New Insights on the Gospels

March for Life 2012

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Church in the service of truth and charity - Bl. John Paul II

The work of building up the Body of Christ has been entrusted to all of us in the Church. Today a vital demand for evangelization certainly exists. This can take a variety of forms. There are many ways of serving the Gospel. Despite scientific and technological progress, which actually reflects a sort of human cooperation in God's creative work, the Faith is challenged and even directly opposed by ideologies and life-styles recognizing neither God nor the moral law.

The fundamental human and Christian values are put in question by criminality, violence and terrorism. Honesty and justice in the work-place and in public life are often violated. All over the world vast sums are being spent on armaments, while millions of poor people struggle for the barest necessities of life. Alcoholism and drug addiction lay a heavy tribute on the individual and on society. The commercial exploitation of sex through pornography is an insult to human dignity and a danger to the future of the young. Family life is being subjected to strong pressures, now that many people mistakenly regard fornication, adultery, divorce and contraception as acceptable. Unborn children are cruelly put to death, and the lives of the aged are gravely endangered by a mentality that would be happy to fling wide the door to euthanasia.

Faced with all this, the Christian faithful should not allow themselves to be discouraged, nor should they conform to the spirit of the world. On the contrary, they are called to recognize the supremacy of God and of his law, to make their voices heard and to unite their efforts on behalf of moral values, to set society an example by their own right conduct and to help the needy. Christians are called to act, in the serene conviction that grace is more powerful than sin, thanks to the victory of the Cross of Christ.

Christ's Cross has bought us freedom from the slavery of sin an,d death. This freedom, this liberation, is so fundamental and all-embracing as to demand a freedom from all the other forms of slavery which are bound up with the introduction of sin into the world.

This liberation insists that we struggle against poverty. And it requires all who belong to Christ to commit themselves to making tenacious efforts to alleviate the sufferings of the poor. Yes, the Church's evangelizing mission includes energetic and sustained action to achieve justice, peace and over-all human development. Not to perform these tasks would be to fail in the work of evangelization; it would be to betray the example set by Christ, who came 'to bring good news to the poor' (Luke 4:18); it would in fact be to reject the results of the Incarnation, in which 'the Word became flesh' (John 2:14).

Like a good mother, the Church loves everyone: children, young people, the aged, workers, the homeless, the starving, the handicapped, those who suffer in spirit, and those who acknowledge their sins and so, through her, experience the healing touch of Christ. To such, but particularly to the poor, the Church offers the Good News of the human and supernatural dignity of the human person. In Christ, we have been raised to the state of children of God.

We are God's children, called to live in dignity in this world and destined to eternal life. The Church is the home of poor and rich alike, 'for there is no favouritism with God' (Galatians 2:61). Yet each community in the Church should make a particular effort to make the poor feel absolutely at home in it.

The Church demonstrates her vitality through the broadness of her charity. There can be no greater disaster for her than for her love to grow weak. The Church should spare no efforts in demonstrating her compassion for the neediest and for all victims of pain, by alleviating their sufferings, by serving them and by helping them to give a salvific meaning to their sufferings.

Pope Begins Series of Catecheses on Christian Prayer

Today, Benedict XVI began a series of catecheses that will focus on the theme of Christian payer.

Addressing the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope explained that, beginning this Wednesday, "drawing near to Sacred Scripture, the great tradition of the Church Fathers, the masters of spirituality, and the liturgy, we will seek to learn how to live even more intensely our relationship with the Lord, as if it were a type of "School of Prayer".

"We know", he said, "that prayer should not be overlooked. It is necessary to learn how to pray, almost learning this art ever anew. Even those who are very advanced in their spiritual lives always feel the need to attend the school of Jesus in order to learn how to truly pray".

In this first catechesis, Benedict XVI offered a few examples of prayer that were present in ancient cultures, "to highlight how, almost always and everywhere, we have turned to God. In ancient Egypt, for example, a blind man asking the divinity to return his sight, testifies to something universally human, which is the pure and simple prayer of someone who is suffering".

"In those sublime, all-time masterpieces of literature that are the Greek tragedies, even today, after 25 centuries, prayers expressing the desire to know God and adore His majesty are read, reflected on, and performed".

