Emmitsburg Council of Churches

John Paul II
In His Words and Others

Father John J. Lombardi

"Sainthood now!" That's what a bunch of signs read in St Peter's Square during the funeral for Pope John Paul II. Some are already calling him "John Paul the Great"." Rightly so. He was, is, a towering, spiritual figure -a man of the poor, the powerful, a priest who changed the world and Church, and, most of all, a figure who was configured to Christ the High Priest, and who calls us, each in our own way, to holiness.

Following are some words from and about him…

On Divine Mercy: "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." Impelled by this vision, the pope suffered and loved in communion with Christ, and that is why the message of his suffering and his silence proved so eloquent and so fruitful. Not be kept hidden because of fear or indifference. It was never meant to be hidden away in private. It has to be put on a stand, so to speak.

On Youth: "Do not be afraid to go out on the streets and into public places like the first apostles, who preached Christ and the good news of salvation in the squares of cities, towns and villages. This is no time to be ashamed of the Gospel (cf. Rom. 1: 16). It is the time to preach it from the rooftops (cf. Mt. 10:27). Do not be afraid to break out of comfortable and routine modes of living in order to take up the challenge of making Christ known in the modern "metropolis." It is you who must "go out into the byroads" (Mt 22:9) and invite everyone you meet to the banquet which God has prepared for his people. The Gospel must be spoken so that people may see its light and give praise to our heavenly Father" (cf. Mt. 5:15-16). -Pope John Paul at Denver Youth Day and Mass-1993.

John Paul on Poverty: "I leave no property behind me of which it is necessary to dispose. As for the everyday objects that were of use to me, I ask they be distributed as seems appropriate. My personal notes are to be burned. I ask that this be attended to by Fr. Stanislaw, whom I thank for his collaboration and help, so prolonged over the years and so understanding. As for all other thanks, I leave them in my heart before God Himself, because it is difficult to express them…"

John Paul on Divine Providence: "On May 13, 1981, the day of the attack on the Pope during the general audience in St. Peter's Square, Divine Providence saved me in a miraculous way from death. The One Who is the Only Lord of life and death Himself prolonged my life, in a certain way He gave it to me again. From that moment it belonged to Him even more. I hope He will help me to recognize up to what point I must continue this service to which I was called on October 16, 1978. I ask him to call me back when He Himself wishes. 'In life and in death we belong to the Lord ... we are the Lord's. (cf. Rm 14, 8). I also hope that, as long as I am called to fulfill the Petrine service in the Church, the Mercy of God will give me the necessary strength for this service." (From his "Last Will and Testament").

The Laity: To perform a Church calling as lay men and women often means giving clear witness to the Church against the customary social habits of ordinary living. It means having to bring the demands of the Church calling, the demands of the family and the demands of one's personal life into harmony. You can achieve this through living more consciously from the springs of your life, by the Holy Spirit, the springs which you received in your baptism and confirmation. Address to Church Lay Workers, West Germany, Nov. 18, 1980

Love: Real love is demanding. I would fail in my mission if I did not clearly tell you so. For it was Jesus-our Jesus Himself-who said, "You are my friends if you do what I command you." (Jn 15:14) Love demands effort and a personal commitment to the will of God. It means discipline and sacrifice, but it also means joy and human fulfillment. Address at Boston, Oct. 1, 1979

Marriage and the Family: The family is set at the very center of common good in its various dimensions, precisely because man is conceived and born in it. Everything possible must be done in order that this human being may be desired, awaited, experienced as a particular, unique and unrepeatable value, right from the beginning, from the moment of his conception. He must feel that he is important, useful, dear and of great value, even if infirmed or handicapped; even dearer in fact for this reason. The Family: Center of love and Life General Audience, Jan. 3, 1979

Morality: One of the key pastoral problems facing us is the widespread misunderstanding of the role of conscience, whereby individual conscience and experience are exalted above or against Church teaching. The young women and men of America, and indeed of the whole Western world, who are often victims of educational theories which propose that they "create" their own values and that "feeling good about themselves" is a primary guiding moral principle, are asking to be led out of this moral confusion. Ad Limina Address to bishops from New England, Sept. 21, 1993

Prayer: If you really wish to follow Christ, if you want your love for Him to grow and last, then you must be faithful to prayer. It is the key to the vitality of your life in Christ. Without prayer, your faith and love will die. If you are constant in daily prayer and in the Sunday celebration of mass, your love for Jesus will increase. And your heart will know deep joy and peace. Speech at New Orleans, Sept. 12, 1987

