Category Archives: Pope John Paul II

Saints John XXIII and John Paul II

Gaudet Mater EcclesiaToday, Sunday, 27 April 2014, Pope Francis recognized as saints Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. Also present was Benedict XVI, pope emeritus, concelebrating Holy Mass. He say among the cardinals. More than 90 heads of state, other secular leaders among with more than a thousand bishops and 150 cardinals were present with more than a million people.

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, as we heard, 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 an indescribable 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.

faithful on 27 April 2014This 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), as we heard in the second reading. 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. John XXIII and 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, 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, led by the Spirit. This was his great service to the Church; he was the pope of openness [NB: from editor docility] to the Spirit.

In his own service to the People of God, 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.

Christ conquered evil

We believe that in assuming the weight of evil, Christ conquered evil. That he conquered sin and death. That he grafted onto the rot of suffering the power of the redemption and the light of hope. That is what he shares with everyone… to all those who suffer, from moral or physical evil, he never ceases to offer this graft of redemption, which comes from his cross and resurrection.

It is difficult to measure the evil which is our lot on this earth. It is a mystery greater than man, deeper than his heart. Gethsemane and Calvary speak of it, and at the same time bear witness that in the history of man, in his heart, another mystery is at work, that of the Redemption, which will work to the end to uproot evil. And in this mystery, a “new heaven and a new earth” are ripening, where… “God himself will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore.”

Saint John Paul II

New papal saints

J23 and JP2What do you know about papal saints? How many of them are you able to name?

The Holy Father is canonizing two of predecessors on April 27, 2014. At that time there will be 83 saints who served the Church as the Roman Pontiff. That’s roughly a third of 266 bishops of Rome.

The last of the canonized Pontiffs are: Saint Celestine V (r. 1294), Saint Pius V (1566-1572), and Saint Pius X (r. 1903-1914). We also await the Church’s discernment on 9 other popes who have been beatified, plus several who are at the beginning stages of the sainthood study process.

Christopher M. Bellitto has an article online over at St Anthony Messenger: “John XXIII and John Paul II: Our Newest Saints.” As a quick overview you ought to read. Some interpretative elements pertain more to Bellitto than to me but expand your knowledge.

Blessed John Paul II

John Paul II 1980The liturgical memorial of Blessed John Paul II (1920-2005) is honored today. In history and in English, John Paul was known as Charles Joseph Wojtyła who was born on 18 May 1920 in Wadowice, Poland. He was without family very early in life. Wojtyła was a man of the people: he knew poverty, war, ideologies against human dignity, hard work, a love of the theater and the arts. Called to serve God as a priest he studied in secret. When he was ordained priest and completed his theological studies in Rome, the Cardinal assigned him to pastoral and academic ministries. He was especially concerned with the formation of youth and married couples. Wojtyła was given the grace of being an auxiliary bishop of Kraków attending the sessions of Vatican II and by 1964 he assumed the responsibilities of being Archbishop of Kraków and soon thereafter a cardinal of the Roman Church (1967). In what was called the Year of Three Popes (1978), Cardinal Wojtyła was elected pope by the College of Cardinals on 16 October 1978 taking the name John Paul II.

The Polish pope thought of his work as completing the work of the Second Vatican Council which we can see in 14 encyclicals, the re-organization of the Roman Curia, standing up for the marginalized and was staunchly pro-life, he promulgated of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and established the new Codes of Canon Law for the Latin Church and the Eastern Churches. I would also name among fruits  John Paul’s ministry as pope is the approval of the many ecclesial movements, the Theology of the Body, and the demise of Communism.

He left us a rich ecclesial heritage in his 27 years as the Bishop of Rome, the Roman Pontiff. John Paul set the papacy on the world stage with 129 pastoral visits to other countries. For several years he gave a witness that a person with chronic illness still has human dignity and worth. In Rome on 2 April 2005, the eve of the Second Sunday of Easter (or of Divine Mercy), he departed peacefully in the Lord. He will be canonized by the Church on 27 April 2014.

That Karol Wojtyła became a bishop

On this day 55 years ago…

“On 4 July 1958, while Wojtyła was on a kayaking holiday in the lakes region of northern Poland, Pope Pius XII appointed him as the Auxiliary Bishop of Kraków. He was then summoned to Warsaw to meet the Primate of Poland, Stefan Cardinal Wyszyński, who informed him of his appointment. He agreed to serve as Auxiliary Bishop to Kraków’s Archbishop Eugeniusz Baziak, and he was ordained to the Episcopate (as Titular Bishop of Ombi) on 28 September 1958.”

Thanks to Artur Sebastian Rosman for bringing this fact to the table.

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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