Commemorating the death of Blessed John Paul II

Pensive Christ by Władysław Skoczylas (d 1934)

Today, April 2, we commemorate the eighth anniversary of the death of Blessed John Paul II. With the retirement of Benedict XVI and the installation of a new Pope, Francis, another layer of time and historic events challenge us to cultivate the  memory of John Paul the Great. We do this not as those seeking for the living among the dead, as Pope Francis so simply warned us during his Easter Vigil homily. We seek first of all the living legacy of John Paul II, alive in the pontificates on Benedict and Francis.

As Cardinal Hume observed at the outset of the pontificate of John Paul II, his teachings are “rooted in Holy Scripture, nourished by a wide scholarship, faithful to the thought of the second Vatican Council, and reveal the strong faith of Polish Catholicism.” (Foreword to Sign of Contradiction) And as Cardinal Wyszynski said in his foreword to the same book, Wojtyla “sought to carry out his task with the hope of a strong Christian and the simplicity of a son of that nation which is accustomed to saying ‘Yes’ only to God, to the Church of Christ and to his Mother. Bishop Karol carried the ‘Yes’ from the altar of St Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr and brought the Good News with Franciscan humility and deep charity. His lively faith, deepened by study, meditation and prayer, and far removed from all professional dialectic, has released in him an apostolic fervour that today more than ever is the indispensable prerequisite for ‘renewing the face of the earth.'”

What prophetic utterances by two prominent Cardinals at the opening of the long fruitful pontificate of Blessed John Paul II. Indeed, there at the outset we see the dynamic source from whence shall unfold so many riches. The John Paul II renewal is still waiting to happen in full expanse, although its advance guard is to be seen throughout the world in movements, lay apostolate, renewed religious life, and vocations to the priesthood. It is the renewal of Vatican II, which is to say the renewal of the Gospel, of the action of the Holy Trinity.

Yet Blessed John Paul II also leaves a holy witness. We remember him as we would a saint of God. His life reflected the beauty of the crucified one, now risen. His life reflected the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, now poured forth. He embodied the mercy and forgiveness of the Heavenly Father, now (still) waiting for the return of the prodigal.

We pray today that by his intercession, and according to the will of God, we be granted all the graces we implore today, hoping that he will soon be numbered among the saints.

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1 Comment
  1. That is a lovely, thoughtful article. Thank you.

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