A couple things before the great posting by Mary Van Scott from Poland. Following upon Sarah’s volunteering posting, here is a link to read an article from the Arlington Catholic Herald about another Seton grad’s volunteering: (http://www.catholicherald.com) Also, there were two late comments on the entry from 7/14 — “What’s in a Name?” I think you would enjoy reading them. Also, there is a relatively new ripple that you would enjoy from Beth VandeVoorde You must scroll through the 3 previous ripples to get to it. OK, now to Poland.
Blessed be the Name of Jesus.
The Foreign Language Department at Seton has undergone a dramatic if not essential change. The drama was the nice kind: a romance and wedding. The change was one that was welcomed but I predict one that might prove to be implemented only sporadically. (How many times will Seton’s French and German teacher be referred to as “Mrs. Haggerty” in the coming 12 months, instead of by her new name, “Mrs. Schuller”?) But thanks be to God the essentials are the same. Mrs. Johanna Haggerty Schuller will be teaching this coming year at Seton and although she plans to travel more, will keep her house on Jackson Avenue in Manassas.
Did you know that her basement on Jackson Avenue was the first Seton French classroom? Up until her youngest child began school, Seton French students (they didn’t have German back then) drove the mile or so to one of Seton’s many off-site facilities (Mass at All Saints, Driver’s Ed. at Osborn, gym class all over town, etc.) to re-learn how to pronounce the letter “r” and to find out that nouns come in two genders. For those of you who did not study French in the 70’s and thus didn’t say the year and date every class in French: did you know that the French words for 77, 78, etc. translate as “sixty-seventeen, sixty-eighteen” and so on? Just giving some deep background here.
I met Mrs. Haggerty when she came to Seton to give us a pro-life presentation in 1976, and then the next year when I signed up for French I. I kept with the French for my whole Seton career, eventually exchanging tutoring for babysitting the five (at that time) little Haggertys. One of my clearest memories is the day they all came down with stomach flu just as Mrs. Haggerty got home from the weekly grocery shopping. I always liked those kids and that day I was especially grateful to them as they somehow managed to put off the unpleasantries until their Mom pulled into the driveway and it was time for me to go home. What I remember best is one of them greeting her at the front door saying, “Mommy I don’t feel well” and then producing irrefutable evidence there on the stairs. One of the others was right behind with a follow-up maneuver. Mrs. Haggerty took care of the mess just calmly saying, “I hope when I get to purgatory I won’t have to clean up any more throwup.”
Mrs. Haggerty and I stayed in touch and see each other once in a while in Virginia. But last month she and her new husband Paul Schuller came to Central Europe on their wedding trip. Did you know that Mrs. Haggerty (whoops! Mrs. Schuller) was born in Germany and didn’t come to America until she was about 12? Her lack of accent has always seemed to me a proof of her language skills. She was born in Breslau—at that time part of Germany but now part of Poland and known as Wroclaw—and was visiting there as well as other places of interest in Germany and Poland, also with stopoffs in Prague and Vienna. Now that I am living in Poland we decided to meet in Czestochowa, which is about halfway between where I live and where she and her groom were staying, and is always a good place to visit since it is one of the principle Marian shrines of Central Europe.
The attraction for Czestochowa is the famous icon of Our Lady at the Shrine of Jasna Gora (“Bright Hill”). For more than 600 years the “Black Madonna” has reigned in Czestochowa; her shrine a place of refuge and pilgrimage for Poles as well as many others. Centuries of exposure and candle smoke have darkened the Jasna Gora icon and earned her the nickname “Black Madonna.” Legend has it that the icon was painted by none other than St. Luke himself, but the actual history of the icon gets lost in the mists of time after tracing back a few centuries. A very striking trait of the Black Madonna image is the two slash marks on her right cheek. These were made centuries ago by an invader’s sword, when Jasna Gora was a fortress in a very real sense of the word, and the enemies of the Church had infiltrated all the way to her altar. Subsequent efforts to repair the image were unsuccessful and the slash marks have come to take on a deeply symbolic meaning, representing Mary’s full participation in the life and tribulations of her children.
