Tag Archives: Pope John Paul II

JPII, I miss you.

Karol Woytyla, Marek Skorupski/Agencja FORUM

Photo credit: Marek Skorupski/Agencja FORUM

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!

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A few addenda to yesterday’s Potpourri post

Bl. Teresa of Calcutta and Bl. John Paul II (photo credit: Gianni Giansanti/Corbis)

Two of my heroes: Bl. Teresa of Calcutta and Bl. John Paul II (photo credit: Gianni Giansanti/Corbis)

I posted yesterday about the world needing heroes, and wouldn’t you know, four more links came my way this morning that fit that theme so well, I just had to share them:

First, this sweet post about fatherhood from Catholic blogger Matthew Archbold: Some Things Moms Can’t Do. For me, this is one of the simplest answers to the question: Why no women priests? Priests are men because they are fathers, and only men can be fathers. (Of course, that answer doesn’t satisfy people who no longer recognize authentic fatherhood…)

Speaking of fatherhood, I’ve been meaning to recommend my friend Fr. Jeff’s new blog about his day-to-day experiences as a joyful young priest determined to find God in the “little things”: A Priest Life. (Here’s one of my favorite posts of his.) Fr. Jeff is a fantastic writer and more importantly, a wonderful priest who deeply loves Our Lord and His Church. His reflections inspire me to live my own vocation with greater dedication every day! You should also check out his recent interview with CatholicMom.com’s Lisa Hendey. I just loved what he had to say about his vocation story:

“I’m a ‘kindergarten vocation,’ so to speak. One of my earliest memories is wanting to be a priest. Well, that and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. In my baby book, my mom kept little facts about us: favorite food – pizza; favorite color – blue; favorite sport – soccer; what [Jeff] wants to be when he grows up – priest. That desire never left.”

I feel like I know more than a few priests who wanted to be Ninja Turtles or superheroes when they grew up. The world needs heroes, right?

And while we’re on the topic of priesthood, I also wanted to point out another article about the chaplain on the sinking Costa Concordia cruise ship. There are heroes among us, but we don’t always hear about them in the mainstream media.

For example, I’ve been meaning to “introduce” you guys to one of my personal heroes (well, heroines): my high-school classmate Megan, who moved to Haiti last year to work full-time in a non-denominational missionary apostolate called Respire Haiti (which she founded). Her blog, Blessed with a Burden, continually calls me to be more authentically committed to loving Christ in His poor.

I continue to be inspired daily by the people in my life who live out their vocations with such humility, passion and joy: my married friends, who are such beautiful examples of the Father’s totally selfless love for His children; my friends in formation for priesthood and religious life, who have gone out of their way to support and encourage me with their kind words and prayers; my single friends, who help me to be authentic as they ask the tough questions and work out their own vocations (sometimes with more than a little fear and trembling). Most of all, I’m thankful for my parents and my little brothers and the priests who have taken it upon themselves to “father” my soul and my vocation. How very good our good Lord is to those who love Him, whom He calls to do His will (c.f. Romans 8:28).

Who are your heroes? Who in your life has inspired you to pursue your vocation and live it to the full?

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26 Years of World Youth Days

I’m busy this week finishing a term paper for my Patristics class, but I just had to share this:

We young people owe so much to Blessed John Paul II! What a blessing that Pope Benedict chose to carry on the tradition of these “meetings” with the youth of his flock. We are so very lucky to have a Holy Father who loves us so much!

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“For Your love to me has been great…”

JPII election photo

Pope John Paul II greets the faithful after he is elected pope in 1978.

What a glorious day! What a JOY and a grace to celebrate both the Feast of God’s Mercy – my second-favorite day of the year (after Easter Sunday) – and the beatification of Pope John Paul II, one of my dearest friends in Heaven. My first thought this morning was of these words that we pray so often at Compline:

I will praise You, Lord my God, with all my heart
and glorify Your name forever;
for Your love to me has been great:
You have saved me from the depths of the grave.

(Psalm 86:12-13)

Last year, I started reading St. Faustina’s Diary on Divine Mercy Sunday. That book is so spiritually rich and so profound that it took me an entire year to finish it – and what a journey it’s been. I don’t think any other book (except maybe Story of a Soul) has done so much to deepen my faith and to transform the way I pray.

