Friday, May 30, 2014

The Strength Of The Eucharist

The Eucharist is the secret of my day. It gives strength and meaning to all my activities of service to the Church and to the whole world. . . . Let Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament speak to your hearts. It is he who is the true answer of life that you seek. He stays here with us: he is God with us. Seek him without tiring, welcome him without reserve, love him without interruption: today, tomorrow, forever. 

For more on the late Holy Father’s devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, check out this chapter from Jason Evert’s Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves.

St. John Paul II, Pray for Us!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

And A Cloud Took Him From Their Sight

In the first book, Theophilus,
I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught
until the day he was taken up,
after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit
to the apostles whom he had chosen.
He presented himself alive to them
by many proofs after he had suffered,
appearing to them during forty days
and speaking about the kingdom of God.
While meeting with the them,
he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem,
but to wait for “the promise of the Father
about which you have heard me speak;
for John baptized with water,
but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

When they had gathered together they asked him,
“Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons
that the Father has established by his own authority.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
throughout Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.”
When he had said this, as they were looking on,
he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.
While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going,
suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them.
They said, “Men of Galilee,
why are you standing there looking at the sky?
This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven
will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”

Monday, May 26, 2014

Becoming The John Paul II Shrine

Christian Sanctuaries always and everywhere have been or have sought to be signs of God, of his entering into human history.

Earlier this year, the Saint John Paul II Shrine was designated as a national shrine by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Coming from the Latin scrinium, which describes a chest or case used to store religious objects, a shrine is now generally understood as a sacred space where pilgrims can come to worship God, contemplate His mysteries, or venerate a particular holy figure.

According to our Executive Director Patrick Kelly, the Saint John Paul II National Shrine is

…a place dedicated to the worship of God who became man in Jesus Christ. It is a place of pilgrimage, where the faithful and all people of good will can come to seek the face of Christ in the spirit of, and through the intercession of, Saint John Paul II. Through the shrine’s liturgy and life of prayer, as well as its programs of education and Christian formation, pilgrims will be drawn more deeply into Saint John Paul II’s love for God and for man.

This shrine is a response to Saint John Paul II’s call for a new evangelization. It seeks to be a place of genuine encounter with God that leads to a renewal of individuals, families and society.

As the premier site dedicated to Saint John Paul II in the United States, we are entrusted with the mission of developing and promoting popular devotion to him. Many will come here because of an enduring admiration for Saint John Paul II; others will be introduced to him for the first time. The shrine is here to answer the questions: “Who is Saint John Paul II?” “What does it mean to have a devotion to him?”

Some coming developments to help make this happen will be a new church, scheduled to open in 2015; a reliquary chapel; and a permanent 16,000 square foot exhibit on the life and legacy of Saint John Paul II, to be named A Gift of Love: The Life of Saint John Paul II.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Most Important Places

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.

Earlier this year, we reflected on St. John Paul II’s Jubilee Year pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Tomorrow Pope Francis begins his own pilgrimage to the places that "have seen God's interventions." Let us pray for his safety, and that he might successfully witness to the beauty of peace and ecumenism.

St. John Paul II, Pray for Us! 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

St. Cristóbal Magallanes And Companions, Pray For Us!

Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. Cristóbal Magallanes and his companions, all martyrs to persecution in Mexico during the early 20th century. In his homily for their canonization, St. John Paul II said: 

They did not stop courageously exercising their ministry when religious persecution intensified in the beloved land of Mexico, unleashing hatred of the Catholic religion. They all freely and calmly accepted martyrdom as a witness to their faith, explicitly forgiving their persecutors. Faithful to God and to the Catholic faith so deeply rooted in the ecclesial communities which they served by also promoting their material well-being, today they are an example to the whole Church and to Mexican society in particular.

After the harsh trials that the Church endured in Mexico during those turbulent years, today Mexican Christians, encouraged by the witness of these witnesses to the faith, can live in peace and harmony, contributing the wealth of Gospel values to society. The Church grows and advances, since she is the crucible in which many priestly and religious vocations are born, where families are formed according to God's plan, and where young people, a substantial part of the Mexican population, can grow up with the hope of a better future. May the shining example of Cristóbal Magallanes and his companion martyrs help you to make a renewed commitment of fidelity to God, which can continue to transform Mexican society so that justice, fraternity and harmony will prevail among all.

St. Cristóbal Magallanes and companions, please pray for us on this day of your feast, that we might also have the courage to die to ourselves in order to live the Gospel. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Happy Birthday St. John Paul II!

What really matters in life
is that we are loved by Christ
and that we love Him in return.
In comparison to the love of Jesus,
everything else is secondary.
And, without the love of Jesus,
everything is useless.

We here at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine are grateful to the late Holy Father who showed us the love of Jesus. On this day of his birth, we also thank God for the gift of John Paul II’s saintly life.

