I am pleased to announce an addition to the Patrons of this blog. Under the Mantle of Our Lady, this blog asks the triple patronage of St. John of the Cross (Carmelite Mystic and Poet), St Ephrem the Syrian (Mystic and Poet), and Pope John Paul the Great (Third Order Carmelite, Mystic, and Poet). I will look about for some appropriate pictures and add them accordingly along with a keyword from Pope John Paul the Great.
I thought of this, this afternoon. What better patron than a third order Carmelite poet who wrote prodigiously? I don't claim to be prodigious in output, but third Order Carmelite and erstwhile poet are both things I can claim.
And as no less an Authority than Cardinal Ratzinger has implied that Pope John Paul the Great is already interceding for us, figured I might as well give him his first established blog to take care of. Pope John Paul the Great please pray for me and for all who visit that we might be bold, living witnesses to the truth of the Gospel and the salvific power of our Lord Jesus Christ.
There are those in St. Blogs far more knowledgeable than I am who suggest that a sensus fidei on the canonization of John Paul the Great has been reached. Still, one must wait for the official pronouncement. However, nothing I know of prevents me from asking the intercession of our Holy Father.
from the journey
Today as we say our goodbyes to the Holy Father in the blessed sacrifice of his funeral Mass, let us recall the Jesus he always taught us--fully human, fully divine, completely loving, completely interested in every human being. Let us pray that the Holy Father is welcomed into the loving arms of Him who loved us unto death and into life. The arms of Him about whom the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II never tired of teaching, speaking, and bringing to all the people of the world.
Shalom, peace be with you Holy Father. Grant us the blessings of your peace and your prayers.
He blesses us once again.
JOHN PAUL II'S SPIRITUAL TESTAMENT
VATICAN CITY, APR 7, 2005 (VIS) - Following is the text of the spiritual testament of John Paul II, which was released today in an Italian translation of the original Polish. The translation from Italian into English has been done by VIS:
The testament of 6.3.1979
(and successive additions)
"Totus Tuus ego sum"
In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity. Amen.
"Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming" (cf. Mt 24, 42) - these words remind me of the last call, which will happen at the moment the Lord wishes. I desire to follow Him, and I desire that everything making up part of my earthly life should prepare me for this moment. I do not know when the moment will come, but like everything else, I place it too in the hands of the Mother of my Master: Totus Tuus. In the same maternal Hands I leave everything and everyone with whom my life and vocation have linked me. In these Hands I leave, above all, the Church, as well as my Nation and all humanity. I thank everyone. Of everyone I ask forgiveness. I also ask for prayer, that the Mercy of God may appear greater than my weakness and unworthiness.
During the spiritual exercises I re-read the testament of the Holy Father Paul VI. That reading prompted me to write this testament.
I leave no property behind me of which it is necessary to dispose. As for the everyday objects that were of use to me, I ask they be distributed as seems appropriate. My personal notes are to be burned. I ask that this be attended to by Fr. Stanislaw, whom I thank for his collaboration and help, so prolonged over the years and so understanding. As for all other thanks, I leave them in my heart before God Himself, because it is difficult to express them.
As for the funeral, I repeat the same dispositions as were given by the Holy Father Paul VI. (Here is a note in the margin: burial in the bare earth, not in a sarcophagus, 13.3.92).
"apud Dominum misericordia
et copiosa apud Eum redemptio"
John Paul pp. II
After my death I ask for Masses and prayers.
Undated sheet of paper
I express my profound trust that, despite all my weakness, the Lord will grant me all the grace necessary to face according to His will any task, trial or suffering that He will ask of His servant, in the course of his life. I also trust that He will never allow me - through some attitude of mine: words, deeds or omissions - to betray my obligations in this holy Petrine See.
24.II - 1.III.1980
Also during these spiritual exercises, I have reflected on the truth of the Priesthood of Christ in the perspective of that Transit that for each of us is the moment of our own death. For us the Resurrection of Christ is an eloquent (added above: decisive) sign of departing from this world - to be born in the next, in the future world.
I have read, then, the copy of my testament from last year, also written during the spiritual exercises - I compared it with the testament of my great predecessor and Father, Paul VI, with that sublime witness to death of a Christian and a Pope - and I have renewed within me an awareness of the questions to which the copy of 6.III.1979 refers, prepared by me (in a somewhat provisional way).
Today I wish to add only this: that each of us must bear in mind the prospect of death. And must be ready to present himself before the Lord and Judge - Who is at the same time Redeemer and Father. I too continually take this into consideration, entrusting that decisive moment to the Mother of Christ and of the Church - to the Mother of my hope.
The times in which we live are unutterably difficult and disturbed. The path of the Church has also become difficult and tense, a characteristic trial of these times - both for the Faithful and for Pastors. In some Countries (as, for example, in those about which I read during the spiritual exercises), the Church is undergoing a period of such persecution as to be in no way lesser than that of early centuries, indeed it surpasses them in its degree of cruelty and hatred. "Sanguis martyrum - semen christianorum.". And apart from this - many people die innocently even in this Country in which we are living.
Once again, I wish to entrust myself totally to the Lord's grace. He Himself will decide when and how I must end my earthly life and pastoral ministry. In life and in death, Totus Tuus in Mary Immaculate. Accepting that death, even now, I hope that Christ will give me the grace for the final passage, in other words (my) Easter. I also hope that He makes (that death) useful for this more important cause that I seek to serve: the salvation of men and women, the safeguarding of the human family and, in that, of all nations and all peoples (among them, I particularly address my earthly Homeland), and useful for the people with whom He particularly entrusted me, for the question of the Church, for the glory of God Himself.
I do not wish to add anything to what I wrote a year ago - only to express this readiness and, at the same time, this trust, to which the current spiritual exercises have again disposed me.
John Paul II
Totus Tuus ego sum
In the course of this year's spiritual exercises I have read (a number of times) the text of the testament of 6.III.1979. Although I still consider it provisional (not definitive), I leave it in the form in which it exists. I change nothing (for now), and neither do I add anything, as concerns the dispositions contained therein.