The Pope emphasized that "every prayer always expresses the truth of human creatures, who on the one hand experience a certain weakness and indigence and who, therefore, ask assistance from heaven and, on the other, who are endowed with an extraordinary dignity because able to prepare themselves to receive divine Revelation, discovering themselves capable of entering into communion with God".

"Persons of every age pray because they cannot stop asking themselves the meaning of their existence, which remains obscure and discouraging if they are unable to enter into relationship with the mystery of God and His plan for the world. Human life is a mixture of good and evil, of unwarranted suffering and of joy and beauty that, spontaneously and irresistibly, move us to ask God for the inner light and strength to sustain us on earth, revealing a hope that goes beyond the limits of death".

Benedict XVI concluded, asking that the Lord, "at the beginning of this journey in the School of Prayer, enlighten our minds and our hearts so that our relationship with Him in prayer be always more intense, affectionate, and constant. One more time let us ask Him: 'Lord, hear our prayer'".

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Parents’ Duty Is to Lead Their Children to God - Reverend Francis Spirago’s, The Catechism Explained

Parents must instruct their children in God’s law as Tobias did. He taught his son from his infancy to fear God and to abstain from sin (Tob. 1:10), and when Tobias thought his death was near, he gave him godly admonitions (Tob. 4:1–23).

Parents should endeavor to stifle evil propensities in their children, and bring them up in the discipline and correction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). They should teach them to pray, beginning with the Sign of the Cross and the invocation of the Holy Name, and proceeding to the Our Father, Hail Mary and the Creed. The children’s daily prayers should be very short, so as not to become wearisome to them.

Furthermore, parents should set a good example for their children. We all know how much more influential example is than precept, and that what is seen makes a far more lasting impression than what is heard. The father and mother’s actions are the lesson books of their children; how careful should parents therefore be not to let children see them do anything blameworthy, and also to warn the servants not to say or do anything in the children’s presence that they ought not to see or hear. For the imitative faculty is strong in children; they are sure to do what they see their elders do. Let parents remember Our Lord’s words, “[H]e that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:6). Those who neglect this warning will have reason to tremble, for if the soul of the child is lost through the parents’ fault, they will hear God’s voice saying: “I will require his blood at thy hand” (Ezech. 33:8).

In training their children, parents should combine kindness and firmness. Too great severity is a fault; for rebukes and punishments are a medicine, which if administered too frequently or in too strong doses, does more harm than good. It is not by incessant beating with the hammer that the goldsmith fashions the most elegant ornaments. To be always finding fault is a great mistake, but it is no less a one to let the children’s wrongdoing pass unpunished, to pamper and spoil them through ill-regulated affection and false kindness. He that spareth the rod hateth his son (Prov. 13:24). “Give thy son his way, and he shall make thee afraid” (Ecclus.30:9). To allow a child to have his own will in all things is highly reprehensible; he should be firmly, not sternly, compelled to yield.

Monday, May 2, 2011

God Chastises Us in This Life for Our Good, Not for Our Destruction - Saint Alphonsus de Liguori

“For thou art not delighted in our being lost . . . .” (Tobias 3:22)

Let us feel persuaded, my brethren, that there is no one who loves us more than God. Saint Teresa says that God loves us more than we love ourselves. He has loved us from eternity. “Yea I have loved thee with an everlasting love . . . .” (Jer. 31:3.) It is the love He has borne us that has drawn us from nothing, and given us being. “[T]herefore have I drawn thee, taking pity on thee.” ( Jer. 31:3.) Hence, when God chastises us upon the earth, it is not because He wishes to injure us, but because He wishes us well, and loves us. So spoke Sara the wife of Tobias: But this every one is sure of that worshippeth thee, that his life, if it be under trial, shall be crowned: and if it be under tribulation, it shall be delivered: and if it be under correction, it shall be allowed to come to thy mercy. For thou art not delighted in our being lost: because after a storm thou makest a calm, and after tears and weeping thou pourest in joyfulness. (Jer. 3:21–22.)

My brethren, let us convince ourselves of what I have undertaken to show you today, namely, that God does not afflict us in this life for our injury but for our good, in order that we may cease from sin, and by recovering His grace escape eternal punishment.

