Category Archives: Pope John Paul II

Presence in the blogosphere

Sometimes I get weary about blogging because of the time it takes and some days it seems so boring. So I ask questions like: is it useful, for whom am I writing, for what reason, is this just an ego-trip, etc. I came across a few lines of Pope John Paul II which gives me slight encouragement. He said:


The special challenge before you, is to find ways to ensure that the voice of the Church is not marginalized or silenced in the modern arena of the media. You have a role to play in ensuring that the Gospel is not confined to a strictly private world. No! Jesus Christ must be proclaimed to the whole world; and therefore the Church must enter the great forum of the media with courage and confidence.

20 years since Pope John Paul’s Christifideles Laici (“Christ’s faithful people)

“Vocation and mission of the laity in the Church and society. Twenty years since Christifideles Laici:

balance and perspectives”.

PC Laity.jpgThe first encounter on February 28th will be particularly dedicated to the “Ecclesiology of Vatican II and Christifideles Laici”, with an introduction by Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, president of the Vatican office for the laity, Pontifical Council for the Laity.

“To be Christian lay people, it must often be reminded, is a true and specific vocation. It is a calling. It is also a mission–be it in the Church, within our Christian communities, be it above all in the world. A Christian lay person is evangelical yeast, is the light of the world, the salt of the earth. This is his vocation. (…) To be Christian lay people today, to be coherent Christians, at times requires not little courage, requires going against the tide. Our dicastery tries to encourage and help the laity to live their vocation in a courageous, convincing and persuasive manner.”

From the Heart of God: Vatican II & Pope John Paul II

On October 28, 2008, Pope Benedict wrote to Most Reverend Father Marco Tasca Minister General of the Friars Minor Conventual and Grand Chancellor of The Pontifical Theological Faculty of St Bonaventure Seraphicum on the occasion of an institute dealing with the theme of “The Second Vatican Council in the Pontificate of John Paul II.” Here are a few relevant paragraphs from His Holiness:


I can only rejoice at the choice of a theme that unites two topics of quite special interest to me: on the one hand, the Second Vatican Council, in which I had the honour of taking part as an expert and on the other, the figure of my beloved Predecessor John Paul II who made a significant personal contribution to that Council as a Council Father and subsequently, by God’s will, became its first executor during the years of his Pontificate. In this context it seems only right also to recall that the Council sprang from the great heart of Pope John XXIII, the 50th anniversary of whose election to the Chair of Peter we are commemorating today, 28 October. I said that the Council sprang from John XXIII’s heart, yet it would be more accurate to say that ultimately, like all the great events in the Church’s history, it came from the Heart of God, from his saving will: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3: 16). To make divine salvation accessible to contemporary man was Pope John XXIII’s main reason for convoking the Council, and the Fathers worked with this in mind. For this very reason, “As the years have passed, the Conciliar Documents” as I recalled on 20 April 2005, the day after my election to the Pontificate, “have lost none of their timeliness; indeed, their teachings are proving particularly relevant to the new situation of the Church and the current globalized society” (Message to Cardinals, 20 April 2005).

12.jpgIn practically all his documents, and especially in his decisions and his behaviour as Pontiff, John Paul II accepted the fundamental petitions of the Second Vatican Council, thus becoming a qualified interpreter and coherent witness of it. His constant concern was to make known to all the advantages that could stem from acceptance of the Conciliar vision, not only for the good of the Church but also for that of civil society itself and of the people working in it. “We have contracted a debt to the Holy Spirit”, he said in his Reflection prior to the Angelus on 6 October 1985, referring to the extraordinary session of the Synod of Bishops which was about to be celebrated precisely in order to reflect on the Church’s response during the 20 years that had passed since the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council. “We have contracted a debt to the Spirit of Christ…. This, in fact, is the Spirit who speaks to the Churches (cf. Rv 2: 7); during the Council and by means of it, his word has become particularly expressive and decisive for the Church” (ore, 14 October 1985, p. 12).

