Category Archives: Pope John Paul II

My Papa in Heaven

Jenn and Pope John Paul II - dscn1457

Today is a blessed day for a lot of reasons. First, it is Divine Mercy Sunday. Second, we are celebrating the canonization of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. Make that Saint Pope John XXIII and Saint Pope John Paul II.

Myself, instead of being able to pray for much of the day, I will be working a 15 hour shift. A long day. But Saint JPII spoke quite a bit during his papacy about the dignity of human work, so perhaps this is appropriate.

On their Facebook page, Our Lady of Good Counsel asked, “What sort of impact did (Saint) John Paul have on your life before he entered into Heaven?”

I joined the Catholic Church under Pope Benedict XVI, in 2007, so Pope John Paul II was not “my” pope, but in a way he was.

  • He was the Pope for most of my life.
  • I clearly remember watching the days surrounding his death, funeral and the conclave electing Cardinal Ratzinger.
  • And I consider him as family.

The third point is kind of an interesting story. Growing up, we spent a lot of time visiting with my Memere (great-grandmother). She would always have tomato-rice soup simmering on the stove, mincemeat pies in the freezer, and had a toaster oven in her kitchen, which I thought was rather unique and “old-fashioned” as we had a regular toaster. In the entryway, she had a display cabinet filled with pairs of salt and pepper shakers — souvenirs. And in the living room, there were two large photographs on the wall in matching oval frames.

The twist comes from the fact that she was from Quebec and grew up speaking French. So, when I was young and visiting, I’d ask, “Who’s that?” for each of the photos. And she would reply, “Pepe,” which is similar to saying “Papa”. I assumed that both pictures were of her husband, my great-grandfather, who had passed away when I was only about a week old. They were black and white photos, which — to me — meant that they were taken A LONG TIME AGO. In both of the pictures, the man’s clothing seemed a little odd, but I just figured that people wore odd clothes way back then.

However, only one of the photos was of my Pepe. The other was a photo of Pope John Paul II.

I grew up thinking that Pope John Paul II was my great-grandfather. He was a part of my family. And, I suppose, when I was baptized, he *did* become my family. Who knows what kind of influence this happy mistake may have had on me? Perhaps it was something as little and seemingly coincidental as this which led to me becoming Catholic later in life. You never know all the subtle ways the Holy Spirit may be guiding you.

I love you, Papa. Please pray for me and those whom I love.

As Catholics, Can We Pray for God’s Forgiveness for the Sins of Others?

Here’s the question: The acknowledgement of the sins of his ancestors and asking for forgiveness for those sins constitute a large portion of Nehemiah’s prayer in Neh 1:4-11. During the 2000 Jubilee Year celebrations, Pope John Paul II asked God’s forgiveness for sins committed by Catholics over the last two millennia. In your opinion, is it ever possible for a later generation to ask forgiveness for the sins committed by earlier generations? In what ways can that be redemptive and healing?

My answer: I would imagine that if Pope John Paul II saw that asking God’s mercy and forgiveness for sins of the past was a worthwhile endeavor, I wouldn’t have any reason to think that this might not be efficacious. For individuals who have passed, we can merit indulgences and perhaps ease their way through Purgatory. I think we are probably more connected than we think — as the body of Christ — and if the sin of one can affect all, perhaps the repentance of one can also be universally applicable. Even in my own body, if it is my hand which sins, it is still my tongue which confesses. This can be redemptive in ways we do not fully understand. But if Jesus took upon Himself all of our sins, and if we are to conform ourselves to Him, perhaps there is not only something known as redemptive suffering, but also redemptive repentance. I think it can be healing precisely in the fact that it underlines our unity in Christ and encourages us in our love of neighbor. Our neighbors are not just those who are temporally proximal to us, but all people in all times.

Excerpt from “Fides et Ratio” by Pope John Paul II

“The Council teaches that ‘the obediance of faith must be given to God who reveals himself.’ This brief but dense statement points to a fundamental truth of Christianity. Faith is said first to be an obediant response to God.

This implies that God be acknowledged in his divinity, transcendence and supreme freedom. By the authority of his absolute transcendence, God who makes himself known is also the source of the credibility of what he reveals. By faith, men and women give their assent to this divine testimony.

This means that they acknowledge fully and integrally the truth of what is revealed because it is God himself who is the guarantor of that truth. They can make no claim upon this truth which comes to them as gift and which, set within the context of interpersonal communication, urges reason to be open to it and to embrace its profound meaning.

This is why the Church has always considered the act of entrusting oneself to God to be a moment of fundamental decision which engages the whole person. In that act, the intellect and will display their spiritual nature, enabling the subject to act in a way which realizes personal freedom to the full.”
 

“It is faith that allows individuals to give consummate expression to their own freedom. Put differently, freedom is not realized in decisions made against God. For how could it be an exercise of true freedom to refuse to be open to the very reality which enables our self-realization? Men and women can accomplish no more important act in their lives than the act of faith; it is here that freedom reaches the certainty of truth and chooses to live in that truth.”