The attempt upon my life on 13.V.1981 in some way confirmed the accuracy of the words written during the period of the spiritual exercises of 1980 (24.II - 1.III).
All the more deeply I now feel that I am totally in the Hands of God - and I remain continually at the disposal of my Lord, entrusting myself to Him in His Immaculate Mother (Totus Tuus)
John Paul pp.II
In connection with the last sentence in my testament of 6.III.1979 ("concerning the site / that is, the site of the funeral / let the College of Cardinals and Compatriots decide") - I will make it clear that I have in mind: the metropolitan of Krakow or the General Council of the Episcopate of Poland - In the meantime I ask the College of Cardinals to satisfy, as far as possible, any demands of the above-mentioned.
1.III.1985 (during the spiritual exercises)
Again - as regards the _expression "College of Cardinals and Compatriots": the "College of Cardinals" has no obligation to consult "Compatriots" on this subject, however it can do so, if for some reason it feels it is right to do so.
Spiritual exercise of the Jubilee Year 2000 (12-18.III)
(for my testament)
1. When, on October 16, 1978 the conclave of cardinals chose John Paul II, the primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski told me: "The duty of the new Pope will be to introduce the Church into the Third Millennium." I don't know if I am repeating this sentence exactly, but at least this was the sense of what I heard at the time. This was said by the Man who entered history as the primate of the Millennium. A great primate. I was a witness to his mission, to his total entrustment. To his battles. To his victory. "Victory, when it comes, will be a victory through Mary" - The primate of the Millennium used to repeat these words of his predecessor, Cardinal August Hlond.
In this way I was prepared in some manner for the duty that presented itself to me on October 16, 1978. As I write these words, the Jubilee Year 2000 is already a reality. The night of December 24, 1999 the symbolic Door of the Great Jubilee in the Basilica of St. Peter's was opened, then that of St. John Lateran, then St. Mary Major - on New Year's, and on January 19 the Door of the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls. This last event, given its ecumenical character, has remained impressed in my memory in a special way.
2. As the Jubilee Year progressed, day by day the 20th century closes behind us and the 21st century opens. According to the plans of Divine Providence I was allowed to live in the difficult century that is retreating into the past, and now, in the year in which my life reaches 80 years ('octogesima adveniens'), it is time to ask oneself if it is not the time to repeat with the biblical Simeone 'nunc dimittis'.
On May 13, 1981, the day of the attack on the Pope during the general audience in St. Peter's Square, Divine Providence saved me in a miraculous way from death. The One Who is the Only Lord of life and death Himself prolonged my life, in a certain way He gave it to me again. From that moment it belonged to Him even more. I hope He will help me to recognize up to what point I must continue this service to which I was called on October 16, 1978. I ask him to call me back when He Himself wishes. 'In life and in death we belong to the Lord ... we are the Lord's. (cf. Rm 14,8). I also hope that, as long as I am called to fulfil the Petrine service in the Church, the Mercy of God will give me the necessary strength for this service.
3. As I do every year during spiritual exercises I read my testament from 6-III-1979. I continue to maintain the dispositions contained in this text. What then, and even during successive spiritual exercises, has been added constitutes a reflection of the difficult and tense general situation which marked the Eighties. From autumn of the year 1989 this situation changed. The last decade of the century was free of the previous tensions; that does not mean that it did not bring with it new problems and difficulties. In a special way may Divine Providence be praised for this, that the period of the so-called 'cold war' ended without violent nuclear conflict, the danger of which weighed on the world in the preceding period.
4. Being on the threshold of the third millennium "in medio Ecclesiae" I wish once again to express gratitude to the Holy Spirit for the great gift of Vatican Council II, to which, together with the entire Church - and above all the entire episcopacy - I feel indebted. I am convinced that for a long time to come the new generations will draw upon the riches that this Council of the 20th century gave us. As a bishop who participated in this conciliar event from the first to the last day, I wish to entrust this great patrimony to all those who are and who will be called in the future to realize it. For my part I thank the eternal Pastor Who allowed me to serve this very great cause during the course of all the years of my pontificate.
"In medio Ecclesiae".... from the first years of my service as a bishop - precisely thanks to the Council - I was able to experience the fraternal communion of the Episcopacy. As a priest of the archdiocese of Krakow I experienced the fraternal communion among priests - and the Council opened a new dimension to this experience.
5. How many people should I list! Probably the Lord God has called to Himself the majority of them - as to those who are still on this side, may the words of this testament recall them, everyone and everywhere, wherever they are.
During the more than 20 years that I am fulfilling the Petrine service "in medio Ecclesiae" I have experienced the benevolence and even more the fecund collaboration of so many cardinals, archbishops and bishops, so many priests, so many consecrated persons - brothers and sisters - and, lastly, so very, very many lay persons, within the Curia, in the vicariate of the diocese of Rome, as well as outside these milieux.
How can I not embrace with grateful memory all the bishops of the world whom I have met in "ad limina Apostolorum" visits! How can I not recall so many non-Catholic Christian brothers! And the rabbi of Rome and so many representatives of non -Christian religions! And how many representatives of the world of culture, science, politics, and of the means of social communication!
6. As the end of my life approaches I return with my memory to the beginning, to my parents, to my brother, to the sister (I never knew because she died before my birth), to the parish in Wadowice, where I was baptized, to that city I love, to my peers, friends from elementary school, high school and the university, up to the time of the occupation when I was a worker, and then in the parish of Niegowic, then St. Florian's in Krakow, to the pastoral ministry of academics, to the milieu of....to all milieux....to Krakow and to Rome....to the people who were entrusted to me in a special way by the Lord.
To all I want to say just one thing: "May God reward you."
"In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum."
.../JOHN PAUL II:TESTAMENT/... VIS 050407 (2100)
Praise God for all that He has given us in Pope John Paul the Great.
Western Wall Prayer March 26, 2000 Pope John Paul the Great
During his visit to the Western Wall, John Paul II observed the custom of inserting a short prayer into a nook in the wall.
