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John Paul II, A Saint for Canada

Father Karol Wojtyla reading in canoe in 1955

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 saint and what he means for us in Canada.

To get a taste of what you can expect, you’re invited to watch 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. (CNS photo)

 

Palestinian women canonized during Pope’s busy weekend – Perspectives Daily


Today on Perspectives: Palestine has two new saints, President Mahmoud Abbas and Pope Francis have a cordial meeting, and the Pope meets with different groups of religious men and women.

Pope Francis’ Regina Coeli Address: Appeal for Peace in Burundi

Francis_Regina

Pope Francis appealed on Sunday (May 17th) for an end to the violence in Burundi and urged its people to act responsibly for the good of the nation. Burundi saw an attempted coup earlier this week and has been the scene of violent clashes between supporters and opponents of the president. The Pope’s appeal for peace in Burundi came during his address just before the recitation of the traditional Easter Marian prayer, the Regina Coeli. Below, please find Vatican Radio’s translation of Pope Francis’ remarks ahead of the Regina Coeli:

Dear brothers and sisters,

At the end of this celebration, I want to greet all of you who have come to pay homage to the new Saints, in a particular way the official Delegations from Palestine, France, Italy, Israel, and Jordan. I greet with affection the Cardinals, Bishops, priests, as well as the spiritual daughters of the four Saints. Through their intercession, may the Lord grant a new missionary impulse to their respective countries. Inspired by their example of mercy, charity, and reconciliation, may the Christians of these lands look to the future with hope, continuing in the journey of solidarity and fraternal coexistence.

I extend my greetings to the families, the parish groups, the associations, and the schools present, especially to those being confirmed from the Archdiocese of Genoa. I address a special though to the faithful of the Czech Republic, gathered in the sanctuary of Svatý Kope?ek, near Olomouc, who today are remembering the twentieth anniversary of the visit of Saint John Paul II.

Yesterday, in Venice was the beatification of the priest Luigi Caburlotto, pastor, educator, and founder of the Daughters of Saint Joseph. Let us give thanks to God for this exemplary pastor, who led an intense spiritual and apostolic life, totally dedicated to the good of souls.

I wish to invite all you to pray for the beloved people of Burundi which is living through a delicate moment: May the Lord help all people to flee the violence and to act responsibly for the good of the nation. With filial love let us turn now to the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, Queen of the Saints, and model of all Christians:

Regina coeli…

Homily of Pope Francis at the Mass of Canonization of 4 New Saints – May 17, 2015

Palestinian Saints 2015

Pope Francis canonized four women religious on Sunday, all 19th century nuns who worked in education. St. Marie-Alphonsine and St. Mary of Jesus Crucified were from the territory that made up historical Palestine; St. Jeanne Emilie de Villeneuve was a French nun and foundress; and St. Maria Cristina of the Immaculate Conception came from Italy. Below, please find the full English translation of Pope Francis’ homily for Holy Mass for the VII Sunday of Easter with the Rite of Canonization:

The Acts of the Apostles have set before us the early Church as she elects the man whom God called to take the place of Judas in the college of the Apostles. It is has to do not with a job, but with service. Indeed, Matthias, on whom the choice falls, receives a mission which Peter defines in these words: “One of these men… must become a witness with us to his resurrection,” the resurrection of Christ (Acts 1:21-23). In this way Peter sums up what it means to be part of the Twelve: it means to be a witness to Jesus’ resurrection. The fact that he says “with us” brings us to realize that the mission of proclaiming the risen Christ is not an individual undertaking: it is to be carried out in common, with the apostolic college and with the community. The Apostles had a direct and overwhelming experience of the resurrection; they were eyewitnesses to that event. Thanks to their authoritative testimony, many people came to believe; from faith in the risen Lord, Christian communities were born and are born continually.  We too, today, base our faith in the risen Lord on the witness of the Apostles, which has come down to us through the mission of the Church.  Our faith is firmly linked to their testimony, as to a nun broken chain which spans the centuries, made up not only by the successors of the Apostles, but also by succeeding generations of Christians. Like the Apostles, each one of Christ’s followers is called to become a witness to his resurrection, above all in those human  settings  where  forgetfulness  of  God  and  human disorientation are most evident.

Francis Canonizations May 17 3

If this is to happen, we need to remain in the risen Christ and in his love, as the First Letter of Saint John has reminded us: “He who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn4:16).  Jesus had repeated insistently to his disciples: “Abide in me… Abide in my love” (Jn 15:4, 9). This is the secret of the saints: abiding in Christ, joined to him like branches to the vine, in order to bear much fruit (cf. Jn 15:1-8). And this fruit is none other than love.  This love shines forth in the testimony of Sister Jeanne Émilie de Villeneuve, who consecrated her life to God and to the poor, the sick, the imprisoned and the exploited, becoming for them and for all a concrete sign of the Lord’s merciful love.

