Blog Post - October 22nd
Pope S. John Paul II| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
St. John Paul II
“Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978.
Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology.
Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin.
Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong!
He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later.
Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations.
He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria.
The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope.
“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, Redeemer of the Human Race. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.”
His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that.
One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier.
In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people.
In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities.
Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014.
Comment: Before John Paul II’s funeral Mass in St. Peter’s Square, hundreds of thousands of people had waited patiently for a brief moment to pray before his body, which lay in state inside St. Peter’s for several days. The media coverage of his funeral was unprecedented. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then dean of the College of Cardinals and later Pope Benedict XVI, presided at the funeral Mass and concluded his homily by saying: “None of us can ever forget how, in that last Easter Sunday of his life, the Holy Father, marked by suffering, came once more to the window of the Apostolic Palace and one last time gave his blessing urbi et orbi [‘to the city and to the world’]. “We can be sure that our beloved pope is standing today at the window of the Father’s house, that sees us and blesses us. Yes, bless us, Holy Father. We entrust your dear soul to the Mother of God, your Mother, who guided you each day and who will guide you now to the glory of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Quote: In his 1999 Letter to the Elderly, Pope John Paul II wrote: “Grant, O Lord of life,...when the moment of our definitive ‘passage’ comes, that we may face it with serenity, without regret for what we shall leave behind. For in meeting you, after having sought you for so long, we shall find once more every authentic good which we have known here on earth, in the company of all those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith and hope....Amen.”
Start With God:
Life's too short not to tell the people you love how you feel. Say it...and say it often. Oh, and start with God.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
Be patient in bearing your imperfections.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Reflections on Notebook Five: 263-326
As we begin Notebook Five, Saint Faustina’s understanding of the Mercy of God should be more alive to you. Hopefully you have a deeper understanding of the infinite love of God and His burning desire to embrace you, free you from the burden of sin, and shower you with His grace.
It should also be clear that God is silent at times so as to strengthen you, purify you and deepen your trust in Him. God’s wisdom and His ways are beyond what we could ever imagine. He is perfect in His love and you must have full confidence in the direction He gives to your life.
As we enter into this notebook, try to believe and live all that you have read so far. It’s one thing to believe it intellectually, it’s quite another thing to believe it with your actions. You must believe in the Mercy of God with your actions. You must let all that you have read take hold of you and direct the way you live. One way to do this is to go back to any reflections that have stood out so far. If something has stood out, be it a particular reflection or a general theme, pay attention to that. The Message of Mercy is broad and all encompassing, but it’s also particular to you. Let the Lord speak directly to you revealing the specific truths that you need to embrace the most.
Reflection 295: The Embrace of the Infant Jesus
It is most appropriate to prayerfully reflect upon being held in the holy arms of our God. Understanding the Merciful love of the Father in Heaven through the holy embrace of love reveals to us His fatherly care. Running to the arms of Jesus opens our hearts to His merciful love. But one image that will also be helpful and holy to reflect upon is that of the infant Jesus. Imagine if you were privileged to be present when Jesus was an infant. And imagine if this infant looked at you, reached out His arms and sought to be held by you. And imagine if this infant held you tightly as He rested on your heart. This holy exchange of love will most certainly be understood by parents as they hold their children. Contemplate the profound love and infinite Mercy of God coming to you through this warm and unconditional embrace of a little child. Jesus is reaching out to you, embrace Him and hold Him tightly (See Diary #1442).
Ponder today this beautiful and holy image. But do so by imagining that this infant burns with a holy and pure love for you and longs to be held close to your heart. Resting in your arms you feel the love of this sweet embrace. This is an image of the Love of God and a holy image. Allow your own experiences of holding a child to teach you about the Mercy of God. And express your own love for God through this holy image of a child’s embrace.
My dear Lord, so small and innocent, may I hold You in my heart with an embrace of pure love. May I feel Your Heart beat with mine and Your love poured forth in this sweet embrace. I thank You, Lord, for coming into our world as an infant. May I always treasure this image and be drawn more deeply into love of You every time I hold one of Your precious children. Jesus, I trust in You.