Today on Perspectives, the Salt + Light team gives us an update on the preparations for Sunday’s dual canonization from Rome.
I once had a teacher who knew exactly how to keep her students focused during the day. She promised us that if we were very good, she would read us a few pages from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. She would only have to give the gentlest reminder that we would not have time for The Hobbit and there would be a swift end to our cavorting and carrying-on. As you can imagine, she had us eating out of her hand.
My love for a great story has continued, and I’ve found that the best stories are always those “based on a true story”. At Salt + Light we have a storytelling ritual, you could say, and Fr. Thomas Rosica is one of the best storytellers I know. Whenever Fr. Rosica returns to the office from a trip, he gathers everyone to celebrate Mass, and following that it’s time for our meeting around the conference table. After we have prayed and he has given us all a little token from his travels -usually a prayer card, a spiritual booklet, or some chocolates- he settles down to tell us about everything that happened. As I said, Fr. Tom Rosica is a masterful storyteller. By the time the meeting has concluded, we feel as if we have lived through it all – the highs and the lows: the lost luggage, the inevitable poor internet connection fiascos, the exceptional encounters, the developments, and the messages of encouragement.
My favourite stories, however, are the ones where he tells us of his encounters with Pope John Paul II. These stories are an incredible source of insight. Sure, there’s something to be learned from reading great encyclicals, but to know a person firsthand and to get a sense of who he was and why he did what he did – this can only be imparted through personal experience; anything else simply doesn’t have the same impact. Moreover, Fr. Rosica’s stories are always full of meaning. Significant dates in history have moods and feelings attached to them, and there’s always a deep sense of what these things mean for us and for the world. As a scripture scholar, Fr. Rosica’s biblical imagination imbues his commentary on events with a profound love of scriptural images and also a great sense of humour.
Not everyone has the opportunity to listen to these stories firsthand, but you will certainly feel as if you are sitting around the Salt + Light conference table when you pick up the new release John Paul II, A Saint for Canada. It’s a short book that can be read at a leisurely pace in a few hours. Filled with Fr. Rosica’s personal reflections on Pope John Paul II, John Paul II, A Saint for Canada is a delight that will leave you with a deep appreciation for the soon-to-be saint and what he means for us in Canada.
To get a taste of what you can expect, you’re invited to watch our latest Catholic FOCUS featuring John Paul II.
Photo description: Father Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, is pictured reading in a kayak in this photo dated from 1955. Three years later, he was on the water with friends when he learned he had been called to Warsaw for the announcement that he was to be made a bishop. He will be canonized on April 27 with Blessed John XXIII. (CNS photo)
Pope John Paul II is pictured during a 1986 interfaith prayer gathering in the Italian town of Assisi. (CNS file photo/KNA)
Pope John Paul II was in many respects a pope of firsts: the first pope to visit the White House, the first pope to visit Cuba, and the most widely traveled Pope in history. He is recognized as helping to end the Communist rule in his native Poland, and eventually all of Europe. He also canonized more saints than all of his predecessors combined! As one of the longest reigning popes in the history of the Church, his influence will be felt for generations. Join host Cheridan Sanders as she speaks with Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB about the life and times of Pope John Paul II in this latest episode of Catholic Focus.
Today on Perspectives, Pope Francis’ General Audience, a letter from the CCCB to the Prime Minister and CNS talks about the death penalty in the United States.
Pope John Paul II gestures during his 1980 visit to Paris, France. (CNS photo/Catholic Press Photo)
Today on Perspectives, a look at Easter at the Vatican with Pope Francis.
Pope John Paul II holds a koala bear during his 1986 visit to Australia. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)
On the promotional cover for the documentary John Paul II – I kept looking for you the caption reads, “The World’s Biggest Documentary about the New Saint”… now, usually, I would say that’s just marketing hype, but in this case the documentary lives up it. Once you get past the English dub, which I’ll admit is wooden and confusing at first, this documentary is hands-down one of the best, no, I take that back, it’s the best JP II doc I’ve ever seen. Telling the story of Pope John’s Paul’s papacy is no small feat. The fact alone that he was the most traveled pope in history meant that the documentary makers would shoot at 120 locations, in more than 13 countries. The interviews include an all-star lineup with prominent cultural figures, actors, fashion designers, and important religious figures such as the 14th Dalai Lama, the Head Rabbi of Israel (1993-2003) and the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I. Coupled with some of the rarest and most extraordinary archival footage of Pope John Paul II to date. All this to say that once you watch it, you’ll feel as if you’ve lived every moment of this great man’s papacy again. By the end of it, I was crying without shame… and considering I screened the documentary at work, all I can say is that I was overwhelmed with emotion! Make sure you have a box of tissues. In all seriousness though, this documentary not only struck at the core of who Pope John Paul II was, but what he meant for all of us. It’s a documentary which will leave you thanking God, and without a doubt that this man was a modern day saint.
Relive the inspirational story of our newest saint: Saturday, April 26th @ 8:30 pm ET / 5:30 PT
Photo description: Pope John Paul II greets a young person during his 1994 vacation in Val D’Aosta, Italy. (CNS/Arturo Mari)
Pope John Paul II greets youths at the 44th International Eucharistic Congress in Seoul, South Korea, in 1989. The congress provided the opportunity for several Asian bishops to meet with the pontiff to discuss urgent human rights and democracy issues. (CNS file photo by Arturo Mari)