On October 22, we celebrated the memorial of Saint John Paul II.
Pope John Paul II holds a special place in my heart. I was born during his papacy and was blessed to have witnessed how he inspired love, forgiveness, hope, unity, and respect among God’s children all over the world.
I participated in the World Youth Day celebration in the Philippines in 1995 and vividly remember how I felt seeing him for the first time as his Popemobile passed by infront of me. I was overcome with so much joy that my tears just started falling and it wasn’t because he was “the Pope, the Successor of Peter” which moved me. Pope John Paul exuded holiness and serenity that I felt even then that I was in the presence of an angel or a saint.
As it turned out, he truly was. Pope John Paul joined our creator on April 2, 2005 and was beatified in Saint Peter’s Square on May 1, 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI, his successor. He was canonized on April 27, 2014.
He is lovingly remembered for having a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary which he says was inspired by Saint Louis de Montfort. Among the many great and beautiful things he has done in service of God and His Church, Pope John Paul II is also known for being a champion for marriage and family.
Here is an excerpt from a homily that Pope John Paul II gave in Malta in 1990:
(2)“Today, Malta’s families must still rely upon Mary’s motherly protection and care, as they face new challenges to the fulfilment of their vital mission to individuals and all society! In God’s plan, the family is where children learn what it means to be responsible individuals and members of a larger community, where they first encounter the virtues of unselfish love and self-sacrifice, and where they first come to understand the mystery of God’s love as it is expressed in the love of their parents. Since the family is the “first and vital cell of society” (Apostolicam Actuositatem, 11), the spiritual health of its families will always be the fundamental measure of a society’s strength. May the families of Malta and Gozo never hesitate to look to Mary, the Mother of the Holy Family of Nazareth and the Mother of all mankind in the order of grace (Cfr. Lumen Gentium, 62), as a sure guide amid life’s challenges and trials!”
(3)“How often, in your families, do you feel powerless in the face of painful and apparently insoluble situations? How many people find it a constant struggle to forgive longstanding grudges, or to overcome deeply-rooted feelings of anger, hostility, jealousy or resentment? How many people desperately long for someone they love to abandon a way of life or a course of action which they know will only lead to frustration and unhappiness? And how frequently do our hearts go out to someone who is caught up in the toils of mental anguish or a bitter grief which knows no consolation? At moments like these, should we not trust in Mary’s loving intercession, confident that the most hopeless of human situations can be transformed by the saving power of Jesus, who in answer to her request turned water into wine, who died on the Cross that we might live forever?”
(4) “Mary’s cooperation in the mystery of God’s plan as it unfolded in the Incarnation of her Son invites all Christian parents and children to think about their own vocation to be cooperators in the mystery of God’s grace at work within their families. Our faith teaches us that each human life, beginning at the moment of conception, is a gift from the Creator and endowed with an infinite value in his eyes. Our faith reminds us that all human beings have been created in God’s own image and likeness and given a vocation and destiny that will find their ultimate fulfilment beyond this earthly existence, in a communion of life and love with the Blessed Trinity. Faith also teaches us that we are united with all other members of the human race in a deep moral solidarity, that our actions and choices have consequences not only for ourselves but for others, and that we shall be judged by the measure of our love and concern for the least of our brothers and sisters.
Is it not in the life of their families that most people come to learn the magnificent truth which lies behind these profound affirmations of Christian faith? Unfortunately, it is easy for individuals and families to be so caught up in the many anxieties of daily life that they fail to stand back, put their lives in spiritual perspective, and rediscover the truth of their own vocation. How tragic this is, for without a spirit of prayer and meditation how can we discern God’s will for us, turn to him in obedience and love, and thus experience the happiness and peace for which he created us?
For this reason, I encourage all of you to pray constantly (Cfr. 1 Thess. 5, 17), especially within your families, in humble thanksgiving for everything that God in his goodness has done for you. Ask him every day to help you to remain faithful to the vocation which he has given you in Christ! Do not be afraid to bring before him all your hopes, your needs and concerns. Parents, pray for your children, that they may grow in the new life which they received in Baptism. Children, pray for your parents, for you too have a part to play in making them holy (Cfr. Gaudium et Spes, 48). Moreover, as members of a greater family, pray in union with Christ’s Body throughout the world for the needs of all humanity: for the sick and the oppressed, for the leaders of nations, for those who labour for justice and peace among peoples, and for those who promote responsible stewardship of the natural environment. Pray for all those who in any way give glory to God by humbly serving the needs of their brothers and sisters. And whether your work is at home, in the fields or at sea, in the factories or in Malta’s growing tourist industry, offer it to the Lord as a pleasing sacrifice in preparation for the coming of his kingdom!
Let’s us pray…..
Prayer to St. John Paul II
Oh, St. John Paul, from the window of heaven, grant us your blessing! Bless the church that you loved and served and guided, courageously leading it along the paths of the world in order to bring Jesus to everyone and everyone to Jesus.
Bless the young, who were your great passion. Help them dream again, help them look up high again to find the light that illuminates the paths of life here on earth.
May you bless families, bless each family! You warned of Satan’s assault against this precious and indispensable divine spark that God lit on earth. St. John Paul, with your prayer, may you protect the family and every life that blossoms from the family.
Pray for the whole world, which is still marked by tensions, wars and injustice. You tackled war by invoking dialogue and planting the seeds of love: pray for us so that we may be tireless sowers of peace.
Oh St. John Paul, from heaven’s window, where we see you next to Mary, send God’s blessing down upon us all. Amen.