News > 17/4/2012
The spiritual side of the festival
What kinds of spiritual elements featured in the Over the Moonbah festival? John Molski shares his thoughts in this opinion piece.
The essence of a human being is an immortal and indestructible soul. A person without a soul is called a zombie. The soul provides the inspirational spirit that sparks the intellect and powers the body.One piece of evidence supporting this is the plethora of academic literature describing the architecture of successful organizational structures such as Kozzie Fest 2012. They say that the driving force of an effective enterprise is its invisible, virtual shell that galvanizes the inspirational spiritual powers of its inter-connected network of human stakeholders to achieve the goal of providing them with significant growth in value. These organizational theories have proved their worth to such an extent that many businesses are (re)structuring themselves along religious lines: their inscribed spiritual mission sacredly enshrined in the minds of executives, re-designated as evangelists, who seize the advantage of their spiritual consciousness to more successfully close profitable deals.
The soul is exposed to many emotional valences: some pleasant; others unpleasant. The human will is the driving force within the soul that transforms unpleasant emotional valences into the pleasant, in response to the body's physical and intellectual desires. That was my first spiritual observation after checking in to the Jindabyne Lake Hotel on Friday afternoon and exploring the surroundings. To be loved, you've got to be lovable. Most chicks love guys who are physically fit and superbly sculpted: hunks with broad shoulders and a narrow backside. As I proceeded to the bar, I passed the hotel's gym in which a group of men were developing their sense of qualia. Each had a sick smile on their face as they welcomed as a friend, the gruelling suffering they voluntarily inflicted on their sweating bodies from their tortuous gym workouts: their spirit oblivious to the pain exuding from their straining muscles. Oh, the agony for the right to a beautiful woman! To conquer without danger is to triumph without glory, as I reflected upon the priest's homilies from the recent Easter Triduum.
As an aside, my own interest in training the soul to maximize the power of the human spirit was aroused from practical experience. After a period of religious apostasy from my late teens to my late twenties, I changed my profession from Accountancy to teaching (Accounting, Finance and Business Law). As a teacher, I had to analyze the development of Accounting intrinsically and bathed myself in its spiritual history (the father of Accounting is internationally recognized as Friar Luca Pacioli – a Franciscan monk and friend of Leonardo da Vinci). Nowadays my concept of beauty is benchmarked against the harmony one experiences from the pulchritude of a perfectly balanced set of financial reports. Be that as it may, as I get easily bored. I need to attack complex challenges to keep me amused for any length of time. Thus, early in my teaching career I decided to specialize and rejoiced at the opportunity of teaching difficult students. I didn't achieve much with them using traditional teaching methods. I reflected back to the religious teaching of my youth, and experimented by interweaving the training of their soul into my teaching paradigm. Initially it was mentally exhausting to battle their resistance and strip away the defense mechanisms of street smart people, to reach into their soul and understand their thinking. But I wore them down and learned that toughs admire somebody who is not a wimp and is mentally tougher than they are. With some fine tuning, academic performance of many of them significantly improved.
There were many highlights of the first day of K'Ozzie Fest 2012 (Saturday) and by definition, each of the arts on show (singing, dancing, acting, et hoc genus omne) always contribute a spiritual dimension to the celebrations. However, I shall dwell on the ones that captured my attention.
Of course the opening celebration of the Holy Mass at Moonbah, bi-lingually concelebrated by the local Parish Priest (Father Peter Miller) and our visiting Polish Priest, Father Wieslaw Wojcik (Director, Instytut Duszpasterstwa Emigracyjnego, headquartered in Poznan) is the epitome of spiritual ecstasy for a soul receptive to be strengthened and improved. There were so many different textures to experience in this most exciting event for those with the right attitude. The liturgy of the Holy Eucharist is the climax of Holy Mass and the ultimate test of faith (which is fuel to the soul). Under the Doctrine of Transubstantiation, as defined by the Council of Trent, the Holy Eucharist is "the wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body of Christ and the whole substance of the wine into the Blood of Christ, the species of bread and wine remaining" through the priest, in persona Christi. The Holy Eucharist nourishes the soul with supernatural grace, so necessary for its ultimate union with God.
Another part of the Mass which especially caught my attention was the Liturgy of the Word and the Homily delivered by Father Wojcik. As an information professional, I respect a craftsman who is able to weld together the words of a natural language, spiced with appropriate attention grabbing hooks in the right places to construct and artistically deliver a hypnotic sermon, tailored to the understanding of the audience, that marches to a logical climactic crescendo necessary to burn the message into the minds of the faithful. To affect me, the message must be subtly constructed in such a way that not only the words themselves become important, but the implied meaning behind the words also gnaws on your conscience later on. In this Father Wojcik is a sculptor par excellence.