A relationship with the risen Jesus is – so to speak – the “atmosphere” in which Christians live, and in which they find the strength to remain faithful to the Gospel, even amid obstacles and misunderstandings. “Abiding in love”: this is what Sister Maria Cristina Brando also did.  She was completely given over to ardent love for the Lord.  From prayer and her intimate encounter with the risen Jesus present in the Eucharist, she received strength to endure suffering and to give herself, as bread which is broken, to many people who had wandered far from God and yet hungered for authentic love.

Relic Palestinian nun

An essential aspect of witness to the risen Lord is unity among ourselves, his disciples, in the image of his own unity with the Father.  Today too, in the Gospel, we heard Jesus’ prayer on the eve of his passion: “that they may be one, even as we are one” (Jn 17:11). From this eternal love between the Father and the Son, poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 5:5), our mission and our fraternal communion draw strength; this love is the ever-flowing source of our joy in following the Lord along the path of his poverty, his virginity and his obedience; and this same love calls us to cultivate contemplative prayer. Sister Mariam Baouardy experienced this in an outstanding way. Poor and uneducated, she was able to counsel others and provide theological explanations with extreme clarity, the fruit of her constant converse with the Holy Spirit.  Her docility to the Holy Spirit made her also a means of encounter and fellowship with the Muslim world. So too, Sister Marie Alphonsine Danil Ghattas came to understand clearly what it means to radiate the love of God in the apostolate, and to be a witness to meekness and unity. She shows us the importance of becoming responsible for one another, of living lives of service one to another.

To abide in God and in his love, and thus to proclaim by our words and our lives the resurrection of Jesus, to live in unity with one another and with charity towards all. This is what the four women Saints canonized today did. Their luminous example challenges us in our lives as Christians. How do I bear witness to the risen Christ?  This is a question we have to ask ourselves. How do I abide in him?  How do I dwell in his love?  Am I capable of “sowing” in my family, in my workplace and in my community, the seed of that unity which he has bestowed on us by giving us a share in the life of the Trinity?

When we return home today, let us take with us the joy of this encounter with the risen Lord. Let us cultivate in our hearts the commitment to abide in God’s love.  Let us remain united to him and among ourselves, and follow in the footsteps of these four women, models of sanctity whom the Church invites us to imitate.

Abbas Palestinian Canonization

 

Pope Francis Canonizes Sri Lanka’s First Saint – Perspectives Daily

Today on Perspectives, Pope Francis Canonizes Sri Lanka’s first saint and visits Sri Lanka’s holiest Marian Shrine.

Vatican Connections: Friday May 2, 2014

This week we look at the historic double canonization of John Paul II and John XXIII which was concelebrated by Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Fr. Thomas Rosica and Sebastian Gomes share some of their experiences from this time, and we bring you the latest papal happenings.

The Canonization of JPII and John XXIII in 14 great photos

On Divine Mercy Sunday, Pope Francis declared Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II saints. In an unprecedented ceremony, approximately 800,000 people filled St. Peter’s Square, the streets around the Vatican, bridges over the Tiber and many squares in Rome. The ceremony was also attended by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

bar20140427cnsbr5198_640Retired Pope Benedict XVI embraces Pope Francis before the canonization Mass. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

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A large crowd is seen in and around St. Peter’s Square as Pope Francis celebrates the canonization Mass. (CNS photo/Massimo Sestini, Italian National Police via Catholic Press Photo)

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Belgium’s former Queen Paola and former King Albert II, left, are seated next to Spain’s King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia before the start of the canonization Mass. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

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Bishops process to their seats before Pope Francis celebrates the canonization Mass. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

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Pope Francis kisses the relic of St. John XXIII presented by Father Ezio Bolis, director of the Pope John XXIII Foundation. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

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Poland’s flag is seen as pilgrims wait on Via della Conciliazione outside St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican April 26, the eve of the canonization of Sts. John XXIII and John Paul II. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

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Pope Francis celebrates the canonization Mass. (CNS photo/Lisa Johnston, St. Louis Review)

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A large crowd is seen as Pope Francis celebrates the canonization Mass. (CNS photo/Evandro Inetti, pool)

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Pope Francis waves to the crowd as he arrives for the canonization ceremony. (CNS photo/Lisa Johnston, St. Louis Review)

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Polish Sister Tobiana Sobodka, who ran St. John Paul II’s household, and Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who served as spokesman for the new saint, arrive for his canonization Mass. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

