Be Not Afraid

Today the Church remembers Saint John Paul II, Pope as an optional memorial in the calendar. It allows us to recall some of our favorite memories of a Pope that travelled the globe several times over during the years of his Pontificate (1978-2005).

Meeting P. JPIIThe memorable moment for me was actually getting to meet him in one of the Wednesday audiences in Pope Paul VI Hall. Somehow, our community ended up with two tickets to the audience with a group of pilgrims from Poland, and my name was drawn to go. I cannot tell you how jumbled up my mind was, there was so much i wanted to say, yet this was in December of 2004, and it was just months before his passing. His age is telling, and he was noticeably tired. Yet, when I was introduced as an American studying at the Angelicum, he acknowledged me, and pointed out that I was at his Alma Mater. I was grateful to receive his blessing and to have met him. He taught me the meaning of the Gospel he quoted in the homily of his inauguration:

“…when you were young you put on your own belt and walked where you liked; but when you grow old you will stretch out your hands and somebody else will put a belt round you and take you where you would rather not go” (Jn 21:18).

I could see how tired he was, and yet he made a great effort to be present to me and the other pilgrims. I want to remember this in my own days of feeling run down and tired, that I am called to mission, and to serve with all my heart.

What is your favorite memory of Pope John Paul II? Whether in meeting him, hearing him speak, or maybe a quote that struck you.

Let us ask today on his memorial to pray for us, and for the Universal Church, that it may always be a beacon of light and love for a world that is thirsty for truth and does not know it.

Saint John Paul II, pray for us!


5 thoughts on “Be Not Afraid

  1. Remembering Pope John Paul II visit to St. Louis, and His love of our youth. This is a comment from one of our youth who was at Keil Auditorium for Pope John Paul’s visit. “He’s just got this aura about him. He’s just so Christ like. I’ve heard people who have met him say that he makes you feel like you’re the most important person in the world.” “JOHN PAUL II WE LOVE YOU!” The crowd of 20,000 youth roared that slogan. His ‘Holiness’ just filled the whole auditorium

    • Thank you Sandy, for sharing. He did indeed make one feel they were the most important person in the world. We can all learn from this quality of his. God bless you!

  2. I remember Pope John Paul’s visit to Chicago. He passed through the streets of my neighborhood on his way from O’Hare airport to the residence where he would stay during his visit. My neighbors and I lined the streets along his route to wave and cheer. I realized that many neighbors were not even Catholc. I felt so proud to be a Catholic!

  3. Blessed to have been part of the vast crowds that saw him in Baltimore in ’95. There is so much he said and did. so much I learned from his life and teachings so recently. He has a scientific approach to being a Christian and our beloved Church. The Acting Person. Person and Act. Social Justice. The deep meaning of the sacraments. Man of the Century.

  4. Though I wasn’t there to witness it personally, only via video, I remember JP’s visit to Nicaragua, and the way he withstood organized booing and insults. It reminds me of Isaiah’s 50:7 “Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.”

    Likewise, I remember his public reprimand of Fr. Ernesto Cardenal, who ignored the withdrawl of his local Bishop’s permission to hold a public government office for the Sandinista regime.

    But my fondest memory is actually seeing him at his weakest, wanting but not being able to speak. And visibly suffering in the process. Paradoxically, he seemed to me to be at his strongest, without fear to show weakness. It spoke to me volumes about the value of human life, even when you’re close to death an can no longer perform usual work…

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