Thursday, February 27, 2014

A New Radiance Spreading

I greet you, Ukraine, brave and determined witness of adherence to the values of faith. How much you suffered in order to vindicate, in difficult times, the freedom to profess this faith!
I am reminded of the words of the Apostle Saint Andrew, who according to tradition said that he saw the glory of God shining brightly on the hills of Kyiv. And this is what happened, centuries later, with the Baptism of Prince Vladimir and his people.
But the Apostle’s vision does not concern only your past; its light shines also on the future of your country. With the eyes of my heart, in fact, I seem to see a new radiance spreading over this blessed land: the radiance that will spring from the renewed confirmation of the choice made in the distant year 988, when Christ was accepted by the Ukrainian Nation as "the Way, and the Truth, and the Life" (Jn 14:6). 
-Blessed John Paul II, 2001 Pastoral Visit to Ukraine
Let us all pray for Ukraine today, that a new radiance of peace will shine there soon.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Authentic Development Of Man

During his pontificate, Blessed John Paul II did much to promote and sustain the rich social tradition of the Church, which is always “directed towards an authentic development of man and society which would respect and promote all dimensions of the human person…” (Sollicitudo rei socialis, 1).

In 1987, the late Holy Father released Sollicitudo rei socialis (SRS), an encyclical reflecting on Paul VI’s Populorum Progressio. Here Blessed John Paul II contemplates the teaching of the past and renews it in light of contemporary challenges, proposing a vision of authentic human development.

One of the most important things about SRS is that it proposes a vision of development that goes beyond the material needs of those in poorer countries. According to the late Holy Father, there are cultural forms of poverty that are even more disturbing than economic forms:

These are illiteracy, the difficulty or impossibility of obtaining higher education, the inability to share in the building of one's own nation, the various forms of exploitation and of economic, social, political and even religious oppression of the individual and his or her rights, discrimination of every type, especially the exceptionally odious form based on difference of race. If some of these scourges are noted with regret in areas of the more developed North, they are undoubtedly more frequent, more lasting and more difficult to root out in the developing and less advanced countries (15).

Blessed John Paul II echoes Paul VI, noting that there is a difference between “having” and “being.” “To ‘have’ objects and goods does not in itself perfect the human subject, unless it contributes to the maturing and enrichment of that subject’s ‘being,’” or that person’s vocation (28).

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Church As The Mystery Of Unity

Today, 22 February, is the liturgical Feast of the Chair of St Peter. It sheds light on the special ministry of strengthening and guiding the Church in the unity of the faith which the Lord entrusted to the Head of the Apostles. It consists in this ministerium petrinum (Petrine ministry), the particular service that the Bishop of Rome is called to render to the entire Christian people. It is an indispensable mission that is not built on human prerogatives but on Christ himself, the cornerstone of the Ecclesial Community.
Let us pray that the Church in the different cultures, languages and traditions will be unanimous in believing and professing the truths of faith and morals passed down by the Apostles.
To become aware of the Church as the mystery of unity, dear brothers and sisters, we must fix our gaze on Christ. 
-Blessed John Paul II, 2004 Feast of the Chair of St. Peter

Thursday, February 20, 2014

That All May Find Christ

The Church wishes to serve this single end: that each person may be able to find Christ, in order that Christ may walk with each person the path of life, with the power of the truth about man and the world that is contained in the mystery of the Incarnation and the Redemption and with the power of the love that is radiated by that truth. Against a background of the ever increasing historical processes, which seem at the present time to have results especially within the spheres of various systems, ideological concepts of the world and regimes, Jesus Christ becomes, in a way, newly present, in spite of all his apparent absences, in spite of all the limitations of the presence and of the institutional activity of the Church. Jesus Christ becomes present with the power of the truth and the love that are expressed in him with unique unrepeatable fullness in spite of the shortness of his life on earth and the even greater shortness of his public activity. 
-Blessed John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Made For Each Other

The “Sexual Revolution” of the 1960's introduced many errors into modern thought. Blessed John Paul II recognized this before his papacy, and once he became Pope he made it a priority to address new challenges in the area of sexual ethics.

So early in his papacy, the late pontiff introduced what we now call the Theology of the Body, a series of 129 general audience addresses given over four years.

Blessed John Paul II began his first address with a scriptural reflection, leading into an analysis of Eve’s creation in Genesis 2. He shows that this story of woman’s creation underscores that male and female are created equal in dignity. Adam and Eve shape one another’s identity. As the Catechism puts it, “Man discovers woman as another ‘I,’ sharing the same humanity” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 371).

Due to this shared dignity, Blessed John Paul II later writes: “Authentic conjugal love presupposes and requires that a man have a profound respect for the equal dignity of his wife.” Man “is called upon to develop a new attitude of love, manifesting toward his wife a charity that is both gentle and strong like that which Christ has for the Church” (Familiaris Consortio, 25).

Friday, February 14, 2014

It Is Not Good For The Man To Be Alone

The Lord God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him.  

So the Lord God formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each living creature was then its name.

The man gave names to all the tame animals, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals; but none proved to be a helper suited to the man.

So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.

