Do you have a “JP II moment”? Most of us do. This charismatic man was a fixture in my life. He was all I ever knew as Pope until the ripe old age of 20! To be sure (and later to be reinforced over and over): he shaped my experience of the Church and, in many ways, of Jesus.
I was recently invited to share my experience of the Church with a group of leaders in parish ministry. This group, on average, were 20-30 years older than I. I was pleasantly surprised to see that their experience of the Church was drastically different than my own. The difference? I belong to the John Paul II generation!
Many of them recalled how in their upbringing, love would often veer into legalism leaving their friends and family sour on the Church and much of what she represented. When I piped up, I articulated the landmarks of my faith walk to date: oodles of new Saints to revere as models, the concept of God’s “inconceivable” Mercy thanks to another Polish friend, St. Faustina (who told us that God’s Mercy was His greatest attribute), World Youth Days (aka week-long faith festivals) and Theology of the Body (little no’s for the sake of a BIG yes). These are only a few of the formative treasures that my generation unknowingly inherited. And to top it all off, we traded John Paul for Benedict- the Holy Spirit is never stumped for gifts to the Church!
On Facebook, we asked you “What do you remember most about John Paul II?”. Your responses were wide-ranging and many of them nostalgic. The sentiments conjured up were not unlike those brought forth at a family reunion where members are sent into twinkly-eyed reflections around the kitchen table about the gems and the "remember-whens" of “Grampy’s” life. Evidently, many of us felt profoundly connected to this elderly Pole.
Mary Schwaner writes that John Paul II was "THE PAPA"!! Strong, kind, filled with the Spirit. Humanly holy. Chris Pietraszko will remember His Joy. Steve Jalsevac fondly recalled his awesome personal witness of love of God and living of an extraordinarily deep prayer life. "He was a father that I greatly miss," Steve said. Magermana Teves will remember his example of holiness. “Seeing him makes me quiver and feel something inside me that makes me cry.... I missed our Blessed Pope John Paul II”.
For a time to reminisce together and the celebrate a bright light of the Church, join host Pedro Guevara Mann and Salt + Light CEO, Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB as they revisit the life of this great Pope: the soon-to-be Blessed John Paul II.
That’s Perspectives Weekly on Friday at 7 and 11pm ET, 8pm PT.