Thursday, October 31, 2013

Little Lolek

Karol Józef Wojtyła was born on May 18, 1920, in Wadowice, Poland. The youngest of three children, young Karol was part of a loving and God-fearing family.

He knew much about suffering at an early age -- his mother died of kidney failure when he was in third grade and his brother died when he was twelve –but he also held a profound trust in God and the goodness of His will. Much of this came from the spiritual care of his father, who Blessed John Paul II referred to as a “man of constant prayer” (Gift and Mystery, 20).

Known to his friends as Lolek, Karol was a tall, chubby and vibrant youth, who was gifted with strong athletic skills, intellectual abilities and theatrical talents. His boyhood friend, Jerzy Kluger recalls their great love for swimming in or skating on the Skawa river, depending on the season. They also hiked and played soccer, with little Lolek often in the goalie position.

There are a number of stories from Blessed John Paul II’s early life and childhood that we will recount during the next month. This is all a part of the Blessed John Paul II Shrine’s preparation for the canonization, which is now under six months away. Keep following us here and on our Facebook page.

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Place At The Table

Last weekend, Archbishop of Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl preached to a number of disabled communities in attendance at the Archdiocese’s fourth annual White Mass. In his homily, he said:

Just as all of us are created by God as we are, and all of us have a place at the table of the Lord through baptism, so those with special needs bring their own particular gifts to the Church and to our celebration today…

Each of us is in need of the other, and each of us is enriched by the others, and we depend upon and are complemented by others.

As Blessed John Paul II often taught us, the human person is a sacred and necessary part of God’s creation. Cardinal Wuerl echoed this truth, saying that each one of us, with our abilities and disabilities, has a place at the table of the Lord and a place in one another’s lives.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Happy Feast Day!

Today the Shrine is bustling with activity as we celebrate the feast day of our beloved patron. Thirty-five years ago today, Blessed John Paul II embarked on his pontificate with these words:
Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power. Help the Pope and all those who wish to serve Christ and with Christ's power to serve the human person and the whole of mankind. Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ. To his saving power open the boundaries of States, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture, civilization and development. Do not be afraid. Christ knows "what is in man." He alone knows it. 
Let us pray for Blessed John Paul II's intercession today, that we may be like him in opening wide the doors for Christ.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Hail Mary, Woman Of Faith

Hail Mary, poor and humble Woman,
Blessed by the Most High!
Virgin of hope, dawn of a new era,
We join in your song of praise,
to celebrate the Lord’s mercy,
to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom
and the full liberation of humanity.

Hail Mary, lowly handmaid of the Lord,
Glorious Mother of Christ!
Faithful Virgin, holy dwelling-place of the Word,
Teach us to persevere in listening to the Word,
and to be docile to the voice of the Spirit,
attentive to his promptings in the depths of our conscience
and to his manifestations in the events of history.

Hail Mary, Woman of sorrows,
Mother of the living!
Virgin spouse beneath the Cross, the new Eve,
Be our guide along the paths of the world.
Teach us to experience and to spread the love of Christ,
to stand with you before the innumerable crosses
on which your Son is still crucified.

Hail Mary, woman of faith,
First of the disciples!
Virgin Mother of the Church, help us always
to account for the hope that is in us,
with trust in human goodness and the Father’s love.
Teach us to build up the world beginning from within:
in the depths of silence and prayer,
in the joy of fraternal love,
in the unique fruitfulness of the Cross.

Holy Mary, Mother of believers,
Our Lady of Lourdes,
pray for us.

-Prayer of Blessed John Paul II at the Conclusion of the Rosary, August 14, 2004

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

With The Help Of God And With The Help Of Men

Today we at the Shrine are celebrating the anniversary of Blessed John Paul II’s election to the papacy. On this day in 1978, he accepted over 26 years of courageous and loving service to Christ’s flock here on Earth.

In his address immediately after the election, the late Holy Father, after mentioning the grievous occasion of the death of John Paul I and after admitting that he may need some help with his Italian, humbly said:
…And so I present myself to you all, to confess our common faith, our hope, our trust in the Mother of Christ and of the Church, and also to start anew on this road of history and the Church, with the help of God and with the help of men (as quoted in George Weigel’s Witness to Hope, 256).

And start anew we did. As we continue to build our permanent exhibit on the life and legacy of Blessed John Paul II, slated to open mid-2014, we hope to capture this pivotal moment and others throughout his papacy.

Blessed John Paul II, Pray for Us!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

We Too Need You, Risen Lord!

We, the men and women of the third millennium,
we too need you, Risen Lord!
Stay with us now,
and until the end of time.
Grant that the material progress of peoples
may never obscure the spiritual values which
are the soul of their civilization.

-Blessed John Paul II, March 2005

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Making The Truth Beautiful

At a conference last month, Bishop James D. Conley of the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska said:

Our New Evangelization must work to make truth beautiful. By means both ancient and new, we must make use of beauty – to infuse Western culture, once more, with the spirit of the Gospel… By means of earthly beauty, we can help our contemporaries discover the truth of the Gospel. Then, they may come to know the eternal beauty of God.

There are many ways of doing this, Conley notes, by exposing the world to the rich artistic imagination of the Church, which extends from the time of Christ to today. Music, literature, architecture, paintings, sculptures, and stories of the human experience – these all are tools of earthly beauty that help us to see the eternal beauty of God.

Stories of the Saints are also beautiful testimonies that can bring all of us closer to the Father, especially stories of those in our own back yard. Familiarize yourself with and share the stories of Fr. Emil Kapaun and Cora Evans. Both from the United States, these holy witnesses could soon be named among the saints!