Pope John Paul II - Our Inspiration
Indeed, Pope John Paul II will always be OUR ultimate icon of Selfless, Unconditional and Forgiving Love
We love you very much.
John Paul II to be beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on the Feast of Divine MercyWith millions of the faithful I prayed throughout those final days of his life before he entered the eternal communion of love. What a gift he was - and still is. He showed us how to live and how to love as Jesus, poured out for others. He showed us that suffering joined to the Savior is a sign and vehicle of God's mercy and an occasion of grace. Then, he showed us how to die, not with fear, but with faith.
This Polish Pope was so filled with the love of God it was contagious. A talented and gifted "man of letters", a playwright, a philosopher, an intellectual giant, a poet, and a genuine human being , he had a heart that embraced the whole world like the Heart of the One whom he represented on earth.
He traversed the globe, proclaiming freedom to the captives and truth to the victims of failed false ideologies that had ravaged the people of the twentieth century, the bloodiest in all of human history. He proclaimed the unchanging, Christian message with a prophetic urgency, profound clarity and contemporary relevance.
Many tried to label him but he demonstrated how shallow the labels can be. He was simply a Christian who stood on the shoulders of giants, rooted in the ancient rich tradition of the Church while proclaiming Jesus Christ as "forever young."
Communism, atheism, secularism, and false humanisms, were exposed because he had the courage to stand up to tyrants with the bold message of the God who came among us to make us all new! He taught that Jesus Christ is the path to authentic personal, social and universal freedom!He authored more encyclical letters, apostolic exhortations, constitutions and letters than any Pope in the two thousand year history of the Christian Church. Once I started reading his writings as a young man I could not stop. I wanted to consume them, and I have done so, over and over.I also hoped to become them and offer them to others. On that front, I have a long way to go.
Over many years I have come to understand more deeply the meaning of living in the communion of the Church because Pope John Paul II taught about it and lived it with such beauty. I have tried to practice his version of authentic ecumenism. I have tried to pass on to others his message of authentic freedom. However, the older I get, the more I realize how little I have accomplished.
This giant whose voice changed history was barely able to speak during those final hours. The once physically robust Pope presided over the Church from a wheelchair as a prophetic sign of the dignity of every human life; the message he carried throughout his pontificate. Just before he died he spoke to a friend at his bedside "I am happy. You should be too. Let us pray together with joy." Then, on April 2, 2005 at 9:37 p.m. after asking, "Let me go to my Father's House", he died in peace. The world wept.
I remember his death like it was yesterday. Along with millions, my heart sunk as he was placed in the earth after such a long period of suffering. When the "transitus" (passing to eternal life) of this holy man was completed it seemed as though that earth stood still. History was changed by the witness of one man singularly conformed to the One whom he served, Jesus Christ.
Pope John Paul II became in both life and death a "living letter", as St Paul wrote to the Corinthians. (2 Cor.3) Also, like the master he loved he became a "grain of wheat" fallen to the ground in order to bear much fruit. (John 12: 24-26) Like countless others my life was forever changed by this prophet who occupied Peters' chair for such a brief time. I must admit, my heart still hurts when I think of him. I miss him.
Like millions, I am convinced that history will record him as "John Paul the Great." However, I am also convinced that his message still needs to be unpacked in order to be used as material for the work to be done in this new missionary age.
There is no doubt that we had a saint in our midst. A man so filled with Jesus Christ that, like the Apostle Paul, he no longer lived but "Christ lived in him." (Galatians 2) The sentiment of the faithful expressed on the day on which his body was processed through the streets of Rome, "Santo Subito" has echoed as the Church has discerned the cause of his canonization.
Now, he will be raised to the Altar on the Feast of Divine Mercy and the faithful will call him "Blessed John Paul II." There is little doubt that soon, we will also affirm what the miracles effected by his continued intercession confirm, John Paul II is a Saint.
The beatification celebration of the pilgrim pope is set to last in three days, wherein various activities are expected to happen all in line with the good will and miracles performed by the Pope.
In line with this, Sentro Filipino Chaplaincy in Rome is now busy making preparations for the said occasion as thanksgiving of the Filipino community for the good will of the late Catholic Church leader for the Filipino nation and the whole world.
The beatification of Pope John Paul II is expected to earn high numbers of Pinoy pilgrims and tourists especially there will be no required passes to attend the occasion.
Pope John Paul II will be beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on the Feast of Divine Mercy.
Catholic Dot Org
Philippine NEWS DAILY
REPOSTING... Associated Press
His successor heard their call. On Friday, in the fastest process on record, Pope Benedict XVI set May 1 as the date for John Paul's beatification — a key step toward Catholicism's highest honor and a major morale boost for a church reeling from the clerical sex abuse scandal.
He set the date after declaring that a French nun's recovery from Parkinson's disease was the miracle needed for John Paul to be beatified. A second miracle is needed to be canonized a saint.
Benedict himself will preside at the May 1 ceremony, which is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to Rome for a precedent-setting Mass: Never before has a pope beatified his immediate predecessor.
Although the numbers may not reach the 3 million who flocked here for John Paul's funeral, religious tour operators in his native Poland were already preparing to bus and fly in the faithful to celebrate a man many considered a saint while he was alive.
"We have waited a long time and this is a great day for us," said Mayor Ewa Filipiak of John Paul's hometown of Wadowice, where the faithful lit candles Friday and prayed at a chapel in the town church dedicated to John Paul.
