Monday, October 22, 2012

Blessed John Paul II

How grateful I am for this feast day, which is now officially added to the Roman Rite calendars in the United States. The bishops requested it because of the tremendous impact that Blessed John Paul has had on the Church in America. He taught more than a generation of Catholics (and others) in this country that Jesus is really alive, and that He understands the human person. John Paul's teaching and his own personal witness enabled us to discover not only that it was possible to be a Christian at the turn of the millennium, but also that Christ's way of valuing the human person was so much greater than anything we had ever heard or seen in our lives. Christ sees what is in the human being, and what He sees is beautiful, astonishing, breathtaking.

For people like me, October 22, 1978 was the beginning of a new world (although it would take a few years before I discovered that world). How many of our generation would even be in the Church today if it hadn't been for this man?

He was "the Pope." And he was so many other things too. His was a unique mission, a special charism. He was an evangelist, a catechist, a spiritual father who taught us how to listen to the Church and be shaped inwardly by her. He brought us a wisdom that put things into perspective. He brought healing, deep inner healing that reached so many of our unseen wounds. He gave us courage.

Blessed John Paul II convinced me that Jesus Christ is real, that He lives, and that He is the answer to my life.

The unforgettable words of October 22, 1978 spoke to my soul anew today, in the Office of Readings:

The absolute, and yet sweet and gentle, power of the Lord responds to the whole depths of the human person, to his loftiest aspirations of intellect, will and heart. It does not speak the language of force, but expresses itself in charity and truth....
Do not be afraid. Open, I say open wide the doors for Christ. To his saving power open the boundaries of states, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture, civilization and development. Do not be afraid. Christ knows “that which is in man”. He alone knows it.
So often today, man does not know that which is in him, in the depths of his mind and heart. So often he is uncertain about the meaning of his life on this earth. He is assailed by doubt, a doubt which turns into despair. We ask you, therefore, we beg you with humility and with trust, let Christ speak to man. He alone has words of life, yes, of life eternal.