God of our fathers,
you chose Abraham and his descendants
to bring Your name to the nations:
we are deeply saddened
by the behavior of those
who in the course of history
have caused these children of Yours to suffer
and asking Your forgiveness
we wish to commit ourselves
to genuine brotherhood
with the people of the Covenant
Understanding the world and the way it is.
Speech of John Paul II at Yad Vashem
(March 23, 2000)
The words of the ancient Psalm rise from our hearts:
“I have become like a broken vessel.
I hear the whispering of many – terror on every side! –
as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life.
But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ?You are my God’.” (Ps 31:13-15).
1. In this place of memories, the mind and heart and soul feel an extreme need for silence. Silence in which to remember. Silence in which to try to make some sense of the memories which come flooding back. Silence because there are no words strong enough to deplore the terrible tragedy of the Shoah. My own personal memories are of all that happened when the Nazis occupied Poland during the War. I remember my Jewish friends and neighbours, some of whom perished, while others survived.
I have come to Yad Vashem to pay homage to the millions of Jewish people who, stripped of everything, especially of their human dignity, were murdered in the Holocaust. More than half a century has passed, but the memories remain.
Here, as at Auschwitz and many other places in Europe, we are overcome by the echo of the heart-rending laments of so many. Men, women and children cry out to us from the depths of the horror that they knew. How can we fail to heed their cry? No one can forget or ignore what happened. No one can diminish its scale.
2. We wish to remember. But we wish to remember for a purpose, namely to ensure that never again will evil prevail, as it did for the millions of innocent victims of Nazism.
How could man have such utter contempt for man? Because he had reached the point of contempt for God. Only a Godless ideology could plan and carry out the extermination of a whole people.
The honour given to the “just gentiles” by the State of Israel at Yad Vashem for having acted heroically to save Jews, sometimes to the point of giving their own lives, is a recognition that not even in the darkest hour is every light extinguished. That is why the Psalms, and the entire Bible, though well aware of the human capacity for evil, also proclaim that evil will not have the last word. Out of the depths of pain and sorrow, the believer’s heart cries out: “I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ?You are my God’.” (Ps 31:14).
3. Jews and Christians share an immense spiritual patrimony, flowing from God’s self-revelation. Our religious teachings and our spiritual experience demand that we overcome evil with good. We remember, but not with any desire for vengeance or as an incentive to hatred. For us, to remember is to pray for peace and justice, and to commit ourselves to their cause. Only a world at peace, with justice for all, can avoid repeating the mistakes and terrible crimes of the past.
As Bishop of Rome and Successor of the Apostle Peter, I assure the Jewish people that the Catholic Church, motivated by the Gospel law of truth and love and by no political considerations, is deeply saddened by the hatred, acts of persecution and displays of anti-Semitism directed against the Jews by Christians at any time and in any place. The Church rejects racism in any form as a denial of the image of the Creator inherent in every human being (cf. Gen 1:26).
4. In this place of solemn remembrance, I fervently pray that our sorrow for the tragedy which the Jewish people suffered in the twentieth century will lead to a new relationship between Christians and Jews. Let us build a new future in which there will be no more anti-Jewish feeling among Christians or anti-Christian feeling among Jews, but rather the mutual respect required of those who adore the one Creator and Lord, and look to Abraham as our common father in faith (cf. We Remember, V).
The world must heed the warning that comes to us from the victims of the Holocaust and from the testimony of the survivors. Here at Yad Vashem the memory lives on, and burns itself onto our souls. It makes us cry out:
“I hear the whispering of many – terror on every side! – But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ?You are my God’.” (Ps 31:13-15).
* Ecclesia de Eucharistia (17 April 2003)
* Fides et Ratio (14 September 1998)
* Ut Unum Sint (25 May 1995)
* Evangelium Vitae (25 March 1995)
* Veritatis Splendor (6 August 1993)
* Centesimus Annus (1 May 1991)
* Redemptoris Missio (7 December 1990)
* Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (30 December 1987)
* Redemptoris Mater (25 March 1987)
* Dominum et Vivificantem (18 May 1986)
* Slavorum Apostoli (2 June 1985)
* Laborem Exercens (14 September 1981)
* Dives in Misericordia (30 November 1980)
* Redemptor Hominis (4 March 1979)
(All of these and more available at this website)
The Jeweler's Shop
The Place Within
Be Not Afraid
Gift and Mystery
Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way
Memory and Identity
The fall of the Soviet Empire
The forgiveness to a would-be assassin
World Youth Days
More that 100 trips worldwide spreading the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the peace that it promises, and the message of the essential dignity of the human person
Theology of the Body
The dignity of the human person
Humility, charity, meekness, boldness, magnificence (see Disputations), kindness, openness, determination, courage
At Notes Mr. Wong offers an artisitc tribute to Pope John Paul the Great. (Warning, you need Java installed and operational to see it, and it may cause problems with some browsers--but it is well worth your time.)
from Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way
Pope John Paul the Great
"Cross of Christ, may you be forever praised, forever blessed, you are the course of strength and courage, our victory lies in you." I never put on my episcopal pectoral Cross carelessly; I walways accompany this gesture with a prayer. It has been resting on my chest, beside my heart for more than forty-five years. To love the Cross is to love sacrifice. The martyrs are a model for this type of love, for example Bishop Michal Kozal. He was ordained a bishop on August 15, 1939, two weeks before the outbreak of war. He never left his flock even though he knew what price he would have to pay. He died in the Dachau concentration camp, where he was a model and an inspiration to the priests amond his fellow prisoners.
And, while tempted, John Paul the Great never left his flock. He does not leave us now. Be not afraid. Make his exhortation your banner. This great man prays for us to the Father in Heaven. There can be no fear because perfect love casts out fear. Be not afraid. God is with us. John Paul the Great is with God. May his prayers grant us faithful guidance.
Oh God, you have taken from us one of the great shepherds of the Church. May your Holy Spirit grant us a new shepherd whose heart is as loving, as expansive, as encompassing as that of your great servant. We praise you, we thank you, most Holy God, for the gift you have given us in the love of this man. We are eternally thankful for your gift to us of this great man. Grant that we all may live to be an honor to him. May his legacy raise up many Saints to you.
