Class offered at Our Lady of Peace, New Providence, N.J., April 15, 2005
Class @ Our Lady of Peace, New Providence, April 15, 2005: 10:00 am.
The Root Cause of the Universal Impact of John Paul II
1) Definitive Numbers of Attendance at Pope's Funeral
6,000 Media Personnel on Hand
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 12, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Three million people came to Rome to attend John Paul II's funeral rites, an event covered by 6,000 media personnel, the Holy See announced.
Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls reported the data on the presence of the media and numbers of pilgrims to Rome, from the moment of the Pope's death until the day of his funeral, April 2-8. ZENIT already reported some of the preliminary figures last Sunday.
According to the Holy See's statement, the Vatican press office and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications accredited 6,000 journalists, photographers and radio and television agents for the media coverage of the event.
The press note stated that 137 television networks in 81 countries notified the pontifical council that they broadcast the funeral. The real number was likely higher.
The funeral was followed on the Holy See's Internet web page by 1.3 million people.
The Mass was concelebrated by 157 cardinals. Seven hundred archbishops and bishops and 3,000 prelates and priests were present. Three hundred priests distributed Communion.
There were 169 foreign delegations present, as well as 10 monarchs, 59 heads of state, 3 heirs to the throne, 17 heads of government, 3 spouses of heads of state, 8 vice heads of state, 6 deputy prime ministers, 4 presidents of parliaments, 12 foreign-affairs ministers, 13 other governmental ministers, 24 ambassadors, and 10 presidents, directors-general and secretaries-general of international organizations.
Also present were delegations of 23 Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox Churches, 8 Churches and ecclesial communions of the West, and 3 international Christian organizations.
In addition, there were several delegations and officials of Judaism, and 17 delegations of non-Christian religions and organizations for interreligious dialogue.
Citing data from the Italian Civil Protection, the Holy See reported that during the period the body of the Pope lay in state in St. Peter's Basilica, 21,000 entered the church every hour, or 350 a minute.
The average time necessary to see the Pope's mortal remains was 13 hours, with a maximum wait of 24 hours. The line extended for 5 kilometers (approximately 3 miles).
On the day of the funeral, 500,000 faithful were in St. Peter's Square and the Via della Conciliazione and were able to follow the funeral Mass, while 600,000 followed it on large screens in other parts of Rome. There were 29 large screens placed around the city.
Four hundred disabled persons followed the Mass in reserved places in the atrium of St. Peter's Basilica.
Some of the 10,000 volunteers distributed 3 million free bottles of water among pilgrims.
Twenty-one medical posts were set up and first-aid treatment was given to 4,000 people.
The municipality of Rome sent 20 SMS messages to the cell phones of 43,500 citizens with information on hospitality for pilgrims and the traffic.
2) The reason for the unprecedented interest in John Paul II, beyond a secularist interpretation: Editorial by National Catholic Register:
“The truth is, his pontificate was perfect in a way — and it was more than Karol Wojtyla was capable of.
Yes, Karol Wojtyla was a talented man, but not that talented. As a playwright, he learned about the importance of drama and the power of arresting insights — but he wasn’t a great playwright. As a poet, he learned to reflect the beauty of God’s creation in words — but he wasn’t a great poet. As a writer, he was philosophically rich and theologically deep in a way that will change the course of the Church — but he was a dense writer who is difficult to read.
The sum total of the talents of this Pole from Wadowice couldn’t possibly be credited with all that Pope John Paul II did, any more than the fisherman Peter’s management expertise can be credited with the Church’s success during its rocky beginnings.
Above all, God deserves our praise and our gratitude for Pope John Paul II.
In the end, perhaps the one thing the Holy Father did was at the same time the simplest and most difficult thing he was asked to do.
He prayed. Deeply. Insistently.
For hours, every day.
As Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete once said, the real secret of the Christian message is "All you have to do is do what you’re supposed to do. The Pope has done what he’s supposed to do. And boy, has he really done it."
It takes a profound love to do what you’re supposed to do, day in and day out. John Paul had that love. That’s what gave him an edge.