The Rev. Pawel Danek, who runs a museum in John Paul's family home, said Benedict had listened to the prayers.
"The Holy Father has confirmed what we all felt somehow," he said. "For us, John Paul II's holiness is obvious."
Benedict put John Paul on the fast track to possible sainthood just weeks after he died, waiving the typical five-year waiting period before the process could begin. But he insisted that the investigation into John Paul's life be thorough to avoid any doubts about his virtues.
The beatification will nevertheless be the fastest on record, coming a little more than six years after his death and beating out Mother Teresa's then-record beatification in 2003 by a few days.
It is not without controversy, however. While John Paul himself was never accused of improprieties, he has long been accused of responding slowly when the sex abuse scandal erupted in the United States in 2002. Many of the thousands of cases that emerged last year involved crimes and cover-ups during his 26-year papacy.
Critics have faulted John Paul's overriding concern with preserving the rights of accused priests, often at the expense of victims — a concern formed in part by his experiences in communist-controlled Poland, where priests were often accused of trumped-up charges.
The most damaging case linked to John Paul concerned the Rev. Marciel Maciel, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, a conservative order beloved by the late pope because of its orthodoxy, fundraising prowess and ability to attract priestly vocations.
Allegations that Maciel had raped young seminarians were brought by the victims to the Vatican in the 1990s, but under apparent orders from John Paul's No. 2, a canonical trial was shelved.
Only after Benedict became pope was Maciel sanctioned in 2006; Maciel died two years later.
Despite the Maciel case, Vatican officials have said there was nothing in John Paul's record that put his beatification into question. Vatican watchers noted on Friday that beatification isn't a "score card" on how John Paul administered the church but rather a recognition that he led a saintly life.
Carl Anderson, head of the Knights of Columbus, one of the world's largest Catholic fraternal service organizations, said John Paul's life was a model of "love, respect and forgiveness for all."
"We saw this in the way he reached out to the poor, the neglected, those of other faiths, even the man who shot him," Anderson said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "He did all of this despite being so personally affected by events of the bloodiest century in history."
The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano described his saintliness in these terms Friday: "A passionate witness to Christ from his childhood to his last breath."
The last remaining hurdle before beatification concerned Benedict's approval that the cure of the French nun, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, was a miracle due to the intercession of the late pope.
The nun has said she felt reborn when she woke up two months after John Paul died, cured of the disease that had made walking, writing and driving a car nearly impossible. She and her fellow sisters of the Congregation of Little Sisters of Catholic Maternity Wards had prayed to John Paul.
On Friday, Simon-Pierre said John Paul was and continues to be an inspiration to her because of his defense of the unborn and because they both suffered from Parkinson's.
John Paul "hasn't left me. He won't leave me until the end of my life," she told French Catholic TV station KTO and Italy's state-run RAI television.
Wearing a white habit and wire-rimmed glasses, she appeared in good health and showed no signs of tremors or slurred speech, common symptoms of Parkinson's.
"John Paul II did everything he could for life, to defend life," she said. "He was very close to the smallest and weakest. How many times did we see him approach a handicapped person, a sick person?"
Last year, there were some questions about whether the nun's original diagnosis was correct. But in a statement Friday, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints said Vatican-appointed doctors had "scrupulously" studied the case and determined that her cure had no scientific explanation.
Once he is beatified, John Paul will be given the title "blessed" and can be publicly venerated, or worshipped. Many people, especially in Poland, already venerate him privately, but the ceremony will allow Catholics to publicly worship him.
The Vatican said John Paul's entombed remains, currently in the grotto underneath St. Peter's Basilica, will be moved upstairs to a chapel just inside a main entrance for easier access by the public.
Visitors are expected in droves. Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno had a previously scheduled audience with Benedict on Friday and said he had assured the pope that the city was up to the task.
Born as Karol Wojtyla in 1920, John Paul was the youngest pope in 125 years and the first non-Italian in 455 years when he was elected pontiff in 1978.
He brought a new vitality to the Vatican, and quickly became the most accessible modern pope, sitting down for meals with factory workers, skiing and wading into crowds to embrace the faithful.
His Polish roots nourished a doctrinal conservatism — opposition to contraception, euthanasia, abortion and female priests — that rankled liberal Catholics in the United States and Western Europe.
But his common touch also made him a crowd-pleasing, globe-trotting superstar whose papacy carried the Catholic Church into Christianity's third millennium and emboldened eastern Europeans to bring down the communist system.
He survived an assassination attempt in St. Peter's Square in 1981 — and promptly forgave the Turk who had shot him.
After suffering for years from the effects of Parkinson's, he died in his Vatican apartment on April 2, 2005. He was 84.
Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, John Paul's most trusted friend and aide who was at his bedside that night, gave thanks Friday from Krakow, where he is archbishop.
"We are happy that this process came to an end, that what people asked for — "Santo subito" — was fulfilled," Dziwisz said. "I express great joy on behalf of the entire diocese of Krakow — and I think I am also authorized to express this on behalf of all of Poland."
The selection of May 1 — the first Sunday after Easter — as the beatification date is significant. It's the Feast of Divine Mercy, which John Paul himself inaugurated in 2000 after canonizing Sister Faustina Kowalska, a 20th century Polish mystic to whom he was particularly devoted.
It's also May Day or labor day, what was once a major communist holiday. While there was some irony in the date, few in Poland noted it and Poles today celebrate May 1 as a welcome and uncontroversial holiday like the rest of Europe.