“[A]nd I will give my fear in their heart, that they may not revolt from me.” (Jer. 32:40.) The Lord says that He infuses His fear into our hearts, in order that He may allow us to triumph over our passion for earthly pleasures, for which, ungrateful that we are, we have left Him. And when sinners have left Him, how does He make them look into themselves, and recover His grace? By putting on the appearance of anger, and chastising them in this life: “[I]n thy anger thou shalt break the people in pieces . . . .” (Ps. 55:8.) Another version, according to Saint Augustine, has: “In thy wrath thou shalt conduct the people.” Saint Augustine inquires, “What is the meaning of His conducting the people in his wrath?” He then replies: “Thou, O Lord, fillest us with tribulations, in order that, being thus afflicted, we may abandon our sins and return to Thee.”

St. Josemaria Escriva - Part 10

A continuation of thoughts from the book "The Way" by St. Josemaria Escriva.

201: What a taste of gall and vinegar, of ash and aloes! What a dry and coated palate! And this physical feeling seems as nothing compared with that other bad taste, the one in your soul.

The fact is that 'more is being asked of you', and you can't bring yourself to give it. Humble yourself Would that bitter taste still remain in your flesh and your spirit if you did all that you could?


202 You are going to punish yourself voluntarily for your weakness and lack of generosity? Very good: but let it be a reasonable penance, imposed as it were, on an enemy who is at the same time your brother?


203 The joy of us poor men, even when it has supernatural motives, always leaves behind some taste of bitterness. What did you expect? Here on earth, suffering is the salt of life.


204 Many who would willingly let themselves be nailed to a Cross before the astonished gaze of a thousand onlookers cannot bear with a christian spirit the pinpricks of each day! Think, then, which is the more heroic.


205 We were reading — you and I — the heroically ordinary life of that man of God. And we saw him fight whole months and years (what 'accounts' he kept in his particular examination!) at breakfast time: today he won, tomorrow he was beaten... He noted: 'Didn't take sugar...; did take sugar!'

May you and I too live our 'sugar tragedy'.


206 The heroic minute. It is the time fixed for getting up. Without hesitation: a supernatural reflection and... up! The heroic minute: here you have a mortification that strengthens your will and does no harm to your body.


207 Give thanks, as for a very special favour, for that holy abhorrence you feel for yourself.

208 Let us bless pain. Love pain. Sanctify pain... Glorify pain!


209 A whole programme for a good course in the 'subject' of suffering is given to us by the Apostle: spe gaudentes — rejoicing in hope, In tribulatione patientes — patient in troubles, orationi instantes — persevering in prayer.


210 Atonement: this is the path that leads to Life.


211 In the deep pit opened by your humility, let penance bury your negligences, offences and sins. Just as the gardener buries rotten fruit, dried twigs and fallen leaves at the foot of the very trees which produced them. And so what was useless, what was even harmful, can make a real contribution to a new fruitfulness.

From the falls learn to draw strength: from death, life.


212 That Christ you see is not Jesus. It is only the pitiful image that your blurred eyes are able to form... — Purify yourself. Clarify your sight with humility and penance. Then... the pure light of Love will not be denied you. And you will have perfect vision. The image you see will be really his: his!


213 Jesus suffers to carry out the will of the Father. And you, who also want to carry out the most holy Will of God, following the steps of the Master, can you complain if you meet suffering on your way?


214 Say to your body: I would rather keep you in slavery than be myself a slave of yours.


215 How afraid people are of atonement! If all that they do for appearance's sake, to please the world, were done with purified intention for God... what saints many would be!


216 You are crying? Don't be ashamed of it. Yes, cry: men also cry like you, when they are alone and before God. Each night, says King David, I soak my bed with tears. With those tears, those burning, manly tears, you can purify your past and supernaturalize your present life.


217 I want you to be happy on earth. And you will not be happy if you don't lose that fear of suffering. For, as long as we are 'wayfarers', it is precisely in suffering that our happiness lies.


218 How beautiful it is to give up this life for that Life!


219 If you realize that those sufferings — of body or soul — mean purification and merit, bless them.


220 'God give you health.' — Doesn't this wish for mere physical well-being, with which some beggars demand or acknowledge alms, leave a bad taste in your mouth?


