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Lent  (Wielki Post) *  Ash Wednesday (Sroda Popielocowa)
Stations of the Cross (Droga Krzyzowa)

Wielki Post * Lent

        Wielki Post means literally "the Great Fast." Lent is a time of special services, retreats, fasting and individual acts of penance. Liquor and raucous entertainment are avoided, and very few weddings take place. Meat and snacks are avoided on Ash Wednesday and Fridays during this period. For Polish Catholics, Lent is the most reflective spiritual season, a time of the church calendar cycle for prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and reflection on the mystical nature of redemption. Specific to the Polish Roman Catholic celebration of Lent is the Lenten Lamentations or Gorzkie Zale, which are sung each week throughout Polonia. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.

* See W. Piechowski's Crucifixion painting, Ukrzyzowanie

Popielec, Sroda Popielocowa * Ash Wednesday

  Following Paczki Day, Ash Wednesday traditionally ends the period of pre-Lenten merriment known as Karnawal or Zapusty and ushers in 40 days of fast and penance in preparation for Easter. Priests mark the heads of the faithful with a cross of ashes while saying, Pamietaj, czlowiecze, ze z prochu powstales i w proch sie obrocisz. (Remember, man, thou art dust and to dust thou shall return.) Polish Catholicism, unlike popular American culture, does not avoid the subject of death, but embraces the truths of mortality.

* See Malczewski's symbolist masterpiece, Death (Smierc)

Droga Krzyzowa * Stations of the Cross

  Like other Roman Catholics, Poles perform the Way of the Cross devotion year-round, but focus intensely on it during Lent. Each of the 14 Stations represents one moment of the Lord's Passion and Death. The faithful follow the Priest through the church, kneeling at each station. The Polish Stations are for the most part chanted/sung. 
  Similar to all Catholic Way of the Cross devotions, each Station begins with the Priest intoning: "Klaniamy Ci sie Panie Jezu i blogoslawimy Tobie" (We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You), the congregation then responds: "Zes przez krzyz i meke swoja swiat odkupil." (Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.) After the reflective content of each station, it is concluded with an Ojcze nasz, Zdrowas Maryjo, Chwala Ocju...(Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be). Finally the Priest chants, "Ktorys za nas cierpial rany," and the congregation responds, "Jezu Chryste, zmiluj sie nad nami." (Christ, Have mercy on us.) This concluding refrain echoes the Kyrie of the Mass, and also concludes the Gorzkie Zale.

* Gothic Cross of St. Hedwig/Sw. Jadwiga in Wawel Cathedral
* Text of Our Father/Hail Mary/Glory Be in Polish/English
* Find numerous versions of Online Stations at Easter Links

External Links:
* History of Stations of the Cross in the Western Church

* The Easter Tree: online story introduces young children to
     the Lord's Passion (in English)
* Passionist Website of Lenten and Easter prayer (in English)
* Prayers for young children  for each week of Lent (in English)