Monday, April 28, 2014

The Hope And The Joy

In these two men, who looked upon the wounds of Christ and bore witness to his mercy, there dwelt a living hope and an indescribable and glorious joy (1 Pet 1:3,8). The hope and the joy which the risen Christ bestows on his disciples, the hope and the joy which nothing and no one can take from them. The hope and joy of Easter, forged in the crucible of self-denial, self-emptying, utter identification with sinners, even to the point of disgust at the bitterness of that chalice. Such were the hope and the joy which these two holy popes had received as a gift from the risen Lord and which they in turn bestowed in abundance upon the People of God, meriting our eternal gratitude. 
-Pope Francis, Canonization of Saints John XXIII and John Paul II 
After a blessed canonization celebration, we here at the St. John Paul II National Shrine continue to thank the Lord for the gifts our late Holy Father gave to the Church. We also move forward in our work towards building up a testament to his life and legacy in the permanent exhibit slated to open here this summer. Stay tuned for more as we celebrate and promote the life of our beloved St. John Paul II! 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Canonization of Saint John Paul II

Today the Church officially celebrates the canonization of Saint John Paul II! We praise the Lord for this Divine Mercy Sunday, and for His gift of the late Holy Father who witnessed so well to faith, hope and love in the modern world. 

We’ve reflected much on the legacy of Saint John Paul II in past months, but today we want to highlight some “essential insights” he gave to the Church.

The Saint John Paul II Shrine’s theologian in residence, Michelle Borras, reflected on these in the Knights of Columbus’s Columbia Magazine, where she summarized his contributions into five main points:

He re-centered the Church on “Christ, the Redeemer of man,” and so showed the way to an “adequate anthropology.”

He gave us a theology of human love.

He articulated the “saving mission of the family.”

He fearlessly defended the dignity of the human person.

In his suffering, he pointed us to the mercy of God.

Read the full story here, and join us today in thanking God for the gift of Saint John Paul II.

Saint John Paul II, Pray for Us!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

1 Day Until Canonization

Jesus dwells among the men and women “honored with the name of Christian” (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 15). All are able to meet him in the Scriptures, in prayer and in service of their neighbors….it is becoming every day a more urgent duty to repair the scandal of the division among Christians, strengthening unity through dialogue, prayer in common and witness. It is not a matter of ignoring differences and problems in the detachment of a lukewarm relativism; that would be like covering the wound without healing it, with the risk of interrupting the journey before reaching the goal of full communion.

Today we conclude our novena by remembering the souls who have become lukewarm. Let us pray our chaplet, bringing these souls to Jesus and immersing them in the ocean of His mercy. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

2 Days Until Canonization

May you have a great “thirst” to save souls, helping every brother and sister to discover the “not yet” and the eternal “life above” towards which we are all journeying. The eternal future is built here and now, in time with our daily efforts.

-Blessed John Paul II, 2002

Today we continue our novena by remembering the souls who are detained in purgatory. Let us pray our chaplet, bringing these souls to Jesus and immersing them in the ocean of His mercy. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

3 Days Until Canonization

…in giving birth to Jesus, the Blessed Virgin gave the world the supreme Witness of God's merciful love. In this plan of salvation she was not a mere instrument, but indeed a docile cooperator: divine Mercy finds perfect resonance in Mary. In her Immaculate Heart, God's tenderness, his desire to forgive sinners and the throbbing of his fatherly compassion are fittingly reflected.

Mary's motherhood was fulfilled on Calvary where divine Mercy accomplished the supreme act of Redemption in Christ's sacrifice on the Cross. At that tragic and glorious hour, Mary became the Mother of Mercy forever.

-Blessed John Paul II, 1999 

Today we continue our novena by remembering the souls who especially venerate and glorify Christ’s Divine Mercy. Let us pray our chaplet, bringing these souls to Jesus and immersing them in the ocean of His mercy. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

4 Days Until Canonization

How important children are in the eyes of Jesus! We could even say that the Gospel is full of the truth about children. The whole of the Gospel could actually be read as the “Gospel of children.”

-Blessed John Paul II, Letter to Children

Today we continue our novena by remembering the meek and humble souls and the souls of little children. Let us pray our chaplet, bringing these souls to Jesus and immersing them in the ocean of His mercy. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

5 Days Until Canonization

Protect your Church and the Successor of Peter,
to whom you, Good Shepherd, have entrusted
the task of feeding your flock.
Grant that the Church…may flourish
and grow richer in the fruits of holiness.

Teach us to love your Mother, Mary,
as you loved her.
Give us strength to proclaim
your word with courage
in the work of the new evangelization,
so that the world may know new hope.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America,
pray for us!

-Blessed John Paul II, Ecclesia in America

Today we continue our novena by remembering the souls of those who have separated themselves from the Church. Let us pray our chaplet, bringing these souls to Jesus and immersing them in the ocean of His mercy. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

6 Days Until Canonization

Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. 

