Wednesday, September 7, 2011
I awoke that morning with no sense of what would befall the next day. It was the same peaceful feeling as the year before. My mind stopped projecting into the next week, month, or year and settled into an easy sleep, relinquishing the future for the present. It would be wrong to say there seemed to be nothing beyond the pilgrimage. Rather, it felt as though everything were converging on its conclusion, just as eternity unravels time by fulfilling it in one absolute moment.

I was staying the night in Częstochowa for the Mass of the Assumption this time. There was perfect freedom this year in how I reckoned my time, and how blessed a gift that was! 

As today was Sunday, the Mass said at Jasna Góra would not be the vigil of Our Lady's feast, so on one of the rest stops, I paused to read the vigil Mass by myself. The Lesson of the fourteenth of August is one of my favourite passages in Holy Scripture, as well as from one of my favourite books. Truly, if our separated brethren had not rejected Ecclesiasticus, they would not stiffen at the embrace of the Blessed Virgin Mary: 

As the vine I have brought forth a pleasant odour: and my flowers are the fruit of honour and riches. I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope. In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue. Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits. For my spirit is sweet above honey, and my inheritance above honey and the honeycomb. My memory is unto everlasting generations. They that eat me, shall yet hunger: and they that drink me, shall yet thirst. He that hearkeneth to me, shall not be confounded: and they that work by me, shall not sin. They that explain me shall have life everlasting. (Ecclesiasticus XXIV:23-31)

As I leaned my brow upon my missal, I thought that perhaps I had not forfeited so much in being unable to petition anymore. Though not always possessing a happy or willing spirit on the matter, it was good for me that all I could hope for were these consolations spoken of here. Strangely, Father Grzegorz spoke to us, before we plodded on the next six miles, (with dear Ola translating again) that we should not be discouraged if our lives did not change after this pilgrimage. Rather, we should think of all our spiritual efforts being gathered like dew into a great bowl, from which God would portion out mercy according to His wisdom. There is no better way of perceiving the matter.

The wait to enter Jasna Góra did not seem so long this year, and the weather, so much more clement! The crowds gathered about as as congenially as all the souls we met, though naturally a few quirky incidents had to take place. One sweet, old lady came up to me, embraced me, and then asked if I were a Muslim, much to the amusement of my companions standing about. 

'Nie,' I responded hastily, though I hope graciously, and arranged my shawl in another manner. Yet, it had not been too different from the ladies in their kerchiefs and chapel veils about me. 

One day though, people of the Church will remember that “In doubt, the revocation of a previous law is not presumed,” (Canon 21), and women would again exploit their opportunity to catechize the world and reap the fruits of observing what was not abrogated in the Code of 1917. And on that day, it will not matter how a lady chooses to veil herself. Until then, she best make sure her wrists are showing to avoid confusion over her affiliation.

Singing and praying all continued as we stood. Other pilgrim divisions, which had arrived that morning, came to smile and chat. People moved and up and down the lines to greet those whom they knew, though swiftly returning to their place in the formation. The children were wonderfully patient, and we were often exchanging gleeful expressions with one another. We were so near.

Thanks to Marzena and Basia!
Biało-czarno-czerwona received its salutation from the Pauline community, and we proceeded to make our way into the monastery. Linking hands to ensure our group's entrance, I soon found myself playing 'London's Bridge Is Falling Down', for more and more familiar faces were crawling under our fence of arms. 

It produced such a thrill, again like a culmination. Now it resembled that moment towards the end of G. K. Chesterton's novel The Ball and the Cross, when the hero has an epiphany: 

It's hard to explain, anyhow. An apocalypse is the opposite of a dream. A dream is falser than the outer life. But the end of the world is more actual than the world it ends. I don't say this is really the end of the world, but it's something like that--it's the end of something. All the people are crowding into one corner. Everything is coming to a point. (Chapter XIX: The Last Parley)

Thank you Marzena and Basia!

My eyes being like Evan MacIan's, I did not quite see the 'point' too 'large and plain' to be visible to puny human eyes, yet I did see something after we had passed through the gates, courtyard, and threshold of the Chapel of the Mother of God. We all gazed with love on the resplendent end of our journey. She is always the same, yet it is amazing how we change around her. We went to our knees, many I'm sure with tears in our eyes. As the year before, I wept and bowed my head, but this time I felt I heard her speak within me. This was the tone of Judith, Our Lady as the Hetmana, regal and strong as well as maternal and gentle:,1327293,1,780
Will you be my subject?

I nodded, answering with nothing else for the moment. The next day, as the bus wound its way through narrow roads still under construction, back the 165 miles to Warszawa, I did finally ask. What does it mean for me to be your subject? I ask it still every night, but there is the grace to wait. The precious fruit of this pilgrimage (for me) may be summed up thusly: a soul in the Lord's service should not be discouraged by the words:

'Arise, and go into the city, and there it shall be told thee what thou must do.'


Jacobitess said...

Oh, reading that post again...I hope the chapel veil bit comes off as funny. It was supposed to be :-/

Catriona said...

I was entertained.;)

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Warsaw, Poland
Domine, spero quia mundum vicisti. Lord, I trust that Thou hast overcome the world. Panie, ufam, żeś pokonał świat.
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