Friday, April 08, 2005

Santo! Santo!

There are a number of matters that I would like to blog on today, but it is the day when the body of my beloved pontiff has been placed beneath the high altar of Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome to rest with his predecessor the Apostle Peter, who was the first Bishop of Rome.

I wasn't able to watch the funeral live (at 4 am EDT) on television, but from the little clips I have seen, the liturgy was moving. It could not be otherwise.

At least 300,000 people filled St. Peter's Square and spilled out onto the wide Via della Conciliazione leading toward the Tiber River, but millions of others watched on giant video screens set up across Rome.
In the Globe and Mail, it was said:

After the Mass ended, bells tolled and 12 pallbearers with white gloves, white ties and tails presented the coffin to the crowd one last time, and then carried it on their shoulders back inside the basilica for burial - again to sustained applause from the hundreds of thousands in the square, including dignitaries from more than 80 countries.

- Chants of "Santo! Santo!" - urging John Paul to be elevated to sainthood immediately - echoed in the square.
Indeed, not just in the square. I venture to guess that the cry of "Santo" resonates in the prayers of faithful Catholics throughout the world. If Karol Wotylia is not a saint then I do not understand the meaning of the term. He was truly a Servant of the Servants of God.

The bulk of the main stream media, wedded as it is to the false promises of the culture of death, attributes the public's reverence of John Paul II to his mastery of their craft. He was beyond a doubt a great communicator and a gifted individual and he would no doubt have been successful in whatever field he had chosen. But his wonderful capacity to communicate an idea, though a very useful attribute in a pope, was not central to his attractiveness as a person.

John Paul the Great attracted so many people for another greater reason. The truth is this pope possessed the light of God. You shouldn't be surprised when I write this and I am not being blasphemous. John Paul was not God, of course, for he was a man like other men. But the Judeo-Christian scriptures tell us that we are all made by God in the image of God.

This pope understood that and also understood the meaning of that great gift. As God's light shines in the darkness, so is our light to shine. We are called to be witness to God's light, to bear that light within our persons, and to be people of the light. John Paul heard, accepted and responded to that truth in a way that few of us do - completely and fully. That is what it means to be holy, and this pope was holy. That is why he was able to illuminate the truth so clearly.

The chattering classes simply do not understand what they have been privileged to witness. They sense the man's greatness but they are forced to fall back upon inadequate and erroneous rationalizations, for they have no authentic reference points to call their own. They compare John Paul to a rock star, because they confuse the superficial attraction of celebrity with the authentic attraction of holiness.

One can only shudder at how a columnist like Michael Valpy would have reported on the funeral of Jesus of Nazareth. In today's Globe & Mail, Valpy called John Paul a failure. Some failure! I can only pray that the College of Cardinals when they gathered in conclave, listen to the Holy Spirit and find another such failure within their ranks.

Saint John Paul the Great! It has a definite ring to it.

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters.

Then God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.

God saw how good the light was. God then separated the light from the darkness.

(From the Book of Genesis)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

(From the Gospel of John)


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