Monday, April 04, 2005

A reflection on Pope John Paul

This was sent in by Heidi:

It was just today, on the eve of Mercy Sunday, that he breathed his last and found himself at the Gates of Heaven. No doubt Saint Faustina herself was there to welcome him, along with his other good friend, Blessed Mother Teresa. His father and mother, brother and sister... All were present to greet their Karol as he broke the bonds of earth, having accomplished everything his Master had asked him to do.
"Holy Father." Never has the appellation been quite so apt. One glance into those startling blue eyes, and you could see heaven itself. He spoke eight languages, penned fourteen encyclicals and countless letters, and visited almost 130 countries over the course of his twenty-six year pontificate. And yet he always had time to hug a child, write a letter, or extend a dinner invitation. When my husband and I honeymooned in Rome, we were first in line to be presented to Pope John Paul II and receive his apostolic blessing on our marriage. There were eleven other couples behind us, and yet he fixed his full attention on us, his hand extended not in cold ritual, but in fatherly welcome.
He was a man of great passion and intelligence. No other pope was so prolific, or so generous in extending himself for the good of his children. He canonized and beatified more saints than all his predecessors put together, and was a tireless proponent for human dignity. This is evident even in the way the Holy Father defined the mission of the Church, in which every person - without respect to age, gender, vocation, or nationality - was invited to share in the great work of the New Evangelization.
Without compromising Truth, he extended himself in love to bridge the chasm between Catholics and the rest of the world - Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, and especially other Christians. Time and again, they reciprocated that love and respect. As a convert to the Catholic faith, I am particularly indebted to Papa John for leading the Church in renewal, so that when I finally got close enough to look inside, I found a faith so vital and relevant, I knew I could never be happy anywhere else. Like the Prodigal Son, I was welcomed with open arms; unlike him, it was not until I finally wandered home that I realized just how lost I had been.
Time and again, reporters spoke of the "legacy" of Pope John Paul II, asking one person after the other to articulate the Holy Father's greatest contribution to the Church over the course of his pontificate. In reality, I think this is not the correct question to ask. A shepherd's work is not about personal ambition. It is about keeping the sheep safe. Through his writings, his appearances, and especially by his own example, Papa John led the sheep entrusted to him around the pits and brambles of the world in which we live. Though his intellectual capacity and diplomatic prowess were beyond reproach, his true greatness was in his capacity to love.

And so, dear Papa John, we now entrust you to the angels
with all the rest, like you, poured out in living sacrifice.
May Our Lady take you by the hand, and lead you to our Brother,
And may the Son rejoice to hear her speak your name.
May you adore, in beloved company long anticipated,
and receive your just reward, and dance in jubilation
with the host from every nation, at the love-fest of the Lamb.
Holy Father, our Papa John, please pray for us
Copyright 2005 by Heidi Hess Saxton,


Bevf said...

You touched my heart with your wonderful comments and heartfelt beliefs of our blessed Holy Father. His love,sincerity and caring was seen by all who beheld his sight.

He truly was a fisherman of people. His courage is our inspiration. His blessings left to all of us will last and become he will be legend of goodness.

Joanne said...

I downloaded a copy of the wonderful January picture of the pope smiling up at the dove in his window. I realized that his face had been immobilized by Parkinson's for so long, that the smile itself was heroic.

Then I got to thinking that the apocolyptic battle between good and evil was being fought in his flesh these many years, just like it was fought in the Lord's own.

The evil one tried to stop his heart with a bullet but he couldn't.
Disease took his steps, his smile and his voice from him but they did not take away his ability to lead us with his gasping breath. At the very end, he raised a trembling hand toward the window and blessed us from his deathbed. May we always remember how dearly loved we have been these 26 years.

When I teach children the great commandment, I think of him. Now I am so happy that because he lived his life so publically through the media all these years, I have a very dear saint in heaven that I can feel so close to when I ask his intercession. We are so richly blessed. Remember that he prays for us still, from his well deserved place in the Church Triumphant.

As I prayed the glorious mysteries the other day, I thought of him placing that victorious bullet in our Lady's crown. I believe she must have had that moment already in her heart when she was crowned queen of heaven, because eternity transcends time somehow and makes it an irrelevant human construct. He always seemed to live half in this world and half in that other eternal one, didn't he?

Anonymous said...

Feedback: Thank you so much for making that movie about Pope John Paul II! I am 20 years old and I loved the Pope; I cried while watching the movie. I was wondering if you could possibly make the movie a little longer and if there was anyway that I could have a copy of it(I know this might not be possible because of copyright laws) I would gladly take up a donation for you. I have some friends you also loved the Intro to your website.
Take care and God bless,
Nashville TN

Anonymous said...

Dear Sister,

Thank you for making this blog on the Holy Father available to us and for posting the reflection shared by Heidi. It is inspiring and captures the sentiments of so many.

Our Holy Father has lived an amazing life and given immeasurable service to the Church and to humanity. Amidst the vast coverage of the many blessed aspects of the legacy he leaves to us, one dimension has been noticeably absent to me although it has been keenly visible throughout his priesthood and his papacy: his esteem and love for religious life. Our Holy Father loved religious life and loved those in it. He valued the evangelical counsels and the mystery of religious consecration. He also treasured the visible signs of religious consecration in the modern world. Let us all remember this special dimension of his being and his leadership. Religious life is alive and well today in large part due to the grace of the Holy Spirit channeled through the person of our Holy Father.

Rest in peace, Pope John Paul II, we love you.

Lisa (Burke)