Text: Kacper Pietraszewski, Warsaw
Since we played charades together in Cracow, I’ve started to think about the unity. Well, how could it be that Poles were playing with Ukrainians and Russians? They didn’t argue or fight, but spent time together just having fun. Sometimes, when they didn’t understand each other, they were looking for different ways to tell something important or for the words they have in common.
It was now the same unity between us as it was last September, but on the highest possible level. We came to Kiev at the invitation of the local community to spend Easter with them and the community from Russia, to pray for peace and the unity of the Church in the mystery of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection.
We had time to find the way to tell or to understand something important through the signs we have in common.
1. City and suburbs
(Miasto i przedmieścia / Місто і передмістя / Город и пригород)
I was really happy when I’ve heard about the possibility of celebrating Easter in Kiev together, remembering our meeting in Cracow. But my family and some friends were not as joyful as me. ‘There is a war. Look out! It’s dangerous to go there now. You should study.’ But it was my decission.
I’ve never been to Ukraine before. When we’ve finally passed the border, I was surprised. Empty road, empty fields, empty villages. I caught a nap in the bus. When I got up, I had a feeling that I am in the same place as before the nap.
In the morning I visited Maidan. At first glance, it looks normal. People are going to work this way, shops in subways are opened. You can admire everyday life. But if you take a little walk, you will perceive flowers and candles, photos of missing people, paving stones which were ripped out, bullet holes in the walls, broken clock and avenue of the fallen.
Then I’ve heard during a conference, that Christ comes to Jerusalem. And no matter if it is sometimes called Київ or Москва, Warszawa, Санкт-Петербург, Львів, Івано-Франківськ or more anatomically – the heart, he is going through the city.
The city is full of admiration. On the other hand, it is full of anxiety. Gospel asks each of us where are we. The Easter doesn’t mean to follow some mores, but to follow Jesus. But, at first, we have to perceive Him.
People often live in their own worlds. They are blind – not able to recognize the poverty and not able to acknowledge Jesus because of ambitions and the will of success. Well, Jesus dies for us in the suburbs. And I think that I’ve just found the suburbs of my heart.
2. Prayer with martyrs
(Modlitwa z męczennikami / Молитва з мучениками / Молитва с мучениками)
Usually, we are far away from problems. We live in peace and they are on those suburbs. What can we do for brothers who are for example in Kenya or Syria?
We often pray for peace – peace of our hearts, peace in our families, communities and together with Sant’Egidio for the peace among countries and nations. It is somehow important for us. The peace is one of the most universal human needs. It’s not only a matter of diplomacy.
Through the prayer we can take care of those people who need peace. It’s not a matter of helplessness. It’s the first thing we can do and the first step to the unity. But we can’t stop on the first step. Sometimes it’s not enough and martyrs show that we should make peace around us by giving our lives. They didn’t avoid conflicts. They were passing through them to the end.
The instance of martyrs seems to be distant from our lives. How could it be? Me as a martyr? I can’t imagine. But the martyrdom begins when we feel that we are brave enough not to think that we are doing already enough for peace. It begins when we are going out to the suburbs. When we start to worry about the others instead of worrying about ourselves or our success.
Nobody wants to die. Martyrs didn’t want it too, but they decided to do it, for the sake of their neighbors. Their selfish ambitions gave way to humble vocation.
3. Convention and daily bread
(Zjazd i chleb powszedni / З’їзд і хліб насущний / Съезд и хлеб насущный)
We were asked about our vocation and how do we live as the Christians.
Well, we were gathered together. It is one of the earliest Christian activities. Somehow we couldn’t break bread all together during Eucharist, but we could share sandwiches with poor and homeless people and spend some time together to share our thoughts or worries.
We pray ‘Give us this day our daily bread’. The community is a city of poor people, who are asking for bread. I think, we touch this mistery during our meetings.
‘Communion is one of the most beautiful names of the Church’ – said once Brother Roger from Taizé. When religions are used by fanatics, we have to show the beauty of the conventions like this – expressing friendship also in prayer and liturgy.
Will of Jesus was ‘that they may all be one’. He says through the apostolic mandate – ‘Freely you have received; freely give’. The way to the unity among Christians starts here. Its continuation requires more and more humility.
But when we surrender to routine, we can go around in circles. We loose touch, when we start to think, that everything is allright. We should make our brothers more involved in our lives. We can’t merge into one mass. The unity is not unanimity.
(Cisza / Тиша / Тишина)
Silence is accompanied by prayer and adoration. It is a common language, which we can easily understand. In the silence we find answers.
