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Saturday, August 15, 2009

After Party for the Madonna

My fifteen seconds are up. That's how long Kaia was willing to listen to my explanation of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. When we got to the word "concupiscence," she bailed. You may wonder what prompted this explanation in the first place. That's easy. The Feast of the Assumption of Mary. And, should you wonder about that, the Feast of the Assumption of Mary is a national holiday in Poland. And it's today. "You have got to be kidding," she says. We say that a lot in this house. There are an awful lot of outrageous things said around here and most of them are not true. So, when someone says, "You've got to be kidding!" chances are they are. But not about this. Today, August 15, is a national holiday in Poland. That's right, on a par with Independence Day, Easter and Easter Monday, Corpus Christi, two National holidays (May Day, and May 3), New Year's Day, and the first and second days of Christmas (December 25 and 26). Tell me Poland is not still very much a so-called Catholic country. At least on the calendar. Mary, as in The Virgin Mary, is often (and still, though more rarely) referred to as the Queen of Poland. You may remember the late Pope John Paul II's reverence for Mary, and perhaps you saw Lech Walesa back in the day, never seen without an icon of the Virgin on his lapel. Mary saved Poland. In a most famous battle with the Swedes, in 1655, the Poles were pushed back to their battlements on the hills of a small village called Czestochowa. To make a long -- and lovely -- story short, a miracle occurred in the night. The Swedish army was repelled by a small band of monks and local volunteers. The Jasna Gora monastery itself at Czestochowa was saved and along with it, Polish sovereignty. A beloved icon -- portrait -- of the Virgin Mary presided over this monastery in Czestochowa and it was to her the Pole's had prayed in preparation for this monumental battle. The portrait had become darkened over time and was known by all as The Black Madonna. She is still there, a gorgeous painting, a mystical icon, revered by Poles, including some who are not even religious. She saved Poland. The Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven, interceded on behalf of the fervent Polish nation and they were saved. Throughout the Roman Catholic Church communion, today is celebrated as the day Mary was assumed into heaven. And, in gratitude to her, and in her honor, today is a national day of celebration in Poland. There are some who will be celebrating a bit differently this year. In fact, it is not likely they will be paying much attention to the Virgin Mother, Queen of Heaven, at all. Madonna is giving a concert in Warsaw tonight. And not only was I invited, I'm invited to the After Party at You & I club. Irony of ironies. There are a lot of ticked off Polish Catholics today. "How dare she?" Today, of all days. And it wasn't even planned by those infernal communists. They're gone. Nah, it's those capitalists who set this up. Music as business. Madonna as a hot property. That's the way it is these days. It's all about the dollar. Isn't that the meaning of freedom? About the party...shall I go?

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