Friday, September 27, 2013

Light And Love

Darkness can only be scattered by light,
hatred can only be conquered by love. 

-Blessed John Paul II, 2002

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

God Entrusts The Human Being To Woman

Next month, the Pontifical Council for the Laity will host a seminar for the 25th anniversary of Blessed John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter, Mulieris dignitatem. The point of reflection will begin with a particular quote from the letter:

The moral and spiritual strength of a woman is joined to her awareness that God entrusts the human being to her in a special way. Of course, God entrusts every human being to each and every other human being. But this entrusting concerns women in a special way – precisely by reason of their femininity – and this in a particular way determines their vocation (30).

Is this how women see themselves today? If not, how can we affirm the feminine gift of life giving? Attendees of the seminar will discuss these questions and more as they celebrate the late Holy Father’s thought on the dignity and vocation of women. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Value Of The Cross

The evangelical image of the "yoke" recalls the many trials that the humble Capuchin of San Giovanni Rotondo had to face. Today we contemplate in him how gentle the "yoke" of Christ is, and how truly light is his burden when it is borne with faithful love. The life and mission of Padre Pio prove that difficulties and sorrows, if accepted out of love, are transformed into a privileged way of holiness, which opens onto the horizons of a greater good, known only to the Lord.  
...Is it not, precisely, the "glory of the Cross" that shines above all in Padre Pio? How timely is the spirituality of the Cross lived by the humble Capuchin of Pietrelcina. Our time needs to rediscover the value of the Cross in order to open the heart to hope. 
Throughout his life, he always sought greater conformity with the Crucified, since he was very conscious of having been called to collaborate in a special way in the work of redemption. His holiness cannot be understood without this constant reference to the Cross. 
In God's plan, the Cross constitutes the true instrument of salvation for the whole of humanity and the way clearly offered by the Lord to those who wish to follow him (cf. Mk 16,24). The Holy Franciscan of the Gargano understood this well, when on the Feast of the Assumption in 1914, he wrote: "In order to succeed in reaching our ultimate end we must follow the divine Head, who does not wish to lead the chosen soul on any way other than the one he followed; by that, I say, of abnegation and the Cross" (Epistolario II, p. 155). 
-Blessed John Paul II, Canonization of St. Pio of Pietrelcina  

Friday, September 20, 2013

Mother of Asia, Pray For Us

O Holy Mary, Daughter of the Most High God,
Virgin Mother of the Savior and Mother of us all,
look tenderly upon the Church of your Son
planted on Asian soil.
Be her guide and model
as she continues your Son's mission
of love and service in Asia.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Rich Texture of Blessed John Paul II’s Life

In his epic biography on the life of Blessed John Paul II, Witness To Hope, George Weigel reflects on the richness of the late Holy Father’s life and legacy:

One way to think of Karol Wojtyła’s life “from inside” is to think of it as running along a particularly broad-gauged rail bed.
He is an intellectual who is unbeholden to the shibboleths of the professoriat and who has a deep appreciation for untutored popular piety.
He is an accomplished philosopher, recognized as such by peers throughout the world, but he never took a serious course in the subject.
                                He is a mystic who was a vigorous sportsman for almost seventy years.
                He is a celibate with a remarkable insight into human sexuality, especially as viewed from the perspective and experience of women.
He lived from age nineteen until age fifty-eight under totalitarian regimes and has written cogently about the cultural factors that make democracy possible.
                                He is a Pole with a marked sensitivity toward Jews and Judaism.
                He has had a considerable impact on world affairs and the life of the Church while evincing not the slightest interest in management theory or in the conventions of politics.
 He is arguably the most well-informed man in the world, yet he rarely reads newspapers.
                                 He has been a notably successful statesman without extensive preparation or the                      job.
                 He was blessed with great mentors as a young man, but he is primarily an autodidact who learns quickly from experience.
He has a penetrating insight into those he meets, such that one wants to entrust him with one’s decisions, but his signature phrase as a confessor and spiritual counselor has always been “You must decide.”
He has demonstrated the ability to rouse the passions of some of the largest crowds in human history, but he has never played the demagogue.
He is a disciple known for the intensity of his love, like the apostle John, who has been called to exercise an office of authority and jurisdiction in the Church, like the apostle Peter (13).

