union movement known as "Solidarity." Weekly, he could be heard at worship services where he would say mass and offer reflections that condemned the Communist infiltration of Poland. These sermons were broadcast on the radio and, in practically no time at all, Jerzy was at odds with a powerful enemy.

As he continued to speak on Sunday morning, he began to notice new and intimidating faces among the people worshiping with him. He noticed that cars seemed to be following him and waiting outside of the church and his home. He knew well that they were hoping to intimidate him into silence. He also knew that if they failed in this then they would find other ways to end his resistance. As he drove back to his home one Saturday night in October, he barely saw the obstruction in the road. He jerked the wheel and found himself skidding out of control. He miraculously escaped the car accident and made it back to his parsonage. It was now very clear to him that the Soviet secret police had tired of trying to persuade and intimidate him and would now be content with destroying him. He continued his pastoral duties until the next Friday.

The agents crept into his home and seized him in the middle of the night. They hoped that they could break the back of the Solidarity movement by kidnapping Jerzy. Once they had him secreted away, they murdered him away from the public eye. They had tried to do it in a deniable and secretive way by engineering a car accident. When that hadn't worked, they killed him and dumped his body in a river. This is a powerful testament to the fear inherent among the Soviets. Their actions--and all evil actions--could not face the light of day and scrutiny. They could not afford to act powerfully and in public because their control over the people would not hold. Instead, they had to work by secret and subterfuge so that they might manipulate the wills of the people. Jerzy died a martyr because he refused to stop speaking truth to the Imperial Communist State.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why nobody left any comments. Does it mean that people don't care any more? That's very sad..

JHearne said...

I care. I think others do, too. You're always welcome to leave comments here and everybody else is, too.

Anonymous said...

We just came back to the US from a pilgrimage in Poland. That is where we learned about this wonderful priest. Poland is a heroic country filled with holy and heroic people. I will be praying to this martyr for courage in my own life.