221 If we are generous in voluntary atonement Jesus will fill us with grace to love the trials he sends us.


222 Let your will exact from your senses, by means of atonement, what your other faculties deny your will in prayer.


223 Of how little value is penance without constant self— denial!


224 You are afraid of penance?... Of penance, which will help you to obtain Life everlasting. And yet, in order to preserve this poor present life, don't you see how men will submit to all the cruel torture of a surgical operation?


225 Your greatest enemy is your own self.


226 Treat your body with charity, but with no more charity than you would show towards a treacherous enemy.


227 If you realize that your body is your enemy, and an enemy of God's glory, since it is an enemy of your sanctification, why do you treat it so softly?


228 'Have a good time to-night', they said, as usual. And the comment of a soul very close to God was, 'What a limited wish!'


229 With you, Jesus, what joy in suffering, what light in darkness!


230 You are suffering! Listen: 'His' Heart is not smaller than ours. — You are suffering? There is good in suffering.


231 A strict fast is a penance most pleasing to God. But, what with one thing and another, we have become a bit too easy-going. There is no objection — on the contrary — if you, with the approval of your Director, fast frequently.


232 Motives for penance? — Atonement, reparation, petition, thanksgiving: means to progress: for you, for me, for others, for your family, for your country, for the Church... And a thousand motives more.


233 Don't do more penance than your Director allows you.


234 How we ennoble suffering, giving it its right place (atonement) in the spiritual order!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bl. Pope John Paul II - Apostle of Divine Mercy

Benedict XVI's choice of May 1 for the beatification of his predecessor is itself one of the richest symbols in today's celebrations.

This year's feast of Divine Mercy -- coinciding with the end of the Easter Octave -- lands today, since Easter was so late this year. And thus the feast falls on the first day of Mary's month.

On various occasions, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger proposed that the fundamental element of Pope John Paul II's legacy in the Church is his understanding of Divine Mercy as the factor limiting human evil.
Celebrating the Polish Pope's funeral, Cardinal Ratzinger reflected that the Holy Father "interpreted for us the paschal mystery as a mystery of divine mercy. In his last book, he wrote: The limit imposed upon evil 'is ultimately Divine Mercy' (Memory and Identity, pp. 60-61). And reflecting on the assassination attempt, he said: 'In sacrificing himself for us all, Christ gave a new meaning to suffering, opening up a new dimension, a new order: the order of love ... It is this suffering which burns and consumes evil with the flame of love and draws forth even from sin a great flowering of good' (pp. 189-190)."

The cardinal added: "Divine Mercy: the Holy Father found the purest reflection of God’s mercy in the Mother of God. He, who at an early age had lost his own mother, loved his divine mother all the more. He heard the words of the crucified Lord as addressed personally to him: 'Behold your Mother.' And so he did as the beloved disciple did: 'he took her into his own home' (eis ta idia: Jn 19:27) – Totus tuus. And from the mother he learned to conform himself to Christ."

The mystery of evil

Karol Wojtyła suffered the two totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, Communism and Nazism, and asked how God could permit such terrible atrocities.
But while many would point to these evils to deny God's existence or negate his goodness, John Paul II used them to reflect on what God teaches by permitting man's free will to bring about tragedy. And he found an answer in Divine Mercy, as presented in the writings of the Polish mystic, St. Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938).

St. Augustine explains that God never causes evil, but permits it. In creating man with liberty, God accepted the existence of evil. Would it have been better for God not to create man? Or to create him without liberty? No. But then, the Polish youth who would one day take St. Peter's throne asked himself: What can limit evil so that it doesn't have the last word?

John Paul II understood that Divine Mercy is this limit to evil. His mercy does not imply that everyone is saved automatically, thereby negating sin, but rather that God pardons every sinner who allows himself to be pardoned.

And if pardon is the limit to evil (how many lessons could be taken from this truth to overcome war!), then liberty in a sense conditions Divine Mercy. God in some way took a great risk in creating man with freedom. He risked that his love would be rejected and that man would be able to negate the truth of his liberty and kill and abuse his brother. But in answer, God paid the most terrible price: the sacrifice of his only Son. We are the risk of God. But a risk that is overcome with the infinite power of Divine Mercy.