Spirituality is the key to understanding Aboriginal Culture. In fact spirituality is synonymous with culture (barbarism is the antonym). I was fascinated by the cool use of the didgeridoo in mainstream music by Mr Arkadiusz Buczek, from Poland. I wonder what our Aboriginal friends thought of this?
On Saturday evening I immensely enjoyed the piano concerts presented by Miss Olivia Urbaniak and Mr Krzysztof Malek. Being partially deaf myself, I couldn't hear the music as a normal person can, but sufficiently understood its power and emotional impact. I may be deaf, but I am not blind. So I concentrated on Mr. Malek's body language (especially facial expressions). From this, I did not need the standing ovations at the end of his concerts to appreciate that he reached right into his inner self for his inspiration and was in consanguinity with the Angels in Heaven in the perfection of his interpretation of Chopin's music.
During intermission, I was pleasantly surprised to renew acquaintance with my former dentist, Mrs Ewa Walczak and catch up on events of mutual interest from the time we lost contact. I mention this because Dr. Walczak is an excellent dentist who exudes a spirit of caring and kindness in the treatment of her patients. A real man should be fearless, especially in the presence of a lady. But I must confess here in this report on spirituality, to an act of cowardice. I am ashamed that I still insist on pain killing injections when having teeth extracted or drilled; and no amount of prayer will help me overcome the odontophobia that attached to me from childhood.
On Sunday I decided to do penance as contrition for this shame by climbing Mt. Kosciuszko instead of being driven to the summit. Here I had to confront my only other phobia, which is a fear of heights. I was petrified (this is a euphemism I use in polite company, for how I really felt) in the ski lift and closing my eyes didn't help because I could imagine what was happening. But here, a prayer I learned from the legendary Father Lavery of Greta Migrant Camp helped me conquer the fear (repeated all the way up the lift, with my eyes tight shut): "Jesus Mercy, Mary Help me". What an appropriate little prayer to have in this generation used to 20 second sound bites. The 6.5 km climb to the summit was an experience of joyful suffering necessary to shed about 10 grams of fat around my stomach, followed by an easy descent (but was cancelled out by a McDonalds triple burger later on).
The purpose of my climb was to attend the historical summit Holy Mass atop Mt. Kosciuszko courageously celebrated by Father Wojcik, himself. Overnight, Father Wojcik succumbed to a strong fever from a gastro-enteritis virus from which he had not yet recovered and no amount of Panadol could stop the throbbing head-ache throughout the day. He demonstrated great stamina in not only managing to climb the last (and steepest) 1.6 kms, but also to conduct a deeply emotional Holy Mass, 2.2 kms closer to heaven, with his usual stirring sermon. The homilies in both the Moonbah Mass and the summit Mass were constructed around the theme of: "Year of Gratitude for the Beatification of Blessed Pope John Paul 2". Father Wojcik placed a portrait of Pope John Paul the Great on the makeshift granite altar as a pictorial focus for his sermon. The late Pope would have been extremely delighted because he regularly hiked the mountains south of Poland.
This Mass was an intimate experience with only about a dozen Polish people willing to make the necessary sacrifice to participate. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the occasion and my attention frequently drifted to my surroundings. There is nothing romantic about a piece of granite. Yet the ugly granite pieces together with the mountain weeds growing from the harsh soil, fused into the massive mountain created by ancient tectonic forces, covered by a slightly cloudy blue sky, provided a glorious and appropriate setting for this unforgettable Mass. I reflected on the similarities to the time of Jesus, with a small number of dedicated faithful, a few other interested observers and others totally oblivious to the significance of the occasion.
I congratulate Mrs Ernestyna Skurjat-Kozek for her inspiration and massive amount of effort to drive this world class program for K'Ozzie Fest 2012 to fruition. A program catering for a wide variety of interests: from the gorgeously performed cabaret, the classical music, the didgeridoo music, Lajkonik and Kujawy dancing groups, the Celtic Pipers Band, the friendship flights, the official launch of the fact sheets and my brother Felix's booklet "The Best of Human Nature: Strzelecki's Humanitarian Work in Ireland" by the Polish Consul-General, Mr Daniel Gromann, and of course, the all-important spiritual Holy Masses, which bound everything together.
I only use superlatives where they are truly appropriate and usually I am very difficult to please. Having experienced my 2nd Kozzie Fest, the standard of this and last year's program will have me coming back for more. I have no hesitation to highly recommend future Kozzie Fests to anybody that may care to listen. Any Poles who do not actively support such a public display of exciting Polish Culture in conjunction with our Aboriginal and Irish friends together with the whole Snowy Mountains community, should hang their heads in shame!
All photographs by Puls Polonii
Text and photographs courtesy of Puls Polonii