Monday, May 2, 2011

Lucia Beatification of Pope John Paul II [UPDATE 2]

Yesterday, on the Feast of Divine Mercy put in place by Pope John Paul II, the man himself was beatified and put firmly on the path towards Sainthood.

I remember when he was elected. I was 10 years old, and I really didn't think too much of it, even though he was Polish and was the first ever Polish pope. My teacher of the time, a nun, specifically pointed this out to me in class, trying to elicit some sort of reaction, but I think my response must have been disappointing to her.

Pope John Paul II was the pope in the Church during the time I fell away. The beginning of my real return back (though it was to take a year and half longer to actually do it) was his funeral. I watched it on TV and could not even get up for a break. I was not so much mesmerised but not wanting to miss anything and needing to stay in that presence, though I could not comprehend what the presence was at the time.

I believe something very real happened at that time that was connected to the grace of Easter, a call to all the lost children of the Church. Maybe I was more aware of it through my Polish connection to the pope. Suffice to say, I firmly believe Pope John Paul II was a saint and that this beatification process is merely a public recognition of the fact.

Here is Sandro Magister on Pope John Paul II's beatification:

Karol Wojtyla Beatified. "They Will Look Upon Him Whom They Have Pierced"

Today almost everyone admires him. But in life he was opposed and mocked by many, even within the Church. His holiness is the same as that of the martyrs. His beatitude is the same as that of Jesus on the cross

by Sandro MagisterROME, May 1, 2011 – In Polish, he used to say of himself in his last years: "I am a biedaczek, a wretch." A poor old man, sick and worn out. He, so athletic, had become the man of sorrows. And yet it was precisely then that his holiness began to shine, inside and outside of the Church.

Before that, instead, pope Karol Wojtyla was admired more as a hero than as a saint. His holiness began to conquer the minds and hearts of many men and women from all over the world when what Jesus had prophesied for the old age of the apostle Peter happened to him: "Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go."

Now that he has been proclaimed blessed, John Paul II is unveiling to the world the truth of the saying of Jesus: "Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

He did not radiate holiness in the hour of his triumphs. Much of the acclaim that he received while he was traveling the world at a breathtaking pace was too biased and selective to be sincere. The pope who knocked down the iron curtain was a blessing in the eyes of the West. But when he fought in defense of the life of every man born upon the earth, in defense of the most fragile, smallest life, the life that has just been conceived but whose name is already written in heaven, then few listened to him and many shook their heads.

The story of his pontificate was for him a matter of lights and shadows, welcome and rejection, with strong opposition. But but his dominant profile, for many years, was not that of the saint, but of the combatant. When in 1981 he had a brush with death, shot for reasons still not entirely clear, the world bowed in reverence. It observed its minute of silence, and then went right back to the same old unfriendly song.

Many in the Church also distrusted him. For many, he was "the Polish pope," representing an antiquated, antimodern, populist Christianity. They looked not at his holiness but at his devotion, which wasn't a hit with those who were dreaming of an interior and "adult" Catholicism, so obligingly immersed in the world as to become invisible and silent...
I have experienced those who believed this of him.  One parish priest of a parish I no longer attend, told the whole congregation in one of his sermons that he had wondered aloud when the old man was going to die.  He said in such a way that indicated that he would be pleased when it occurred.  It shocked me at the time, that a priest of the Church could have been so disparaging of the previous pope.  Now I understand that he is of the type that may believe in an interior and supposedly adult Catholicism.  Probably why the Church here in Wellington is imploding.

UPDATE: From the Vatican.

UPDATE 2: WDTPRS, an excerpt of Pope Benedict's Sermon for the Beatification, with commentary in red by Fr Z.
When Karol Wojtyla ascended to the throne of Peter, he brought with him a deep understanding of the difference between Marxism and Christianity, based on their respective visions of man. This was his message: man is the way of the Church, and Christ is the way of man. With this message, which is the great legacy of the Second Vatican Council [And something which the young Polish bishop helped add to the Council's Gaudium et spes in especially par. 22.] and of its “helmsman”, the Servant of God Pope Paul VI, John Paul II led the People of God across the threshold of the Third Millennium, which thanks to Christ he was able to call “the threshold of hope”. Throughout the long journey of preparation for the great Jubilee he directed Christianity once again to the future, the future of God, which transcends history while nonetheless directly affecting it. He rightly reclaimed for Christianity that impulse of hope which had in some sense faltered before Marxism and the ideology of progress. [We still have a lot to do.] He restored to Christianity its true face as a religion of hope, to be lived in history in an “Advent” spirit, in a personal and communitarian existence directed to Christ, the fullness of humanity and the fulfillment of all our longings for justice and peace.
Finally, on a more personal note, I would like to thank God for the gift of having worked for many years with Blessed Pope John Paul II. I had known him earlier and had esteemed him, but for twenty-three years, beginning in 1982 after he called me to Rome to be Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I was at his side and came to revere him all the more. My own service was sustained by his spiritual depth and by the richness of his insights. His example of prayer continually impressed and edified me: he remained deeply united to God even amid the many demands of his ministry. Then too, there was his witness in suffering: the Lord gradually stripped him of everything, yet he remained ever a “rock”, as Christ desired. His profound humility, grounded in close union with Christ, enabled him to continue to lead the Church and to give to the world a message which became all the more eloquent as his physical strength declined. In this way he lived out in an extraordinary way the vocation of every priest and bishop to become completely one with Jesus, whom he daily receives and offers in the Eucharist.

Blessed are you, beloved Pope John Paul II, because you believed! Continue, we implore you, to sustain from heaven the faith of God’s people.
This prayer to God to sustain our faith is something that has been coming up a lot recently.  It is so easy to lose faith, even though it's more precious than all the material wonders and goods of this world.

Related link : Karol Wojtyla Beatified. "They Will Look Upon Him Whom They Have Pierced"

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