Even as an altar boy, he had done what he was supposed to do. Even when the German army entered Poland in 1939.
"It was the first wartime Mass before the altar of the crucified Christ and the scream of sirens and the thud of explosions have remained forever in my memory," said Father Kazimierz Figlewicz, who was a priest in Krakow at the time. "Nonetheless Karol in his imperturbable way had crossed over the bridge and walked to the cathedral because he was always observant in his religious commitments."
When the Church made him a priest, he continued to do what he was supposed to do — using his priesthood to reach young couples and college students.
When the Church made him a bishop in a land torn by communism, he did what he was supposed to do — he opposed the communists in a fearless but careful way, maximizing the rights of the Church and the power of his witness at the same time.
When the Church made him Pope in a time of intense turmoil in the Church, he did what he was supposed to do again.
It could have been different. Karol Wojtyla could have insisted on being an actor. He could have insisted on being a university professor. He could have become a full-time poet. He could have clung to the things he thought were valuable in his personality and asserted them. He may have made a mark on the world of some kind.
But instead he lost himself in God’s plan, handed over his talents, did what he was supposed to do — and achieved more than any man or woman in memory.
And at the end of his life, God proved who deserves the credit for the Pope’s astounding success. The illness that struck the Pope was marked by the way it targeted the very talents that had supposedly accounted for his success.
As a speaker, the younger John Paul could be very eloquent — but his speeches for almost the last decade of his life were difficult to listen to as he strained and slurred his words.
The athletic, spry John Paul had inspired people by his custom of bending down to kiss the ground of the nations he visited, his sportsman pursuits and his vigorous character. At the end of his life he could barely move, and his hands shook as he was wheeled around on a podium.
The former actor’s face expressed a range of emotions that helped him communicate with his audience. But at the end, he couldn’t smile well, laugh, show concern or use his face much at all.
Yet, even when the talents of the man faded, the people still flocked to see the Pope. They flocked to him at the 2000 World Youth Day in Rome, and he surprised critics and fans alike when they flocked to him again in Toronto in 2002.
Karol Wojtyla had no charismatic aura on his own. It was given to him by God, and it was charged to incandescence by his fidelity in the simple obligations of his Christian life: prayer, the sacraments, obedience to the Church.
It wasn’t Karol Wojtyla people were coming to see. It was Peter — the one who was given a special grace by God to be Vicar of Christ.
On our front page, we say, "Pray for Us, Pope John Paul II." We repeat it here.
Pray for us, Your Holiness. Give us the courage to follow your simple path of conversation with God and acceptance of his will. Your life shows us where true greatness lies: In loving God enough to do what we’re supposed to do. Pray that we learn this lesson and do it.
Pray that we will be worthy of you, John Paul the Great.
3) The above is certainly correct. But it fails to bring out the unique development that was at the core of the Second Vatican Council and this Pope. I refer to the uniqueness of the human person, the meaning of freedom as the self-mastery, self-possession and self-gift of the “I” that is oneself. And how that “I” is the unique gift that is not God’s gift, but “mine.” It is the mystery of the relative autonomy – or “theonomy” – of my freedom to become myself as image of the Three Persons.
Does this mean that God’s causality is not primary and universal? No! Without Him we can do nothing. But the mystery consists in the engendering of a free person, who is not merely an instrumental cause or a secondary cause. Notice the Pope’s “definition” of freedom: “The Crucified Christ reveals the authentic meaning of freedom; he lives it fully in the total gift of himself and calls his disciples to share in his freedom” (Veritatis Splendor #85).
