Wednesday, April 02, 2008

John Paul II - Third Anniversary of Death - 4/2/05

Totus Tuus

“At Peace”

“World Stops to Honor Pope”

“Amen” Was Last Word of Man Who ‘Showed Us How to Live’

[4,000,000 View Body]

“Do not let hope die! Stake your lives on it!
We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures;
We are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son.”

Benedict XVI on John Paul II

a) March 30, 2008
Dear brothers and sisters:
During the Jubilee Year 2000, the dear Servant of God John Paul II established that in the whole Church the Sunday after Easter, besides being the Sunday "in albis" would be designated Divine Mercy Sunday. He did this together with the canonization of Faustina Kowalska, a humble Polish woman religious, who was born in 1905 and died in 1938, a zealous messenger of merciful Jesus.
Mercy is in reality the central nucleus of the Gospel message; it is the very name of God, the face with which he has revealed himself in the old covenant and fully in Jesus Christ, the incarnation of creative and redeeming love. This merciful love also illumines the face of the Church, and is manifested, both by way of the sacraments, in particular that of reconciliation, and with works of communitarian and individual charity.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Like Sister Faustina, John Paul II became in turn an apostle of divine mercy. On the night of that unforgettable Saturday, April 2, 2005, when he closed his eyes to this world, precisely the vigil of the Second Sunday of Easter was celebrated, and many observed the unique coincidence, which brought together a Marian dimension -- the first Saturday of the month -- and that of divine mercy.
In fact, his long and multifaceted pontificate finds here its central nucleus; all of his mission at the service of the truth about God, about man and peace in the world is summarized in this proclamation, as he himself said in Krakow-Lagiewniki in 2002, in inaugurating the great Shrine of Divine Mercy, "Apart from the mercy of God there is no other source of hope for mankind." His message, like that of St. Faustina, presents the face of Christ, supreme revelation of the mercy of God. To contemplate constantly this face: This is the inheritance that he has left us, which we welcome with joy and make our own.
There will be special reflection about divine mercy in the coming days, due to the World Apostolic Congress on Divine Mercy, which will take place in Rome and will be inaugurated with the holy Mass, which, God willing, I will preside over in the morning of Wednesday, April 2, on the third anniversary of the death of the Servant of God John Paul II.
b) October 16, 2005: Holy Father, finally a very personal question: Do you continue to feel the presence of John Paul II, and if you do, in what way?

Benedict XVI: “Certainly. I'll begin by answering the first part of your question. Initially, in speaking of the Pope\'s legacy, I forgot to mention the many documents that he left us -- 14 encyclicals, many pastoral letters, and others. All this is a rich patrimony that has not yet been assimilated by the Church. My personal mission is not to issue many new documents, but to ensure that his documents are assimilated, because they are a rich treasure, they are the authentic interpretation of Vatican II. We know that the Pope was a man of the Council, that he internalized the spirit and the word of the Council. Through these writings he helps us understand what the Council wanted and what it didn’t. This helps us to be the Church of our times and of the future. Now for the second part of your question. The Pope is always close to me through his writings: I hear him and I see him speaking, so I can keep up a continuous dialogue with him. He is always speaking to me through his writings. I even know the origin of some of the texts. I can remember the discussions we had about some of them. So I can continue my conversations with the Holy Father. This nearness to him isn't limited to words and texts, because behind the texts I hear the Pope himself. A man who goes to the Lord doesn’t disappear: I believe that someone who goes to the Lord comes even closer to us and I feel he is close to me and that I am close to the Lord. I am near the Pope and now he helps me to be near the Lord and I try to enter this atmosphere of prayer, of love for our Lord, for Our Lady and I entrust myself to his prayers. So there is a permanent dialogue and we're close to each other in a new way, in a very deep way.”

John Paul II

· First words: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16, 16). “Be not afraid!”

Meaning: John Paul II was not Karol Wojtyla. He was Peter (Rock) naming Jesus Christ as “Cornerstone.”

