John Paul II’s “Geography of Prayer” (Cardinal Re, part 2)

Cardinal Re
Cardinal Re continued his account of prayer and action in Blessed John Paul II as follows (see yesterday’s post for part 1):
“Prayer
was something spontaneous in him and, at the same time, it was ed to the
practices of traditional piety, among which was the hour of adoration every
Thursday, the Way of the Cross, which he did every Friday, the daily Rosary.
The Eucharist, the crucifix, and Our Lady were the three centers of his piety.
 

            For
John Paul II the Mass was the most exalted and most sacred reality; it was the
heart of each of his days. In a meeting with priests in 1995 he said: ‘the Mass
is, in an absolute way, the center of my life and each of my days.’
            I
have been told that when he was home and the schedule permitted him to be alone
in church, he even loved to pray prostrate, stretched out on the floor, as on
the day of priestly and episcopal ordination, as an expression of profound
adoration and supplication before the infinite grandeur of God.
            Cardinal
Innocenti related the following story to me about the Pope’s weekly Friday Via Crucis.
The Cardinal was the nuncio in Madrid when John Paul II made his first trip to
Spain. The Pope had had a very intense Thursday, having dinner at 9:00 p.m. The
next day’s program had a small breakfast slated for 6:30 and then a departure
for Seville at 7:00. The nuncio woke up early, partly because he was
preoccupied about the Pope’s pastoral visit and partly because he had given up
his bed and room to the Pope and was sleeping in a small bed in the attic. And
so he was already up at 5:00. He went down to the second floor, thinking that
the Pope would not be up until 6:30. He saw however that the light was on in little
church of the nunciature. He thought that they had forgotten to shut it off the
night before. He went to open the church door and was surprised to see the Pope
on his knees on the floor before one of the stations of the Via Crucis. Since
the day was full of pastoral duties in Seville and Granada the Pope was in
church at 5:30 to do the Via Crucis.
            I
accompanied the Pope to the Holy Land in 2000. On Friday of that week, in the
helicopter from Jerusalem to the Lake of Tiberias, the Pope was seated with a
Via Crucis book in his hand, praying it in the helicopter as this was the only
opportunity he had to do it. In 2000 he did not have the health that he had
before, otherwise he would have done the Via Crucis at night.
            In
regard to petitionary prayer, prayer of adoration, of thanksgiving, and asking
forgiveness, I found interesting the answer Pope John Paul II gave to one of
André Frossard’s questions during their conversations at Castel Gandolfo in
1982. I translate literally the paragraph from the book Frossard published in
November of that year, Be Not Afraid: 
There was a time in my life when I
thought that it seemed proper to limit petitionary prayer with respect to
prayer of adoration (that is, intercessory prayer for a person or situation, to
leave more space for prayer of adoration, praise, and thanksgiving). This time
has passed. The further I travel the road that Providence has shown me, the
more strongly I feel in me the need to have recourse to petitionary prayer, the
more expands the circle of the requests I make of God. Be no Afraid!: John Paul II Speaks
Out on his Life, his Beliefs, and his Inspiring Vision for Humanity
(New
York: St. Martin’s Press, 1984).
John Paul II, with his prayer, embraced the whole world and
spoke many times of the ‘geography of prayer,’ confiding that many times in his
prayer he traveled the world, interceding and reflecting on the most oppressed
and needy nations. His intercessory prayer for persons and situations always
had a universal reach.
            There
is no doubt that John Paul II was a mystic. A mystic,
however, who was attentive to persons and situations. A mystic who
influenced the course of history; a Pope whom the world esteemed for his
uncontainable dynamism, for the many gestures, the countless initiatives, the
great trips, and admired for the work that he accomplished that our modern
world might open its doors and hearts to Christ, man’s Redeemer. The inspired
motivation behind all of Pope John Paul II’s activity was to bring the men and women
of our time nearer to God and to bring God into this world of ours.”

(The entire speech may be found here)

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1 Comment
  1. Thank you John Paul and thank you John Hittinger for quoting the great John Paul II on prayer of petition. I have always had that same feeling he had in his earlier prayer life, i.e. that prayers of petition must be subjugated to other forms of prayer. Now my own prayers of petition awake my heart in new ways. Again, these wonderfully chosen quotes in your blog are a great gift to all who read them.

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