Prayer: There are several definitions of prayer. But it most often called a talk, a conversation, a colloquy with God. Conversing with someone, not only do we speak but we also listen. Prayer therefore is also listening. It consists of listening to hear the interior voice of grace. Listening to hear the call. And then, as you ask me how the Pope prays, I answer you: like every Christian:-he speaks and he listens. Sometimes, he prays without words, and then he listens all the more. The most important thing is precisely what he "hears". And he also tries to unite prayer with his obligations, his activities, his work, and to unite his work with prayer. In this way, day after day, he tries to carry out his "service", his "ministry", which comes to him from the will of Christ and from the living tradition of the Church. Address to the Institute Catholique, Paris, June 1, 1980

Prayer: The rosary is my favorite prayer. A marvelous prayer! Marvelous in its simplicity and in its depth. In the prayer we repeat many times the words that the Virgin Mary heard from the Archangel, and from her kinswoman Elizabeth. Vatican Address, Oct. 26, 1978

Rich and Poor: The poor of the United States and of the world are your brothers and sisters in Christ. You must never be content to leave them just the crumbs from the feast. You must take of your substance, and not just of your abundance, in order to help them. And you must treat them like guests at your family table. Homily at Yankee Stadium, New York, Oct. 2, 1979

Suffering, Dying and Death: God is on the side of the oppressed. He is beside the parents who cry for their murdered children; He hears the impotent cry of the defenseless and down-trodden; He is in solidarity with women humiliatingly violated; He is near to refugees forced to leave their land and their homes. Do not forget the sufferings of families, of the elderly, widows, the young and children. It is His people who are dying. Homily at the Mass for Sarajevo at Castle Gandolfo, Sept. 8, 1994

Women: The presence and the role of women in the life and mission of the Church, although not linked to the ministerial priesthood, remain absolutely necessary and irreplaceable. As the declaration Inter Insigniores points out, "the Church desires that Christian women should become fully aware of the greatness of their mission: today their role is of capital importance both for the renewal and humanization of society and for the rediscovery by believers of the true face of the Church." Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, 1994

Work: For man and woman thus created and commissioned by God, the ordinary working day has great and wonderful significance. People's ideas, activities and undertakings-however commonplace they may be-are used by the Creator to renew the world, to lead it to salvation, to make it a more perfect instrument of divine glory. Encyclical: On Human Work (Laborem Exercens), 1981

The Sacraments: The Eucharist is also a great call to conversion. We know that it is an invitation to the banquet; that, by nourishing ourselves on the Eucharist, we receive in it the body and blood of Christ, under the appearances of bread and wine. Precisely because of this invitation, the Eucharist is and remains the call to conversion. If we receive it as such a call, such an invitation, it brings forth in us its proper fruits. It transforms our lives. It makes us a "new man", a "new creature" (cf. Gal 6:15, Eph 2:15, 2 Cor 5:17). It helps us not to be "overcome by evil, but to overcome evil by good" (cf. Rom 12:21). The Eucharist helps love to triumph in us- love over hatred, zeal over indifference. Homily in Dublin's Phoenix Park, Sept. 29, 1979

Celibacy: In the light of this principle so many other aspects of the priesthood are clarified: the value of celibacy is proclaimed, not so much as a practical exigency, but as an expression of a perfect offering and of a configuration to Jesus Christ. Ad Limina Address to U.S. Bishops, Sept. 9, 1983

The Arts: Every piece of art, be it religious or secular, be it a painting, a sculpture a poem, or any form of handicraft made by loving skill, is a sign and a symbol of the inscrutable secret of human existence, of man's origin and destiny, of the meaning of his life and work. It speaks to us of the meaning of birth and death, of the greatness of man. Address at Clonmacniose, Ireland, Sept. 30, 1979

Easter: This is the day that the Lord has made for us. The day of a great testimony and a great challenge. The day of God's great response to man's unceasing questions. Questions about man, his origin and his destiny, about the meaning and dimension of his existence. This is the day the Lord has made for us. "Christ, our Paschal Lamb, has been sacrificed" (1 Cor 5:7). "Pasch" means passing. The passing of God through human history. Passing through the inevitability of human death, which from the beginning and until the end is the gate to eternity. Passing through the history of human sin, which in God's heart is man's death: passing to life in God. Easter Message, Mar. 30, 1986

Above quotes from The Wisdom of John Paul II ~ The Pope on Life's Most Vital Questions

A New Pope? I met a frequent pilgrim to the Grotto at the cave the other day and he taught me a lesson. He said that Jesus picked the first pope and that he hopes He picks the next one, and that the cardinals should not put politics or worldly considerations into selection and just pick the right, holiest, Christ-centered man. It sound so, well, unpolitic, spiritual, real-Gospel and au contraire to the media blitzes and, even, good holy Catholics speculating on the once and future Pope.

John Paul II-we love you!

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi