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.
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."
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."
Daily Prayer - 2015-10-22
The world is charged with the grandeur of God. (Gerard Manley Hopkins)
Lord, you created me to live in freedom.
How do I find myself today?
The Word of God
Reading 1 Rom 6:19-23
Brothers and sisters:
Responsorial Psalm PS 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6
R. (Ps 40:5) Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Alleluia Phil 3:8-9
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 12:49-53
Jesus said to his disciples:
Some thoughts on today's scripture
Do I notice myself reacting as I pray with the Word of God?
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
Saint John Paul II, Pope (Optional Memorial)
The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
Have you ever given your child an opportunity to earn money for something she really, really wanted? A shrewd child will keep very careful track of each chore or sacrifice that counts toward this desired goal. When she has finally earned her reward, she will gleefully present her money, declaring, "You owe me this. I've earned it!"
We sometimes think of salvation in similar terms. We try very hard to keep from breaking God's laws, and we hasten to Confession when we realize we've failed. We heap up extra prayers and kind deeds in order to balance out any unintentional transgressions. We become anxious when we suspect that our efforts may be falling short. What if our sins outweigh our good deeds?
But this isn't how God looks at us. He is not a heavenly accountant keeping a detailed ledger of our assets and liabilities. In fact, Scripture tells us that whenever we turn to him in repentance, he casts our sins far away. He forgets them altogether and focuses only on our future. That's because his primary role isn't that of a strict, exacting judge. First and foremost, he is a generous, loving Father who delights in giving his children good gifts—including the gift of eternal life!
For a moment, imagine that you have died and are approaching the gate of heaven. You search frantically for your tally sheet so that you can prove that you deserve to be let in. But you seem to have left it behind!
As you are rifling through your pockets, you suddenly hear your name being called. You look up, and there is Jesus, shaking his head in bemusement. His arms are spread wide to welcome you. You hesitate for only a moment; then you run to him. He scoops you up and presses you to his heart.
"Don't be silly," he gently chides. "How could you ever earn your way to eternal life? If you could, I wouldn't have had to die on the cross. I've already paid for everything! That's my gift to you. Come and live in my love."
"Dear Jesus, thank you for inviting me to live in the freedom of being your beloved child."
Psalm 1:1-4, 6
Christ your message is beautiful, powerful, and it is for the whole world!
This message is reaching your eyes because you are striving for holiness.
St. Paul reminds us to seize the opportunity. Yesterday, I invited a young co-worker to read the bible with a few of us. I asked him if he even goes to any church. "Not really" he says. I asked "do you go to church?" and he said also "only when it's important" with a sly smile, and he meant maybe a funeral, or wedding and I said smiling too "WHEN IT IS IMPORTANT???" If you know me, you know how I stress the importance of going to Church, for I am a living witness of the power of God. What a strange show I glimpsed on a major network last night, so weird, it was about a family that was trying to have faith...and trying to go to church. Completely different than any other show I've ever seen, it was enough for me not to change the channel and give it the time of day...importance. Because, isn't God important? Indeed. Jesus says He was establishing a division. Of those hot and of those cold. I will serve as a heater for you. And this is being a servant like St. John Paul II. The 5minutos I read daily, reflections of the Gospel from Mexico, recalled the first homily of St. JPII, check it out:
"Christ, make me become and remain the servant of your unique power, the servant of your sweet power, the servant of your power that knows no eventide. Make me be a servant. Indeed, the servant of your servants.
Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power. Help the Pope and all those who wish to serve Christ and with Christ's power to serve the human person and the whole of mankind.
Do not be afraid. 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 "what is in man". He alone knows it.
So often today man does not know what is within 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 trust, let Christ speak to man. He alone has words of life, yes, of eternal life."