The Bishops of Poland have just been spending a week on retreat.
The retreat at Poland’s National Shrine in Częstochowa started on Tuesday and concluded today (Friday 22nd November) with a Holy Mass in memory of deceased bishops.
Leading the retreat was Father Ryszard Szydki, Oblate of Mary Immaculate, and General Secretary of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith, under the theme “Jezusowe wezwanie do ewangelizacji” (Jesus' call to evangelism.)
On Wednesday, during Holy Mass, the Apostolic Nuncio to Poland Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio said, “The Black Madonna remains a clear and certain reference point.”
“I am very grateful to the Chairman of the Archbishop’s [conference] and all of you, dear brothers, for the invitation to preside over this Mass. I am really touched that it is here, at Jasna Góra that I am having my first meeting with the whole Polish Episcopate who are gathered here around the altar under the care of the Mother of God on their annual retreat.”
“I offer this Mass for the intentions of each of you and your diocesan communities, and also I’m offering prayers for the intention of deceased bishops.”
In his homily, Father Szmydki spoke about witnessing to the truth. He recalled the persecution of Christians in, among others, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and China.
"We do not know if and when we will be asked provide witness to the Gospel and to suffer persecution for the faith. Until then we proceed in the way of love, which is given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ, as in his true testimony on the cross. This is the way of love - patient, persevering love, " he stressed.
On Thursday morning Holy Mass was celebrated in the Chapel of the Mother of God [where the Black Madonna ikon is] by the Metropolitan of Warszawa, Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz.
During the four days of the retreat bishops listened to eight discourses. The first talk was based on the topic “Idźcie i głoście” (Go and preach!)
On the second day of the conference the bishops listened to the three lectures – “Ojciec posyła Syna” (The Father sends the Son), “Jezus Chrystus posyła uczniów” (Jesus Christ sends the disciples) and “Kościół misyjny z natury” (The Church, missionary in nature.)
Yesterday, retreat preacher Father Szmydki gave three more talks entitled, “Biada mi gdybym nie głosił” (Woe to me if I do not preach,) “Głoście Ewangelię” (Preach the Gospel) and “Będziecie moimi świadkami” (You will be my witnesses.)
The final talk today was on the theme „Matka ewangelizacji” (Mother of evangelization.)
This year the reading book accompanying the bishops is "God or Nothing: A Conversation on Faith" by Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship, which is a record of a conversation he had with Cardinal Nicolas Diat.
The Retreat ended with Holy Mass in the Chapel of the Mother of God with the main celebrant being the Primate of Poland, Archbishop Wojciech Polak.
Interestingly, at the same time that the Bishops were having their retreat, there was a parallel retreat for bishops’ chauffers.