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Witness to Life: Weekly Message for 10-20-2020
Dear Digital Pilgrims in Christ,
In a few days, we celebrate the Memorial of St. John Paul II. For many, he is aptly considered one of the greats. He faithfully shepherded many before and during his twenty-six years as pope with tremendous wisdom along with a gregarious testimony for life epitomized by his joyful acceptance of the debilitating effects of the Parkinson’s disease that claimed his saintly life. Since our efforts here at RCSpirituality are dedicated to furthering the New Evangelization we have affectionately chosen him as one of our patron saints.
Many of us remember where we were in 2005 upon news of his death. We joined kings, queens, religious and political leaders, along with millions of faithful around the world to prayerfully mourn and experience his funeral on live TV. His life impacted millions.
I recall the grace to be in St. Peter’s Square while visiting Rome in the mid-1990s. At a general audience, I couldn’t believe I was seeing him with my own eyes! I prayed for the same holiness, passion for life, and truth to rub off on me. I even had the incredible opportunity to greet him personally. As he shook my hand, I looked directly into the eyes of a saint. My mother continues to chide me to this day for wearing sunglasses in a photo captured by the L’Observatorio Romano thinking he couldn’t see me!!!
St. John Paul II was a man for our times and saw into the hearts of man with love and truth. Nearly 21 years ago while in St. Louis, Pope John Paul II remarked in a speech that could still be addressed to our country today. “There are times of trial, tests of national character, in the history of every country…Today, the conflict is between a culture that affirms, cherishes, and celebrates the gift of life, and a culture that seeks to declare entire groups of human beings – the unborn, the terminally ill, the handicapped, and others considered “unuseful” – to be outside the boundaries of legal protection…My fervent prayer is that through the grace of God at work in the lives of Americans of every race, ethnic group, economic condition, and creed, America will resist the culture of death and choose to stand steadfastly on the side of life.”
In one of his most important encyclicals, “Evangelium Vitae” (The Gospel of Life) issued in March 1995 he challenged the modern world to embrace a moral rationale for “all people of goodwill” to judge a wide range of decisions involving human life.
“It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop. A society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice, and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized. Only respect for life can be the foundation and guarantee of the most precious and essential goods of society, such as democracy and peace.”
Pope John Paul II, Evangelium vitae (1995), no. 101
St. John Paul II practiced what he preached as a witness to life, which is why we celebrate him as a canonized saint. Let us pray for hearts to open wide to Christ giving us strength live life to the full in seeking the good for every person.
Are you afraid you’ll open your heart too much? Our retreat guide Be Not Afraid will help you open the doors of your heart for Christ.
May St. John Paul II intercede for us to be courageous witnesses to life opening wide the doors to Christ with boldness, in our hearts, and our society.
With the assurance of my prayers,
RCSpirituality Center | Director