Joyful Canonization Countdown: Day 3!

StJohnPaulIIAs we count down to St. John Paul II’s canonization this Sunday, April 27, let’s spread the joy! 

For the next four days, tweet about our new saints-to-be: John Paul II and John XXIII!  Thank God for the many, many ways that these two saints have touched our lives! Tweet why you love St. John Paul using the hashtag: #JPII.  Tweet your gratitude for the marvelous renewal of Vatican II using the hashtag: #JohnXXIII 

Visit the official sites for the canonizations:

  1. http://2popesaints.org/EN/Home (in English)
  2. On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/2popesaints (Italian)
  3. The official, multi-lingual Twitter account: https://twitter.com/2popesaints

Very shortly, you’ll be able to download our new digital magazine that celebrates the wisdom of our new saints: Trusting the Lord When Life’s Not Easy. 

* * *

These last three days before the canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII, I wanted to celebrate not only by praying a special Divine Mercy Novena, but also by sharing three significant ways that St. John Paul touched—and changed—my life.

My first “up close” encounter with Pope John Paul II began was when I was twelve years old, when the Pope came to visit Boston in 1979. I had witnessed his election on TV and was curious about this Pope who was so interesting to watch. Our parish was sending a bus downtown to Boston, and I was hoping to go, as an older brother and sister were going. But my mom wouldn’t let me go because I was “too young.” (My mom had too many of us kids at home to take all of us herself.)

I was so disappointed that I decided that I wouldn’t miss a minute of his visit. So I took over the television—an unheard-of phenomenon in my house, since I’m in the middle of a large family. I borrowed a tape recorder (an old one with the top-loading lid and the built-in microphone). I piled the chair with books, balanced the tape recorder on the top of the pile right next to the TV speaker, and taped the Pope’s every word during his entire U.S. visit.

Out of all his homilies, I loved the one he gave on Boston Common. What I remember best was the passion and joy with which he proclaimed, invited, and encouraged us: “Follow Christ!” Here is the excerpt I remember the best:

The Gospels preserve for us a striking account of a conversation Jesus had with a young man. We read there that the young man put to Christ one of the fundamental questions that youth everywhere ask: “What must I do…?” (Mk 10:17), and he received a precise and penetrating answer. “Then, Jesus looked at him with love and told him… Come and follow me” (Mk 10 :21)…

Everywhere young people are asking important questions—questions on the meaning of life, on the right way to live, on the true scale of values… This questioning tells the world that you, young people, carry within yourselves a special openness with regard to what is good and what is true. And in this openness to truth, to goodness and to beauty, each one of you can find yourself; indeed, in this openness you can all experience in some measure what the young man in the Gospel experienced: “Jesus looked at him with love” (Mk 10 :21).

To each one of you I say therefore: heed the call of Christ when you hear him saying to you: “Follow me!” Walk in my path! Stand by my side! Remain in my love ! There is a choice to be made : a choice for Christ and his way of life, and his commandment of love. (From http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/homilies/1979/documents/hf_jp-ii_hom_19791001_usa-boston_en.html)

Three years later, I entered the high school program of the Daughters of St. Paul to begin my preparation to become a religious sister. Are the two events connected? Definitely, although it has taken me years to recognize just how much our new saint’s spiritual leadership brought me closer to Christ.

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2 thoughts on “Joyful Canonization Countdown: Day 3!

  1. That is just so beautiful! Such a lovely thing as a child to be so inspired by the Holy Spirit as to record the his Holiness’ homilies. I’m right in the middle of two different books that are helping me to understand St. John Paul. One was written by a former Swiss Guard who was able to watch him up close for two years (The Pope & the CEO bit.ly/1eRXCWQ ) and the other is explaining to me the beautiful Theology of the Body, but in everyday life, not just in the bedroom. It is called These Beautiful Bones: An Everyday Theology of the Body by Emily Stimpson http://j.mp/IhyoSD  The sense I’m getting from these is that this man was holiness personified. That people could sense his holiness. He had an aura of sanctity and a beautiful way of transmitting the love of God and the faith that people just fell in love with Christ by watching him. I do so wish I could have met him. I have a rosary that was blessed by him and I feel so fortunate. I feel like he is praying with me when I pray with it. Thanks for sharing your beautiful memories with us.

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    • Thank you for sharing the books you are using to deepen the influence of St. John Paul! In these days, I have been amazed by the way St. John Paul remembered personal details about those whom he encountered years or months before, asking about them at their next meeting. I’m sure he is just as pastoral from heaven, as you pray with that rosary! God bless you.

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