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Devotees carry relics and candles of Sts. John XXIII and John Paul II during their canonization Mass. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) 

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Woman involved in miracle for St. John Paul II carries relic at canonization MassFloribeth Mora Diaz, accompanied by her husband Edwin, carries the relic of St. John Paul II, after presenting it to Pope Francis. Mora Diaz’s cure from an aneurysm in 2011 was the second miracle in the sainthood cause of St. John Paul. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

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Polish pilgrims Andrzej and Yvonne Szczesny hold images of St. John Paul II April 28 before a Mass of thanksgiving. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) 

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People in Wadowice, Poland, St. John Paul II's hometownPeople in Wadowice, Poland, St. John Paul II’s hometown, celebrate his canonization April 27. (CNS photo/Agencja Gazeta/Michal Lepecki, Reuters) 

Pope Francis’ Homily for the Canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II

Here below is the full text in English of Pope Francis’ homily at the mass of Canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII:

At the heart of this Sunday, which concludes the Octave of Easter and which John Paul II wished to dedicate to Divine Mercy, are the glorious wounds of the risen Jesus.

He had already shown those wounds when he first appeared to the Apostles on the very evening of that day following the Sabbath, the day of the resurrection.  But Thomas was not there that evening, and when the others told him that they had seen the Lord, he replied that unless he himself saw and touched those wounds, he would not believe.  A week later, Jesus appeared once more to the disciples gathered in the Upper Room, and Thomas was present; Jesus turned to him and told him to touch his wounds.  Whereupon that man, so straightforward and accustomed to testing everything personally, knelt before Jesus with the words: “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28).

The wounds of Jesus are a scandal, a stumbling block for faith, yet they are also the test of faith.  That is why on the body of the risen Christ the wounds never pass away: they remain, for those wounds are the enduring sign of God’s love for us.  They are essential for believing in God.  Not for believing that God exists, but for believing that God is love, mercy and faithfulness.  Saint Peter, quoting Isaiah, writes to Christians: “by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Pet 2:24, cf. Is 53:5).

John XXIII and John Paul II were not afraid to look upon the wounds of Jesus, to touch his torn hands and his pierced side.  They were not ashamed of the flesh of Christ, they were not scandalized by him, by his cross; they did not despise the flesh of their brother (cf. Is 58:7), because they saw Jesus in every person who suffers and struggles.  These were two men of courage, filled with the parrhesia of the Holy Spirit, and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy.

They were priests, bishops and popes of the twentieth century.  They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them.  For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful – faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of man and the Lord of history; the mercy of God, shown by those five wounds, was more powerful; and more powerful too was the closeness of Mary our Mother.

In these two men, who looked upon the wounds of Christ and bore witness to his mercy, there dwelt a living hope and an indescribable and glorious joy (1 Pet 1:3,8).  The hope and the joy which the risen Christ bestows on his disciples, the hope and the joy which nothing and no one can take from them.  The hope and joy of Easter, forged in the crucible of self-denial, self-emptying, utter identification with sinners, even to the point of disgust at the bitterness of that chalice.  Such were the hope and the joy which these two holy popes had received as a gift from the risen Lord and which they in turn bestowed in abundance upon the People of God, meriting our eternal gratitude.

This hope and this joy were palpable in the earliest community of believers, in Jerusalem, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. 2:42-47).  It was a community which lived the heart of the Gospel, love and mercy, in simplicity and fraternity.

This is also the image of the Church which the Second Vatican Council set before us.  John XXIII and John Paul II cooperated with the Holy Spirit in renewing and updating the Church in keeping with her pristine features, those features which the saints have given her throughout the centuries.  Let us not forget that it is the saints who give direction and growth to the Church.  In convening the Council, John XXIII showed an exquisite openness to the Holy Spirit.  He let himself be led and he was for the Church a pastor, a servant-leader.  This was his great service to the Church; he was the pope of openness to the Spirit.

In his own service to the People of God, John Paul II was the pope of the family.  He himself once said that he wanted to be remembered as the pope of the family.  I am particularly happy to point this out as we are in the process of journeying with families towards the Synod on the family. It is surely a journey which, from his place in heaven, he guides and sustains.

May these two new saints and shepherds of God’s people intercede for the Church, so that during this two-year journey toward the Synod she may be open to the Holy Spirit in pastoral service to the family.  May both of them teach us not to be scandalized by the wounds of Christ and to enter ever more deeply into the mystery of divine mercy, which always hopes and always forgives, because it always loves.

Perspectives Daily – April 24, 2014

Today on Perspectives, the Salt + Light team gives us an update on the preparations for Sunday’s dual canonization from Rome.

John Paul II, We Love You – Catholic Focus

 

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.