Be Not Afraid! Jesus, I trust in You! Celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday and the Beatification of John Paul II

John Paul II, we love you!
¡Juan Pablo II, te quiere todo el mundo!
Pray for us! You know the special needs of my Office and my personal needs!

 

Retreating in a retweeting world is a challenge.

I did that again today, like I did last weekend, on Good Friday and Holy Saturday: I retreated in order to enter into the mysteries being celebrated this weekend and dispose myself to receive the graces God has in store for those who seek Him.

I participated today in the Prayer Vigil on the Eve of Divine Mercy Sunday and the Beatification of the Venerable Servant of God John Paul II that was held simultaneously at the Circus Maximus in Rome and in several Sanctuaries on all five continents.

I prayed the Rosary with millions of people gathered in Rome, Lebanon, Tanzania, Fatima, Mexico, Poland, and across the globe, as we all honored the memory of this great pilgrim pope and saintly man. We heard testimonies regarding the great man of God that all call a saint, Pope John Paul II – the pope I grew up with and who had a direct impact on my faith and commitment to the Church. 

His closest associates, and the Sister who was healed from Parkinson’s Disease through his intercession, spoke about the things I myself saw in this great Pope: he was a man of deep conviction, entirely dedicated to Christ and His Church, in love with Christ and his Mother to whom he entrusted himself totally (Totus Tuus.) Pope John Paul II was a man of mercy; a man who went to Confession weekly, aware that we need God’s mercy and grace in order to be and to do good; a man who offered forgiveness and extended mercy to all, even his would-be assassin.

This man was genuine, authentic, honest, free from all pretense, wearing no masks at all! A genuine witness to Christ.

Blessed John Paul II revered the image and likeness of God in the human person and respected every man and every culture. He understood well and deeply the command to go and make disciples of all nations, evangelizing all peoples while truly inculturating the Gospel message without in any way betraying that unchanging message of salvation; rather, he made sure that this timeless Gospel reached the ends of the world unadulterated but incarnated in the reality of the people it is meant to touch and change and save. He went in search of every human being by becoming the pilgrim pope of evangelization, as I called him in an article I wrote in 2007.

Pope John Paul II loved young people. And we, they, loved him back!  We, they, would chant time and again:

John Paul II, we love you!
¡Juan Pablo II, te quiere todo el mundo!

Millions gathered for the World Youth Days he instituted and presided over. I attended World Youth Day in Rome for the Great Jubilee Year 2000: it was electrifying! He was as alive and energized as ever, despite his frailty and age. He had us totally enraptured, our hearts burning within us for love of Christ!

To young people and people of all ages he cried out, from the very first moment he was presented to the world as the new Pope:

Open wide the doors to Christ! Be not afraid!

John Paul II was truly a man of profound trust in God, one who was fond of praying and saying: Jesus, I trust in You! This trust and exhortation take on greater meaning when they come from a man who grew up with tremendous losses and challenges from his earliest years, and could very well have fallen prey to fear and hesitation and doubt regarding his vocation and destiny, and the destiny of his country and the world. He trusted. He knew Him in whom he had placed his trust! (2 Timothy 1:12)

John Paul II was a man of deep conversion and deep prayer (the title of a fine book by another saintly man, Fr. Thomas Dubay: www.ignatius.com/Products/DCDP-P/deep-conversiondeep-prayer.aspx). Blessed John Paul II was indeed a man who prayed well and hard, daily, several times a day, for he saw prayer, communion with God, intimacy with the Holy One as essential, as crucial, a necessity for any who aspire to be all they, we, are called to be. Bringing to prayer the letters and the prayer requests he regularly received, he proved he was a man of intercession – and this because he was in love: in love with God and neighbor. Because of his two great loves, he embraced in his heart and strong arms children as well as youth and adults whom he met on his pastorals visits throughout the world (Life and Legacy of Pope John Paul II).

Blessed John Paul II played an important role in my life as a young believer. God used him to seal my heart at a young age with a deep conviction about His Church: the Lord arranged for me to personally meet the Holy Father several times. The first time I greeted him face to face twice in less than 24 hours, in answer to my prayer, convincing me that the Catholic Church was founded and is guided by Christ for our good and salvation, and is indeed trustworthy and true, and that I can trust its legitimate leaders. As a result of these initial God-given encounters with Pope John Paul II, followed be several more and studies on the mind and teachings of this great pope, I gave myself fully to what has become a life dedicated to God and the mission of the Church.

