“There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to ‘the slavery of sin’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1733).
Saint John Paul II was an amazing man, priest, bishop, pope, and now Saint! But here are 10 things about him that you may have never known:
Saint John Paul II, pray for us!
At the heart of this Sunday, which concludes the Octave of Easter and which John Paul II wished to dedicate to Divine Mercy, are the glorious wounds of the risen Jesus.
He had already shown those wounds when he first appeared to the Apostles on the very evening of that day following the Sabbath, the day of the resurrection. But Thomas was not there that evening, and when the others told him that they had seen the Lord, he replied that unless he himself saw and touched those wounds, he would not believe. A week later, Jesus appeared once more to the disciples gathered in the Upper Room, and Thomas was present; Jesus turned to him and told him to touch his wounds. Whereupon that man, so straightforward and accustomed to testing everything personally, knelt before Jesus with the words: "My Lord and my God!" (Jn 20:28).
The wounds of Jesus are a scandal, a stumbling block for faith, yet they are also the test of faith. That is why on the body of the risen Christ the wounds never pass away: they remain, for those wounds are the enduring sign of God’s love for us. They are essential for believing in God. Not for believing that God exists, but for believing that God is love, mercy and faithfulness. Saint Peter, quoting Isaiah, writes to Christians: "by his wounds you have been healed" (1 Pet 2:24, cf. Is 53:5).
Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II were not afraid to look upon the wounds of Jesus, to touch his torn hands and his pierced side. They were not ashamed of the flesh of Christ, they were not scandalized by him, by his cross; they did not despise the flesh of their brother (cf. Is 58:7), because they saw Jesus in every person who suffers and struggles. These were two men of courage, filled with the parrhesia of the Holy Spirit, and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy.
They were priests, bishops and popes of the twentieth century. They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful – faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of man and the Lord of history; the mercy of God, shown by those five wounds, was more powerful; and more powerful too was the closeness of Mary our Mother.
In these two men, who looked upon the wounds of Christ and bore witness to his mercy, there dwelt a living hope and anindescribable and glorious joy (1 Pet 1:3,8). The hope and the joy which the risen Christ bestows on his disciples, the hope and the joy which nothing and no one can take from them. The hope and joy of Easter, forged in the crucible of self-denial, self-emptying, utter identification with sinners, even to the point of disgust at the bitterness of that chalice. Such were the hope and the joy which these two holy popes had received as a gift from the risen Lord and which they in turn bestowed in abundance upon the People of God, meriting our eternal gratitude.
This hope and this joy were palpable in the earliest community of believers, in Jerusalem, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. 2:42-47). It was a community which lived the heart of the Gospel, love and mercy, in simplicity and fraternity.
This is also the image of the Church which the Second Vatican Council set before us. Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II cooperated with the Holy Spirit in renewing and updating the Church in keeping with her pristine features, those features which the saints have given her throughout the centuries. Let us not forget that it is the saints who give direction and growth to the Church. In convening the Council, Saint John XXIII showed an exquisite openness to the Holy Spirit. He let himself be led and he was for the Church a pastor, a servant-leader. This was his great service to the Church; he was the pope of openness to the Holy Spirit.
In his own service to the People of God, Saint John Paul II was the pope of the family. He himself once said that he wanted to be remembered as the pope of the family. I am particularly happy to point this out as we are in the process of journeying with families towards the Synod on the family. It is surely a journey which, from his place in heaven, he guides and sustains.
May these two new saints and shepherds of God’s people intercede for the Church, so that during this two-year journey toward the Synod she may be open to the Holy Spirit in pastoral service to the family. May both of them teach us not to be scandalized by the wounds of Christ and to enter ever more deeply into the mystery of divine mercy, which always hopes and always forgives, because it always loves.
“Holy Spirit, descend into my heart and establish in it your loving dominion. Enkindle in my tepid soul the fire of your love so that I may be wholly subject to you. Come to me, glory of the living and hope of the dying. Lead me by your grace, that I may always be pleasing to you.” (St. Augustine)
Catholics Around The World Get Set For The ‘Day Of Four Popes’
Millions of Catholics around the world are bracing for a once-in-a-lifetime experience this Sunday – four popes, two of them in the flesh, in one historic, ceremony: the double canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II.
After some speculation, retired Pope Benedict XVI is expected to attend the event, according to Msgr. Liberio Andreatta, head of the Vatican-related pilgrim agency, Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, as quoted by the National Catholic Reporter.
"Never before have there been two popes canonized and two popes living," he said at a news conference Wednesday in Rome. "You can imagine their emotions," he told the NCR online, referring to Popes Francis and Benedict.
The last time Benedict XVI was seen in public was February 22 of this year, when the Pope Emeritus attended a consistory at which Pope Francis created 19 new cardinals in St. Peter’s Basilica. Pope Benedict’s presence at the ceremony marked the first time he had joined Pope Francis for a public liturgy.
Benedict, 87, made history on February 28, 2013, when he became the first pontiff in 600 years to resign in order to live the final stage of his life as "simply a pilgrim."
The double canonization is expected to be followed by millions through television, Internet and social media.
According to Italy’s Ministry of Interior, 19 heads of state, 24 ministers and 23 high officials have confirmed their attendance to the ceremony at St. Peter’s Square, among them the king and queen of Spain, Juan Carlos and Sofia, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski , and French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls. Representatives and delegations from Latin America include presidents Rafael Correa, from Ecuador, and Juan Orlando Hernández, from Honduras.
Nineteen giant screens are being installed throughout Vatican City and St. Peter’s Square, as well as in several key locations in the historic district, including the Roman Coliseum and the Piazza del Popolo. The ceremony will be translated into several languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and French, both live and on television.
Francis announced back in July that he would canonize the two popes together, after approving a second miracle to John Paul II, who led the church from 1978-2005.
The first reported miracle credited to John Paul II occurred in 2005, when a French nun recovered from Parkinson's disease after her order prayed on her behalf and she wrote down the Polish pope's name on a piece of paper.
A second certified miracle occurred in May 2011, on the day of the pope's beatification, when he allegedly cured a Costa Rican woman with an inoperable brain aneurysm.
John Paul II is set to be the fastest canonizing in modern history, beating out Josemaria Escriva, the Spanish priest who founded Opus Dei and was canonized 27 years after his death.
Pope John XXIII, on the other hand, died in 1963 and had to wait 51 years for his sainthood.
Intention:"Today bring to Me SOULS WHO HAVE BECOME LUKEWARM, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. These souls wound My Heart most painfully. My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: 'Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.' For them, the last hope of salvation is to run to My mercy."
Prayer: Most compassionate Jesus, You are Compassion Itself. I bring lukewarm souls into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart. In this fire of Your pure love, let these tepid souls, who, like corpses, filled You with such deep loathing, be once again set aflame. O Most Compassionate Jesus, exercise the omnipotence of Your mercy and draw them into the very ardor of Your love, and bestow upon them the gift of holy love, for nothing is beyond Your power.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon lukewarm souls who are nonetheless enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Father of Mercy, I beg You by the bitter Passion of Your Son and by His three-hour agony on the Cross: Let them, too, glorify the abyss of Your mercy.
Pray the Chaplet
"Dear children! Open your hearts to the grace which God is giving you through me, as a flower that opens to the warm rays of the sun. Be prayer and love for all those who are far from God and His love. I am with you and I intercede for all of you before my Son Jesus, and I love you with immeasurable love. Thank you for having responded to my call."
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