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A Little Way To Praise God
I grew up in Wilbraham near the Indian Orchard section of Springfield. In the 1940’s that part of the world was like a Little Poland. Our church was Polish – our school was Polish… our markets were Polish… our doctors were Polish. People spoke Polish at home, in school, at work and in the stores.
One of the beautiful customs I remember growing up with was the greeting: “Niech bedzie pochwalone Jezus Chrystus!” Anytime you met someone older in the street, you never just said, “Hello, how are you?…” You said, “Niech bedzie pochwalone Jezus Chrystus! to which, of course they answered, “Na wieki wiekow, Amen!” Whenever you visited someone, as soon as they opened the door they always greeted you with, “Niech bedzie pochwalone Jezus Chrystus!” Even when writing a letter, you began it with “Niech bedzie pochwalone Jezus Chrystus!”
So what does that mean? “Niech bedzie pochwalone Jezus Chrystus!” means “Praised be Jesus Christ”, and the answer “Na wieki wieko Amen!” means “Forever and ever, Amen!” This custom was a little thing, but it was a beautiful way of praising God and proclaiming our faith… implying that everything we do is for the glory of God… even meeting and greeting our friends!
The point of that old custom was to remind us that nothing is too important and nothing is too insignificant but that it is for the glory of God!… It reminded us that all time and all places must be used to praise God!… It reminded us that every one we meet gives glory to God!… It reminded us that everything has its beginning and end with God!
That custom of greeting each other with “Niech bedzie pochwalone Jezus Chrystus!” has today, among Polish Americans, become somewhat limited to very formal occasions and to church. TOO BAD! It was a beautiful way to honor God and to remind ourselves that we are always in the presence of God!
But there are other ways to honor God. Most people today wouldn’t know what you are saying if you greeted them with “Niech bedzie pochwalone Jezus Chrystus!” But we can still honor God in our greetings if we simply meet each other with kindness, patience, charity, and respect. If we take time to lovingly listen… if we recognize that everyone we meet is created in God’s loving image, and if we treat them accordingly… as our true brothers and sisters in Jesus!
The point is… Our prayer greeting praising God need not necessarily be verbal… but it must be from the heart. We may not be able to praise God with our voices, but we can praise Him with our love.
The old custom was beautiful… but the Christ-like love we share will be much more beautiful! “Niech bedzie pochwalone Jezus Chrystus!”