John Paul II Novena: Day 1

Nine days from today, two illustrious popes will be canonized.

John XXIII was an old man who was elected basically to keep the Seat of Peter warm, but instead called Vatican II. (I will be writing more about him later.)

John Paul II was the only pope that many of those in my generation had ever known when he died in 2005. He broke many records and made many firsts. He was the most traveled pope. He beatified and canonized more people than almost any other pope since the canonization process was formalized. He had the second-longest pontificate ever. He revolutionized inter-faith dialogue as he was the first pope to enter a mosque and a synagogue, he was the first pope to enter Auschwitz, and he was the first pope to visit the Western Wall.

Floribeth Mora poses in a little chapel with the image of late pope John Paul II at her home during an interview with AFP on March 26, 2014 in Dulce Nombre de Cartago, Cartago, Costa Rica - by Ezequiel Becerra

Floribeth Mora poses in a little chapel with the image of late pope John Paul II at her home during an interview with AFP on March 26, 2014 in Dulce Nombre de Cartago, Cartago, Costa Rica – by Ezequiel Becerra Image Source.

But that’s not what has inspired us at John Paul II Center for Women. John Paul II, inspired by the likes of Edith Stein, set the foundation for what I am confident will one day be the the profound and authentic theology of women that Pope Francis has called for. Looking at John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, his encyclical Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women), his Letter to Women, and numerous other speeches and writings, one begins to piece together what it means to be a woman in Christ.

This Good Friday, let us pray and mediate on John Paul II’s words in regards to the women at the foot of the cross.

Indeed, the Gospels not only describe what that woman did at Bethany in the house of Simon the Leper; they also highlight the fact that women were in the forefront at the foot of the Cross, at the decisive moment in Jesus of Nazareth’s whole messianic mission. John was the only Apostle who remained faithful, but there were many faithful women. Not only the Mother of Christ and “his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene” (Jn 19:25) were present, but “there were also many women there, looking on from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him” (Mt 27: 55). As we see, in this most arduous test of faith and fidelity the women proved stronger than the Apostles. In this moment of danger, those who love much succeed in overcoming their fear. – Mulieris Dignitatem, 15

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Today, let us pray for women who are living in war-torn countries or living under the shadow of senseless violence. The women at the cross had immense courage and love to stand by their crucified Lord. As John Paul II said of Mary:

“…How poor she was on Bethlehem night and how poor on Calvary! How obedient she was at the moment of the Annunciation, and then – at the foot of the cross – obedient  even to the point of assenting to the death of her Son, who became obedient ‘unto death’! How dedicated she was in all her earthly life to the cause of the kingdom of heaven through most chaste love.” –Redemptoris Donum, 17

Let all women witnessing violence, standing at the foot of the cross of their own sons, brothers, husbands, fathers, sisters, mothers and daughters, find the compassionate love of Christ. Give them comfort in the example of their forerunners at the cross. Give them hope that as they are seeing suffering now, they will witness glory soon enough.

Blessed John Paul II, as you helped us to understand the women at the cross, help us to understand our sisters living in this suffering and pray for their well-being and safety.

Let us conclude by praying the Litany to John Paul II:

Kyrie eleison,
Christe eleison,
Kyrie eleison,
Christ hear us, Christ graciously hear us
God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us
Blessed, John Paul II, pray for us
Perfect disciple of Christ, pray for us
Generously gifted with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, pray for us
Great apostle of Divine Mercy, pray for us
Faithful Son of Mary, pray for us
Totally dedicated to the Mother of God, pray for us
Persevering preacher of the Gospel, pray for us
Pilgrim Pope, pray for us
Pope of the Millennium, pray for us
Model of industry, pray for us
Model of priests, pray for us
Drawing strength from the Eucharist, pray for us
Untiring man of prayer, pray for us
Lover of the rosary, pray for us
Strength of those doubting their faith, pray for us
Desiring to unite all those who believe in Christ, pray for us
Converter of sinners, pray for us
Defender of the dignity of every person, pray for us
Defender of life from conception to natural death, pray for us
Praying for the gift of parenthood for the infertile, pray for us
Friend of children, pray for us
Leader of youth, pray for us
Intercessor of families, pray for us
Comforter of the suffering, pray for us
Manly bearing his pain, pray for us
Sower of divine joy, pray for us
Great intercessor for peace, pray for us
Pride of the Polish nation, pray for us
Brilliance of the Holy Church, pray for us
That we may be faithful imitators of Christ, pray for us
That we may be strong with the power of the Holy Spirit, pray for us
That we may have trust in the Mother of God, pray for us
That we may grow in our faith, hope, and charity, pray for us
That we may live in peace in our families, pray for us
That we may know how to forgive, pray for us
That we may know how to bear suffering, pray for us
That we may not succumb to the culture of death, pray for us
That we may not be afraid and courageously fight off various temptations, pray for us
That he would intercede for us the grace of a happy death, pray for us

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us

Pray for us, Venerable Blessed John Paul II
That we may become worthy of the promises of Christ

 We ask all of this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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