Thank you, Lord. Thank you. Thank you for giving John Paul the Great to us. Thank you for receiving him back. Thank you for his prayers for us. Thank you.
Oh Lord, we miss him. Thank you for being our assurance of salvation. Thank you for being his Friend. Thank you for being our comfort in this loss. Thank you for all that you give us.
So you will find the comments of a number of cranks and detractors. Ignore them. I will do nothing about them. In a way, it gives voice to their own grief and turmoil. The great Pope would welcome these as well and love them as he loved all. Nothing will detract from the greatness of this man--no opinion to the contrary, no human opposition.
"If God be with us, who can be against?"
In 1300 years there has been no such salutation. And we cannot say when it will happen again. I have been blessed.
I offer for the first miracle for beatification the fact that I was able to be conscious and even coherent at 4:00 a.m. to say farewell. Okay, not much of a miracle, but a blessing for me. And this was a man of everyday miracles. The fall of the Soviet Union--not one huge military effort, but an accumulation of prayer under his guidance.
Truly a great Pope.
From the Presidential Medal of Freedom page--here
I've never really made much of this claim, because there is a natural tendency on the parts of humans and human institutions to claim as their own one they recognize as great. However, I finally found a page that (1) has "documentary" evidence that this statement is true (by this, I mean something other than second-hand assertions and claims--I wanted it straight from the Pope's "mouth"/hand) and (2) has one of the most atypical pictures of Pope John Paul I've seen.
I guess I'm just slow about coming around to things because my standards of proof are exceedingly high. But this is an interesting excerpt from a brief biography on the USCCB website:
He entered Krakow’s clandestine theological seminary in 1942, a risky step under the Gestapo’s watchful eyes. Always drawn to the mystical and contemplative, at one point he considered joining the local Carmelite order instead of the diocesan priesthood. But his cardinal told him: “Finish what you’ve begun,” and the local Carmelite director is said to have turned him away with the words: “You are destined for greater things.”
This passage argues for the logic of a tertiary connection. Oh well, as I said, I'm a bit slow to embrace these things.
So the brilliant and scintillating discussion of John Paul the Great's poetry is lost to the world forever. Alas. Hope around noon I'll have time to do more, otherwise, I'm afraid it may be a fairly light day.
I'm sure it will come as no surprise to anyone when I reveal that I do not spend my days meditating upon the encyclicals of John Paul II. I have neither the mind nor the attention span for it. I have read them, I acknowledge their wisdom and greatness, and I retreat to things that speak to me in ways that the encyclicals can only begin to approximate.
Take for example this excerpt spoken by St. John the Apostle:
from "Space Which Remains in You"
in The Place Within: The Poetry of John Paul II
Tr. Jerzy Peterkiewicz
Your arms now remember His space, the little head
snuggling to your shoulder,
for the space has remained in You,
for it was taken from You.
And shining never empty. So very present in You.
When with my trembling hands I broke the bread
to give it to you, Mother,
I stood for a moment amazed as I saw
the whole truth through one single tear
in your eye.
I won't presume to pronounce on the worth of this as poetry, as it is a translation--I will see merely that I find the substance of what is said beautiful. This speaks to me directly, in a way that I cannot begin to derive from the admittedly great encyclicals. I struggle with them--knocking my head against the words and working until I torture from them some fragment of what they really mean. I can read all the study guides in the world and not get from them the image of Jesus and Mary and their intricate intertwining--the way her Yes created a "shining" space within her that did not ever go away even after the source of that light had been translated to Heaven. That John sees everything revealed in the single tear that Mary sheds as she remembers the ritual sharing of Passover that Jesus presided over in their home, speaks to me more directly, more to both heart and mind than do many of the arguments and chains of reason that make up the bodies of some of the more formidable encyclicals. This is one reason to be in wonder at this Pope. He did everything possible to make God known to the world at large.
Take this prophetic writing:
source as above
I want to describe the Church, my Church,
born with me, not dying with me--
nor do I die with it,
which always grows beyond me--
the Church: the lowest depth of my existence
and its peak,
the Church--the root which I thrust
into the past and future alike,
the sacrament of my being in God
who is the Father.
At once, what a tremendous depth of understanding of the nature of the Church and what a prophetic utterance. With each new Pope the Church is, in a sense, born again--brought into new light--the same light from a different angle. It is the angle that Pope John Paul II has given us that is such a tremendous blessing. It is the light of reason and of art, the light of mind, soul, and heart, the light of intellect and love. It is the light of the Church Fathers and of the Great Saints of the Church. Pope John Paul II uncovered the greatest number of Saints of any Pope and we owe to him a tremendous debt of gratitude. Under his tutelage, we learned how to cut through the unnecessary burdens that belabored past causes and begin to understand Saints in a new light. Many have criticized him for that--but what sense is there in it taking four centuries to canonize Juan Diego? We don't need the span of four centuries to know the truth of a person's sanctity. But I belabor and minor point. The real point is that if you don't care for the poetry, try the encyclicals, If they prove too trying a workout, read the Angelus meditations, or the Catecheses on various subjects. And if this doesn't help try one of the various collections of prayers and devotions. There are many, many ways to hear from our Holy Father. And now, more than ever, it is possible to have a private audience and know that your concerns are carried straight to God.
A post over at Lesser of Two Weevils got me to thinking about relics and about the fact that this Pope thought for the future and prepared a marvelous relic or sort of relic himself.
At the end of the "Treasure of the Vatican" Exhibition is a bronze cast of the Pope's hand. It was the only piece of art you were allowed to touch, and it was a thrill, even when he was alive to be able to touch it, to shake hands as it were with this great pontiff. If you all get a chance, if it is still touring, go and see. Meet and greet the Pope and give him your most cheerful salutation. We are so fortunate to have such a forward thinking man as our guide through this life. He even thought ahead to living us so substantial a reminder of himself!
