Today is the first anniversary of the death of our beloved Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. The man who made more saints than any other pope was acclaimed by the people as a saint after his death (Santo subito!) You can see the website for his Cause of Canonisation here.
Among those he canonised was one Passionist, Saint Innocent Canoura. The Passionists he beatified were Isidore de Loor, Pius Campidelli, Charles Houben (of Mount Argus), Bernard Mary Silvestrelli, Lorenzo Salvi, Nicephoro Diaz and his 25 companions, Eugene Bossilkov and Grimoaldo Santamaria. Charles and Bernard Mary were beatified on the tenth anniversary of his election, 16 October 1988. Pope John Paul wrote a number of letters to the Passionists on the occasion of general chapters or anniversaries of our saints. He also delivered messages at beatifications of Passionists or when visiting shrines such as San Gabriele at Isola del Gran Sasso and the tomb of Saint Gemma Galgani at Lucca. It would be an interesting project to gather all these letters and messages together as the catechesis of John Paul II to the Passionists.
Shortly before being elected pope in 1978, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla wrote an article entitled The Spirituality of the Passion and the Paschal Mystery – A Reflection on Saint Paul of the Cross. A question which was often raised in the period after the Second Vatican Council was whether a Spirituality of the Passion was now obsolete because of the renewed emphasis on the Resurrection of the Lord. After a lengthy treatment of the spirituality of Saint Paul of the Cross, Cardinal Wojtyla goes on to explain a number of relevant texts from the Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes). Here is his conclusion:
The Conciliar texts speak of the Paschal Mystery which contains – united in itself – the Passion and Resurrection of the Saviour. At the same time these texts seek, possibly in a broader way, to bring light on the enigma of human realities and on the duties of man in the modern world and to emphasise in all this all the moral meaning and all the hope that true values can be a reality in the contemporary world. As the Constitution (Gaudium et Spes) has a pastoral character, it is addressed to all men without exception. The subject of this is the world and the Church in the world and for the world. This, of course, does not mean that we simply make the secular position of the world our own. The Constitution constitutes a positive affirmation since it proceeds from the Paschal Mystery. The Paschal Mystery says to men at least this: that the road toward the realisation of true value is linked to effort and fatigue. Now every effort, every fatigue is in some way a participation in the Cross. The true discovery and the realisation of true realities is an anaology of the Resurrection. Truth, justice and order are attained by fatigue and the annihilation of selfishness. The Council, in proposing the Paschal Mystery to all men in this way supposes that truth, justice and order are realities obtainable for all.
All this was known to Saint Paul of the Cross: indeed he knew still more. He knew – as few others – what the price of these values was in the plan and economy of God, how much all that cost which constitutes the full analogy of the Resurrection of man and which enables the Paschal Mystery to produce fruits beneficial to humanity.
This lived knowledge and experience of Saint Paul of the Cross became a benefit for the Church, a benefit not only personal, but belonging to that plan and economy for which the Church exists and for whom it serves. Despite appearances to the contrary, we experience it still in the times of Vatican II, which has opened up the Paschal Mystery so abundantly to men. (Translation by Father Silvan Rouse C.P.)
Tucked away in that text, written just before he became pope, are words which seem to sum up the life and ministry of Pope John Paul II, and in particular his last days: Every effort, every fatigue is in some way a participation in the Cross. The true discovery and the realisation of true realities is an analogy of the Resurrection. Grazie, Santo Padre!
Read Full Post »