This morning I woke up with a pang in my heart, thinking about grief. Not my own grieving for any particular person (though I have been doing a great deal of that lately), just about grief itself: how it weakens us, overwhelms us, humbles us. (I am beginning to think that that is one of the goods God brings out of grief: the grace of humility.)
Then, around lunchtime, I was reminded that today (April 2) is the seventh anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul the Great – and it struck me that my heart might have remembered this, even if my brain hadn’t. His death had affected me profoundly. I didn’t expect to grieve the way I did then, but the emotions were there – and perhaps they were so overwhelming because, while sitting there weepy and sniffling at my desk in the Business College that afternoon, I had my first real experience of the Communion of Saints. I just knew, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that I’d gained a friend in heaven.
JPII was the first person to convince me that the saints really are present to us, that they love us deeply and are rooting for us every step of the way, particularly when we feel friendless or alone. I owe him a great debt of gratitude for that. Whenever I am feeling really burdened or discouraged, I think of him repeating the words he loved to quote from the French poet Leon Bloy:
“The only tragedy in life, dear one, is not to be a saint.”
Blessed John Paul II, we love you. Pray for us!