Naturally, given the great gravity of the situation of this week, I seem to have given less than what I would like to the meeting in Dallas.
What was most interesting about the entire group is that we were all converts of one sort or another. Each of us came by a slightly different road to the truth that is the Catholic Church. I'm amazed at how many of the Catholic Bloggers ARE converts--including at least one of the most prominent.
So, to share a bit more. Julie really is a Happy Catholic. Sprightly, vivacious, slightly elfin or pixie-like, she has a vast array of interests and shared a tremendous amount. We had a few minutes together before the Summas arrived and we moved right into our conversation. She's every bit as interesting as you might suppose if you read her blog very often.
Smockmama came closest to being what I had imagined, but still, the imagination pales next to the reality. Another strong, vivacious, and warm person. She was bright, funny, fun, interesting, and entertaining. (Well, that goes for everyone.) What is really fun now is reading Summamamas and being able to see both Smock and MamaT. I can actually hear them speaking in what they write--it's FANTASTIC. Oh, and she has such gorgeous children--absolutely beautiful. And she's well suited to the role of mother. I can't be envious, but she is truly fortunate in both number and beauty of little ones.
Then there's MamaT. What can I say? Beautiful, warm, intelligent, kind, unfailingly nurturing and sharing, she again was everything I thought and more. She shared her family pictures--and again beautiful! Also she reads so much and is so versed in so many things. I was in awe. What's more, she is so down home. One gets the feelilng that you could stop by any time and never find her unwilling to sit down to a glass of tea and talk.
Another point is the unfailing humility and graciousness of all three ladies. They thought so little of what they bring to us all.
Three such beautiful and kind people, one could not hope to meet in a lifetime, and yet, I've done so time and again as I meet bloggers from all over. I will long remember my lunch with these three marvelous ladies and I wish it could have been longer.
Overall, I'd say the Dallas-Ft. Worth area is indeed fortunate to have such warm, open, intelligent, lively Catholics representing it.
Once again, my thanks to everyone who took the time to come out and see me. I hope that as I continue to journey through the country I might one day get to meet with all of you. St. Blogs is simply the Best!
Last night I watched a documentary on AMC about how Hollywood has portrayed the holocaust in film. It was interesting in its own right. But one of the most provocative things about it was a scene from a relatively early film taken in the Warsaw Ghetto.
With the inevitability of two balls dropped from Pisa's heights, you know already where I am going. Yes, I thought of the Holy Father. I thought of the fact that he survived this monstrosity. I thought that not only did he survive that horror, but he survived and rose to prominence in the Church under a regime that was only slilghtly less oppressive.
They showed a scene from Sophie's Choice--I suppose I should say they showed THE scene from the film. And again, I thought, this is what the man faced then, and throughout his pontificate. He faced the irrational hatred of those who despise the truth and seek to make it what they would have it be. He faced endless criticism of his every action. He could not even forgive his own would-be assassin without criticism.
This Pope whose personal motto was "Totus Tuus", gave the entire Church a motto--indeed, marching orders. Be not afraid.
from In Memoriam, A.H.H.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
I sometimes hold it half a sin
To put in words the grief I feel;
For words, like Nature, half reveal
And half conceal the Soul within.
But, for the unquiet heart and brain,
A use in measured language lies;
The sad mechanic exercise,
Like dull narcotics, numbing pain.
In words, like weeds, I'll wrap me o'er,
Like coarsest clothes against the cold:
But that large grief which these enfold
Is given in outline and no more.
And this very famous one. Not only do I hope to see Our Pilot, but also the Fisherman who introduced me to Him.
Crossing the Bar
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)
Crossing the Bar
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.
The Holy Father's special encouragement and pastoral counsel to Artisits:
from Letter to Artists
Pope John Paul II (the Great)
It is important to recognize the distinction, but also the connection, between these two aspects of human activity. The distinction is clear. It is one thing for human beings to be the authors of their own acts, with responsibility for their moral value; it is another to be an artist, able, that is, to respond to the demands of art and faithfully to accept art's specific dictates.(2) This is what makes the artist capable of producing objects, but it says nothing as yet of his moral character. We are speaking not of moulding oneself, of forming one's own personality, but simply of actualizing one's productive capacities, giving aesthetic form to ideas conceived in the mind.
The distinction between the moral and artistic aspects is fundamental, but no less important is the connection between them. Each conditions the other in a profound way. In producing a work, artists express themselves to the point where their work becomes a unique disclosure of their own being, of what they are and of how they are what they are. And there are endless examples of this in human history. In shaping a masterpiece, the artist not only summons his work into being, but also in some way reveals his own personality by means of it. For him art offers both a new dimension and an exceptional mode of expression for his spiritual growth. Through his works, the artist speaks to others and communicates with them. The history of art, therefore, is not only a story of works produced but also a story of men and women. Works of art speak of their authors; they enable us to know their inner life, and they reveal the original contribution which artists offer to the history of culture.
While I do not always agree with Nathan's opinions, I do love him and his honesty and integrity. It is gratifying to see him willing to change his mind as he reconsiders the evidence. It gives me hope for myself and my own stubborn ways.
Particularly satisfying in this regard is this post which argues FOR the title "The Great" from a progressive point of view.
Nathan, thank you for all that you do for the community. We may not see eye to eye on many things, but your expression and your willingness to share are valuable to us all.
One thing I am tired of is being told that there is something wrong with mourning the loss of our Holy Father. Yes, we can rejoice that he has joined the heavenly host; but that does not preclude a deep sense of loss ourselves. Over the last several days, I've had several very holy, very wise, very faithful admirers of our great Holy Father tell me that it is wrong to mourn his death.
Wrong or not, I must be true to who I am. And, perhaps selfishly, I mourn the fact that John Paul II is not with us in body to lead us and guide us. I rejoice that he has been relieved of the earthly burdens that weighed upon his last years. I rejoice that he is with God. I rejoice that he will continue to pray for us and seek guidance for us.
