Friday, March 28, 2014

It's Official!

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has officially designated the Blessed John Paul II Shrine as a national shrine! Beginning on April 27th, the day of John Paul II’s canonization, the shrine will officially be known as the “Saint John Paul II National Shrine.”

For details, see the news release on our website.

Blessed John Paul II, Pray for Us!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Self-Gift In Toronto

Even during his last years on earth, when he suffered through illness and old age, Blessed John Paul II continued to give himself. Although travelling takes much energy and mobility, the late Holy Father continued to make his rounds throughout the globe, visiting his people and showing them his love.

One trip he didn’t miss was his pilgrimage to Canada for the 17th World Youth Day. Here, through his witness and through his words, he encouraged young people to embrace their own character of giftedness and to live lives of service to God and to the world.

In his main homily, Blessed John Paul II said:

The world you are inheriting is a world which desperately needs a new sense of brotherhood and human solidarity. It is a world which needs to be touched and healed by the beauty and richness of God's love. It needs witnesses to that loveThe world needs salt. It needs you - to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. 

Salt seasons and improves the flavor of food. Following Jesus, you have to change and improve the "taste" of human history. With your faith, hope and love, with your intelligence, courage and perseverance, you have to humanize the world we live in, in the way that today's Reading from Isaiah indicates: "loose the bonds of injustice ... share your bread with the hungry ... remove the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil.... Then your light shall rise in the darkness" (Is 58, 6-10). 

The late Holy Father sheds light on the gifts that each of these young people possesses, and speaks of the necessity of their sharing these gifts with the world in order to make it more human. It is in sharing our gifts that we can add good taste and good flavor to human history, Blessed John Paul II says. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Her Free Consent To The Will Of God

Mary of Nazareth is indeed worthy of our veneration and filial love. “In an utterly singular way she co-operated by her obedience, faith, hope and ardent charity in the Saviour’s work” (Lumen Gentium, 61). She changed all of human history by her "Fiat," by her free consent to the will of God. By this act of faith and love, she allowed herself to be transformed by God. Submitting herself totally to God, she agreed to be the Mother of the Redeemer of the world: the eternal Word became flesh, God became man. From the moment of the Annunciation, she dedicated herself to her Son, to his person and to his work, to the mystery of the Redemption which he accomplished. From that day forward and for all time, she assists her Son in his mission of salvation. In every age, Mary is close to the Church, the Body of Christ. And thus, she is rightly called “Mother of the Church."
-Blessed John Paul II, 1986 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Second Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging At The Pillar

Then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him. And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and arrayed him in a purple robe; they came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands.
(Jn 19:1-3).

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "Jesus' sufferings took their historical, concrete form from the fact that he was 'rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes' (Mk 8:31), who 'handed him to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified' (Mt 20:19)" (CCC, 572).

While meditating on the scourging at the pillar, say one Our Father, 10 Hail Mary’s, and a Glory Be.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Celebrating The Canonizations

Catholic News Agency recently reported that millions are expected to travel to Rome for the canonizations of Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II on April 27.

Those who cannot make the trip are welcome to join us at the Blessed John Paul II Shrine for the weekend of the canonization. We have a number of events planned, including Mass, Adoration, multiple opportunities for the veneration of our Blood Relic of Blessed John Paul II, musical entertainment, and a canonization viewing party. Check out our Schedule of Events for more details.

Blessed John Paul II, as we prepare for your canonization, pray for us! 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Time For Conversion And Repentance

According to Blessed John Paul II, Lent is “a time for conversion and repentance.” It is a time of detachment, turning away from our earthly sin and turning towards Christ, who alone can save us.

This turning towards or this conversion can be solidified in the Sacrament of Confession. During Lent, the Church is reminded “of the indispensable necessity of sacramental confession, in order that we may all be able to live the resurrection of Christ not only in the liturgy, but also in our own soul.”

According to Blessed John Paul II, “the sacrament of penance is the primary way of obtaining forgiveness and the remission of serious sin committed after baptism.” In anticipation of the Resurrection, then, let us look towards the mercy of God and embrace the power to “forgive sins” that is conferred by Christ upon our priests through the Holy Spirit. Let us unload our burdens before the God who wants to heal us, let us repent for turning away from Him, and let us allow Him to convert our hearts.

