Friday, October 17, 2014

Saint John Paul the Great

... the canonizations of Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II

Next Wednesday we will have the opportunity to celebrate the Feast day of Saint John Paul the Great for the first time. He was canonized, along with Pope John XXIII, last April. It's awesome to be able to say that I remember him as our Pope and now he is one of the great Saints in heaven. He was Pope from the time I was eight until I was thirty-five!

I have to be honest and say that through most of John Paul II's pontificate I did not appreciate what a great man he truly was. I remember being outraged at the release of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis in which he declared that it is not - and will never be - possible for the Church to ordain women to the priesthood. For so many years I thought that my twentieth century enlightened mind knew better than his and better than our two thousand year old Church.

But, ah how humility comes with age and education. When I went to graduate school in Theology I was challenged to really study these teachings with which I disagreed. And wow did my mind and my Faith deepen and change! I learned that the teachings of the Church span across all times, nationalities, and politics. The Catholic Church teaches Truth according to Natural Law and Revelation. Truth. The Pope's role is to make sure the Church maintains those Truths. He guides us beyond our narrow mindsets and toward God's mind and heart.

So then I fell in love with John Paul II, especially with his connection with the youth as he exhorted them to "be not afraid" and empowered them to be fully Catholic and embrace the New Evangelization. His Theology of the Body is revolutionary and beautiful and should be studied and embraced by our sex-crazed, out-of-whack world. And, finally the world witnessed the great dignity and beautiful Faith which he maintained through great suffering and death. Truly, this man taught us so much about what it means to be a disciple.

I found this quote in this month's Catholic Digest and it has really stayed with me this week:

"Only by praying together with their children can a father and mother - exercising their royal priesthood - penetrate the innermost depths of their children's hearts and leave an impression that the future events in their lives will not be able to efface." Saint John Paul II

There are so many things I want my children to learn and embrace. John Paul reminds me that God is in control and that the greatest thing Jon and I can teach our boys is to pray. Through prayer we all are changed in ways that can never be erased. We are brought closer to our good God who will guide us through all of life's challenges.

Thank you, JPII. We still love you.

Saint John Paul the Great, pray for us.


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