A posthumous message

John Paul II prepared a message for Divine Mercy Sunday of 2005, which he never delivered, since on the eve of the feast he was called to the Father's House.

The text was read at the end of the Mass celebrated that day for the repose of his soul.
"As a gift to humanity, which sometimes seems bewildered and overwhelmed by the power of evil, selfishness and fear, the Risen Lord offers his love that pardons, reconciles and reopens hearts to love. It is a love that converts hearts and gives peace. How much the world needs to understand and accept Divine Mercy," John Paul II had written.

Today's beatification ceremony began with a remembrance of the Polish Pontiff's devotion to God's Mercy. Thousands of pilgrims packed into St. Peter's Square and overflowing through the streets of Rome prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, the devotion promoted by St. Faustina.
The image of Divine Mercy was displayed in front of the Basilica until the beatification Mass began.

Pope John Paul II Helped Christians combat fear

Pope John Paul II helped Christians to be unafraid of professing their faith and living the truth, Benedict XVI noted at his predecessor's beatification Mass today.

The Pontiff addressed over a million pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square and surrounding areas for the ceremony in honor of the Polish Pope, who often urged Christians, "Do not be afraid!"
Benedict XVI observed, "By his witness of faith, love and apostolic courage, accompanied by great human charisma, this exemplary son of Poland helped believers throughout the world not to be afraid to be called Christian, to belong to the Church, to speak of the Gospel."

The Pope added, "He helped us not to fear the truth, because truth is the guarantee of liberty."
He affirmed that John Paul II "gave us the strength to believe in Christ, because Christ is Redemptor hominis, the Redeemer of man."

Benedict XVI noted that what his predecessor asked of everyone, "he was himself the first to do: Society, culture, political and economic systems he opened up to Christ, turning back with the strength of a titan -- a strength which came to him from God -- a tide which appeared irreversible."
He observed that Karol Wojtyła, now Blessed John Paul II, taught that "man is the way of the Church, and Christ is the way of man."

"With this message," the Pontiff said, "which is the great legacy of the Second Vatican Council and of its helmsman, the Servant of God Pope Paul VI, John Paul II led the people of God across the threshold of the Third Millennium, which thanks to Christ he was able to call 'the threshold of hope.'"
"He restored to Christianity its true face as a religion of hope, to be lived in history in an 'advent' spirit, in a personal and communitarian existence directed to Christ, the fullness of humanity and the fulfillment of all our longings for justice and peace," the Holy Father stated.
Marian devotion

He noted, "All of us rejoice that the beatification of John Paul II takes place on this first day of the month of Mary."

The Pope continued, "All of us, as members of the people of God -- bishops, priests, deacons, laity, men and women religious -- are making our pilgrim way to the heavenly homeland where the Virgin Mary has preceded us, associated as she was in a unique and perfect way to the mystery of Christ and the Church."

Benedict XVI affirmed that his predecessor was "fully aware" that "the Mother of the Redeemer is held up as an image and model of holiness for every Christian and for the entire Church."
Immense grace

He recalled: "Six years ago we gathered in this square to celebrate the funeral of Pope John Paul II.
"Our grief at his loss was deep, but even greater was our sense of an immense grace which embraced Rome and the whole world: a grace which was in some way the fruit of my beloved predecessor's entire life, and especially of his witness in suffering."

On a personal note, the Pope said, "my own service was sustained by his spiritual depth and by the richness of his insights."

The Pontiff continued: "His example of prayer continually impressed and edified me: He remained deeply united to God even amid the many demands of his ministry.
"Then too, there was his witness in suffering: The Lord gradually stripped him of everything, yet he remained ever a 'rock,' as Christ desired.
"His profound humility, grounded in close union with Christ, enabled him to continue to lead the Church and to give to the world a message which became all the more eloquent as his physical strength declined."

Thus, "with all due respect for the Church's canonical norms, I wanted his cause of beatification to move forward with reasonable haste," the Holy Father stated. "And now the longed-for day has come; it came quickly because this is what was pleasing to the Lord: John Paul II is blessed!"