But the reality is, unfortunately, I did not know how much I loved him until I no longer had him with me. And now, I mourn his loss and I am not ashamed of it. I am comforted that there is some hope that I may see him once again, but for the present, I mourn the passing of a great man, a great mind, a great heart, a great spirit, a great servant, a great example to us all.
via Father Jim, This link from a protestant minister who started writing about the Protestant view of Mary. Part 16 is about the Holy Father and the coming conclave. Perhaps this view of Catholicism from outside is another thing that can be attributed in large part to the work of John Paul II.
A tribute to the Holy Father:
My beloved is mine, and I am his; He feedeth among the lilies
EV’N like two little bank-dividing brooks,
That wash the pebbles with their wanton streams,
And having rang’d and search’d a thousand nooks,
Meet both at length in silver-breasted Thames,
Where in a greater current they conjoin:
So I my best-beloved’s am; so he is mine.
Ev’n so we met; and after long pursuit,
Ev’n so we joyn’d; we both became entire;
No need for either to renew a suit,
For I was flax and he was flames of fire:
Our firm-united souls did more than twine;
So I my best-beloved’s am; so he is mine.
If all those glitt’ring Monarchs that command
The servile quarters of this earthly ball,
Should tender, in exchange, their shares of land,
I would not change my fortunes for them all:
Their wealth is but a counter to my coin:
The world’s but theirs; but my beloved’s mine.
Nay, more; If the fair Thespian Ladies all
Should heap together their diviner treasure:
That treasure should be deem’d a price too small
To buy a minute’s lease of half my pleasure;
’Tis not the sacred wealth of all the nine
Can buy my heart from him, or his, from being mine.
Nor Time, nor Place, nor Chance, nor Death can bow
My least desires unto the least remove;
He’s firmly mine by oath; I his by vow;
He’s mine by faith; and I am his by love;
He’s mine by water; I am his by wine,
Thus I my best-beloved’s am; thus he is mine.
He is my Altar; I, his Holy Place;
I am his guest; and he, my living food;
I’m his by penitence; he mine by grace;
I’m his by purchase; he is mine, by blood;
He’s my supporting elm; and I his vine;
Thus I my best beloved’s am; thus he is mine.
He gives me wealth; I give him all my vows:
I give him songs; he gives me length of dayes;
With wreaths of grace he crowns my conqu’ring brows,
And I his temples with a crown of Praise,
Which he accepts as an everlasting signe,
That I my best-beloved’s am; that he is mine.
from a Sermon by Martin Copenhaver
Leon Bloy once said, "There are places in our hearts which do not yet exist, and it is necessary for suffering to penetrate there in order that they may come into being." This insight comes close to revealing the blessedness of mourning and sorrow. True sorrow opens our being, pierces the smooth veneer of our lives and exposes our inner selves. In sorrow, the depths of our hearts are touched, carved out... carved out to leave a space for God to be received, for it is in the depths of our hearts that God is found. It is when our hearts are truly emptied out, wounded, made vulnerable, that we are able to receive the true comfort which comes from God's loving presence.
The word "to comfort" in Greek is parakalein. The noun form is Paraklete, that is, "Comforter," which is the word John uses to speak of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus promised to send among his disciples when he left them. Only by his leaving, and in their mourning, would they have the Paraklete, the Comforter. But parakalein also means, to summoned to one's side, and it is the word which is used to invite to a banquet. It's a wonderful double meaning. To be comforted is to be invited to life's banquet, and there to partake of all that life has to offer, to partake of both joy and sorrow because both are part of the banquet and both are part of the comfort.
from A Sermon for Rosh Hoshashana By Rabbi David Stern
Emunah comes to say: if we have not taken the leap of action, then our faith is incomplete. Emunah brings us the Hebrew and English word amen. When we say “Amen” at the end of a prayer, we are affirming our trust in the vision the prayer holds forth, and committing ourselves to making it happen. When we say “Amen” to a prayer for peace, we commit ourselves to working for peace. When we say “Amen” to a prayer of gratitude, we commit ourselves to living with a sense of gratitude that will exceed our sometimes nagging needs. A Jewish “Amen” comes from emunah – and so it means more than “so may it be.” It means, “So may I be.” Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch taught: “Amen does not refer to the contents of the pronouncement, but to the person.”
Find the entire, wonderful sermon here. And first I must say that I mean no disrespect by using this excerpt here. But Rabbi Stern teaches us something important, something that has profound implications if we consider it in light of the Holy Father's reported last word. "Amen" is an obligation, a commitment of person to action. If our Holy Father's last word were Amen, it was not so much a resignation, as an enlistement. As with St. Thérèse, I have no doubt that the Holy Father will spend his heaven doing good on Earth. And so an amen implies.
from The Sermons of John Wesley
"Sermon 135--On Mourning for the Dead"
At such a loss, if considered without the alleviating circumstances, who can blame him that drops a tear? The tender meltings of a heart dissolved with fondness, when it reflects on the several agreeable moments which have now taken their flight never to return, give an authority to some degree of sorrow. Nor will human frailty permit an ordinary acquaintance to take his last leave of them without it. Who then can conceive, much less describe, the strong emotion, the secret workings of soul which a parent feels on such an occasion? None, surely, but those who are parents themselves; unless those few who have experienced the power of friendship; than which human nature, on this side of the grave, knows no closer, no softer, no stronger tie!
At the tearing asunder of these sacred bands, well may we allow, without blame, some parting pangs; but the difficulty is, to put as speedy a period to them as reason and religion command us. What can give us sufficient ease after that rupture, which has left such an aching void in our breasts? What, indeed, but the reflection already mentioned, which can never be inculcated too often, -- that we are hastening to him ourselves; that, pass but a few years, perhaps hours, which will soon be over, and not only this, but all other desires will be satisfied; when we shall exchange the gaudy shadow of pleasure we have enjoyed, for sincere, substantial, untransitory happiness?