Perhaps the most important and most beautiful thing I’ve learned from the Diary is this: devotion to the Divine Mercy isn’t just about the mercy and forgiveness we receive from God – it’s about His mercy remaining in us and flowing through us. When we truly accept God’s mercy, it grows in us, transforms us from within and teaches us to believe, to hope, to love. We see this in the optional prayer (taken from the Diary) that can be said at the end of the Divine Mercy Chaplet:

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless, and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us, and increase Your mercy in us

Pope John Paul II echoed this sentiment in the homily he gave at St. Faustina’s canonization:

It is not easy to love with a deep love, which lies in the authentic gift of self. This love can only be learned by penetrating the mystery of God’s love. Looking at him, being one with His fatherly heart, we are able to look with new eyes at our brothers and sisters, with an attitude of unselfishness and solidarity, of generosity and forgiveness. All this is mercy!

All this is mercy! (So much like Thérèse’s “All is grace!”) Sometimes, I am just astounded by God’s goodness, particularly by the gift of His saints and the light they are to the Church. JPII did a great deal during his papacy to spread the message of the Divine Mercy – he wrote his second encyclical letter, Dives in misericordia, about God’s Mercy, canonized St. Faustina, and instituted the Feast that we celebrate today – but more importantly, he lived this message of mercy and unshakeable faith in God’s goodness.

Immediately following his death, Pope John Paul II became, together with St. Thérèse and Mother Teresa, one of my “big 3” intercessors in Heaven. I can’t really explain it, but I just know that I owe those three an incredible debt of gratitude for the graces I’ve experienced in my discernment. I have no doubt that they’ve been with me, praying for me every step of the way. Their friendship has been a truly precious gift, straight from the merciful Heart of the Father!

What a glorious day! What a joy and a grace to have so much to celebrate!

Blessed John Paul II, pray for us! St. Faustina, pray for us!

Recommended Reading:

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To brighten your day…

Pope John Paul II

… and in honor of his upcoming beatification, here’s a beautiful story about Pope John Paul II from the blog Roma locuta est. (Thanks to Amy for re-posting on Facebook!)

These sorts of meetings with the Pope are typically very formal. There are any number of people who have been granted a private audience at the same time, and when the Holy Father makes his way around to you, his secretary hands him a blessed rosary, and he in turn hands it to you. At this point, one would probably kiss the Pope’s ring and say something heartfelt, yet almost generic, such as asking him to pray for you, telling him you are praying for him, or thanking him for his service to the Church. However, when Pope John Paul II approached, the priest couldn’t help himself and blurted out, “Please pray for my friend.” Not only this, but the priest continued to blurt out the entire story. The Holy Father, looking concerned, assured the priest that he would pray for his friend.

Later that day, the priest received a letter from the Vatican. Excited and curious, he rushed with the letter back to the church where he last saw his classmate. Only a few beggars were left, and as luck (or grace) would have it, his friend was among the few. He approached the man and said, “I have been to see the Pope, and he said he would pray for you as well.”

The man listened.

“There’s more. He has invited you and me to his private residence for dinner.”

To read the whole story, go here.

Pope John Paul II, pray for us!

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Vocation Awareness Week 2011

I have not yet decided whether my “post every day” resolution will include Sundays… but seeing as today begins National Vocation Awareness Week, I thought I’d post a few interesting tidbits.

First, this beautiful quote from the always-inspiring JPII:

“It is always Christ who sends. But whom does He send? You, young people, are the ones He looks upon with love. Christ, who says, “Follow me,” wants you to live your lives with a sense of vocation. The search and discovery of God’s will for you is a deep and fascinating endeavor. Every vocation, every path to which Christ calls us, ultimately leads to fulfillment and happiness, because it leads to God, to sharing in God’s own life.”

– Pope John Paul II, Manila, Philippines, January 13, 1996

Second, this prayer for Vocation Awareness Week, from the USCCB’s Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations:

God our Father, we thank you for calling men and women to serve in your Son’s Kingdom as priests, deacons, religious, and consecrated persons. Send your Holy Spirit to help us respond generously and courageously to your call. May our community of faith support vocations of sacrificial love in our youth. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Stay tuned for more throughout the week!

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