Earlier this week we celebrated John Paul II’s first feast day. I already shared a couple quotes. I now want to share some other awesomeness with you.
His moto was Totus Tuus, “Totally Yours.” Who was the “you” he was referring to? Mother Mary, of course! As part of his devotion, he added the Luminous Mysteries to the Rosary to fill in the gap in time between finding the child Jesus in the Temple and the Passion of Christ. You can learn more about them here.
John Paul II coined the term the New Evangelization. You can write a book trying to define the term. It has two main aspects. One, it is evangelizing to a traditionally Christian culture that has lost it’s faith. Two, it is evangelizing using new tools of technology and online networking. You are already contributing in it by looking at Catholic blogs online.
John Paul II was the most traveled Pope ever. He visited 129 countries, traveling a total of 680,000 miles. That is the equivalent of to the moon and back once, and most of the way back to the moon again.
John Paul II promulgated heavily devotion to Divine Mercy. He started Divine Mercy Sunday (in fact, died the day before it in 2005). I used to have quite a devotion to it myself. At least, I made a point of praying it for all of my nursing home residents when they died. As St. Faustina quoted our Lord:
“….When they say this [Divine Mercy] Chaplet in the presence of the dying, I will stand between My Father and the dying not as the just judge but as the Merciful Savior.”
I recommend trying it. It’s prayed on Rosary beads but it is much shorter than the Rosary. The quick repetition of very short prayers takes you easily into a meditative state of prayer. You can find instructions here.
I never got to go to one. Probably never will. I’m certainly too old for that stuff now. But the few people I’ve known who went to them came back full of Spirit and full of stories. Two of the people I know who have been to at least one are both nuns now. John Paul II loved young adults. That seemed to be his ministry niche. Seeing what has been called a lost generation of Catholics fall away, he worked to reach out to that generation’s children. World Youth Days seem to have helped tremendously with that purpose. Thousands of young adults gather every other year to worship and learn. They bring that fire back to their communities.
Pope Francis has called for a new “theology of women.” Mulieris Dignitatem will be a foundational document in this development of Catholic theology. Don’t get turned off if you read this letter and you initially see it as a bunch of sentimental fluff. I had the same response and I still think a lot of it is. But there is a lot of truth in this letter and it is a huge step forward in our understanding of the women’s role in the church.
Without John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, arguably my job wouldn’t exist. There would have been less emphasis and development on this essential part of Catholic Theology that was part of what attracted me to the Church. In his Theology of the Body, John Paul II brought together a lifetime of observations, conversations and reflections to answer the question, “What does it mean to be human?” He answers giving a clear vision of the importance of our bodies in reflecting the divine.
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