Pope John Paul II Beatification Homily

Pope John Paul II Beatification Homily
Homily, Pope Benedict XVI, Rome 1 May 2011

During the Mass in which Pope Benedict XVI beatified his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, he gave the following homily.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Six years ago we gathered in this Square to celebrate the funeral of Pope John Paul II. Our grief at his loss was deep, but even greater was our sense of an immense grace which embraced Rome and the whole world: a grace which was in some way the fruit of my beloved predecessor’s entire life, and especially of his witness in suffering. Even then we perceived the fragrance of his sanctity, and in any number of ways God’s People showed their veneration for him. For this reason, with all due respect for the Church’s canonical norms, I wanted his cause of beatification to move forward with reasonable haste. And now the longed-for day has come; it came quickly because this is what was pleasing to the Lord: John Paul II is blessed!

I would like to offer a cordial greeting to all of you who on this happy occasion have come in such great numbers to Rome from all over the world – cardinals, patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches, brother bishops and priests, official delegations, ambassadors and civil authorities, consecrated men and women and lay faithful, and I extend that greeting to all those who join us by radio and television. Today is the Second Sunday of Easter, which Blessed John Paul II entitled Divine Mercy Sunday. The date was chosen for today’s celebration because, in God’s providence, my predecessor died on the vigil of this feast. Today is also the first day of May, Mary’s month, and the liturgical memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker. All these elements serve to enrich our prayer, they help us in our pilgrimage through time and space; but in heaven a very different celebration is taking place among the angels and saints! Even so, God is but one, and one too is Christ the Lord, who like a bridge joins earth to heaven. At this moment we feel closer than ever, sharing as it were in the liturgy of heaven.

"Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe" (Jn 20:29). In today’s Gospel Jesus proclaims this beatitude: the beatitude of faith. For us, it is particularly striking because we are gathered to celebrate a beatification, but even more so because today the one proclaimed blessed is a Pope, a Successor of Peter, one who was called to confirm his brethren in the faith. John Paul II is blessed because of his faith, a strong, generous and apostolic faith. We think at once of another beatitude: "Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven" (Mt 16:17). What did our heavenly Father reveal to Simon? That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Because of this faith, Simon becomes Peter, the rock on which Jesus can build his Church. The eternal beatitude of John Paul II, which today the Church rejoices to proclaim, is wholly contained in these sayings of Jesus: "Blessed are you, Simon" and "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe!" It is the beatitude of faith, which John Paul II also received as a gift from God the Father for the building up of Christ’s Church.

Our thoughts turn to yet another beatitude, one which appears in the Gospel before all others. It is the beatitude of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer. Mary, who had just conceived Jesus, was told by Saint Elizabeth: "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord" (Lk 1:45). The beatitude of faith has its model in Mary, and all of us rejoice that the beatification of John Paul II takes place on this first day of the month of Mary, beneath the maternal gaze of the one who by her faith sustained the faith of the Apostles and constantly sustains the faith of their successors, especially those called to occupy the Chair of Peter. Mary does not appear in the accounts of Christ’s resurrection, yet hers is, as it were, a continual, hidden presence: she is the Mother to whom Jesus entrusted each of his disciples and the entire community. In particular we can see how Saint John and Saint Luke record the powerful, maternal presence of Mary in the passages preceding those read in today’s Gospel and first reading. In the account of Jesus’ death, Mary appears at the foot of the cross (Jn 19:25), and at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles she is seen in the midst of the disciples gathered in prayer in the Upper Room (Acts 1:14). Today’s second reading also speaks to us of faith. Saint Peter himself, filled with spiritual enthusiasm, points out to the newly-baptized the reason for their hope and their joy. I like to think how in this passage, at the beginning of his First Letter, Peter does not use language of exhortation; instead, he states a fact. He writes: "you rejoice", and he adds: "you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls" (1 Pet 1:6, 8-9). All these verbs are in the indicative, because a new reality has come about in Christ’s resurrection, a reality to which faith opens the door. "This is the Lord’s doing", says the Psalm (118:23), and "it is marvelous in our eyes", the eyes of faith.

