The most prominent theme in Polish Catholic sermons from the late 19th and early 20th centuries was death and damnation, and fear was the corresponding pedagogical lever. The world was typically depicted as a realm of unrelenting suffering and sin, and the Christian challenge was to endure this “Vale of Tears” while awaiting one’s reward in the next life. In such a world, trying to right social wrongs or improve one’s own position was at best pointless, at worst a sign of hubris. Only after WWII did the transition to a less otherworldly form of Catholicism begin to take hold. This shift was linked to the Second Vatican Council’s depiction of God as a benevolent deity offering universal salvation, rather than an implacable judge carefully guarding the gates of heaven. As the specter of hell receded somewhat from Catholic rhetoric, priests in Poland found ways to repackage their old moral concerns about materialism, greed, pride, indolence, and above all sexuality. Moving away from earlier jeremiads, Polish priests were increasingly prone to describe their flocks as besieged, innocent victims of a hostile world. Meanwhile, the consequences of sin were similarly transposed to a national level, as the prospect of hell was replaced by warnings about the social impact of avarice or lust.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.