Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Pilgrim's Way: Beginning

Here at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, we are devoted to building and preserving a place of encounter with Christ. We invite visitors to participate in liturgical prayer, in the veneration of Saint John Paul II’s relics, and ultimately in the universal call to holiness. According to Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, this Shrine is “a gift of the Knights of Columbus to the Church as a dedicated place of conversion, communion, and solidarity that advances the new evangelization now and in the future.”  

One way we do this is through our permanent exhibit, A Gift of Love: The Life of Saint John Paul II. Through this exhibit, we invite pilgrims to immerse themselves in the life, papacy, and teachings of John Paul II. We have already seen pilgrims walk away with hearts changed by this display of the late Holy Father’s saintly life, and each day it inspires in us a call to live as Christ’s disciples, just as John Paul II did.

As we prepare for the feast of St. John Paul II, we invite you to join us here on Open Wide the Doors as we explore this exhibit in depth. We hope you will walk through each of the nine galleries with us, so that you can get a taste of the spiritual and informational journey that awaits you here.

In this series, we will start where all pilgrims find themselves as they enter into the exhibit: The Beginning. Beginning is a powerful, introductory film played in a large circular theatre designed as a recreation of St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

This eight-minute film sets the stage for a pilgrimage through St. John Paul II’s life and papacy by offering an initial encounter with him and his teachings. The great saint did much to “build the civilization of love,” and this presentation challenges those in the audience to begin reflecting on how they too can “build the civilization of love.”

Once the presentation ends, church bells recorded from the Church of St. Mary’s in John Paul II’s hometown of Wadowice, Poland beckon pilgrims to march forward on their journey through the exhibit.

We cannot replace that experience here, but you can immerse yourself in the life of St. John Paul II as it is presented on our website. As you read through our beloved Holy Father’s life, imagine those church bells ringing. Imagine that you are standing now at the beginning of your life. Can you do something to “build the civilization of love”? What can that be? Ponder this as you continue on this pilgrimage with us.

St. John Paul II, Pray for Us!

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