Today is the Feast Day of my absolute favorite Saint, Saint John Paul the Great.
He has been such a great model, teacher, and especially a friend to me as I continue to strive and live out my life as a daughter of Christ.
He has helped form my understanding of suffering, teaching me that in the moments when I face trials and pains in life that I have a great opportunity not to crumble in despair, but to unite myself to the redemptive suffering of our Lord.
He has helped me understand that every life has meaning, and our only response to our fellow man should be that of love, kindness, and especially compassion. And more, because of this, we have a great calling to stand up for the dignity of all men. We must stand up for life, stand up for marriage and family life and work to proclaim the message that every life is a gift from God our Creator. We must give an account to God of how we live our life, either for good or evil–and this we must all do in and through Christ Jesus our Lord.
This lesson on the dignity of man shined through to me especially in the realm of human sexuality. His teachings helped form my understanding of God’s plan for our bodies and for giving and receiving love. He presented the authentic vision of love, where our world only offers us a cheap counterfeit of it. He helped teach me that the human body is not to be used or taken for one’s own pleasure, but to be a gift of man to his/her beloved; a means of expressing the entire man, the person, having its own language which communicates its participation in the eternal plan of love.
He has helped me understand that faith requires work and is demanding. Our world proclaims that we should feel no guilt over taking the easy path to happiness, but he lived his life as a reminder that more often than not, the road to authentic and lasting happiness is paved with much suffering, hard work, and commitment. The gift we receive of God’s love requires that we always direct our thinking, actions, and decisions towards the good. Even when it is hard.
Through his immense love of God, the Eucharist, prayer, and our beautiful Mother Mary, he has pointed me upward. I see in his great love for God—especially through all of the immense suffering he experienced in his life—a great example of someone who sought with every fiber of his being to live out Jesus’ teachings in his Sermon on the Mount.
I am so thankful to be a part of a Church that extends our friendships with one another beyond that of this realm. The communion of Saints is a blessing of friendship; the truest kind, since through their prayerful intercession they bring us closer to our Lord.
Saint John Paul often spoke to the troubles of his time. His wisdom still speaks to our time–perhaps louder than ever before:
“I know that you are troubled by the problems that weigh on society around you and on the whole world. Look at those problems and explore them. Study them and accept them as a challenge. But do it in the life of Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He put all human life in the true dimension of truth and of authentic love. True knowledge and true freedom are in Jesus. Make Jesus part of your hunger for truth and justice, part of your dedication for the well-being of human beings…
[You have the] right to be full of hope and joy; the opportunity to explore the marvelous world of science and knowledge; and above all to give your self to others in generous and joyful service!
[I pray] that the Lord Jesus will reveal himself to each one of you that he will give you the strength to go out and profess that you are Christians! [I pray] that he will show you that he alone can fill your hearts! Accept his freedom, embrace his truth, and be messengers of the certainty that you have been liberated through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. This will be a new experience–a powerful experience–that will generate, through you, a more just society and a better world.”
And one more…
“Do not be afraid to be the saints of the new millennium!”
This year has been an incredible gift to my friendship with Saint John Paul.
-In Rome, I was able to kneel before his tomb in prayer. It was one of the most powerful moments of my life.
-I was able to visit Santo Spiritu Church in Rome and venerate the relic of his blood.
-Last Thursday I was able to venerate a relic of his blood once again. This time was even more special because I was able to bring my sacramentals and children with me to be blessed. Since I am pregnant, the sisters lifted the relic to my belly and blessed my unborn child. I don’t even have the words to express how beautiful a moment that was for me. I wish I had pictures, but I couldn’t bring myself to ruin someone else’s moment by asking them to take pictures of us. Luckily, a friend who goes to adoration the hour before us, was there taking pictures of everything and he caught a picture of Eli venerating the relic, and of the baby being blessed. I don’t have them yet, but once I do I’ll be sure to share!
Once again I wanted to share this video with you. Watch it, and try not to smile! (Or if you are anything like me…try not to cry!!!)
And finally, some of my favorite pictures of this beautiful man:
Today, we will be celebrating his feast day by going for a walk, going to Mass, enjoying a nice polish meal, and gobbling one of Saint John Paul’s favorite desserts, Polish Cream Cake.
Saint John Paul the Great…Pray for us!