Thursday, July 30, 2015

St. John Paul II's Response To Secularism

St. John Paul II at World Youth Day in Denver, CO, 1993 (CNS / Joe Rimkus Jr.)

Earlier this month, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson wrote a column on the Church’s response to the challenge of secularization. In the article, he draws from the “prophetic wisdom” of Saint John Paul II on marriage:

St. John Paul II spent his entire life confronting secular atheism — often in its most virulent and violent forms. The claim of these totalitarian systems was essentially the same: The answer to man’s problems will come in the events of social, economic and political change, whether realized by Hitler’s Thousand Year Reich or Marx’s workers’ paradise.

John Paul II responded to the challenge of secularism on many levels. But most notably he responded to this challenge in his prophetic ministry to married couples and families.

See the Knights of Columbus site for more.

Saint John Paul II, Pray for Us!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Assistant Pastor

Baptizing an infant (Adam Bujak)

On this day in 1948, Father Wojtyła arrived at his first parish in Niegowić, Poland. Here the future Pope found himself fifteen miles east of Krakow, at the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady.

Upon reaching the parish boundaries, Saint John Paul II knelt and kissed the ground, which is something that he learned from the story of St. John VianneyWojtyła continued to perform this gesture as he encountered new places throughout his life.

The parishioners he served were poor farmers, and Fr. Wojtyła himself had no electricity or running water. He lived with few and well-worn belongings, which garnered respect from the community he served. Parishioners provided some material things for him, but he was known to give even those things away to others in need. 

As assistant pastor, the great saint was asked to provide religious education to young children. He often celebrated Mass, and like John Vianney, he saw himself as a "prisoner of the confessional." According to papal historian George Weigel, St. John Paul II understood the confessional to be the place "where priests encountered their people in the depths of their humanity, helping the person on the other side of the confessional screen to enter more deeply into the Christian drama of his or her own unique life. If priests stopped doing this, they’d become office managers or bureaucrats" (Witness to Hope, 92).

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Pope's Last World Youth Day

A picture from our permanent exhibit, A Gift of Love.

During this week thirteen years ago, Saint John Paul II led his final World Youth Day in Toronto. The first WYD of the twenty-first century drew 300,000 young people from countries all over the world, and many of the pilgrims were inspired by the aged pontiff—by his witness and his words:

You are young, and the Pope is old, 82 or 83 years of life is not the same as 22 or 23. But the Pope still fully identifies with your hopes and aspirations. Although I have lived through much darkness, under harsh totalitarian regimes, I have seen enough evidence to be unshakably convinced that no difficulty, no fear is so great that it can completely suffocate the hope that springs eternal in the hearts of the young. You are our hope, the young are our hope.

Do not let that hope die! Stake your lives on it! We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father's love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son.

He reminded the young pilgrims of their mission and purpose and encouraged them all to do their part in building the civilization of love.

St. John Paul II passed from his earthy life on April 2, 2005. His World Youth Day tradition still lives on, though. The next is set to take place in Poland.

Will you be there?

Much of the content for this post was taken from a piece published here in 2012.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

St. Kateri Relic To Be Placed In Altar At Shrine

Last month, the Knights of Columbus donated $600,000 for the renovation and upkeep of Our Lady of Martyrs Shrine, the birthplace of St. Kateri Tekakwitha. At the time, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson was presented with a first-class relic of the Native American saint. This relic will be placed in an altar here at the Shrine, as we continue to construct our new worship space.

Kateri Tekakwitha was beatified by Saint John Paul II in 1980, and she was later canonized by Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI. On the occasion of her beatification, John Paul II said:

All of us are inspired by the example of this young woman of faith who died three centuries ago this year. We are all edified by her complete trust in the providence of God, and we are encouraged by her joyful fidelity to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. In a true sense the whole Church, together with you, declares in the words of Saint Paul: “Glory be to him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine, glory be to him from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever.”

The Church has declared to the world that Kateri Tekakwitha is blessed, that she lived a life on earth of exemplary holiness and that she is now a member in heaven of the Communion of Saints who continually intercede with the merciful Father on our behalf.

Her beatification should remind us that we are all called to a life of holiness, for in Baptism God has chosen each one of us “to be holy and spotless and to live through love in his presence.” Holiness of life - union with Christ through prayer and works of charity - is not something reserved to a select few among the members of the Church. It is the vocation of everyone.

My brothers and sisters, may you be inspired and encouraged by the life of Blessed Kateri. Look to her for an example of fidelity; see in her a model of purity and love; turn to her in prayer for assistance. May God bless you as he blessed her. May God bless all the North American Indians of Canada and the United States.

The Church actually celebrated St. Kateri’s feast last week. Let us ask her to pray for us, that we may live out our vocations to holiness as she did.

Friday, July 17, 2015

What The Champions Have Taught

In this regard, we would do well to remember what the great champions of apostolic activity have always taught, namely, that we need to trust in God as if everything depended on him and, at the same time, to work generously as if everything depended on us.  
-Saint John Paul II, Vita Consecrata
Saint John Paul II, in this Year of Consecrated Life, Pray for Us! 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Legacy Of St. John Paul II In Paraguay

During his visit to Paraguay last week, Pope Francis remembered Saint John Paul II’s 1988 trip to the Latin American country.

During this controversial visit to a land ruled by military dictatorship, the sainted pontiff called for a moral cleansing in the country. Using “formal and polite language to be direct,” he said:

Respect for human rights, as is well known, is not a question of political convenience, but rather it derives from the dignity of the person in virtue of his condition as a creature of God called to a transcendent destiny.

Some say that this reminder influenced the downfall of the dictatorship, which happened nine months after St. John Paul II’s visit.

Oh Beloved John Paul II, thank you for your strong witness and example. Please pray for us, that we might also stand for the dignity of the human person in our world today.

Monday, July 13, 2015

He Will Not Lose His Reward

Jesus Preaching called the La Tombe by Rembrandt, 1652

Jesus said to his Apostles:
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth.
I have come to bring not peace but the sword.
For I have come to set
a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one’s enemies will be those of his household.

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,
and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
and whoever does not take up his cross
and follow after me is not worthy of me.
Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

“Whoever receives you receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet
will receive a prophet’s reward,
and whoever receives a righteous man
because he is righteous
will receive a righteous man’s reward.
And whoever gives only a cup of cold water
to one of these little ones to drink
because he is a disciple–
amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”

When Jesus finished giving these commands to his Twelve disciples,
he went away from that place to teach and to preach in their towns.