April 22, 2012
3rd Sunday of Easter
“Peace be with you.”
On Saturday, April 2, 2005, approximately 10:00p.m. inRome, God took to himself John Paul II, Servant of the Servants of God. To many Catholics the timing of his death seemed to be very symbolic.
It occurred on the First Saturday of the month at which devotion to Mary, Mother of Jesus is observed. It also occurred on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday, a devotion to which John Paul II recognized and established for Catholics throughout the world when he canonized St. Marie Faustina in the Jubilee Year 2000. Those who participate in this devotion draw down God’s mercy, his greatest attribute, upon the world, and a special grace for themselves.
When Karol Cardinal Wojtyla (Woe-tee-ya) was elected Pope October 16, 1978, he appeared on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica and proclaimed his first words, “Praised be Jesus Christ!”
He was born the second of two sons to Karol, his father, and Emilia Kaczorowska, his mother, who died giving birth to a third child-stillborn-in1929. The young Karol could not foresee the death of his older brother Edmund, a doctor, in 1932 and the growing darkness of Nazism and Communism.
He made his first Holy Communion at age 9, was confirmed at age 17, and entered Krakow, Poland Jagiellon University, which was closed by the Nazi’s a year later in 1939. In 1942 he joined the “underground” seminary (school for aspiring priests) and pioneered an “underground” theatre as part of the resistance force. He was ordained a priest inKrakowon November 1, 1946. On July 4, 1958 he was appointed auxiliary bishop ofKrakowby Archbishop Baziak. On January 13, 1964 he was named Archbishop of Krakow by Pope Paul IV, who elevated him to the cardinalate on June 26, 1967. Eleven years later he became the Pope, the universal Shepherd of Christ’s Catholic Church.
As Pope he has welcomed an average 1 million people to theVatican CityinRome. He established 64 diplomatic relations with countries for the first time. He has traveled the world over, leading the faithful in the worship of God; encouraging and admonishing them to stay fully connected to Christ. He founded Populorum Progressio Foundation for the indigenous peoples of Latin America, thePontificalAcademiesfor Life and Social Sciences, as well as established World Youth Day, where millions of youth throughout the world would spend time in his presence.
The Pope has a special gift that comes from the office of St. Peter, found in the Gospel of Luke; the gift of being the visible head and principal unifier of the Christian faith. At the Last Supper Jesus says to Simon Peter, “Simon, Simon! Remember that Satan has asked for you, to sift you all like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may never fail. You in turn must strengthen your brothers.” (Lk. 22:31-32) That is why Catholics believe the Pope is infallible when teaching from the chair of St. Peter with regard to faith and morals. However, he is not impeccable (without sin) and he needs our prayers as all of us strive to follow Christ perfectly as Jesus says, “Be perfect as my heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt. 5:48)
Blessed John Paul II, pray for us.
Sincerely in Christ,
Father Thomas McCabe