With this consideration well imprinted in our minds, it is far better, as Solomon observes, to go to the house of mourning, than to the house of feasting The one embraces the soul, disarms our resolution, and lays us open to an attack: The other cautions us to recollect our reason, and stand upon our guard and infuses that noble steadiness, and seriousness of temper, which it is not in the power of an ordinary stroke to discompose. Such objects naturally induce us to lay it to heart, that the next summons may be our own; and that since death is the end of all men without exception, it is high time for the living to lay it to heart.
If we are, at any time, in danger of being overcome by dwelling too long on the gloomy side of this prospect, to the giving us pain, the making us unfit for the duties and offices of life, impairing our faculties of body or mind, -- which proceedings, as has been already shown, are both absurd, unprofitable, and sinful; let us immediately recur to the bright side, and reflect, with gratitude as well as humility, that our time passeth away like a shadow; and that, when we awake from this momentary dream, we shall then have a clearer view of that latter day in which our Redeemer shall stand upon the earth; when this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall be clothed with immortality; and when we shall sing, with the united choirs of men and angels, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"
I am fine with those who choose not to weep and not to mourn, but to rejoice in our Pontiff's passing. I ask only that they respect that I have lost a great friend, a dear guide, a father, whose passing demands of me something more than rejoicing. I rejoice even as I sorrow. He is in a place now to better aid us all, but I will no longer see him among us. His passing fills me with great sorrow because I delighted in his presence.
A slight revision to Samuel's earlier version of being the Pope. He decided subsequently that he wanted to be first a scientist and then the Pope. He has resolved to be the first Scientific all tap-dancing, all piano-playing Pope. A truly ambitious goal, and not one that is likely to see any interference from this parent.
One of the most important things I learned from the pontificate, the writings, and the life of Pope John Paul II is about loving God.
At one time there used to be a dichotomy, a kind of question, as to how one learned to love God. There was one school that said, "First we love, then we know." and another school that said, "First we know, then we love." What John Paul the Great taught me is that it is not sequential, it is simultaneous. We love and we know at the same time. The two actions are interpenetrating and mutually reinforcing. You cannot have one without the other. They are representative of the "trinity of the body"--body (or heart), mind, and soul.
As a result, is it not possible to know with merely the mind, the heart must also be involved. And it is not possible to love with merely the heart; the mind must be involved. The heart without the mind is the tenderness that leads to the gas chambers; the mind without the heart is the legal system that destroyed Terry Schiavo. One without the other is only half human, never realizing our full potential.
Loving God requires that we know Him with heart and mind together and that we love Him with heart and mind together. Surely there are times when one faculty is ascendant in either knowledge or love; but they are always working together. Indeed they cannot work apart. Knowledge is always informed by love, by sympathy, by compassionate understanding; and love is always informed by deeper knowledge, by seeing what is really there, by intellectual understanding of what we love.
Throughout his pontificate Pope John Paul II showed me these two faculties constantly in operation. His magnificent encyclicals are beautiful minglings of heart and head knowledge, heart and head love. As a result they are not always satisfying to those who demand a rigorous logic in their approach to theology--there is entirely too much reliance upon metaphor and analogy for their comfort. Further, they tend to be disconcerting to those who want to love without thinking about it; the Pope demands a certain intellectual rigor to be understood.
His actions, many of them criticized during his reign show the same dichotomy. There are a great many who criticized the liturgy for the canonization of St. Juan Diego because so many native dancers and rituals were incorporated into the Mass. And yet, it is the heart that became briefly ascendant there with the consent of the head acknowledging the individual differences in cultures.
You could look at any of a myriad of actions taken during this papacy and see in them this deep intertwining of head and heart, knowledge and love. Pope John Paul the Great brought them to their natural synthesis, their fusion, their integration as parts of a person. We are not merely intellect, nor emotion, nor spirit. We are individual trinities, individual reflections of God in our integration, even though we often ignore or deny it. Pope John Paul the Great with his theology of body, with his encyclicals, his pontificate, and his life, showed us this again and again. He led by example, he taught by being. It will take us a long time to synthesize and to integrate all that he has to say.
The Mamas and Julie are really such warm and wonderful people. And Smockmama reminded so much of a very dear friend back in Ohio--Sharon, from whom I have heard far too little in recent years. What wonderful support in the midst of a great difficulty.
One of the things I love about John Paul II is that if his words do not move you in the encyclicals and the addresses and the letters, there is still more to read and by which to be moved.
Girl Disappointed in Love
Karol Wotyla, Bishop of Krakow
With mercury we measure pain
as we measure the heat of bodies and air;
but this is not how to discover our limits--
you think you are the center of things.
If you could only grasp that you are not:
the center is He,
and He, too, finds no love---
why don't you see?
The human heart--what is it for?
Cosmic temperature. Heart. Mercury.
than the one immediately below. Go and enjoy
My two way heart cannot decide
which way to let you go,
with rejoicing at your triumph above,
or mourning for us below.
That you have been our father now
for more years that I can know,
I cannot think of you above
and all of us below.
That God has made His place for you,
I cannot help but know,
that you rejoice with Him above,
and pray for us below.
Longtime your flock has prayed for you
and watched your spirit grow,
do not think it lack of love
that lays my spirit low.
I rejoice in God's peace with you
and home my spirits knows
that forward, onward you lead me
to where I would not go
Except your love had made it clear
all paths to this end lead--
I may take it for good or ill
for living or for dead.
But your voice, your staff is there
leading ever on,
"Be not afraid," your strong voice said,
and pointed ever on.
I follow you, my shepherd
now with greater Shepherd met,
and ask myself this question--
Do I ever let
My selfish heart keep loved one home?
Or rather do I let
my spirit soar to the abode
where faces are not wet--
where I might see
our loved one now
embraced by heavenly kin,
and know that sinners though we be,
we are God's chosen ones.
Dear Father you have spent your life,
to show us all this truth.
Grant through your prayers
I can see it now,
when I most want you here.
Grief is fresh
and tears will pass,
and then there will be only joy,
that the God you know
has shown Himself,
through His gift of you to us.
from Veritatis Splendor
The splendour of truth shines forth in all the works of the Creator and, in a special way, in man, created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen 1:26). Truth enlightens man's intelligence and shapes his freedom, leading him to know and love the Lord. Hence the Psalmist prays: "Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord" (Ps 4:6).
