On April 2005 I remember hearing the sad news that Pope John Paul II had passed away. I remember watching the funeral coverage on TV and thinking how the world had stopped for that moment to remember a man who meant so much to what seemed so many people. People accept me, sure I was sad but that was really it.
During this time this was all I knew of John Paul II:
- · He helped bring an end to communism
- · Someone tried to kill him
- · He was friends with Mother Teresa
- · He visited San Francisco once and said mass at Candlestick park
and finally it was his request to my dear friend and priest Fr. Miles Riley to be in Rome that kept Fr. Miles from officiating my wedding. (Don’t worry I never held a grudge on that, I actually was honored to know that only the Pope could keep Father away from my special day.)
Bottom line was this - He was the Pope of my generation yet I knew very little about him.
When I came to work at Holy Rosary, the youth group was planning a pilgrimage to World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia. I had heard about World Youth Day but had never know the history of this week long celebration of faith and felt that if I was going to take a group of teens I had better know what I was getting into.
That was when I discovered the Pope that would soon become my patron, my go to guy in heaven and my guide in building my marriage and in raising my children.
I discovered John Paul’s love for the youth and his desire to include them in the faith not just as the future of the church but as its present, which was why he initiated World Youth Day in 1984. Oh how I wish I had heard his words of encouragement as a young teen.
John Paul taught me forgiveness as I learned that the story of the attempt on his life didn’t end with the convection of his assailant but with his visit to the prison to offer his forgiveness.
Through his teaching on Theology of the Body, I found the tools I need to raise my children to respect themselves and others when faced with the harsh reality of our oversexed culture.
Finally I received the greatest teaching of all, the call and mission of Jim and me as the patrons of our own Domestic Church. When we spoke our wedding vows we made a promise to raise our children Catholic, but at ages 23 and 25 we really never knew what that meant other than making sure we attended mass and signed our kids up for CCD when the time came. John Paul taught that it goes much further: “By virtue of their ministry of educating, parents are through the witness of their lives the first heralds of the gospel for their children. Furthermore, by praying with their children, by reading the word of God with them and by introducing them...into the Body of Christ—both the Eucharistic and the ecclesial body—they become fully parents, in that they are begetters not only of bodily life, but also of the life that through the Spirit's renewal flows from the cross and resurrection of Christ" (Familiaris Consortio, #39).”
Are we perfect at this? Absolutely not, but I know that as we continue to learn more, allow the words of John Paul to inspire and guide us and to continually pray for his intersession , we will become the family God intends us to be.
May the Blessings of Our Lord Jesus Christ touch your family this Easter Season. John Paul II, pray for us.
Until next time,