4) What everyone senses about John Paul II: he has made a radical gift of self to each one of us. It is extremely personal. Persons, young and old, interviewed while queuing up to pass by the body exactly why they came, explained, without giving reasons, that they simply had to be there. There was the sense of a most personal relation when in fact extrinsically and empirically there was no such relation from the outside. It makes one recall his first phrases of Redemptor Hominis:
“When we penetrate by means of the continually and rapidly increasing experience fo the human family into the mystery of Jesus Christ, we understand with greater clarity that there is at the basis of all these ways that the Church of our time must follow, in accordance with the wisdom of Pope Paul VI, one single way: it is the way that has stood the test of centuries and it is also the way of the future. Christ the Lord indicated this way especially, when, as the Council teaches, `by His Incarnation, He, the Son of God, in a certain way united Himself with each man. The Church therefore sees its fundamental task in enabling that union to be brought about and renewed continually. The Church wishes to serve this single end: that each person may be able to find Christ, in order to that Christ may walk with each person the path of life, with the power of the truth about man and the world that is contained in the mystery of the Incarnation and the Redemption…
“Accordingly, what is in question here is man in all his truth, in his full magnitude. We are not dealing with the `abstract’ man, but the real, `concrete,’’ `historical’ man. We are dealing with `each’ man for each one is included in the mystery of the Redemption and with each one Christ has united Himself for ever through this mystery…. The object of her [the Church’s] care is man in his unique unrepeatable human reality. The Council points out this very fact when, speaking of that likeness, it recalls that ‘man is the only creature on earth that God willed for itself. Man as `willed’ by God, as `chosen’ by Him from eternity and called, destined for grace and glory – this is `each’ man, `the most concrete’ man, `the most real;’ this is man in all the fullness of the mystery in which he has become a sharer in Jesus Christ, the mystery in which each one of the four thousand million human beings living on our planet has become a sharer from the moment he is conceived beneath the heart of is mother.”
The mystical reality is that in giving himself to Christ, he gave himself to the Christ in me, and in each person. People felt this with emotion. The NCR editorial above touches on this but without having hit the key. It was God in John Paul II and his obedience to do “what he was supposed to do.” But it’s not just doing things as performances. He did drama, he wrote poetry, he became a priest, he did philosophy and theology, he became Pope, and he traveled. He obeyed. He did what he was supposed to do. But as Lorenzo Albacete said, “boy, has he really done it." Or as the farmer in the Midwest remarked after his first trip to the United States, “Your Pope really knows how to pope.”
It’s all in the “boy.” The obedience was not compliance. It was free gift of his whole self. That’s what stirs the emotion, creates the novelty, produces the greatness. The gift was spousal. It was total and unto death. “He loved them to the end.” On the world stage, he showed us how to live and how to die. The poetry, the drama, the philosophy, even the papacy were the occasions and the incarnations of the gift. But, again, not any gift. Not an object, but the “I.” He could not do it without being loved by God (which is called “grace”). But he was the agent of the gift of himself. Only he could give himself. God could not do it since then He would violate the very freedom that He gave us. It was his gift, and the content was himself. Which, by the way, is the meaning of the priesthood of Jesus Christ.
Here he lives out what was the key to the Council and the center of his understanding of the human person: Made in the image of a trinity of Persons, “man, the only earthly being God has willed for itself, finds himself by the sincere gift of himself.” This: “the only earthly being God has willed for itself,” is his understanding of man as “an unfinished being, as indicated precisely by this `fissure’ in him open to the infinite. According to this view, other natures in the world of nature are in their own way `finished beings,’ while man, open to the absolute, awaits his completion.”
In August 1991 at Jasna Gora, Poland (after the collapse of Communism), John Paul addressed the 1.7 million young people of world youth day with the words of God’s Self revelation:
`“I AM” (The Word): behold the name of God. So responds a Voice from the burning bush to Moses when he asked to know the Name of God. `I am who am’ (Ex. 3, 14)… As evening drew near, before the Sabbath at Passover, Jesus was taken from the cross and placed in the tomb. The third day he came among his `startled and terrified’ disciples to say to them: `Peace be with you! ... It is I myself!’ (Lk. 24, 36-37, 39): the divine `I AM’ of the Covenant – of the Paschal Mystery – of the Eucharist.
“Man was created in the image and likeness of God, to be able to exist and to be able to say to his Creator `I am.’ In this human `I am’ is all the truth of life and conscience. `I am’ before You, who `Are.’