St. John Paul II, Pray for Us! 

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Way, The Truth, And The Life

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. 
You have faith in God; have faith also in me. 
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.
If there were not,
would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back again and take you to myself,
so that where I am you also may be.
Where I am going you know the way.” 
Thomas said to him, 
“Master, we do not know where you are going;
how can we know the way?” 
Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. 
No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Conscience Of The Manager

In the spirit of St. John Paul II’s social encyclical Centesimus Annus, Pope Francis made remarks last week about the importance of solidarity and subsidiarity. As a challenge to those who work in business, the Holy Father said:

The conscience of the manager is the existential place in which this search takes place. In particular, the Christian entrepreneur must always measure the reality in which he works with the Gospel; and the Gospel requires him to make the human person and the common good his first priority, and to do his part to ensure there are opportunities for work, for dignified work. Naturally this 'enterprise' cannot be implemented in isolation, but rather in collaboration with others who share the same ethical foundation, and seeking to widen the network as far as possible.

Pope Francis encouraged those who work in business to seek nourishment from the Church in order to bring Catholic social principles about in their own field.

St. John Paul II, pray for us, especially all business owners, that they may truly live out the Gospel in the workplace. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Testimony to Divine Mercy

During our Divine Mercy Sunday Mass of Thanksgiving for the Canonization of St. John Paul II, the shrine’s Chaplain Fr. Gregory Gresko gave a beautiful homily that touched on the life and legacy of the late Holy Father. He said:

Wherever he went, Saint John Paul II testified to the truth and power of building the civilization of God’s Love – a society filled with Charity in Truth, founded upon the communion between God and man, and man alongside his neighbor in Christ. John Paul II testified to the real possibility of man’s living in this love, to the degree that man allows himself to be embraced by God’s Divine Mercy and, having been transfigured by this all-merciful Love that pours endlessly from the Heart of Jesus, carries that Divine Mercy into his every relationship – within his family home, throughout his working relationships, in every encounter with his fellow man.

This great testimony of our beloved John Paul II is something that we continue to remember and reflect upon here at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine as we proceed with work on our permanent exhibit celebrating the Holy Father’s life and legacy, slated to open this summer.

For the full text of Fr. Gresko’s homily, see our site.

Saint John Paul II, Pray for Us! 

Friday, May 9, 2014

It Is Jesus

It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

We Are Pilgrims, Not Vagabonds

This past Sunday, Pope Francis visited the Polish national church in Rome. During Mass said in thanksgiving for the canonization of Saint John Paul II, the Holy Father said:

The Polish people know well that, in order to enter into glory, one must needs pass by way of the passion and the cross – and [the Polish people] know this, not because they have studied it, but because they have lived it. 
St. John Paul a worthy son of his earthly homeland, followed this way – he followed it in an exemplary manner.
St. John Paul II, pray for us, that we may not live as vagabonds, but instead follow the way of Christ. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Mary, Mother of Hope

During this month of Mary, Pope Francis asks us to pray that she, the Star of Evangelization, “may guide the Church in proclaiming Christ to all nations.”

Saint John Paul II carried a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother with him throughout his life, his ministry, and his pontificate. His papal motto, totus tuus, was symbolic of his entrusting all to the Mother of God, who he believed to be the surest way to Christ.

In his Mulieris Dignitatem, Saint John Paul II allowed his love for Mary to inspire his reflection on the dignity and vocation of women. If we measure the dignity and vocation of every human being by each one’s capacity to live in union with God, then the Mother of Jesus is “the most complete expression of this dignity and vocation.” He writes:

Mary attains a union with God that exceeds all the expectations of the human spirit. It even exceeds the expectations of all Israel, in particular the daughters of this Chosen People, who, on the basis of the promise, could hope that one of their number would one day become the mother of the Messiah. Who among them, however, could have imagined that the promised Messiah would be “the Son of the Most High?” On the basis of the Old Testament's monotheistic faith such a thing was difficult to imagine. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit, who “overshadowed” her, was Mary able to accept what is “impossible with men, but not with God” (cf. Mk 10: 27).

Mary’s union with God, something that was beyond all thought and expectations, should give us hope in the most difficult task of evangelization. What seems like a losing battle in our culture today becomes already a victory if we think of what was possible for her and what was made possible through her.

So with Pope Francis, let us turn to the Mother of Hope this month, asking for her powerful intercession in the quest of proclaiming the Gospel to all nations. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Whoever Believes In The Son

The one who comes from above is above all.
The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things.
But the one who comes from heaven is above all.
He testifies to what he has seen and heard,
but no one accepts his testimony.
Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy.
For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God.
He does not ration his gift of the Spirit.
The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life,
but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life,
but the wrath of God remains upon him.

St. Joseph the Worker, Pray for Us!