WORDSWORTH …The Speech Of Pope John Paul II At Jasna Gora Monastery, Poland


In 1978 Cardinal Karol Wojtyla became John Paul II, the first-ever Polish pope and the first non-Italian to hold office in 455 years. He was also the first pope from a Communist country. His appointment was a great boost to the Catholic faithful in his native land, for whom allegiance to the Church was one of few available means of protest against the Communist government. John Paul II delivered these words at the Jasna Gora monastery in June 1983 in front of a million young people. Carefully embedded in the speech were certain words – ‘workers’ and ‘solidarity’ – recognized by the listening crowd as acknowledging the banned Solidarity movement. On hearing these, the crowd raised many Solidarity banners and the end of the speech was greeted by tumultuous applause.
The son of an army officer, Karol Wojtyla lost his mother while still a child and grew up close to his father. He was an outstanding student and sportsman, showing an early love of poetry and acting. He was at Jagiellonian University in September 1938 when the Germans invaded Poland. The university was closed down but Karol and many others continued to study clandestinely. He graduated with distinction in theology in 1946 and the same year was ordained as a priest.
After serving as a parish priest and studying in Rome, in 1954 Karol was appointed Professor of Social Ethics at the Catholic University of Lublin. In 1963 he became Archbishop of Krakow, a role in which he demonstrated political astuteness and acted as a strong adversary of the Communist government. He became an international figure during the 2nd Vatican Council of 1962-65 and was appointed a cardinal in 1967. In 1978, at the relatively young age of 58, he was elected Pope by an overwhelming majority. His papacy was to last 26 years, during which he survived two assassination attempts.
John Paul II made jet travel the hallmark of his papacy, visiting more than 120 countries and preaching to millions of people across six continents. The third-longest reigning pope in history, John Paul II enjoyed extraordinary popularity throughout the world’s Catholic community. He continued to travel widely even as his health declined. He died in April 2005, aged 85.
Our Lady of Jasna Gora is the teacher of true love for all. And this is particularly important for you, dear young people. In you, in fact, is decided that form of love which all of your life will have and, through you, human life on Polish soil: the matrimonial, family, social and national form – but also the priestly, religious and missionary one. Every life is determined and evaluated by the interior form of love. Tell me what you love, and I will tell you who you are.
‘Tell me what you love, and I will tell you who you are.’
I watch! How beautiful it is that this word is found in the call of Jasna Gora. It possesses a profound evangelical ancestry: Christ says many times ‘watch’ … Perhaps also from the Gospel it passes into the tradition of scouting. In the call of Jasna Gora it is the essential element of the reply that we wish to give to the love by which we are surrounded in the sign of the Sacred Icon.
The response to this love must be precisely the fact that I watch!
What does it mean, ‘I watch’?
It means that I make an effort to be a person with a conscience. I do not stifle this conscience and I do not deform it; I call good and evil by name, and I do not blur them; I develop in myself what is good, and I seek to correct what is evil, overcoming it in myself. This is a fundamental problem which can never be minimized or put on a secondary level. No! It is everywhere and always a matter of the first importance. Its importance is all the greater in proportion to the increase of circumstances which seem to favour our tolerance of evil and the fact that we easily excuse ourselves from this, especially if adults do so.
My dear friends! It is up to you to put up a firm barrier against immorality, a barrier – I say – to those social vices which I will not here call by name but which you yourselves are perfectly aware of. You must demand this of  yourselves, even if others do not demand it of you. Historical experiences tell how much the immorality of certain periods cost the whole nation. Today when we are fighting for the future form of our social life, remember that this form depends on what people will be like. Therefore: watch!
… 9 watch’ also means: I see another. i do not close in on myself, in a narrow search for my own interests, my own judgements. ‘I watch’ means: love of neighbour, it means: fundamental interhuman solidarity.
Before the Mother of Jasna Gora I wish to give thanks for all the proofs of this solidarity which have been given by my compatriots, including Polish youth, in the difficult period of not many months ago. It would be difficult for me to enumerate here all the forms of this solicitude which surrounded those who were interned, imprisoned, dismissed from work, and also their families. You know this better than 1. I received only sporadic news about it .
… ‘I watch’ also means: I feel responsible for this great common inheritance whose name is Poland. This name defines us all. This name obliges us all. This name costs us all.
Perhaps at times we envy the French, the Germans or the Americans because their name is not tied to such a historical price and because they are so easily free: while our Polish freedom costs so much.
‘On you depends tomorrow.’
My dear ones, I will not make a comparative analysis. I will only say that it is what costs that constitutes value. It is not, in fact, possible to be truly free without an honest and profound relationship with values. We do not want a Poland which costs us nothing. We watch, instead, beside all that makes up the authentic inheritance of the generations, seeking to enrich it. A nation, then, is first of all rich in its people. Rich in man. Rich in youth. Rich in every individual who watches in the name of truth: it is truth, in fact, that gives form to love.
“Even if I am not among you every day, as was the case for many years in the past, nevertheless I carry in my heart a great solicitude. A great, enormous solicitude. A solicitude for you. Precisely because on you depends tomorrow.
I pray for you every day.