· 3/4/79: Redemptor Hominis #8 citing Gaudium et Spes #22: Jesus Christ is the meaning of man (not an exception to man): “Christ, the Redeemer of the world, is the one who penetrated in a unique, unrepeatable way into the mystery of man and entered his ‘heart.’ Rightly therefore does the Second Vatican Council teach: ‘The truth is that only in the mystery of the Incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a type of him who was to come (Rom. 5, 14), Christ the Lord. Christ, the new Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of His love, fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling.”
· 6/2/79: Warsaw: “‘Christ cannot be kept out of the history of man in any part of the globe, at any longitude or latitude of geography. The exclusion of Christ from the history of man is an act against man. Without Christ it is impossible to understand the history of Poland, especially the history of the people who have passed or are passing through this land…’ Even those who ‘appeared to be at a distance, outside the Church,’ those who ‘doubted or opposed,’ lived within the Christian context of Polish history and culture. Anyone who tried to deny this or to uproot it damaged the Polish nation. For Poland and its history – ‘from Stanislaw in Skalka to Maximilian Kolbe at Oswiecim’ – could not be understood without ‘reference to Jesus Christ. That was why he had come to Poland: to reaffirm that ‘Christ does not cease to teach the great cause of man,’ for Christ was ‘an ever-open book on man, his dignity, and his rights…’ Today, in Victory Square, he and his countrymen were asking, in the supreme prayer of the Mass, ‘that Christ will not cease to be for us an open book of the life for the future, for our Polish future…. ‘(T)here can be no just Europe without the independence of Poland marked on its map!’ Polish soldiers had fallen on numerous battlefields ‘for our freedom and yours.’ Was history thus absurd? No. For that spirit of sacrifice was emblematic of ‘every seed that falls into the earth and dies and thus bears fruit. It may be the seed of the blood of a soldier shed on the battlefield, or the sacrifice of martyrdom in concentration camps or in prisons. It may be the seed of hard daily toil… in the fields, the workshop, the mine, the foundries, and the factories. It may be the seed of the love of parents who do not refuse to give life to a new human being and undertake the whole task of bringing him up. It may be the seed of creative work in the universities, the higher institutes, the libraries and the places where the national culture is built. It may be the seed of prayer, of service of the sick, the suffering and abandoned – “all of that of which Poland is made.”

“All of that, he concluded, was in the hands of the Mother of God – ‘at the foot of the cross on Calvary and in the Upper Room of Pentecost.’ All of Poland’s suffering and triumph; all of the history of the peoples who had lived on this land, ‘including those who died in their hundreds of thousands within the walls of the Warsaw ghetto;’ all that was what he – ‘a son of this land… who am also Pope John Paul II’ – offered to God in this Eucharistic sacrifice.

…And I cry from all the depths of this millennium, I cry on the vigil of Pentecost:
‘Let your Spirit descend.
Let your Spirit descend,
And renew the face of the earth,
The face of this land.

Weigel continues: “Throughout the Pope’s sermon, the crowd responded rhythmically: ‘We want God, we want God, we want God in the family, we want God in the schools, we want God in books, we want God, we want God…’ Seven hours after he had arrived, a crucial truth had been clarified by a million Poles’ response to John Paul’s evangelism. Poland was not a communist country; Poland was a Catholic nation saddled with a communist state.
“Poland’s ‘second baptism,’ which would change the history of the twentieth century, had begun.”

· 1979: Trip to the UN (+1995)
· 5/13/81: Shot on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima
· November 28, 1982: Opus Dei erected as a Personal Prelature: “Ut Sit.”
· 1983: Josef Ratzinger made head of Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Showdown with the Sandinistas
· 3/25/84: Consecration of the world (Russia) – with the entire Church – to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
· 1987-1988: Marian Year, “Mother of the Redeemer” “Christifideles Laici.”
· 1989: Economic and political Marxism falls.
· 1992: Publication of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church:” the new logic of the Faith in terms of the dignity of the human person.
· 14 encyclicals centered on the truth of the human person understood Christologically, i.e. as self-gift.
· 2000: trip to the Holy Land (and Greece)
· 2001: publication of “Novo Millennio Ineunte” as “blueprint” of the third millennium to “experience” the Person of Jesus Christ.
· 2003: Second Encyclical on Our Lady – Luminous Mysteries.
· 2004: Encyclical on the Eucharist: “Mane Nobiscum Domine.”
· Last published non-Magisterial work: “Memory and Identity:”

Comment of Benedict XVI: “In his last book "Memory and Identity" (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2005), he has left us an interpretation of suffering that is not a theological or philosophical theory but a fruit that matured on his personal path of suffering which he walked, sustained by faith in the Crucified Lord. This interpretation, which he worked out in faith and which gave meaning to his suffering lived in communion with that of the Lord, spoke through his silent pain, transforming it into an important message.