“When God asked the first man: `Where are you?,’ Adam responded, `I hid, (from you)’ (cf. Gen. 3, 9-10), almost trying not to be before God. You cannot hide, Adam! You cannot help but be before him who has created you, who has made you in the way that `you are,’ before him `who searches hearts and knows’ (Rom. 8, 27).”
5.) John Paul II, stripped of almost all his objective powers, retains his subjective self-gift, and the entire world knew it. He continued to “radiate fatherhood, and we continued to be affirmed.
The proof that it was the “I” of John Paul II that was given and to whom the people, particularly the youth of the world, were responding, was that piece by piece he was stripped of gesture, facial expression, ambulatory power, and finally, word. He was never ceased to communicate his “I” nor the gift of it with mouth agape attempting to speak from his window on his last Wednesday attempt. Struggling to speak to the people in St. Peter’s Square and finding no sound, he put one hand before his face and pounded the plastic lecturn before him. Everyone understood. He had a clarity of consciousness and loved us “to the end.” Previously, having lost most of his body as vehicle of communication, he remarked facetiously that he ruled the Church “from the neck up.”
At Lourdes last August, Cardinal Lustiger framed it this way: "The pope, in his weakness, is living more than ever the role assigned to him of being the Vicar of Christ on earth, participating in the suffering of our Redeemer. Many times we have the idea that the head of the church is like a super-manager of a great international company, a man of action who makes decisions and is judged on the basis of his effectiveness. But for believers the most effective action, the mystery of salvation, happens when Christ is on the cross and can't do or decide anything other than to accept the will of the Father."
And when the Lord took the “I” at 9, 32 pm April 2, 2005, tens of thousands of people standing outside in St. Peter’s Square dropped into an eerie, total silence and then to their knees, moved by profound emotion. We all did.
3) The Key to the Mind of John Paul II is Disclosing the “I” as the Ultimate Created Reality: Being As Opposed to Consciousness.
Basically, he does what is called a “phenomenological” description of what we have seen of Helen Keller discovering her “I”as real being by naming the water (as Adam naming the animals).
“We walked down the path to the well-house, attracted by the fragrance of the honeysuckle with which it was covered. Someone was drawing water and my teacher placed my hand under the spout. As the cool stream gushed over one hand, she spelled into the other the word water, first slowly then rapidly. I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motion of her fingers. Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten – a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that `w-a-t-e-r’ meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free! There were barriers still, it is true, but barriers that could in time be swept away.
I left the well-house eager to learn. Everything had a name, and each name gave birth to a new thought. As we returned to the house every object which I touched seemed to quiver with life. That was because I saw everything with the strange, new sight that had come to me. On entering the door I remembered the doll I had broken. [She had earlier destroyed the doll in a fit of temper.] I felt my way to the dearth and picked up the pieces. I tried vainly to put them together. Then my eyes filled with tears; for I realized what I had done, and for the first time I felt repentance and sorrow.”
What had happened? Helen had exercised her subjectivity as cause by “throwing” (Ballein) the “likeness” (sym): w-a-t-e-r at the wet flowing object. She had experienced herself as cause, and therefore came to a consciousness of herself as “self.”
Walker Percy: “before, Helen had behaved like a good responding organism. Afterward, she acted like a rejoicing symbol-mongering human. Before, she was little more than an animal. Afterward, she became wholly human. Within the few minutes of the breakthrough and the several hours of exploiting it Helen had concentrated the months of the naming phase that most children go through somewhere around their second birthday.”… 3
Karol Wojtyla’s fundamental discovery is the experience of the “I” as being. Experience is always about reality, and therefore about being. In modern thought, the “I” has been identified with consciousness, or the thought about thinking. Reflective thought, not experience, was the access. Wojtyla experiences himself as the cause of free action. His “I” is not the result of reflection on the act of thinking or willing. It is discovered as the cause of an experience of (free, not instinctual or stimulus-response mechanism) self-determination as a free act. “But as the need increases to understand the human being as a unique and unrepeatable person, especially in terms of the whole dynamism of action and inner happenings proper to the human being – in other words, as the need increases to understand the personal subjectivity of the human being – the category of lived experience takes on greater significance, and, in fact, key significance. For then the issue is not just the metaphysical objectification of the human being as an acting subject, as the agent of acts, but the revelation of the person as a subject experiencing its acts and inner happenings, and with them its own subjectivity.
