Friends, it’s been a while since I last wrote something about my Catholic Faith (see here, here). From reviewing the stats from the last few weeks, I believe I’ll start focusing on books and fitness, (walk programs & the like). However, every now and then, I’ll still post something about other categories. Well, today is the memorial of St John Paul II, aka St John Paul the Great.
“Open wide the doors to Christ,” said the Pope at his installation Mass.
- St John Paul II served as Pope from October 16, 1978 to his death on April 2, 2005, making him our Holy Father for more than 26 years.
- He was one of the most traveled popes in history, visiting 129 countries during his pontificate. And he was fluent in many languages.
- The saint had a passion for drama and literature. Reportedly, he saved a show once with his incredible memory. One of the cast members quit just days before opening day. St John Paul II stepped in to take on the extra role. They didn’t have understudies then. But evidently, our dear Holy Father memorized the lines of everyone!
- There were stories that he could have made a great spy. Apparently, he was able to evade being tailed by swapping cars while he was just out of sight of his pursuers.
St John Paul II and suffering
During the first half of his papacy, he was a picture of good health, vigor and vitality. Then, there was an assassination attempt in 1981; he had a colon surgery in 1992; he fell and dislocated a shoulder in 1993; the next year, he had another fall and broke a femur. Of course, he also suffered from a Parkinson-like disease. We can see that the second half of his tenure featured his failing health and suffering.
Yet, during all that time, the pope never hid from the public. He continued to serve. From the pictures of his latter years as pope, we can see that he needed to support himself on his pastoral staff, the crucifix. It would seem that he was leaning on Christ more and more. From his suffering, he taught us to bear infirmities with honor.
Robert Stackpole, STD, director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy, explained that, in his Apostolic Letter “Salvifici Dolores,” the Pope said that there are two basic attitudes that we should have toward human suffering. We should do what good we can for the suffering, and we should try to do what good we can with our own sufferings.
Stackpole went on, “First, we should try to relieve the sufferings of others (and our own) as much as possible, with compassionate care. The Pope recalls for us the importance of Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan in this regard. But where our own crosses cannot be taken away, we can still offer them up, in union with the Cross of Jesus, for the good of others. United with His Cross, in the Holy Spirit, our sufferings can thereby become a source of blessings and graces for the Church and the world. The chronically ill and suffering are therefore not just to be objects of our pity: they have an important vocation in the Church.” (Read the full article here.)
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