Monday, April 04, 2005

Joannes Paulus Magnus 1920-2005

Hat tip to Mark Shea

and Oswald Sobrino

I had two opportunities to see the Pope live. When I was sixteen, I made a trip to Italy with my high school. Being good Salesians of Don Bosco, and having an Italian-born Salesian Priest moderate our trip, we wound up in Saint Peter's Square for an audience. That is, we and the dozens of other visitors who had arrived. I couldn't nearly appreciate him then.

Years later, I had another opportunity to see John Paul II. I was in my mid-twenties, a full-blown relapsed catholic that had volunteered to chaperon a group of teenagers from my local Parish. They were headed to NYC--Central Park, to be exact, for Mass! The weather couldn't have been more Irish--just enough steady drizzle to notice, but not enough to care. There we were, along with the other 300, 000 faithful that had shown up.

I'll never forget his expression as he prayed. It was as though he were in the extreme pain of his eventual future. He almost appeared to groan, as if he literally was carrying the weight of us all, as well as the world. Of course, he was. That was the sense any one who had met him came away with most of all. He absolutely cared. He personally loved and cared deeply about each and every one of us, even though he could not meet us personally. That was his presence. That was how he evangelized.

Thank you, Holy Father, for living the Gospal so well. Thank you for bearing such personal witness to all of us. May we continue to follow your example, that we may come to know Christ as you have. Lord, grant your faithful servant his well-deserved rest at your side.

We will miss you, John Paul II.