Today we celebrated Divine Mercy Sunday in the presence of the Holy Father AND Father's homily this evening was beyond wonderful. He rejoiced that the Holy Father has gone to his reward and our betterment. He shared also that he was ordained by Pope John Paul II and given the commission to "Keep the faith."
But more than that, he spoke about the days to come--about who will succeed John Paul II. And his exhortation to us all--trust the Holy Spirit that has preserved the Church thus far. He will continue to guide the Bride of Christ in the way she should go. It doesn't matter who comes next. Let us just take a moment to say goodbye and be thankful for all we have been given.
Tomorrow every parish will celebrate a memorial Mass at seven in the evening. May the good Lord tire of hearing his name on our lips and offer us the consolation of His Holy Spirit.
No, I'm not trying to be presumptuous. I am merely predicting that in years to come, in years I hope to see, the Church will officially pronounce on the greatness of the man--the soundness of his thought, the depth and breadth of his heart, the warmth of his compassion and humanity. Throughout his pontificate he tried to teach me, "Be not afraid"--words directly from our Savior. What I could not learn through his words, let me learn from his life and death.
The Church, individually and corporately will survive, indeed it will be strengthened by his passing into the celestial abode. The world will not be shaken, it will continue in its present path, but I pray that this pontificate does not end with him, but that it becomes a rich and fruitful vine, strengthened by the living Martyrdom of one of the great people of our time.
How I long to say with the whole Church, "Pope St John Paul the Great, pray for us." Privately, I commit myself and my family to him and to his message. It was written as for me personally, now I must learn to live it. Such is the only fitting memorial for so holy, so singular a man. I thank God that I have had the privilege to live in the time of such a man.
John Paul II is the only Pope I've known as a Catholic. HIs death is, to me, similar to what Peter's death must have been like to the early Christians.
As a result, my sorrow over this loss is greater than any since I lost my own mother 11 years ago. He is the father of my faith and a father in the ways of being a Catholic Man.
Please forgive the lack of felicity of expression in what follows as well as the types. These are produced in the very early morning after two relatively sleepness nights. I haven't proofed them and probably will not do so until well after this evening and a good night's rest. At least you'll know why things appear so odd.
I have such mixed reactions to the death of this great man. First I am personally saddened. This is a result of my own great selfishness. Thank goodness God is merciful; had it been up to me, I would have held on to him forever.
I am also overjoyed that another great Saint has entered the courts of heaven and stands before God praying for us all. He will stand in my devotion like St. John of the Cross, for he precedes St. John in importance. He brought me into the fullness of faith and kept me firmly there.
Heaven rejoices at this new birth--the birth into eternity of a great soul. Thank you Lord for lending him to us, no matter that the duration was too short for some of us.
Just as we are often asked where we were when Martin Luther King was assassinated or when the Berlin Wall fell--(the answers to both of which for me were something like, in front of the television set), I will remember the circumstances of learning about the Holy Father's death because they were among the very happiest possible for such a sad event.
This afternoon I had occasion to meet with three of the loveliest, kindest, most hospitable ladies I could ever hope to meet. I met Julie Davis of Happy Catholic and MamaT and Smockmama of Summa Mamas. Nothing could have prepared me for this meeting, for as delighted as I already was with these ladies, the experience in real life greatly exceeded my expectations. As positive as my view had been, the real expreience of meeting these great people was something I was utterly unprepared for. We met and talked as though we had known each other for centuries. We fell right into talking and sharing and laughing, and crying--all in the middle of a very public restaurant! God has really blessed me in such beautiful people and friends. There are no words to express my gratitude for being in such company at so difficult a time. I think at the time, I was stunned into a sort of numbness that only now is thawing in tears. Hopefully they will help to alleviate the congestion that has overwhelmed me since my arrival in Dallas so that my head does not explode on the descent into Orlando.
Smock, MamaT, Julie--y'all rock! Our meeting was the highlight of the trip, exceeding even the marvels of the Forbidden City exhibition at the museum. Thank you for taking the time to come and see me. If you're ever down my way, drop me a line and we'll meet--perhaps at some tacky venue like Gatorland (and perhaps I'll finally get to meet the elusive Mr. Luse). God bless you all for the help and support you offered this stranger far from home when such a traumatic thing occurred. It gave me a real sense of the family of the Catholic Church and of Catholic bloggers. Thank you.
For Julie's version--see this It was truly a blessing of a day!
Perhaps it is too early to share this, and yet I cannot help but think that the Pope himself would have been amused and gratified by it.
Linda spent much of the afternoon in tears over the death of the Holy Father. Naturally, this distressed Samuel who asked why whe was crying. Linda told him that the Pope had died. Samuel asked, "What's a Pope."
Linda told him that just as Father Garcia was the priest for his Church, the Pope was the priest for all of the Church, he was Fr. Garcia's big boss.
Samuel's answer was to say, "Can I be Pope?"
Such a simple answer. But what is beautiful, and wonderful, and amusing about it, is this--just as John Paul II is the skiing, hiking, vibrant Pope, Samuel, whatever name he might take would be our first all tap-danicing, all piano-playing Pope.
The Holy Spirit worked powerfullly through this great man to bring me to the Church and to the great hope of salvation. For a long time I was lost in my own sense of self, not worshipping as God would have me worship, but worshipping as I allowed myself to worship, in a limited, narrow, selfish way.
His encyclical Vertatis Splendor came dangerously close to driving me away from the Church in my pride and great hubris. And ultimately it was the instrument of my conviction and of my coming to love Christ as I love Him now--poor though that is.
As he worked on Earth in my lifetime to lead me and a a great many others to Jesus, so his prayers in Heaven will call a great many to God. He is now a fellow toiler with the great Saints, and Saint Thérèse. Like her, I suspect that He will spend his heaven doing good on Earth. He had such a passionate love for all of us.
May God receive Pope John Paul the Great, great soul, into his heavenly court, and may he continue to pray for us all through all of time.