Traditional Polish service in Carnegie has its devotees during Lent
Parishioners at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton attending a special traditional Polish service called “Gorzkie Zale,” or “Bitter Lamentations,” find solace in its somber tone.
“It gives me strength,” said Bernice Zyzak, 82, who has been attending a Gorzkie Zale service since she was a child.
The trial of Christ on the day he was crucified is chronologically outlined in the service and expressed through poems, meditations and hymns.
Zyzak, of Mt. Lebanon, along with 30 to 50 others, attend the service held every Sunday in addition to the regular Mass at the newly renovated St. Luke's school building on Third Avenue in Carnegie.
The ceremony is held during Lent at 3 p.m. and goes through Palm Sunday.
The service includes deliberately chosen hymns and chants that describe the sufferings that Christ endured as well as meditations from the Virgin Mary.
Much of the service includes traditional symbolism, including incense to represent honor and prayers, white robes worn by the liturgy to represent a cleanliness that is achieved through baptism and the chair on which the priest sits, which represents the authority to preach on behalf of Jesus.
Even the time of the service is symbolic, echoing the time of Christ's death, said the Rev. David Poecking, pastor at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.
“The feeling that you get from this is a certain determination to plod on through one's sufferings,” he said.
By keeping the Polish language and tradition, the service pulls together elements of Christ and Mary's sufferings with the struggles that surround Polish history.
“The Poles, well, they had more than their share of suffering,” Poecking said.
“There's this feeling of intense suffering (in the service),” he said. “The Poles have frequently identified their suffering as a people with the sufferings of Jesus and Mary. Certainly that's part of the whole Polish spirituality.”
Much of the service is in Polish or Latin while some of it is spoken in English. But the differences in language and tradition shouldn't deter any Christians from attending, everyone can get something out of it, Zyzak said.
Most of the people who attend might know Polish in some capacity but for those who don't know any at all, programs are handed out that have both English and Polish translations.
The service starts with the procession of Fr. Miro Stelmaszczyk, who presides over it, and Peter Muszalski, 17, of Rosslyn Farms, who serves as an assistant, or acolyte.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Pittsburgh are the only two churches Poecking knows of that continue this service, which started during the 18th century in Warsaw.
The service changes slightly each week with different hymns and chants but always ends the same way.
“Our Gorzkie Zale concludes with adoration and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, most any Catholic — not only Poles — would find the service familiar and rewarding,” Poecking said in a release about the ceremony.
Matthew DeFusco is a reporter with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-871-2311 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ailing Carlynton senior receives support during recovery
- Bridgeville jam session gains a following
- Oyler: Rail fans emerge after recent musings
- Fundraiser aims to help Chartiers Valley’s arts programs
- New pastor appointed at Holy Trinity Ukrainian church in Carnegie
- Chartiers Valley officials want to slow down traffic on Thoms Run