Friday, August 28, 2015

The Pilgrim's Way: Light In Darkness

As we prepare for the feast of Saint John Paul II, we invite you to continue on this pilgrimage through our permanent exhibit, A Gift of Love: The Life of Saint John Paul II. 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 at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine.

This week we will explore the second gallery: Light in Darkness. In this part of the exhibit, pilgrims learn more about John Paul II's birth, his childhood, and his vocation to the priesthood.

Born Karol Wojtyła on May 18, 1920, the great saint was born in Wadowice, Poland to a strong Catholic family. From an early age, Karol was well-formed in the faith, and this faith became a light for him during the darker times in his life.

It didn’t take long for this light to be confronted by great darkness. Karol was born close to the end of WWI, and he reached adulthood in Nazi-occupied Poland. Following the defeat of the Nazi’s, he lived in a Poland ruled by the totalitarian and atheistic Soviet Union. Karol also confronted dark times on a personal level. His mother passed away when he was very young, and he lost all of his family by age 20.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Our Lady of Czestochowa, Pray for Us!

Cardinal Dolan stops at an icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa while touring through our permanent exhibit last year. 

Faithful Daughter of the Eternal Father, Temple of the Love that embraces heaven and earth, I entrust to you the service of the Church in the world, a world which so needs love. Mother of God, Mother of the only-begotten Son who gave us as the principle of life the new commandment of love, help us to become builders of a united world, in which peace triumphs over war, and the civilization of death is replaced by love for life.

…Mother of Unity and Peace, strengthen the bond of communion within the Church of your Son, enliven ecumenical efforts so that all Christians, by the power of the Holy Spirit, may become one family of sisters and brothers of Jesus Christ, the one Savior of the world yesterday, today and for ever (cf. Heb. 13:8).

Virgin Mother of God, help us to enter the Third Millennium of Christianity through the holy door of faith, hope and love.

O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary, accept our trust, strengthen it in our hearts and present it before the face of the one God in the Holy Trinity. Amen.

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.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Fountain Of Life And Holiness

Indeed, it is by the command of Christ himself, her Master, that the Church unceasingly celebrates the Eucharist, finding in it the “fountain of life and holiness,” the efficacious sign of grace and reconciliation with God, and the pledge of eternal life. The Church lives his mystery, draws unwearyingly from it and continually seeks ways of bringing this mystery of her Master and Lord to humanity—to the peoples, the nations, the succeeding generations, and every individual human being—as if she were ever repeating, as the Apostle did: “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
-Saint John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis

Friday, August 14, 2015

Death Out Of Love

Christ on the Cross, Eugene Delacroix, 1853

Today the Church celebrates the feast of Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe, who was canonized by Saint John Paul II in 1982.

A Polish Franciscan with a deep devotion to Mary, Kolbe gave his own life for a fellow prisoner at the Auschwitz extermination camp, taking on the man's punishment of death by starvation because he had a wife and children. Not only this, but the saint also gave life to others in the camp, reminding them of their dignity as persons and that hope was not yet lost. Kolbe is particularly remembered for leading the nine others condemned to starvation in Marian hymns and the Rosary as they awaited their death.

St. John Paul II had a deep devotion to Maximilian Kolbe, and his sacrifice in the heart of darkness gave the late Holy Father much hope as he discerned his own vocation in war torn Poland. Kolbe’s Christ-like gift of self stood as a model of priesthood for him, and the Franciscan's hope in the midst of hatred inspired a renewed respect for the dignity of the human person in a place and a time in which it seemed to have been forgotten.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

So Much Depends On The Young

Saint John Paul II greets young people at World Youth Day Denver, 1993 (CNS Photo / Joe Rimkus Jr.)

Young people from every corner of the world, in ardent prayer you have opened your hearts to the truth of Christ’s promise of new Life. Through the Sacraments, especially Penance and the Eucharist, and by means of the unity and friendship created among so many, you have had a real and transforming experience of the new Life which only Christ can give. You, young pilgrims, have also shown that you understand that Christ’s gift of Life is not for you alone. You have become more conscious of your vocation and mission in the Church and in the world. For me, our meeting has been a deep and moving experience of your faith in Christ, and I make my own the words of Saint Paul: “I have great confidence in you, I have great pride in you; I am filled with encouragement, I am overflowing with joy” (2 Cor 7:4).

These are not words of empty praise. I am confident that you have grasped the scale of the challenge that lies before you, and that you will have the wisdom and courage to meet that challenge. So much depends on you.

-Saint John Paul II, World Youth Day Denver, 1993

Monday, August 10, 2015

Prayer For The Jubilee Of Mercy

Saint John Paul II in one of Mother Teresa's homes, 1986 (CNS photo / Artuo Mari)
Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father,
and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him.
Show us your face and we will be saved.
Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money; the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things; made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured Paradise to the repentant thief.
Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman:
“If you knew the gift of God!”

You are the visible face of the invisible Father,
of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy: let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified.
You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error: let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.

Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing,
so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord, and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed, and restore sight to the blind.

We ask this of you, Lord Jesus, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy; you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.

-Pope Francis

Please join us in saying this prayer as the Church prepares for the Jubilee of Mercy.