Dear brothers and sisters, today our eyes behold, in the full spiritual light of the risen Christ, the beloved and revered figure of John Paul II. Today his name is added to the host of those whom he proclaimed saints and blesseds during the almost twenty-seven years of his pontificate, thereby forcefully emphasizing the universal vocation to the heights of the Christian life, to holiness, taught by the conciliar Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium. All of us, as members of the people of God – bishops, priests, deacons, laity, men and women religious – are making our pilgrim way to the heavenly homeland where the Virgin Mary has preceded us, associated as she was in a unique and perfect way to the mystery of Christ and the Church. Karol Wojtyła took part in the Second Vatican Council, first as an auxiliary Bishop and then as Archbishop of Kraków. He was fully aware that the Council’s decision to devote the last chapter of its Constitution on the Church to Mary meant that the Mother of the Redeemer is held up as an image and model of holiness for every Christian and for the entire Church. This was the theological vision which Blessed John Paul II discovered as a young man and subsequently maintained and deepened throughout his life. A vision which is expressed in the scriptural image of the crucified Christ with Mary, his Mother, at his side. This icon from the Gospel of John (19:25-27) was taken up in the episcopal and later the papal coat-of-arms of Karol Wojtyła: a golden cross with the letter "M" on the lower right and the motto "Totus tuus", drawn from the well-known words of Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort in which Karol Wojtyła found a guiding light for his life: "Totus tuus ego sum et omnia mea tua sunt. Accipio te in mea omnia. Praebe mihi cor tuum, Maria – I belong entirely to you, and all that I have is yours. I take you for my all. O Mary, give me your heart" (Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, 266).

In his Testament, the new Blessed wrote: "When, on 16 October 1978, the Conclave of Cardinals chose John Paul II, the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, said to me: ‘The task of the new Pope will be to lead the Church into the Third Millennium’". And the Pope added: "I would like once again to express my gratitude to the Holy Spirit for the great gift of the Second Vatican Council, to which, together with the whole Church – and especially with the whole episcopate – I feel indebted. I am convinced that it will long be granted to the new generations to draw from the treasures that this Council of the twentieth century has lavished upon us. As a Bishop who took part in the Council from the first to the last day, I desire to entrust this great patrimony to all who are and will be called in the future to put it into practice. For my part, I thank the Eternal Shepherd, who has enabled me to serve this very great cause in the course of all the years of my Pontificate". And what is this "cause"? It is the same one that John Paul II presented during his first solemn Mass in Saint Peter’s Square in the unforgettable words: "Do not be afraid! Open, open wide the doors to Christ!" What the newly-elected Pope asked of everyone, he was himself the first to do: society, culture, political and economic systems he opened up to Christ, turning back with the strength of a titan – a strength which came to him from God – a tide which appeared irreversible. By his witness of faith, love and apostolic courage, accompanied by great human charisma, this exemplary son of Poland helped believers throughout the world not to be afraid to be called Christian, to belong to the Church, to speak of the Gospel. In a word: he helped us not to fear the truth, because truth is the guarantee of liberty. To put it even more succinctly: he gave us the strength to believe in Christ, because Christ is Redemptor hominis, the Redeemer of man. This was the theme of his first encyclical, and the thread which runs though all the others.

When Karol Wojtyła ascended to the throne of Peter, he brought with him a deep understanding of the difference between Marxism and Christianity, based on their respective visions of man. This was his message: man is the way of the Church, and Christ is the way of man. With this message, which is the great legacy of the Second Vatican Council and of its "helmsman", the Servant of God Pope Paul VI, John Paul II led the People of God across the threshold of the Third Millennium, which thanks to Christ he was able to call "the threshold of hope". Throughout the long journey of preparation for the great Jubilee he directed Christianity once again to the future, the future of God, which transcends history while nonetheless directly affecting it. He rightly reclaimed for Christianity that impulse of hope which had in some sense faltered before Marxism and the ideology of progress. He restored to Christianity its true face as a religion of hope, to be lived in history in an "Advent" spirit, in a personal and communitarian existence directed to Christ, the fullness of humanity and the fulfillment of all our longings for justice and peace.
Finally, on a more personal note, I would like to thank God for the gift of having worked for many years with Blessed Pope John Paul II. I had known him earlier and had esteemed him, but for twenty-three years, beginning in 1982 after he called me to Rome to be Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I was at his side and came to revere him all the more. My own service was sustained by his spiritual depth and by the richness of his insights. His example of prayer continually impressed and edified me: he remained deeply united to God even amid the many demands of his ministry. Then too, there was his witness in suffering: the Lord gradually stripped him of everything, yet he remained ever a "rock", as Christ desired. His profound humility, grounded in close union with Christ, enabled him to continue to lead the Church and to give to the world a message which became all the more eloquent as his physical strength declined. In this way he lived out in an extraordinary way the vocation of every priest and bishop to become completely one with Jesus, whom he daily receives and offers in the Eucharist.
Blessed are you, beloved Pope John Paul II, because you believed! Continue, we implore you, to sustain from heaven the faith of God’s people. Amen.

