Saturday, October 22, 2011

Remembering John Paul II

O God, who are rich in mercy
and who willed that the blessed John Paul the Second
should preside as Pope over your universal Church,
grant, we pray, that instructed by his teaching,
we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ,
the sole Redeemer of mankind.
Who lives and reigns.

This is the official English translation of the collect for today's memorial for Blessed John Paul II. Although the day is currently publicly observed only in Rome and Poland, the U.S. bishops will likely petition to add it to the Latin rite calendar in America.

Meanwhile, everyone is free to pray this prayer personally (every day if you like!). Blessed John Paul II, pray for us!

Note that the prayer mentions specifically two of his greatest encyclicals, "Rich in Mercy" (Dives in Misericordia) and "Redeemer of Mankind" (Redemptor Hominis), and thereby also highlights two great features of his person: his recognition of the greatness of the Divine mercy and his mystical perception of the relationship of Christ to the life of every human being.

I recently read an observation by a Church leader that one of the most impressive things that has emerged during the canonization process is the depth of John Paul’s interior life, in particular his personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This was the source of his greatness, his holiness, and his humanity. It was because of his profound union with Christ that John Paul II was able to connect in such an intimate and direct manner with so many human beings, to touch the lives of so many individual persons, groups, crowds, nations and peoples, Catholics and non-Catholics, religious people and non-religious people.

The real truth about each of us is that we are made for Jesus Christ. It really is true. And Blessed John Paul II was a man who knew Jesus Christ. This is the reason why he was, and why he remains, so powerful in our lives.