We at the Blessed John Paul II Shrine aren’t the only ones who believe that this sainted man’s life is one that needs to be shared. So the beautiful, exciting, and inspiring story of Blessed John Paul II’s life and legacy is what we are narrating here as we begin to construct our permanent exhibit, which is slated to open mid-2014. Through artifacts, newspapers, quotations, pictures, interactive displays, and films the rich texture of his life will come alive in a place where he can also be truly venerated.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

She Is A Church That Knows How To Cry

Yesterday’s Gospel opened with a scene at the gates of Nain. Jesus and the crowd that followed Him noticed that a man was being carried out of the city when they arrived. This man was the only son of a widowed mother, and so Jesus was moved with pity for this woman who was alone in the world. After telling her to weep no more, he touched the coffin and commanded the young man to arise.

Imagine the joy in the heart of this mother who received her living son in her arms once again. This joy is rooted in a deep love, a love that is also found in the Church. Pope Francis reflected on this in his homily yesterday, and how the Church is much like the widow of Nain:

This dimension of widowhood of the Church, who is journeying through history, hoping to meet, to find her Husband… Our Mother the Church is thus! She is a Church that, when she is faithful, knows how to cry. When the Church does not cry, something is not right. She weeps for her children, and prays! A Church that goes forward and does rear her children, gives them strength and accompanies them until the final farewell in order to leave them in the hands of her Spouse, who at the end will come to encounter her. This is our Mother Church! I see her in this weeping widow. And what does the Lord say to the Church? ‘Do not cry. I am with you, I’ll take you, I’ll wait for you there, in the wedding, the last nuptials, those of the Lamb. Stop [your tears]: this son of yours was dead, now he lives.’

For more on the Church and her relationship to Christ and her children, see Chapter 7 of Blessed John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem, on the dignity and vocation of women.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Open Our Hearts To Hope

Today we join the Church in remembering those affected by the Navy Yard shooting here in Washington, D.C. yesterday. Together we pray for the victims and their families with the very same words that Blessed John Paul II used, the day after the September 11th attacks in New York City twelve years ago:

O Almighty and merciful God,
you cannot be understood by one who sows discord, 

you cannot be accepted by one who loves violence:  
look upon our painful human condition 
tried by cruel acts of terror and death, 
comfort your children 
and open our hearts to hope, 
so that our time may again know 
days of serenity and peace.
Through Christ our Lord.

May the Mother of Peace and Justice pray for her children, that they may draw close to her Son in their suffering and trials. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

By This Power, Sin Is Overcome

The Son of Man must be lifted up... so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him” (Io. 3, 14-15).  The human family had received at the very beginning of earthly history a deadly bite from the “ancient serpent.” He had injected a satanic venom – the venom of original sin – into the souls of the first man and woman. And from that time onward, man’s history on earth has been burdened by sin. A tendency towards sin has generated many evils in the lives of individual persons and the communities to which they belong, in families, in entire peoples and nations.

The Son of Man must be lifted up,” says Jesus to Nicodemus. And he says this with a view to his crucifixion: The Son of Man must be lifted up on the Cross. Whoever believes in him, whoever sees in this Cross and in the Crucified One the Redeemer of the world, whoever looks with faith on the redemptive death of Jesus on the Cross, finds in him the power of eternal life. By this power, sin is overcome. People receive forgiveness of their sins at the price of the Sacrifice of Christ. They find again the life of God which had been lost by sin.

                -Homily of Blessed John Paul II, Feast of the Triumph of the Cross 1988