Prayer Vigil reveals unknown facts about Pope John Paul II

The 200,000 participants in tonight's vigil leading up to the beatification of Pope John Paul II discovered a few new things about the Polish Pope, thanks to the testimonies of some of his closest collaborators.
The encounter, held at Rome's Circus Maximus, also featured the testimony of Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, religious of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of Catholic Motherhood, regarding her miraculous cure from Parkinson's that she attributes to the intercession of Pope John Paul II.
"John Paul II is looking upon us from heaven and smiling," the religious said at the vigil.
After detailing her illness and cure, the nun expressed her amazement that not only was she cured, but that she was able to be a part of the beatification of John Paul II, and give her testimony at the prayer vigil.
Navarro-Valls: Weekly confession
Joaquín Navarro-Valls, who was John Paul II's spokesman for 21 years, explained that to understand the soon-to-be beatified Pontiff, one must first understand Divine Mercy.
The former spokesman revealed that John Paul II "confessed every week" because "he knew that we, human beings, cannot make ourselves beautiful and pure on our own. We need the help that comes from God through the sacraments."
"For a Christian, to pray is a duty that is the result of a conviction: for him it was a need, he couldn't live without prayer," Navarro Valls added. "To see him pray was to see a person who was in conversation with God."
Navarro-Valls recalled that he would see John Paul II in his private chapel, kneeling, with little pieces of paper that he would read, and then he would pray a long time. These were texts of the numerous letters from people from all over the world that would write to him, and that he brought with him to the chapel.
Cardinal Dziwisz: The two times he got angry
Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the archbishop of Krakow, who was John Paul II's personal secretary for more than 40 years, spoke of the two loves of the Polish Pontiff: "God and mankind, and in particular the youth."
He also revealed the two occasions he saw John Paul II "really angry," but with "good reason."
"In Agrigento, [Sicily], he raised his voice against the mafia, and we were all a little scared," he said.
"And the other occasion was during the Angelus, before the Iraq War, when he said with force: no to war, war doesn't resolve anything. I have seen war. I know what war is."
"He sent a cardinal to Washington, [D.C], and another to Baghdad, to say: do not seek to resolve these problems with war. And he was right. The war is still ongoing and it hasn't resolved anything."
At the end, Cardinal Dziwisz revealed that the greatest satisfaction of his life was seeing how people all over the world accepted John Paul II. He said that at the beginning of the pontificate, he was called "the Polish Pope," but toward the end even non-Christians called him "Our Pope."
"And tomorrow," the cardinal added, "we will call him Blessed John Paul II."
World rosary
During the second part of the vigil, the mysteries John Paul II added to the rosary -- the luminous mysteries -- were prayed, with a simultaneous video-connection to five Marian shrines: in Krakow, Tanzania, Lebanon, Mexico, and Fatima.
Each of the mysteries were tied to a prayer intention of importance to John Paul II: at the sanctuary of Lagiewniki in Krakow, Poland, the intention was for the youth; at the sanctuary of Kawekamo, Bugando, Tanzania, the intention was for the family; at the sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Mexico, the intention was for hope and peace among nations; at the sanctuary of Fatima, the intention was for the Church.
The vigil ended at 10:30 p.m. Rome time with the final prayer and apostolic blessing, which was led by Benedict XVI, who participated in the event through a satellite hook-up.

http://www.zenit.org/article-32438?l=english