St Augustine’s Church
Tunbridge Wells

Requiem Mass
for
STASZEK KOCHANSKI

Tlumacz, Poland 3.8.23
Tunbridge Wells 25.2.99


Tuesday 2nd March 1999

Opening Hymn

Abide with me, fast falls the eventide;
the darkness deepens, Lord, with me abide!
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
change and decay in all around I see;
O thou who changest not, abide with me.

I need thy presence every passing hour;
what but thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who like thyself my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.

I fear no foe with thee at hand to bless;
ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if thou abide with me.

Hold thou thy Cross before my closing eyes;
shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies;
heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me!

 

First Reading

Wisdom 3:1-6,9

The souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God:
   no torment will ever touch them.
In the eyes of the unwise, they did appear to die,
   their going looked like a disaster,
   their leaving us, like annihilation;
   but they are in peace.

If they experienced punishment as men see it,
   their hope was rich with immortality.
Slight was their affliction,
   great will their blessings be.

God has put them to the test
   and proved them worthy to be with him:
   he has tested them like gold in a furnace,
   and accepted them as a holocaust.

They who trust in him will understand the truth,
   those who are faithful will live with him in love;
   for grace and mercy await those he has chosen.

   

Psalm

Psalm 90 (91)

He who lives under the protection of the Most High
   dwells under the shade of the Almighty.
He will say to the Lord:
   "You are my shelter and my strength,
   my God, in whom I trust."

For he will free you from the hunter's snare,
   from the voice of the slanderer.
He will shade you with his wings,
   you will hide underneath his wings.
His faithfulness will be your armour and your shield.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
   nor the arrow that flies by day;
nor the plague that walks in the shadows,
   nor the death that lays waste at noon.

A thousand will fall at your side,
   at your right hand ten thousand will fall,
   but you it will never come near.
You will look with your eyes
   and see the reward of sinners.
For the Lord is your shelter and refuge;
   you have made the Most High your dwelling-place.
Evil will not reach you,
   harm cannot approach your tent;
for he has set his angels to guard you
   and keep you safe in all your ways.

They will carry you in their arms
   in case you hurt your foot on a stone.
You walk on the viper and cobra,
   you will tread on the lion and the serpent.

Because he clung to me, I shall free him:
   I shall lift him up because he knows my name.
He will call upon me and for my part, I will hear him:
   I am with him in his time of trouble.
I shall rescue him and lead him to glory.
I shall fill him with length of days
   and show him my salvation.

   

Second Reading

1 Corinthians 15:20-23

Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep. Death came through one man and in the same way the resurrection of the dead has come through one man. Just as all men die in Adam, so all men will be brought to life in Christ; but all of them in their proper order: Christ as the first-fruits and then, after the coming of Christ, those who belong to him.

   

Gospel

Luke 2:22-32

When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord - observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord: every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord - and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.

Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel's comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord.

Prompted by the Spirit, Simeon came to the Temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God: and he said:

Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace, just as you promised;
because my eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all the nations to see,
a light to enlighten the pagans, and the glory of your people Israel.

   

Bidding Prayers

Priest: God, the almighty Father, raised Christ his Son from the dead; with confidence we ask him to save all his people, living and dead:

Reader:
For Staszek, who in baptism was given the pledge of eternal life, that he may now be admitted to the company of the saints.
Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.
For our brother who ate the body of Christ, the bread of life, that he may be raised up on the last day.
Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.
For all those who have fallen asleep in Christ, that they may see God face to face.
Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.
For Staszek's family and friends, that the Lord may console them, who wept at the death of his friend Lazarus.
Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.
For all who must live their lives far from the place where they were born, that they may not look back in sadness, but take the path they have been called to follow.
Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.
For the rest of us, for we too are exiles and hope one day to return to our true home with God.
Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.
For us all, that faced with eternity we may forget all distractions and turn our minds to what truly is.
Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.
Our Lady stood at the foot of the cross and believed it to be the end of everything. We ask her to pray for us as we say:
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee;
blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

Priest: God our shelter and strength, you listen in love to the cry of your people. Hear the prayers we offer for our departed brother Staszek. Cleanse him and all the faithful departed of their sins and grant them the fulness of redemption.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

 

Offertory Hymn

Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you.
I have called you by your name; you are mine.

When you walk through the waters, I’ll be with you.
You will never sink beneath the waves.
Do not be afraid...

When the fire is burning all around you,
you will never be consumed by the flames.
Do not be afraid...

When the fear of loneliness is looming,
then remember I am at your side.
Do not be afraid...

When you dwell in the exile of the stranger,
remember you are precious in my eyes.
Do not be afraid...

You are mine, O my child; I am your Father,
and I love you with a perfect love.
Do not be afraid...

 

Communion Hymn

The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want.
He makes me down to lie
in pastures green. He leadeth me
the quiet waters by.

My soul he doth restore again,
and me to walk doth make
within the paths of righteousness,
e’en for his own name's sake.

Yea, though I walk in death’s dark vale,
yet will I fear none ill.
For thou art with me, and thy rod
and staff me comfort still.

My table thou hast furnishèd
in presence of my foes,
my head thou dost with oil anoint,
and my cup overflows.

Goodness and mercy all my life
shall surely follow me.
And in God’s house for evermore
my dwelling-place shall be.

 

A Personal Tribute

Martin Kochanski

I should like to start by thanking you all for coming here. Not only his family and friends, but all the regular parishioners; your support is much appreciated.

Not all of you will have known my father, and even his friends may not know very much about him, for he was a very inward man. So I thought I might tell you the story of his life.

My father was born thousands of miles from here, between the Carpathian mountains and the great river Dniester, a beautiful land, covered in snow for half the year but in summer so hot that you could grow melons outside.

In 1939 the Russians invaded Poland. My grandfather was a lawyer, trusted and respected by everyone, and therefore very dangerous, so they came looking for him. He wasn't there, so instead they took my father, his four little sisters, his mother and his aunt, and sent them away to Siberia. My father was just 16.

In Siberia he worked night and day to support his family, but still they were slowly starving. He learned how to steal a sheep, when the family will die if you don't but you'll be shot if you're caught. He told me how he did it and that's one piece of knowledge that I hope I'll never have to use.

Providentially, Hitler came to the rescue. He invaded Russia, and suddenly Stalin needed England as an ally, and the English - bless them - refused to help him unless the Poles were released. My father went to Persia and joined the brigade that became part of the Eighth Army, fighting at Monte Cassino and all the way up Italy.

When the war ended, my father's homeland was given to Russia and all its inhabitants deported. He had nowhere to go so he came to England. He met my mother in a queue at the Polish university in London. They were so unsuited to each other that they stayed together for fifty years, and had two children, who are here today. Then he left us, without our permission, last Thursday at 11.02am, with me holding his hand.

To say anything adequate about him would take the rest of my life, so I won't even try. But to me the most important thing is that he showed me how to deal with the past. We all have suffering and injustice in our past, though perhaps not on the same scale - but what my father's example shows is that the past is the past. You don't mull over the evil things that happened, you go on, one day at a time as Jesus taught us, you go on and you live. And the past itself is transformed by this: you don't remember the terror of war; what you remember is good companionship. What you remember is swimming a river under enemy fire to bring back chickens and wine for someone's birthday party. Nothing is so dark that it does not have light, and in the end only the light matters.

As to how he was with other people, you are better placed to know it than I am. All I know is that in the past few days I have constantly been surprised, because when I tell someone the news, it is they who are most upset, and they who are most in need of consolation. I don't know what it is about him that made them feel like that, but if there is any way in which I would most like to resemble him, that is the way I would choose.