Both at the beginning and once again at the end of the book mentioned, the Pope shows that he is deeply touched by the spectacle of the power of evil, which we dramatically experienced in the century that has just ended. He says in his text: "The evil... was not a small-scale evil.... It was an evil of gigantic proportions, an evil which availed itself of state structures in order to accomplish its wicked work, an evil built up into a system" (p. 189).

Might evil be invincible? Is it the ultimate power of history? Because of the experience of evil, for Pope Wojty³a the question of redemption became the essential and central question of his life and thought as a Christian. Is there a limit against which the power of evil shatters? "Yes, there is", the Pope replies in this book of his, as well as in his Encyclical on redemption.

The power that imposes a limit on evil is Divine Mercy. Violence, the display of evil, is opposed in history - as "the totally other" of God, God's own power - by Divine Mercy. The Lamb is stronger than the dragon, we could say together with the Book of Revelation.

At the end of the book, in a retrospective review of the attack of 13 May 1981 and on the basis of the experience of his journey with God and with the world, John Paul II further deepened this answer.

What limits the force of evil, the power, in brief, which overcomes it - this is how he says it - is God's suffering, the suffering of the Son of God on the Cross: "The suffering of the Crucified God is not just one form of suffering alongside others.... In sacrificing himself for us all, Christ gave a new meaning to suffering, opening up a new dimension, a new order: the order of love.... The passion of Christ on the Cross gave a radically new meaning to suffering, transforming it from within.... It is this suffering which burns and consumes evil with the flame of love.... All human suffering, all pain, all infirmity contains within itself a promise of salvation... evil is present in the world partly so as to awaken our love, our self-gift in generous and disinterested service to those visited by suffering.... Christ has redeemed the world: "By his wounds we are healed' (Is 53: 5)" (p. 189, ff.).

All this is not merely learned theology, but the expression of a faith lived and matured through suffering. Of course, we must do all we can to alleviate suffering and prevent the injustice that causes the suffering of the innocent. However, we must also do the utmost to ensure that people can discover the meaning of suffering and are thus able to accept their own suffering and to unite it with the suffering of Christ.

In this way, it is merged with redemptive love and consequently becomes a force against the evil in the world.

The response across the world to the Pope's death was an overwhelming demonstration of gratitude for the fact that in his ministry he offered himself totally to God for the world; a thanksgiving for the fact that in a world full of hatred and violence he taught anew love and suffering in the service of others; he showed us, so to speak, in the flesh, the Redeemer, redemption, and gave us the certainty that indeed, evil does not have the last word in the world.”

John Paul II’s Suffering As Perceived At Lourdes (August 2004): The Itinerant Goodbye in the eyes of John Allen, Jr.:

“All papal trips are equal, but some are more equal than others. That is, all John Paul's travels may be motivated by the same pastoral and apostolic impulses, but some have a special historical significance. The pope at the Wailing Wall, for example, or on the Acropolis in Athens, were electric moments. On the other hand, if someone were to ask me now about the trip to Azerbaijan, I'd be a bit stumped, and I was there.
I suspect that John Paul's Aug. 14-15 visit to Lourdes, the 104th foreign trip of his papacy, belongs on the A-list. What we saw in Lourdes, I believe, was the apotheosis of his transformation from "supreme pastor of the Catholic church," to quote the formula in the Code of Canon Law, into a living symbol of human suffering, in effect, an icon of Christ on the cross.
Lourdes is Christianity's premier healing shrine, a place where sick people come to find camaraderie and hope. Here "the sick are royalty." The streets have red strips signifying paths restricted to the sick, and roving bands of young volunteers shoo others out of the way with gusto. Volunteers port the sick around in a special wheeled cart that looks something like a rickshaw. It's nothing to walk into a restaurant where half the patrons are in wheelchairs. This is a place where pilgrims arrive in conveyances such as the "Jumbulance," a "jumbo ambulance" with 16 seats down one side and eight beds down the other for people too seriously ill to fly. The Jumbulance carries nebulizers, oxygen concentrators and electric feeding pumps, along with a medical staff.
"In Lourdes, it's the sick people who are real," said Redemptorist Fr. Terry Creech, who hears confessions in Lourdes four months out of every year. "It's the rest of us who are unreal."
As I walked through the crowd of 200,000 people gathered for John Paul's Sunday morning Mass on Aug. 15, I saw tens of thousands of people using canes and walkers and in wheelchairs. When the ailing, elderly John Paul II appeared, declaring himself a "sick man among the sick," many in the crowd recognized one of their own.
"My mother had Parkinson's disease for 30 years, and I was with her," said Irish pilgrim Lyla Shakespeare. "When I looked at the pope today, all I could see was my mother." But, she added, "I also saw Christ."
The pope's weakness was clear throughout the two-day trip.
When he arrived at the Grotto of Massabielle on Saturday, to pray in the spot where the Virgin Mary is believed to have appeared to a 14-year-old French peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirous in 1858, he was helped to his knees. Within moments, the pope slumped, prompting his private secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dzwisz, to come to his aid. John Paul finished the brief devotion, but at his next public appearance French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray read the pope's speech.
(Believe it or not, I spent the better part of an hour with colleagues from broadcast and wire services debating whether or not this event could be described as a "collapse.")
During his homily at a Mass for some 200,000 pilgrims Sunday morning, John Paul struggled again. He could be heard muttering "Jesus and Mary" under his breath in Polish, and once mumbled "help me" to no one in particular. Later John Paul seemed confused during the Eucharistic prayers, and had to be reminded to elevate the host at the consecration. At another point, the pope muttered, "I have to finish," almost as if to will himself forward.
In a sense we've seen all this before, as John Paul's physical decline has been playing out on the public stage for years. Three things, however, were special about Lourdes.
First, papal handlers are no longer bothering to deny or minimize the extent of the pope's physical difficulties. After John Paul's Saturday slump, for example, spokesperson Joaquin Navarro-Valls shrugged it off: "It's normal. We have to get used to it."
Second, the trip seemed to ratify a theological reading of John Paul's suffering as iconic of Christ's. French Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger put 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."
Third, the trip put into full public view the unique bond John Paul now has with the sick and suffering of the world. For example, French-Canadian layman Jean Vanier was at the pope's side on Saturday afternoon and evening, helping to lead a rosary procession. Vanier is the founder of the L'Arche community that works with severely disabled people, and at the end of the procession, John Paul embraced him and gave Vanier the rosary he had been praying, as if to say: "I'm part of your community now." That spirit was ubiquitous during the two-day trip.
For all the ink that's been spilled about John Paul the politician or John Paul the globetrotter, in the long run it may be this period of his papacy, John Paul the invalid, that leaves the deepest impression. We may find that 50 years from now, it's not his role in the collapse of Communism that we remember, but these years of decline and public suffering. John Paul has not allowed himself to be shunted off to a home, the normal fate of elderly and infirm people. He has refused to spare us the embarrassment of his saliva and his slurred, unsteady speech. He makes us watch him slump, and wince, and become confused, and thereby forces us to confront the reality of decline and death - our own and that of our loved ones.”
Joaquin Navarro-Valls issued a press statement late April 2 regarding the pope’s death: “The Holy Father died at 9, 37 p.m. this evening in his private apartment. At 8 p.m. the celebration of Mass for Divine Mercy Sunday bagan in the Holy Father’s room, presided by Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz with …

“During the course of the Mass, the viaticum was administered to the Holy Fahter and, once again, the sacrament of anointing of the sick.

“The Holy Father’s final hours were marked by the uninterrupted prayer of all those who were assisting him in his pious death, and by the choral participation in prayer of the thousands of faithful who for many hours had been gathered in St. Peter’s Square.”

[1] New York Post, April 4, 2005, 2.
[2] John Paul II, Toronto, WYD 2002.
[3] George Weigel, “Witness to Hope,” Cliff Street Books (1999) 293-294.

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