This pope of the new evangelization was my mentor and my model! I am still being touched by his words and example, and entrust my needs to his intercession, as I pray for him almost daily from the very moment he died in April, 2005. I pray to him as I do my part to carry out this new evangelization. I turn to him as I seek new ways of facing the challenges and the opportunities for a new evangelization that includes a new catechesis, a new apologetics, and renewed pastoral care, aimed at becoming new men and women in Christ, as stated by St. Paul (cf. Eph 4:24, 2:15; Col 3:10; Gal 3:27; Rom 13:114; 2 Cor 5:17) and by Pope Paul VI in Evangelii nuntiandi, 18-20; new creations that can build together a new culture where the Gospel may flourish and lead to that new springtime for Christianity and that new civilization of love of which Pope John Paul II spoke so often; one that will come about as we continue to foster a new Pentecost that will enable us to be fully imbued by the Holy Spirit in all we are and do, allowing each of us to truly drive our lives and pastoral and civic initiatives under the influence of that “power from on high” which occasioned the first evangelization that led three thousand to convert after one Holy-Spirit-led-evangelistic-pitch (cf. Acts 2) and five thousand more after subsequent preaching by St. Peter and the other Apostles (Cf. Acts 4.)

That same Holy Spirit wishes to work through us today! And this Easter Season leading up to Pentecost is the best time to ask for power from on high so as to be true and effective evangelizers of young and old, one-on-one, through mass media -new and old-, both in the Church and in the midst of the world of academia and arts, entertainment and sports, politics and advocacy, legislation and foreign policy, marriage and family life, and in every area of public and Church life and ministry, including a proper and complete implementation of the Second Vatican Council which would include an authentically new liturgical movement and the hermeneutics of continuity of which Pope Benedict XVI has been speaking since he was a Cardinal.

That is the new evangelization Blessed John Paul II foresaw – the new evangelization of hearts, minds, and society which Christ called for through His Vicar, the Pope! That is the new evangelization which the present Vicar of Christ, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI is calling for today with the creation of a Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization and a Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization in 2012 – an evangelization that is “new in fervor, new in methods, and new in expressions” and leaves no one and nothing out of its reach! (To get an idea of how encompassing the new evangelization was in the mind and vision of Pope John Paul II – and avoid giving into the temptation to define or describe it in an “either/or” rather than in a “both/and” manner – review the schedule of events and “Jubilees” he celebrated during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 in an effort to touch peoples groups: www.vatican.va/holy_father/special_features/xxv_pontificate/en/eventi_2000_en.htm.  For more on the new evangelization and its depth and reach, contact me at the Office for Evangelization, watch my weekly TV show, Prepare The Way, and visit this blog regularly.)

I entrust my mission as an evangelizer to the intercession of Blessed John Paul II. I entrust to him my striving for that holiness without which no one will see God. I entrust to his prayers the needs of the many people I know and love. I know he has Mary’s ear, and Mary has Jesus’ ear, as She did at the Wedding at Cana where Jesus performed the amazing miracle of changing common water into the finest of wine!

So this afternoon, I honored the memory of this great pilgrim pope and saintly man, my modern-day evangelization mentor and model, by praying the Rosary in several languages with millions of brothers and sisters around the world.

Tonight, I am viewing several TV specials dedicated to this great man of mercy on TV.

Tomorrow, I will celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday and the Beatification of John Paul II by attending Mass and the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 2:00 pm with Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller at San Fernando Cathedral.

There are several more local events as well as televised celebrations in The Vatican and across the world you can enjoy, along with several TV shows honoring this great man, including my two-part series on the Life and Legacy of Pope John Paul II airing on Catholic Television of San Antonio and available online in the Easter section of my website: www.archsa.org/evangelization. Visit our special webpage and click on the various tabs for information, devotions, a calendar of events and TV schedule and more: www.archsa.org/pope_john_paul_2nd.aspx.

Blessed John Paul II, pray for us!

St. Faustina, pray for us!

Jesus, I trust in You!

 

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