Enraptured by beauty on the Feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa

August 26 is the feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa.  In 1997 Pope John Paul II summed up the importance of the shrine to the Polish people:
“Jasna Góra is the place where our Nation down the centuries has
come together to bear witness to its faith and to its attachment to the
community of the Church of Christ. Many times we used to come here, asking Mary
for help in the struggle to preserve fidelity to God, the Cross, the Gospel, the
Holy Church and her Shepherds. Here we accepted the duties of the Christian
life. At the feet of Our Lady of Jasna Góra we found the strength to
remain faithful to the Church, when she was persecuted, when she had to keep
silent and suffer. We always said ‘yes’ to the Church, and this
Christian attitude has been a great act of love for her. For the Church is our
spiritual mother. It is thanks to her that ‘we should be called children
of God; and so we are’ (cf 1 Jn 3:1). The Church is inscribed for ever in
the history of our Nation, keeping careful watch over the destiny of her
children, especially in times of humiliation, war, persecution or loss of
independence.” 4 June 1997, found here
 At his last visit to Jasna Gora and the Cathedral of Czestochowa before he was elected Pope (Sept 16, 1978)  Cardinal Wojtyla spoke about the threat of secularism and he challenged the communist administrators of the country who were imposing secularism upon the society and the education in Poland. He said: “Culture cannot be created by administrative means! Administrative means can only be used to destroy culture. This is very important, and this must be remembered in our times.” (found in The Making of the Pope of the Millennium, ed. Adam Boniecki, MIC, 2000, p. 831). We may think this extreme statement was only aimed at communist officials. Yet ideology is only part of the danger of rule by administrators. Administrators manage an association with goals and purposes of the communal life; managers arrange external resources for the purposes of the institution or association. In other words, administration is a service to a vital and dynamic organism, or culture. It is a phenomenon of modern society, socialist and capitalist, that administrators and managers tend to usurp the very life of an institution as they divert resources, impose rules, in the name of some goal or purpose other than that to which the association was originally dedicated. MacIntyre has explained this well in After Virtue; Wojtyla saw it first hand. The communist claimed special knowledge and moral superiority to make such a usurpation. Cardinal Wojtyla had to challenge them. But when he said “this must be remembered in our time,” he prophetically saw beyond the Polish communists to the problem of the Church in the Modern World.
Thus the problem of the rule of administrators must be remembered in our country today as well. Administrators take hold of our institutions in the name of efficiency or in the name of some shallow program which they sell through empty slogans. They deem themselves “leaders” and come to cajole, manipulate or bully the those who are the repository of cultural life and activity. In the Academy, for example, the initiatives for true cultural renewal must come through those encounters of faculty and students in their common pursuit of truth.
Cardinal Wojtyla encouraged the young, to parents  and  those responsible for education and culture as follows: “We must be enraptured! We must create a community of the enraptured! We must create a climate of enrapture! . . . We need this rapture, so that the lives of man, of society, of the nation may be filled with beauty. That beauty which is the foundation and the wellspring of culture.” (Sept 16 1978; Ibid., p. 830.)
Secularism is fatal to culture because it can no longer hold out an enrapturing vision of the world. Marxism attempts to “immanentize the eschaton” in the future and liberalism promises individual satisfactions or a hedonistic “now.” Only the holy can provide the beauty that enraptures the heart. “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O Lord.” Neither liberal nor Marxist, the “manager”  manipulates for maintaining their own power or validating their own “competence” or “leadership.” But they cannot create or sustain culture, and they often destroy it or suck its energies dry. Wojtyla saw it in the communist manager; we see it in the bureaucratic leaders of our day. Administrative control over education is fatal to education because they must always traffic with the externals of education – the numbers, the money, the PR. The true life of education remains the liberal arts core, the untrammelled pursuit of the true, the good and the beautiful. The springs of culture are indestructible, despite the secularists and the managers. “There lives the deepest freshness deep down things.” In Redemptor hominis John Paul II said in man’s “creative restlessness
beats and pulsates what is most deeply human — the search for truth, the
insatiable need for the good, hunger for freedom, nostalgia for the beautiful,
and the voice of conscience. Seeking to see man as it were with ‘the eyes
of Christ himself’, the Church becomes more and more aware that she is the
guardian of a great treasure, which she may not waste but must continually
increase.” §18 Christian humanism contains the seeds of a constant renewal of culture.
Marian devotion  plays an important role in the renewal of authentic culture.  John Paul II said that in Mary “there was accomplished the stupendous and complete victory of good over evil, of love over hatred, of grace over sin.” Paul VI said “she is the beginning of the better world.” In Fides et ratio  John Paul designated Mary a model for faith and reason, as the table of wisdom, the seat of wisdom. The Polish people make pilgrimage to Jasna Gora to seek the spring of culture: “Jasna Góra is the
shrine of the Nation, the confessional and the altar. It is the place where
Poles find spiritual transformation and renewal of life. May it remain so for
ever.” (John Paul II 1997) So too we need to be pilgrims on the way (viator), climbing the bright hill  (Jasna Góra) towards the seat of Wisdom.


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