Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Blessed Pope John Paul II

We are blessed to have witnessed the remarkable papacy of John Paul, and we are blessed to have seen a pope truly change the world, through his major role in the defeat of communism and the evil empire

Though there was always great resistance to his papacy from without and from within the Church, as this article from Chiesa reports, he pilgrimed forward, always forward, steering the great barque of Peter through the turbulent seas of our life on earth.

An excerpt.

“Today almost everyone admires him. But in life he was opposed and mocked by many, even within the Church. His holiness is the same as that of the martyrs. His beatitude is the same as that of Jesus on the cross.

“ROME, May 1, 2011 – In Polish, he used to say of himself in his last years: "I am a biedaczek, a wretch." A poor old man, sick and worn out. He, so athletic, had become the man of sorrows. And yet it was precisely then that his holiness began to shine, inside and outside of the Church.

“Before that, instead, pope Karol Wojtyla was admired more as a hero than as a saint. His holiness began to conquer the minds and hearts of many men and women from all over the world when what Jesus had prophesied for the old age of the apostle Peter happened to him: "Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go."

“Now that he has been proclaimed blessed, John Paul II is unveiling to the world the truth of the saying of Jesus: "Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

“He did not radiate holiness in the hour of his triumphs. Much of the acclaim that he received while he was traveling the world at a breathtaking pace was too biased and selective to be sincere. The pope who knocked down the iron curtain was a blessing in the eyes of the West. But when he fought in defense of the life of every man born upon the earth, in defense of the most fragile, smallest life, the life that has just been conceived but whose name is already written in heaven, then few listened to him and many shook their heads.

“The story of his pontificate was for him a matter of lights and shadows, welcome and rejection, with strong opposition. But his dominant profile, for many years, was not that of the saint, but of the combatant. When in 1981 he had a brush with death, shot for reasons still not entirely clear, the world bowed in reverence. It observed its minute of silence, and then went right back to the same old unfriendly song.

“Many in the Church also distrusted him. For many, he was "the Polish pope," representing an antiquated, antimodern, populist Christianity. They looked not at his holiness but at his devotion, which wasn't a hit with those who were dreaming of an interior and "adult" Catholicism, so obligingly immersed in the world as to become invisible and silent.

“And yet, little by little, from the crust of the pope as athlete, hero, fighter, devotee, his holiness also began to unveil itself.

“The jubilee, the holy year of 2000, was the turning point. Pope Wojtyla wanted it to be a year of repentance and forgiveness. On the first Sunday of Lent that year, March 12, before the eyes of the world, he presided over an unprecedented penitential liturgy. Seven times, for the seven capital vices, he confessed the sins committed by Christians century after century, and asked God's forgiveness for all of them. Extermination of heretics, persecution of the Jews, wars of religion, humiliation of women... The pope's anguished face, already marked by illness, was the icon of that repentance. The world looked at him with respect. But also with derision. John Paul II exposed himself, defenseless, to blows and insults. He let himself be scourged. There were some who demanded more repentance each time, for yet more faults. And he beat his breast for all of it.”