For more on the Sacrament of Confession, see Blessed John Paul II’s beautiful reflection in his Apostolic Exhortation, Reconciliation and Penance. In this document, he ends with a prayer to the Blessed Mother that we now join him in saying:

Into the hands of this mother, whose fiat marked the beginning of that "fullness of time" in which Christ accomplished the reconciliation of humanity with God, to her immaculate heart—to which we have repeatedly entrusted the whole of humanity, disturbed by sin and tormented by so many tensions and conflicts—I now in a special way entrust this intention: that through her intercession humanity may discover and travel the path of penance, the only path that can lead it to full reconciliation.

Friday, March 14, 2014

First Sorrowful Mystery: The Agony In The Garden

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go yonder and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Mt 26:36-39).

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "Such a battle and such a victory become possible only through prayer. It is by his prayer that Jesus vanquishes the Tempter, both at the outset of his public mission and in the ultimate struggle of his agony" (2849).

While meditating on Christ’s Agony in the Garden, say one Our Father, 10 Hail Mary’s, and a Glory Be.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Sanctity Of Blessed John Paul II

In a recent interview, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI paid tribute to his predecessor, Blessed John Paul II:

[The idea] that John Paul II was a saint came to me from time to time, in the years of my collaboration with him, ever clearer. Naturally, one must first of all keep in mind his intense relationship with God, his being immersed in communion with the Lord, of which he hardly spoke. From here came his happiness in the midst of the great labors he had to sustain, and the courage with which he fulfilled his task at a truly difficult time.

John Paul II did not ask for applause, nor did he ever look around, concerned about how his decisions were received. He acted from his faith and his convictions and he was ready also to suffer the blows.

The courage of the truth is in my [judgment] the criterion of the first order of sanctity.

Only from his relation with God is it possible to understand his indefatigable pastoral commitment. He gave himself with a radicalism which cannot be explained otherwise.

His commitment was tireless, and not only in the great trips, whose programs were dense with appointments from beginning to end, but also day after day, beginning with the morning Mass until late at night. During his first visit to Germany (1980), for the first time I had a very concrete experience of this enormous commitment. So during his stay in Munich, I decided he should take a longer break at midday. During that interval he called me to his room. I found him reciting the Breviary and I said to him: “Holy Father, you should rest”, and he said: “I can do so in Heaven.”

Only one who is profoundly filled with the urgency of his mission can act like this.

Pope Benedict’s words give us one more reason to be grateful for the upcoming canonization of the late Holy Father.

Blessed John Paul II, Pray for Us! 

Monday, March 10, 2014

During This Stern Time

As we continue on this Lenten Journey and countdown to the canonization of Blessed John Paul II, it is good to reflect on the words of the late Holy Father and allow them to guide us through this season.

In his first Ash Wednesday homily as Pope, Blessed John Paul II referred to Lent as “a stern time”:

In this period, divine truths must speak to our hearts with particular forcefulness. We must meet our human experience, our conscience. The first truth, proclaimed today, reminds man of his transience, recalls death, which is for each of us the end of earthly life.

Every person’s life has a limit, and during Lent we enter into a time of meditation on that limit. We place ourselves in the desert, detaching ourselves from things that distract us from our final end. We meditate on death, and the death of Christ in particular.

It is a stern time, yes, but one that helps us to embrace the joy of the Resurrection:

Jesus Christ accepted death as a sign of obedience to God, in order to restore to the human spirit the full gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ accepted death to overcome sin. Jesus Christ accepted death to overcome death in the very essence of its perennial mystery.

With St. Paul, Blessed John Paul II calls us to collaborate with our God who “accepted death to overcome sin”:

We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake, he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:20-21).

So Lent is also a time of conversion, a time of turning back towards the One who made us and accepting the grace He pours out over us.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Sorrowful Mysteries

As we journey towards the Death and Resurrection of Christ this Lent, it is helpful to take a companion along for the ride. The Blessed Mother, who suffered greatly at the Passion and Death of her Son, yet also felt such joy at His Resurrection, can be the perfect guide, due to her love for us and to her intimacy with the Lord.

This Lent, we will walk with Mary by meditating on The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. Here’s what Blessed John Paul II said about The Sorrowful Mysteries in his letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae:

The Gospels give great prominence to the sorrowful mysteries of Christ. From the beginning Christian piety, especially during the Lenten devotion of the Way of the Cross, has focused on the individual moments of the Passion, realizing that here is found the culmination of the revelation of God's love and the source of our salvation. The Rosary selects certain moments from the Passion, inviting the faithful to contemplate them in their hearts and to relive them. The sequence of meditations begins with Gethsemane, where Christ experiences a moment of great anguish before the will of the Father, against which the weakness of the flesh would be tempted to rebel. There Jesus encounters all the temptations and confronts all the sins of humanity, in order to say to the Father: “Not my will but yours be done” (Lk 22:42 and parallels). This “Yes” of Christ reverses the “No” of our first parents in the Garden of Eden. And the cost of this faithfulness to the Father's will is made clear in the following mysteries; by his scourging, his crowning with thorns, his carrying the Cross and his death on the Cross, the Lord is cast into the most abject suffering: Ecce homo!

This abject suffering reveals not only the love of God but also the meaning of man                       himself.

Ecce homo: the meaning, origin and fulfilment of man is to be found in Christ, the God who humbles himself out of love “even unto death, death on a cross” (Phil 2:8). The sorrowful mysteries help the believer to relive the death of Jesus, to stand at the foot of the Cross beside Mary, to enter with her into the depths of God's love for man and to experience all its life-giving power.

The Sorrowful Mysteries, which are typically recited on Tuesdays and Fridays, are appropriate for the season of repentance that we have just entered into.

Let us begin to contemplate the face of the Risen One as we begin our Rosary. Find some quiet time for prayer today, and start your rosary with an Apostles’ Creed, an Our Father for the Pope’s intentions, three Hail Mary’s for the virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love, and a Glory Be. As you begin, meditate on Blessed John Paul II’s reflection above.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Papal Intentions For March

This month, Pope Francis asks us to pray with him for greater respect for women, that “all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.”

He also asks us to pray for vocations, that “many young people may accept the Lord’s invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.”

Let us pray with the Holy Father, then, that women and vocations may flourish in the Church and in society. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Journey Of Gift

Today the Church embarks on the liturgical season of Lent.  In his last Lenten message, Blessed John Paul II wrote that during Lent, “a spiritual journey is outlined for us that prepares us to relive the Great Mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Christ.”

During his last Lent here on earth, the late Holy Father experienced this journey in a unique way. As his health failed, he suffered much like Christ did in preparation for death. The debilitating effects of Parkinson’s disease, the wounds from the assassination attempt, multiple surgeries, and the loss of his voice humbled him before the world and before God.

Even as he aged and became more vulnerable due to sickness, Blessed John Paul II never hid himself from the world. As he wrote in his final message for Lent, “reaching old age is a sign of the Most High’s gracious benevolence.” Longevity is a “special divine gift.”

He continued:

If growing old, with its inevitable conditions, is accepted serenely in the light of faith, it can become an invaluable opportunity for better comprehending the Mystery of the Cross, which gives full sense to human existence.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Patient And Humble Endurance Of The Cross

The patient and humble endurance of the cross – whatever nature it may be – is the highest work we have to do. 
-St. Katharine Drexel

St. Katharine Drexel, whose feast we celebrate today, gave her whole life to this “highest work.”  She is an American saint, and she was one of the 482 canonized by Blessed John Paul II.

Born in 1858 to a wealthy family, St. Katharine learned at an early age that wealth is meant to be shared with others.  Her parents were known to be generous philanthropists, and they were both devout witnesses to the Catholic faith.

St. Katharine found her lifelong mission on a trip to the Western part of the United States. She was so unsettled by the destitution of Native Americans, that after the trip she dedicated much of her time and inheritance to supporting Native American missions. She thought access to education would help the impoverished Indian communities, so in 1887 she established St. Catherine Indian School in New Mexico.

On a later visit to Rome, St. Katharine met with Pope Leo XIII and asked him to send more missionaries to the Indian missions she had been supporting. She didn’t expect the response he gave her: Pope Leo suggested she become a missionary herself.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Let The Children Come

People were bringing children to Jesus that he might touch them,
but the disciples rebuked them.
When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them,
“Let the children come to me; do not prevent them,
for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Amen, I say to you,
whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child
will not enter it.”
Then he embraced the children and blessed them,
placing his hands on them.