|[L] Pope Francis and [R] Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI at Canonization Mass 27 April 2014|
One wag visually depicted this monumental moment in a homage to the Beatles.
As unprecedented of an occurrence as this “Day of Four Popes” was– Sorry John (sic), it was not bigger than Jesus either.
|Three American Presidents paying respects to Pope John Paul II, April 2005|
saints are important examples to the faithful of how to live a heroic (not perfect) Christian life.
It is about how John Paul II lived his life to reflect the Christian virtue which still touches the faithful today.
|Sr. Marie Simon Pierre|
Sister Marie Simon Pierre, a nun from the order of Little Sisters of the Catholic Motherhood in Aix au Province, France, had suffered with Parkinson’s Disease, like John Paul II, for four years. She intensely prayed along with her community for healing through the intercession
of John Paul II only two months after John Paul II’s death. Doctors determined that Sr. Simon Pierre’s neurological symptoms had disappeared inexplicably. This was deemed John Paul II’s first miracle in 2011.
|Floribeth Mora Diaz|
In April 2011, Floribeth Mora, a 50 year old
Costa Rican grandmother, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain
aneurysm and was sent home to die. But on the day of John Paul II’s
beatification, Mora saw a photograph of John Paul II and the photograph spoke to her saying “Get up” and “Be not afraid”. Remarkably, her aneurysm disappeared that same day. Neuro-surgeons in Rome could not medically explain the disappearance. This miracle satisfied the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in the Vatican.
|Pope John Paul II at Auschwitz (1979)|
The date of John Paul II’s canonization also occurs on National Holocaust Rememberance Day in Israel and during the March of the Living where people gather in in Krakow, Wojtyła’s home for 40 years, to march between the Nazi death camps of Auschwitz to Birkenau to remember the Holocaust. John Paul II had strong connections with the Jewish community in his childhood home off Wadowice, where ¼ of the town’s 8,000 residents were
eradicated for anti-Semitic aspirations of Nazi racial purity. These
events strongly influenced John Paul II’s weltanschauung, since during his
pontificate, John Paul II made great strives to acknowledge the sin of
anti-semitism, especially in the Holocaust, and to strengthen the Church’s
relations with the Jewish Community. In May 1998, Pope St. John Paul II gave a formal apology about Catholic shortcomings in the Holocaust in the proclamation “We Remember: A Reflection of the Shoah”.
tuus ego sum, et omnia mea tua sunt” (“I am all yours, and all that I have is yours”). In Crossing the Threshold of Hope, he explained that the “Totus Tuus” motto expressed the understanding that he “[c]ould not exclude the Lord’s Mother from my life without neglecting the will of God-Trinity”. Polish born composer Henryk Gorecki (1933-2010) wrote the choral
piece “TotusTuus” in honor of Pope John Paul II’s 3rd visit to Poland in 1987.
It was the same message that he brought when he first visited his homeland of Poland in June 1979. The documentary Nine Days That Changed the World showed the power that John Paul II message of “Be not afraid” had with the Polish people to instill the dignity of the individual to live out their faith and, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, renew the face of the Earth and their land.
the Solidarity movement (and eventually became Poland’s President), and Vaclav Havel, the less spiritual leader of a free Czechoslovakia, credit the fall of the Iron Curtain to the message “Be not afraid” embodied in John Paul II’s 1st visit to Poland.
Secret Police with the complicity of the Kremlin. Yet less than two and a half years later, John Paul II met with Mehmet Ali Ağca and forgave the gunman on Christmas, 1983.
|[L] Pope John Paul II shot May 13, 1981, [R] Pope forgives Agca December 25, 1983|
The Third Secret of our Lady of Fatima can be seen as predicting the assassination attempt on the Pope. The John Paul II’s
faith filled connection between his assassination attempt and the visions of Fatima that a bullet from his wounds now tops the golden finery of the Our Lady of Fatima processional statue.
years at rotating international locations. Skeptics certainly questioned in
disengaged youth would care about such events, but the youth loved to rally
around the Pope and open themselves to the new evangelization. The
vitality of World Youth Day tradition has not subsided in the loss of
John Paul II. These large conclaves of young people meeting to renew
their faithful inclinations echoes how John Paul II loved to channel the energy
of crowds in a positive manner to allow people to feel connected in a vibrant
and visceral way.[***]
beatification mass, many feel that the manner in which John Paul II lived with his debilitating disease and how he died with dignity in the Vatican was exemplary. His final words were uttered in Polish “Allow me to depart to the house of the Father”. John Paul II had run the good race and was not afraid to go home to the Father by extending his life through extraordinary medical procedures for terminal illness.
|Bert Thelen, (ex) S.J.|
Bert Thelen, S.J., an eighty year old Jesuit who had spent the last 14 years at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska has petitioned to become laicized. Thelen announced his intention to abandon his vows in an open letter to friends and colleagues that was also published in The National Catholic Reporter. In his apologia, Thelen professed to renounce his ordination as well as leaving the Society of Jesus is to protest what he describes as a patriarchal church which refuses to allow for priestesses and permitting homosexual so called marriage.
Although it is lamentable that it took Thelen 45 years of service to the Church to discern his objections to the Magisterium about the vocation of Holy Orders and Marriage, but the manner which he chose to “self-defrock” was troubling. Rather than showing some semblance of personal integrity by conducting his change in spiritual status in private, Thelen chose to publically score some partisan political points. Hence it is only fair to scrutinize Thelen’s conduct and consequences of the spiritual change of status which he seeks.
Although ordaining women and gay marriage were the polemic flash points for Thelen’s new calling, he also had condemnation of his order of the last 45 years which he connected to his aspiration of religion without pedestals.
So after bad mouthing his brothers, octogenarian Bert Thelen will set off on his new calling. While I know of an 80 year old Jesuit who recently celebrated his 50th year of being a Jesuit and is active being a spiritual director and Christian Life Community facilitator, these wonderful ministries would not pay the bills. It is dubious that the prophetic protestor will earn his keep so he will live off of the largess of the Society of Jesus as provisions need to be made for a laicized priest. That’s rich in irony.
Catholics have the appreciation that our spiritual vocations, namely Marriage and Holy Orders, not only reflect states of living but that sacramentally mark us. This is why Catholics seek to ensure that one is sacramentally understand their vows (and annulments take so long to adjudicate). Similarly, the Church believes that once a priest, always a priest like the order of Melchizedek. But because of political pique, Thelen wants to walk away from his vows and be a useful idiot for those who rail against the Church’s teachings.
Reading the rhetoric in Thelen’s open letter, one wonders if there is much of a loss. With phrases like: “Biocide is even more devastating than genocide” and the “survival and well being of ALL earthlings” Thelen’s views may be more welcomed amongst secular humanists and activist atheists rather than in an ecclesiastical environment. But I am scandalized by Thelen’s assertion that through his new calling, he as lived and died as a Jesuit but now is free from being shackled by a judicial, institutional, clerical, hierarchical system. Thelen’s fickle commitment and sui generis understanding of death to me shows the shallowness of his sacred professions. Moreover, the emphasis of Earthlings (sic) preventing biocide, egalitarianism which obliterates authority and championing secular humanist trends intimates what Thelen holds in deep esteem.
Rather than respecting his polemic philippic, I find this apologia to be a tardy Jesuitical discernment. It is a pity that years of serving the People of God is marred by a cheap political stunt.