But we can’t be dumb, when our brothers can’t be Christians anymore or even when someone speaks ill of others in our presence.
Also every conflict needs permission which could be our muteness. As Daniil said – too often we think about the sausage. The Gospel is always an answer of the moment.
5. Washing of feet
(Obmycie nóg / Обмивання ніг / Омовение ног)
Each one of us has dirty feet. Each one is able to betray and deny. Jesus is washing the feet of Judas, who is not able to love Him.
Washing of feet is a light and common sign of humility. With such lightness we should approach to the problems. The lightness of a bird (which is able to fly), but not the lightness of a feather (which is empty and doesn’t mean anything).
Our service should be a fruit of mercy, not a fruit of any debt. Our slavery is no time for others. The water of service is a water of baptism, which brings forgiveness for our lives. The limit of love is love without limits. And this sentence touched me most deeply.
I felt during this rite that I can go further by my clean feet.
(Miłosierdzie / Милосердя / Милосердие)
This is a limit imposed upon evil. By mercy, Jesus overcomes the ideology of self-salvation and this meaning of justice which was presented by the Pharisees. Its latin term ‘misericordia’ means to keep the heart near the poor.
Such an approach takes us from selfishness, wakes us to get out of ourselves and leads us to the suburbs.
Faith is a challenge. In the depths we don’t believe that our world can change. Even in our service, there is often a sense of futility, when we think that our poor friends won’t change themselves. But at first, we have to be the change which we expect. The problem is not to change others, but ourselves.
(Krzyż / Хрест / Крест)
In the world, more and more evil is visible. It’s getting harder and harder to breathe. All the time we are looking for the guilty, when the problem is hidden in us. Evil comes from the heart, not from the outside.
We met under the cross. We listened to the Gospel and we were following Jesus in his last way. Then we prayed. From the cross came the Spirit of the unity, Christ gathered the community around the cross despite the distraction of His disciples.
How is it possible to follow the Teacher, who didn’t rescue Himself? Life of Jesus is a mistake, from a logical point of view. He loses His life for the unity. Shouldn’t he win?
Success is an idea of globalization. But we become great by looking at the cross. Jesus didn’t change the Roman Empire. He had a different purpose.
We don’t live for ourselves anymore. We are many parts, but one flesh. We suffer together and we rejoice together. Our prayer for peace and unity beautifully expressed that.
8. Good News
(Dobra Nowina / Добра Звістка / Благая Весть)
If someone hadn’t brought us here, we wouldn’t be here. We would probably ignore the poor still. If someone hadn’t teach us to read, we wouldn’t read the Gospel.
We devote not enough time to the Word of God. The Gospel of everyday life is the Gospel of the cross. But if Christ hasn’t been raised, our preaching is useless and so is our faith. Our tradition is alive only when it is connected with the Gospel (not abstracted from It).
After our convention, I can see clearly, that the Gospel is not only an idea. It’s a reality. We are united and connected by the Word of God. It is the transition from life values to life choices and the example of martyrs shows Its after-effects.
So begins the Culture of the Gospel which is going to be understood tomorrow. We know already, that Cristianity can’t be closed in the tasks of the Church. We are included in the history which the Gospel tells, but It is not of this world, so can we not even try to make It like that?
(Światło / Світло / Свет)
It comforts us. Thanks to the light we can look to the future with hope. We sing Христос Воскрес! And we rejoice fully holding candles!
We want to share this joy as it is said in the Bible: ‘No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.’
Ukrainians and Russians spent Easter with adorable kids from roma camp. When we came back to Poland, we shared bread with homeless people and spent time with our old people as always on Thursdays and Sundays.
(Świętowanie / Святкування / Празднование)
It’s a pity that we couldn’t take part in the liturgy of Easter Vigil all together. But despite differences, we were celebrating the resurrection of the same Jesus Christ. The unity is very close to us. It is stronger than the relationship between our countries and our prejudices. I felt that in Kiev singing:
‘Откажемся от всяких разногласий
и оставим наше самомненье,
чтобы с братьями жить в мире.’
‘Porzućmy naszą niezgodę,
zostawmy nasze uprzedzenia
i żyjmy w pokoju z braćmi.’
‘И будем созерцать мы лик Господень
в кругу Его собрания святого
ныне и в день грядущий.’
‘Kontemplujmy oblicze Pana
pośród Jego świętego zgromadzenia,
teraz i w dniach, które nadejdą.’