August is a good month to be writing about the Black Madonna because the feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa falls on August 26. It is a beautiful time of year here: warm, sunny weather but not overly hot or humid; the open-air markets everywhere are bursting with color and locally grown fruits and vegetables that in this cool climate you only see for a few weeks out of the whole year. July and much, much more so, August, are the time of the traditional walking pilgrimages from all parts of Poland to the shrine. In this agrarian, northern society August is a time of a temporary lull in much of the farm work, waiting for the late August harvests, and tradition has decreed it the month for pilgrimage. In fact every year on the first Sunday of August at Masses all over the country a letter from the bishops is read, reminding everyone that August is a special month to Poland (several miracles, in varying eras including both early and late 20th century, with a nature of defending Poland’s national identity, have taken place in August) and for that reason all people are strongly recommended to refrain from alcohol and tobacco as a thanksgiving offering.
I have had the experience of walking from Lublin to Czestochowa on pilgrimage five different times. It’s a 12-day walk covering a little more than 200 miles. Usually about 3000 people go on the Lublin pilgrimage. Multiply that by all the cities and towns in Poland and you get an idea of how many people make these pilgrimages! Some travel for three, even four weeks.
The first few pilgrimages were arriving in Czestochowa the days the Schullers were in Poland. There was no pilgrimage coming in the day we met at Czestochowa but there WAS a conference of exorcists meeting there all that week!
We weren’t able to spend much time together; the Schullers had driven about 200 miles from Wroclaw and had to get back that night and, as they found out, 200 miles on Polish roads is NOT the same as on the expressway! At least, though, the days are very long in July and the scenery was beautiful. I drove our 17-year-old station wagon from the opposite direction and met them at the shrine. Even though they were the tourists/visitors and I am the more or less “local,” they arrived a little early for our rendezvous (notice the French influence here) while I got there about an hour late. We were going to meet outside the monastery at a huge statue of Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, mentor of Karol Wojtyla and known as “the Primate of the Millennium” (and you NEED to know more about him than this much.) I spotted the Schullers right away from a distance as they paced back and forth looking around, probably looking for me, occasionally looking up at the sky although whether in appeal to higher Powers or possibly hoping I might fall down from that direction, I don’t know.
We went into the church and “greeted” Our Lady. Masses run pretty much all day there in the summer and one was just getting underway, in Polish of course. We decided to attend it and I had the surreal experience of being in the same room as Mrs. (Haggerty) Schuller SPEAKING A LANGUAGE THAT SHE DOESN’T KNOW. How many people can say that? (She would say she doesn’t speak Spanish but I don’t count that because she speaks French and Italian fluently and also knows Latin. So how much Spanish does she really NOT know?)
The picture is in a large side chapel. After Mass we walked through the main church with its profuse marble, immense organ, many statues and curlicues all over the place. Mrs. Schuller took one look and remarked, “Some Italian must have decorated this.” In the chapel the walls are just covered with votive offerings to Our Lady of Czestochowa: clustered strings of amber and coral necklaces are a favorite gift as well as crutches and other symbols of prayers answered. In the main church the motif is definitely Rococo (Italian for “over the top Baroque”).
Back outside we had to skip the beautiful outdoor stations and Rosary mysteries and the various small museums because of lack of time. Try not to be disappointed when I tell you we ate hamburgers for lunch. They really are noticeably different here. And I need to mention that we visited the restrooms where as Mrs. Schuller and I left the ladies room the attendant lit into us “be sure to put your money in the box not like that man who just left the men’s room!” (Polish bathrooms are almost never free.) Mr. Schuller was outside waiting for us, “What was that lady yelling at me about?” he asked.
We talked a little about the wedding. They said the idea of a small wedding had come up but the bride knew that after living in the area for so long and with the thriving Seton community, a quiet wedding at All Saints wasn’t likely. She spoke glowingly of the beautiful music the Seton choir provided, with many of her favorite classical pieces. When I asked how I could get pictures of the wedding they just smiled and said they didn’t know if anyone had taken any, since all their children were in the wedding party and thus unable to photograph things. Somehow I think somewhere there may just be a few photos. Maybe we could post a few on this site?
From Poland, Mr. and Mrs. Schuller, wszytkiego najlepszego na wielu szczesliwych lat, a niech Matka Boska Czestochowska was towarzy przy kazdy krok!