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St. Pope John Paul II

While in my final year of College, I remember hearing over the radio that Pope John Paul had died!  What made this such a significant emotional event, is that he was just elected in August 1978 and was the Pontiff for only 33 days!

I listened intently to the ongoings and became aware of different aspects of a new pope. I understood that the pope’s ring, called The Fisherman’s Ring, is also an official seal for documents that is exclusive only to him.  It is worn on the third finger of the right hand and is the most powerful symbol of a Pontiff’s authority.  As soon as a pope dies, the Chamberlain attempts to rouse the Pontiff three times by saying (in John-Paul’s case), “John-Paul are you alive”!  After confirmation of death, the ring is immediately destroyed to indicate the end of his reign!

 All Catholic cardinals convene to the Vatican in closed session and vote on a new Vicar of Rome. Once the world sees the white smoke – we know a new Pope has been elected. The Polish Cardinal Karol Józef Wojtyła was elected on the third day of the conclave and adopted the name of his predecessor in tribute to him, becoming, Pope John Paul II!  Thursday, 22 October 2020, is the feast day of Saint Pope John Paul II.

I read a book several years back entitled, Saint John Paul the Great – His Five Loves, by Jason Evert.  This book was important since I wanted to know and understand more about Father Karol Jozef, who would become the second longest-serving pope in modern history after Pope Pius IX and becoming the first non-Italian pope since the 16th-century Pope Adrian VI.  We could fill volumes of books about St. Pope John Paul II, but I wanted to share a couple of my takeaways that have remained with me since I learned more about him.

As a young man growing up in Poland, Karol Józef Wojtyła was a hardworking, blue color worker who was very devoted to his faith and known to assist and support those in need.  This assistance and support to the poor included giving the clothes off his back!   Karol Józef Wojtyła was known to do so to a point, before and after he was ordained a Priest, where he himself was running out of clothes since he gave so much to the poor and needy. 

As I was reading the Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, a Polish Roman Catholic nun and mystic in which her apparitions of Jesus Christ inspired the Roman Catholic devotion to the Divine Mercy wrote in 1938 – “As I was praying for Poland, I heard the words (from Jesus): I bear a special love for Poland, and if she will be obedient to My will, I will exalt her in might and Holiness.  From her will come forth the spark that will prepare the world for my final coming.”

Was this spark Father Karol Józef Wojtyła?  We need to remember that he is recognized as helping to end Communist rule in his native Poland and eventually all Eastern, Central, and Southeast Europe.

St. Pope John Paul II’s devotion to God our Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit was unbelievable.  He would prostrate himself before the altar in meditation every day. His staff, on official trips, would attempt to keep him on time and on schedule by steering him away from Sanctuaries since he would always stop for a visit.  One story that is mentioned regarding staff trying to keep him on time for official visits and such in a foreign country where he was being led through a diocese building.  He suddenly stopped, looked at his staff, smiled, kindly shook his finger at them and immediately went through a doorway that that led to a chapel and a sanctuary!  How did he know that our Lord was present there?  Our Lord was calling out to him for a visit and St. Pope John Paul II could not resist!

What are our takeaways from St. Pope John Paul II?  To give to those in need and to visit and be with God our Father as often as we can.  Jesus calls out to us and wants us to help those in need and to come and visit with him anytime.           Blessings – Dcn Jim