The Lord God then built the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman. When he brought her to the man, the man said:

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Patron Saint of World Youth Days

Pope Francis made an exciting announcement in his 2014 World Youth Day message:

We have seen, then, that the Beatitude of the poor in spirit shapes our relationship with God, with material goods and with the poor. With the example and words of Jesus before us, we realize how much we need to be converted, so that the logic of being more will prevail over that of having more! The saints can best help us to understand the profound meaning of the Beatitudes. So the canonization of John Paul II, to be celebrated on the Second Sunday of Easter, will be an event marked by immense joy. He will be the great patron of the World Youth Days which he inaugurated and always supported. In the communion of saints he will continue to be a father and friend to all of you.

Our beloved Blessed John Paul II will be the patron saint of World Youth Days! This is just one more reason to look forward to his canonization on Divine Mercy Sunday. If you haven’t already, check out the Blessed John Paul II Shrine’s schedule for the canonization weekend.

Blessed John Paul II, Pray for Us!

Monday, February 10, 2014

I Must Visit My People

Last month, Pope Francis announced his plans to visit the Holy Land in late May. The purpose of his trip is to be both spiritual and ecumenical, much like Blessed John Paul II’s was during his pilgrimage in 2000.

With great missionary spirit, Blessed John Paul II made visits like these a priority during his pontificate. He began in the West, Mexico, and the U.S. during his early papacy, traveling “to the uttermost parts of the earth” for the sake of the Gospel (Acts 13:47). Later he made it to places like Papua New Guinea and Madagascar.

In total, he made 104 apostolic journeys to 129 different countries. On average, he made four trips a year, logging over 700,000 miles and spending about 6 percent of his papacy outside of Italy.

Blessed John Paul II’s travels shed light on the youthful enthusiasm of the Church in places like Africa, where people greeted him with dance and song.  They also brought publicity to places in the world where people were suffering, so that God’s people might properly embrace their poor brothers and sisters in solidarity.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

John Beseeches Her

Don't lower the wave of my heart,
it swells to your eyes, mother;
don't alter love, but bring the wave to me
in your translucent hands.
He asked for this.
I am John the fisherman. There isn't much
in me to love.
I feel I am still on that lake shore,
gravel crunching under my feet--
and, suddenly--Him.
You will embrace his mystery in me no more,
yet quietly I spread round your thoughts like myrtle.
And calling you Mother--His wish--
I beseech you: may this word
never grow less for you.
True, it's not easy to measure the meaning
of the words he breathed into us both
so that all earlier love in those words
should be concealed.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

God’s Children Do Not Hide

Let us not forget that the momentum of our commitment as Christians in the world is not a philanthropic idea, not a vague humanism, but a gift from God, that is, the gift of being sons and daughters that we have received in Baptism. This gift is, at the same time, a task. God's children do not hide; rather they bring their joy as children of God to the world.

…bringing people the message of God's love and salvation in Jesus Christ, [a message] for all people, is the duty of every baptized person. This duty includes not only speaking with words, but with our whole way of acting and doing.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Honoring A Temple Of The Holy Spirit

In light of last week’s news that a relic of Blessed John Paul II was stolen (and thankfully, found), we thought we would reflect on the importance of relics in the Church and explain why we keep and venerate a relic of the late Holy Father here at the Blessed John Paul II Shrine.

The Catholic Encyclopedia tells us that,

The word relics comes from the Latin reliquiae (the counterpart of the Greek leipsana) which already before the propagation of Christianity was used in its modern sense, viz., of some object, notably part of the body or clothes, remaining as a memorial of a departed saint. The veneration of relics, in fact, is to some extent a primitive instinct, and it is associated with many other religious systems besides that of Christianity.

It is quite natural for a person to keep precious articles that belonged to a deceased person they loved or admired. This instinct is what began the tradition of keeping and venerating relics in the Church, especially ones that belonged to saintly figures.

The bodies of the saints were once temples of the Holy Spirit and are one day to be eternally glorified. So to venerate their bones is to venerate the bones that will one day be conformed to the body of Christ.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Greeting The Awaited One

Lumen ad revelationem gentium! “Light for revelation to the Gentiles” (Lk 2:32).

These words resound in the temple of Jerusalem, as 40 days after the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph prepare to “present him to the Lord” (Lk 2:22). By emphasizing the contrast between the modest, humble action of the two parents and the glory of the event as perceived by Simeon and Anna, the Evangelist Luke apparently wants to suggest that the temple itself is waiting for the Child’s coming. In fact, in the prophetic attitude of the two elderly people, the entire Old Covenant expresses the joy of the meeting with the Redeemer.

Simeon and Anna go to the temple both longing for the Messiah, both inspired by the Holy Spirit, as Mary and Joseph take Jesus there in obedience to the precepts of the law. At the sight of the Child, they sense that it is truly he, the Awaited One, and Simeon, as if in ecstasy, proclaims: “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation which your have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” (Lk 2:29-32).

Lumen ad revelationem gentium!

With his inspired words, Simeon, a man of the Old Covenant, a man of the temple of Jerusalem, expresses his conviction that this Light is meant not only for Israel, but also for pagans and all the peoples of the earth. With him, the “aged” world receives in its arms the splendor of God’s eternal “youth.” However, the shadow of the Cross already looms in the background, because the darkness will reject that Light. Indeed, turning to Mary, Simeon prophesies: “This child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed” (Lk 2:34-35).