“The experience of the human being cannot be derived by way of cosmological reduction; we must pause at the irreducible, at that which is unique and unrepeatable in each human being, by virtue of which he or she is not just a particular human being – an individual of a certain species – but a personal subject. Only then do we get a true and complete picture of the human being. We cannot complete this picture through reduction alone; we also cannot remain within the framework of the irreducible alone (for then we would be unable to get beyond the pure self). The one must be cognitively supplemented with the other. Nevertheless, given the variety of circumstances of the real existence of human beings, we must always leave the greater space in this cognitive effort for the irreducible; we must, as it were give the irreducible the upper hand when thinking about the human being, both in theory and in practice. For the irreducible also refers to everything in the human being that is invisible and wholly internal and whereby each human being, myself included, is an `eyewitness’ of his or her own self – of his or her own humanity and person.”
Perhaps, the analytical genius of Wojtyla comes to the fore precisely here.
The “I” is being, not consciousness. But the experience which discloses the “I” as being is the work of consciousness. He distinguishes the consciousness of the experience of sensible things - which is taken from the experience (sensible perception) of the external world: this pink cloud – from the consciousness of the experience of the self (“I”) in the act of self-determination in the moment of morality: responsibility or guilt. In its (non abstractive) mirroring function, consciousness grasps the subject (not yet experienced as “I”), which has been objectified by reflective (not “reflexive,” in the terminology of Wojtyla) thought, and then “actualized” (subdued/mastered) by itself. He distinguishes between the reflectiveness of the mind turning back on its own act of knowing things and the reflexiveness of consciousness which captures both the reflections of the subject in potency to self-determine, and in the act of moving itself. This capturing both states of the self as pre and post self-determination, as potency and act with respect to itself, constitutes the experience of the “I” as “I.” And he corroborates this when he remarks in Fides et Ratio #83 that “In a special way, the person constitutes a privileged locus for the encounter with being, and hence with metaphysical enquiry.”
He remarks in the Acting Person: “The consequence of the reflexive [not reflective] turn of consciousness is that this object – just because it is from the ontological point of view the subject – while having the experience of his own ego also has the experience of himself as the subject. In this interpretation `refexiveness’ is also seen to be an essential as well as a very specific moment of consciousness. It is, however, necessary to add at once that this specific moment becomes apparent only when we observe and trace consciousness in its intrinsic, organic relation to the human being, in particular, the human being in action. We then discern clearly that it is one thing to be the subject, another to be cognized (that is, objectivized) as the subject, and a still different thing to experience one’s self as the subject of one’s own acts and experiences… This discrimination is of tremendous import for all our further analyses, which we shall have to make in our efforts to grasp the whole dynamic reality of the acting person and to account for the subjectiveness that is given us in experience.
Indubitably, Man is, first of all, the subject of his being and his acting; he is the subject insofar as he is a being of determinate nature, which leads to consequences particularly in the acting. In traditional ontology that subject of existing and acting which man is was designated by the term suppositum – ontic support – which, we may say, serves as a thoroughly objective designation free of any experiential aspects, in particular of any relation to that experience of subjectivity in which the subject is given to itself as the self, as the ego. Hence “ suppositum” abstracts from that aspect of consciousness owing to which the concrete man – the object being the subject – has the experience of himself as the subject and thus of his subjectivity. It is this experience that allows him to designate himself by means of the pronoun “I.” We know “I” to be a personal pronoun, always designating a concrete person. However, the denotation of this personal pronoun, thus….
Hence not only am I conscious of my ego (on the ground of self-knowledge) but owing to my consciousness in its reflexive function I also experience my ego. I have the experience of myself as the concrete subject of the ego’s very subjectiveness. Consciousness is not just an aspect but also an essential dimension or an actual moment [but not the “I” itself] of the reality of the being that I am, since it constitutes its subjectiveness in the experiential sense.”