Saturday, April 02, 2005

John Paul the Great

My son Liam, who is the goalie for his hockey team, was sadly eliminated from the playoffs this afternoon. On the way home we heard on the radio sadder news that His Holiness John Paul II has entered into our Father's kingdom, where it is reported in scripture that there are many rooms. I'm sure that if these rooms are allocated on the basis of merit, then Karol Wojtyla has a very nice room with a great view.

There is little doubt, in my view, that we are witnessing the passing of one of the truly great popes of the past two millennia; a pope who will go down in history as Pope John Paul the Great. "Great" hardly does him justice.

John Paul kept the Church together when lesser spiritual lights were doing their level best to transform it into a cheerleader for what has become the modern culture of death. He was, like the first Bishop of Rome the Apostle Peter, the rock upon which Christ continues to build his Church.

He was a man of integrity, in the truest sense of that word. All the complex aspects of his personality, spirituality and education fit together into one dynamic whole. He emanated a sense of mission, which had its source in his absolute faith that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Everything he did was the fruit of this belief. His belief in the dignity of every human being was predicated in the beautiful understanding that God not only made human beings in His image and likeness, but that He became one of us, and dwelt among us and loves us.

John Paul's God was and is the God of the Catholic Church, loving, merciful and just, in equal and divine measure. The pope's capacity to connect with youth, even in his old age, surprised many who could not fathom how he could be so accepted so easily by the young. It never surprised me, for young people are drawn to authentic spirituality as honeybees are drawn to the nectar of flowers. So are we all, for the most part.

John Paul understood that people are fundamentally good, even as he knew that we all possess the capacity to turn our faces from the good to embrace the bad. He invited us to enter into an intimate dialogue with God knowing that once experienced, the Holy Spirit is not easily forgotten, or spurned. Indeed, as pointed out by The Anchoress, his last words were about the young people gathered in St. Peter's square below his apartment where he lay dying:
"I have looked for you, now, you come to me." (John Paul II, April 2, 2005 in extremis)
As he reached out to the youth, so this Polish pope, who as a youth lived through the Nazi occupation, made a great effort to reconcile the Church with the chosen people of God, the Jews. He acknowledged the painful truth that the Catholic Church has contributed greatly to anti-Semitism and has made grave moral errors in its treatment of the Jewish people. He extended a hand of friendship to those of that faith without whom there would be no Messiah and no Church. We must continue in this path for it is the path of reconciliation and justice.

Beyond question it was this pope that engineered the circumstances that were the proximate cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union. In my view, the inherent contradictions in Marxist-Leninism would have ultimately ensured its demise, but there is no question that he was central to the historical events which precipitated the sudden demise of that ghastly, immoral, and atheistic system of oppression and mass murder.

John Paul the Great was a thorn in the side of "progressives" and a tower of strength to the faithful. He was a man who served God faithfully, forcefully and fruitfully.

There is so much more that can be said. Let me just say for now that I loved him, admired him and and will miss him greatly.

From the bottom of my heart thank you, O true and faithful servant.


(From Psalm 91)

"Because he has set his love on me, therefore I will deliver him.
I will set him on high, because he has known my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him.
I will be with him in trouble.
I will deliver him, and honor him.
I will satisfy him with long life, and show him my salvation."


At 1:50 am, April 03, 2005 , Blogger Rebecca said...

Beautiful post, John. I'm going to miss our Papa so. He's the only Pope I've really known; I consider his visit to World Youth Day in Toronto and the coverage of that event to be instrumental in my conversion.


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