KW with bps at V2.jpg

We are all truly indebted to him for this extraordinary ecclesial event. The multiple doctrinal legacy that we find in its Dogmatic Constitutions, Declarations and Decrees still stimulates us to deepen our knowledge of the Word of God in order to apply it to the Church in the present day, keeping clearly in mind the many needs of the men and women of the contemporary world who are extremely in need of knowing and experiencing the light of Christian hope. The Synod of Bishops that has just ended placed these needs at the centre of its own rich and fruitful reflections, reaffirming the hope expressed in the past by the Constitution Dei Verbum: “So may it come that, by the reading and study of the sacred books, “the Word of God may speed on and triumph’ (2 Thes 3: 1), and the treasure of the Revelation entrusted to the Church may more and more fill the hearts of men” (n. 26), bringing them the salvation of God and with it authentic happiness.

This is a commitment that I am pleased to entrust in particular to you, dear Professors of the Pontifical Theological Faculty, who venerate the Seraphic Doctor St Bonaventure as its heavenly Patron. In the wealth of his thought, St Bonaventure can offer interpretative keys which are still up-to-date and with which you may approach the Conciliar Documents to seek in them satisfactory answers to the many questions of our time. The anxiety for humanity’s salvation which motivated the Council Fathers, guiding their commitment in the search for solutions to the numerous problems of the day was equally alive in St Bonaventure’s heart as he faced the hopes and anguish of the people of his own time. On the other hand, since the basic questions that man carries in his heart do not change with the changing of times, the answers the Seraphic Doctor attained have remained substantially applicable also in our day. In particular, the Itinerarium mentis in Deum that St Bonaventure composed in 1259 has remained valid. Although it is a guide to the heights of mystical theology, this precious little book also speaks to all Christians of what is essential in their lives. The ultimate goal of all our activities must be communion with the living God. Thus, for the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council too, the ultimate aim of all the individual aspects of the Church’s renewal was to lead the faithful to the living God revealed in Jesus Christ.

The Catholic approach to sport

The Vatican’s Council for the Laity is establishing a foundation to encourage good

Karol Wojtyla with a canoe.jpgsportsmanship under the patronage of Pope John Paul II. The John Paul II Foundation for Sports will be headquartered on the Via della Conciliazione, directly in front of St. Peter’s Square. The Foundation will be operated under the patronage of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. The aim is to encourage the values of the Gospel through sports.


My family is somewhat athletic, well, at least my father and sister are engaged with some kind athletic activity. My father rides a motor cycle and hunting and Lauren plays softball. Me, on the other hand, would rather watch from the sideline. Would you believe I was a freshman soccer coach when I was teaching at Fairfield Prep? And would you believe the team was undefeated? You ought to believe me because it is true. Nevertheless, I recall being impressed by the young and vigorous Fr. Karol Woytjla doing outside activity. I had never seen priests doing sports activities before. What a shock! In fact, one of favorite pictures of Fr. Karol is saying Mass on the underside of a canoe with a makeshift cross in the background. The connection between

JP skying.jpgnatural beauty and the divine beauty (Mass) is a remarkable encounter. Later we see how Pope John Paul II very much knew the importance the role sports plays in culture as he addressed the topic in some 120 addresses.

Edio Costantini, the foundation’s president, explained that one of the main objectives of the foundation is to relaunch parishes’ educational venues. He also said “The creation of the foundation and the beginning of its activities coincides, not by coincidence, with the Pauline Year.  In his letters, St. Paul often referred to the Christian life as an athletic race that, in the end, would be awarded with an incorruptible crown.”
The Foundation’s first undertaking will be a series of marathons to take place between Bethlehem and Rome. The marathons will begin next April 24 and end June 21 in St. Peter’s Square.


Why is the Church interested in promoting good sport? Archbishop Stanislaus Rylko writes in the preface of the proceedings, “The World of Sport Today: Field of Christian Mission”:


To achieve these lofty objectives sport nevertheless needs to discover its deepest ethos, and comply with the basic principle of the primacy of the human person. He therefore urged people to adopt a healthy approach to sport,
Karol at prayer.jpgso that sport is not practised as an end in itself, giving rise to the danger of becoming a vain and harmful idol, but to make it a meaningful instrument for the comprehensive development of the person and the construction of a society made more to the measure of Man. “When understood in this way, sport is not an end, but a means; it can become a vehicle of civility and genuine recreation, encouraging people to put the best of themselves on the field and to avoid what might be dangerous or seriously harmful to themselves or to others.” In other words, for John Paul II, the world of sport is an important areopagus of modern times, awaiting apostles who are ready to boldly announce the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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