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April 1, 2005

John Paul II

This is a picture I took of Pope John Paul II at his summer residence during the Wednesday audience in July, 2003. CPPS priests from around the world were present in Rome for the Summer workshop and we attended the Audience together. I have had many opportunities to hear the Holy Father speak. Those his vocal abilities decreased over the years, the power of his words were as strong as ever. I was present at Audiences in 1987, 1998, 2001, and twice in 2003. I have a framed picture taken in 1987 on my wall of him shaking my hand. Of course I have been able to read hundred's of his audiences on line and in various books published. My favorite book is the one known as "Theology of the Body" and I am sure that it will serve as significant resource for many years to come.

In spite of press reports, we are ignorant of the Pope's condition today. This is as it should be. We do not know when he will die. It is probably sooner rather than later. What is clear is that he will be missed. I am sure that we are seeing the passing of a saint. His words, his actions have been enormously significant to believers and unbelievers alike. I am sure that he will be known as John Paul the Great.

Many of us will have events and memories to share. The time will be a great opportunity for us to reflect upon our identity as family, the communion saints, the ministry of Peter and our experience as members of the Body that is Church.

In the meantime this is a time of reflection and prayer.

Lord Jesus, Good Shepherd,
look kindly on John Paul II,
your vicar on earth,
and grant him relief from his sufferings.

To this herald who has bravely proclaimed your Gospel,
give the consolation of your word.
To this faithful guardian of your Church,
send an angel to shield and protect him.
To this Priest who comforted and anointed the sick,
now bring peace in his own time of trial.

Hear the prayers of those who trust in you,
O Risen Lord and Savior,
who are seated at the right hand of the Father,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Here are a few passages from his talks, memories that are significant for us:

Pope John Paul II, October 22, 1986:

"The spirituality of Saint Gaspar ... is truly at the heart of the Christian life: the Most Precious Blood of our Lord has always been the object of a special attention on the part of all the saints: it is the school of sanctity, of justice, of love... Never cease...to delve deeply into this mystery of justice and love: diffuse it into the whole world."

John Paul II, October 19, 1989:

I wholeheartedly bless these efforts, and encourage you to continue them, and to model on the cult of the Precious Blood the spiritual path of your lives and your apostolic activity. Be witnesses of that communion which Christ brought about through the gift of his Blood.

John Paul II, September 14, 2001

Two centuries later, another Pope summons the sons of Saint Gaspar to be no less bold in their decisions and actions - to go where others cannot or will not go and to undertake missions which seem to hold little hope of success. I ask you to continue your efforts to build a civilization of life, seeking the protection of all human life, from the life of the unborn to the life of the aged and infirm, and promoting the dignity of every human person, especially of the weak and of those deprived of their rightful share of the earth's abundance. I urge you to pursue a mission of reconciliation, as you work to rebuild societies torn by civil strife, even bringing together victims and perpetrators of violence in a spirit of forgiveness, so that they may come to know that "it is [the blood of Christ] that is the most powerful source of hope; indeed it is the foundation of the absolute certitude that in God's plan life will be victorious"

Posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. at April 1, 2005 1:47 AM

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