-Blessed John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis

On this Easter Monday, we continue our novena by remembering all of those who do not believe in God and those who do not yet know Jesus. Let us pray our chaplet, bringing these souls to Jesus and immersing them in the ocean of His mercy. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

7 Days Until Canonization

Christ came to bring joy: joy to children, joy to parents, joy to families and to friends, joy to workers and to scholars, joy to the sick and to the elderly, joy to all humanity. In a true sense, joy is the keynote of the Christian message and the recurring motif of the Gospels. Recall the first words of the angel to Mary: “Rejoice, O full of grace, the Lord is with you" (Lk 1: 28). And at the birth of Jesus, the angels announced to the shepherds: "Listen, I bring you news of great joy, joy to be shared by all people” (Lk 2: 10). Years later as Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a colt, “the whole group of disciples joyfully began to praise God at the top of their voices. ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord’!” (Lk 19: 37-38). We are told that some Pharisees in the crowd complained, saying: “Master, stop your disciples.” But Jesus answered:  “I tell you, if they were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Lk 19 :39-40).

Are not those words of Jesus still true today? If we are silent about the joy that comes from knowing Jesus, the very stones of our cities will cry out! For we are an Easter people and “Alleluia” is our song.

-Blessed John Paul II, 1979

On this Easter Sunday, we continue our novena by remembering all devout and faithful souls. Let us pray our chaplet, bringing these souls to Jesus and immersing them in the ocean of His mercy. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

8 Days Until Canonization

We pray to you for our
brothers and sisters who have
answered "yes" to your
call to the priesthood,
to the consecrated life and
to the missions.

May their lives be renewed day by
day, to become a living Gospel.

Merciful and holy Lord,
continue to send new laborers
into the harvest of your Kingdom!

Assist those whom you call
to follow you in our day;
contemplating your face,
may they respond with joy
to the wondrous mission
that you entrust to them
for the good of your People
and of all men and women.

                 -Blessed John Paul II, 2004

Today, we continue our novena by remembering the souls of priests and religious. Let us pray our chaplet, bringing these souls to Jesus and immersing them in the ocean of His mercy. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

9 Days Until Canonization

Good Friday is a day of mystery in the Church. We mourn on this day, yet we know that the sadness in Christ’s suffering leads to great joy. We remember Christ’s trials, yet we do so in anticipation of his glorious Resurrection. We fast and abstain, yet we do so knowing that the feasting will come soon. This is the mystery of Christ’s mercy, which seems to shine most beautifully when humanity is at its worst.

Today we are nine days away from Divine Mercy Sunday, and we embark on a period of time in which Jesus asks us to pray a novena to His Divine Mercy for all souls. This devotion to Jesus’s Divine Mercy is something that Blessed John Paul II promoted during his pontificate, and he officially declared the Second Sunday of Easter to be “Divine Mercy Sunday” throughout the Church. He providentially passed away during the vigil of this feast, and next Sunday we will celebrate the Divine Mercy of the Lord with his canonization.

Because of his devotion to Jesus’s Divine Mercy, we at the Shrine decided that it would be appropriate to prepare for Blessed John Paul II’s canonization by praying the Divine Mercy Novena Jesus shared with St. Faustina Kowalska. For the next 9 days, we will pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, offering up our prayers for the different souls that Jesus instructed us to remember.

So for Day 1, we begin by reflecting: 

Christ - the very fulfillment of the messianic prophecy - by becoming the incarnation of the love that is manifested with particular force with regard to the suffering, the unfortunate and sinners, makes present and thus more fully reveals the Father, who is God “rich in mercy.”

-Blessed John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia

Today, we begin our novena by remembering all of mankind, especially all sinners. Let us pray our chaplet, bringing these souls to Jesus and immersing them in the ocean of His mercy. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion

And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun's light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

-Luke 23: 33-34a, 44-46. 

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “‘Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures’ (1 Cor 15:3)” (CCC, 619).

While meditating on Christ’s crucifixion as we enter into this Holy Triduum, say one Our Father, 10 Hail Mary’s, and a Glory Be. Let us conclude by reciting the Hail Holy Queen and by making a Sign of the Cross:

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope.  To you we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To you we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.  Turn then, O most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus. O clement! O loving! O sweet Virgin Mary! 

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Blessed John Paul II, Pray for Us!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

For The Good Of Man

Our times have great need of an act of witness openly expressing the desire to bring nations and regimes closer together, as an indispensable condition for peace in the world. Our times demand that we should not lock ourselves into the rigid boundaries of systems, but seek all that is necessary for the good of man, who must find everywhere the awareness and certainty of his authentic citizenship. 

-Blessed John Paul II, 1979

Check out this Catholic News Agency article for the story of Blessed John Paul II’s role in the fall of the Soviet Union.

Blessed John Paul II, as we countdown to your canonization, please pray for peace and unity in our world! 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

In The Places Where God Pitched His Tent

We are less than two weeks away from the canonization of Blessed John Paul II, and only a few months away from opening the exhibit of his life and legacy at the Blessed John Paul II Shrine. As we prepare here, especially during this Holy Week, we thought it would be appropriate to reflect upon one of the most important moments in the late Holy Father’s papacy: his pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Blessed John Paul II’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land was a key part of the Jubilee Year celebrations in 2000. It was also part of a bigger desire of his to visit the “‘places’ in which God has chosen to ‘pitch his tent’ among us”:

I have a strong desire to go personally to pray in the most important places which, from the Old to the New Testament, have seen God's interventions, which culminate in the mysteries of the Incarnation and of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ.

This desire was fulfilled in March of that year, when John Paul II made this pilgrimage for the entire Church.

His pilgrimage began symbolically with honoring Abraham in Rome, and it continued on to Mount Sinai where the Holy Father meditated upon those moments in the Old Testament linking the Church with the ancient people of the Covenant. There he spoke of “the Law of life and freedom,” and how, through “revealing himself on the Mountain and giving his Law, God revealed man to man himself.”

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Fourth Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying Of The Cross

"And they compelled a passer-by, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull)" (Mk 15:21-22).

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “By accepting in his human will that the Father's will be done, he accepts his death as redemptive, for ‘he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree’ (1 Pt 2:24)” (n. 612).

While meditating on Christ’s carrying of the cross as we prepare for Holy Week, say one Our Father, 10 Hail Mary’s, and a Glory Be.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Fatherhood of Blessed John Paul II

On the Knights of Columbus website, Archbishop William E. Lori reflects on the spiritual fatherhood of Blessed John Paul II:

Both by his teaching and his example, John Paul II personified the love a father should express toward his family and the love that a spiritual father, a priest, should express toward the Church and her members.

Throughout his pontificate, John Paul became a father figure to priests and religious, lay men and women, and young people. His loving guidance and protection pointed the Church towards the loving fatherhood of God Himself.

Blessed John Paul II, father figure for the world, pray for us! 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Preaching The Gospel of Life

As we countdown to the canonization of Blessed John Paul II, we here at the Blessed John Paul II Shrine are remembering and celebrating the legacy of this great saint.

Of the many gifts John Paul II left to the Church, his teaching on the dignity and inviolability of every human life is perhaps one of his most important. This teaching is well summarized in the introduction to his Evangelium Vitae:

The Gospel of life is at the heart of Jesus' message. Lovingly received day after day by the Church, it is to be preached with dauntless fidelity as “good news” to the people of every age and culture.

At the dawn of salvation, it is the Birth of a Child which is proclaimed as joyful news: “I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:10-11). The source of this “great joy” is the Birth of the Savior; but Christmas also reveals the full meaning of every human birth, and the joy which accompanies the Birth of the Messiah is thus seen to be the foundation and fulfilment of joy at every child born into the world (cf. Jn 16:21).

When he presents the heart of his redemptive mission, Jesus says: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10). In truth, he is referring to that “new” and “eternal” life which consists in communion with the Father, to which every person is freely called in the Son by the power of the Sanctifying Spirit. It is precisely in this “life” that all the aspects and stages of human life achieve their full significance.

Every person is called to self-fulfillment, to realize him or herself through sharing in the divine life. The lofty vocation of man, he writes, is what makes his life so sacred here on earth. Given threats to human life in the present day, John Paul II calls all believers to defend the dignity of every human person. He asks them to stand with him against abortion, war, the death penalty and numerous other violations towards this dignity.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Third Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning With Thorns

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the praetorium, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe upon him, and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on his head, and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him they mocked him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ (Mt 27:27-29).

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “It is love ‘to the end’ (Jn 13:1) that confers on Christ's sacrifice its value as redemption and reparation, as atonement and satisfaction. He knew and loved us all when he offered his life” (n. 616).

While meditating on the crowning with thorns, say one Our Father, 10 Hail Mary’s, and a Glory Be.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Papal Intentions For April

This month, Pope Francis asks us to pray that “governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.” In addition to our prayers for the environment, he also asks us to lift up those who are suffering, that “the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.”

Let us pray with the Holy Father this month, that people might embrace the hope in creation and the hope in the Risen Lord. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Made For Loving Encounter


Ever since the beginning of his papacy, Pope Francis’s witness and teachings have constantly pointed the faithful towards the importance of encounter. We are called to encounter Christ, and we are called to encounter one another.

This vocation to encounter is not new in the Catholic tradition. In fact it builds off of what Blessed John Paul II taught us about the dignity of the human person, made for relationship with God and with one another.

The human person is made for love. In his Familiaris Consortio, John Paul II wrote:

God is love and in Himself He lives a mystery of personal loving communion. Creating the human race in His own image and continually keeping it in being, God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility, of love and communion. Love is therefore the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being.

Being made in the image and likeness of God means being made in the image and likeness of the Trinity. The person bears the imprint of the Trinity, which means that he or she bears the vocation to love and be loved by God and others.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Preparing For The Canonizations

This past week, the Vatican released details on its digital platform for the canonizations of Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II. See this article for more information on how they plan to communicate with the faithful as they prepare for the canonizations. This information includes logistical details about the ceremonies, how people can access news regarding the celebrations, and even spiritual reflections on the legacies and saintliness of these two Popes.

Those of you who haven’t made plans for the canonizations yet are welcome to join us at the Blessed John Paul II Shrine for the celebration. 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!