To-day nearly an hundred catholics, mostly parishioners of long standing, returned for the third week, for a prayer service in front of their confiscated parish. They engaged in an inspiring programme of song, and prayer, in a most respectful, and solemn manner. They began at 11.30 a.m. in front of an impromptu shrine. Upon the fence, in front of the boarded church, there was the white and red of Poland, candles, and four pictures: two of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, one of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and one of John Paul the Great.
Some of the hymns, that they sang, were the same Bishop Lennon heard when he was taking their parish. Much of the service was Marian in nature, hymns and carols of the old country and the new were sung. Patriotic hymns of the old country, and the new were sung. Decades of the rosary were prayed in polish.
Flags were held: a colonial american, polish national with the eagle, and a large Solidarność flag. And the people were in solidarity, in solidarity with the church, with each other, with the centuries, with the old nation, with the new country, with other faithful catholics whom had and will have their parishes wrenched from them. The preponderance was in polish, but the solidarity was with all the faithful. There in an embryonic form was being created a 'sodality', a catholic fellowship (most often under the patronage of Mary, the Mother of God).
They were truly conservative. They wanted to conserve their parish and faith. They were holding ground in front of an aggressively activist autocrat, whom was tearing the fabric of solidarity. His actions will have people leave the ancient faith, some may go to another rite, or to a group in schism or in heresy, some will go nowhere. These firm believers were doing what was done in the old country, when occupiers and unbelievers closed and destroyed churches, they gathered in the same location and prayed. Here in Cleveland they prayed without clergy. The clergy are flagging, they are failing to lead, some are fearful. At one time the United States had some crusading and fearless priests. Much of the laity is also apathetic, many are fearful, and many have been taught to be fearful and obedient, some enjoy submission.
When the bolsheviks took over Holy Mother Russia, and later many communists in other lands, they believed religion would die out when the current, aged, stubborn believers passed from this earth. Old women gathered in the time of Vladimir Ilič Lenin, and after, to pray and light candles in front of suppressed, and closed, and demolished churches. Seventy years later, under Mikhail Sergejevič Gorbachev, old women were doing the same. They were not the same old women. The communists are now out of power in europe. Churches are being rebuilt. In the diocese of Lennongrad, Ohio the parishes of eastern europeans are being suppressed. Some people are keeping a faithful and prayerful vigil.