Apparently somebody who is very Catholic regularly donates to my local Goodwill. There is always a selection of Catholic Bibles and a Catechism. A year or so ago, I discovered a copy of Kimberly Hahn’s Life-Giving Love. Last week, I was there in search for clothes for an upcoming cosplay convention and discovered a whole slew of St. John Paul II books. It was hard not bringing them all home. I settled on The Private Prayers of John Paul II.
This collection of prayers written by John Paul II was exactly what I needed right now. If you are to read it straight through like I did, it’s a very quick read at only 250 pages, most of it either short essays or poetry. I would recommend, however, getting a copy for reference and certainly to take with you into Adoration. In fact, I think every Adoration Chapel needs a copy.
Between the reading and my hot chocolate with just a splash of Bailey’s, I was lulled into a peaceful place every night I read this book. I could almost hear John Paul II through these pages (I am a JPII Catholic). The prayers cover a wide variety of topics. They were mostly written in the 80’s and 90’s, but what he says is often very applicable to the United States in 2017. The translator really conveyed the fact that John Paul II was a tremendous writer. Very little of the real poetry of his prayers was lost in translation.
Apparently, this is volume two of four in a series of books of (not-so) private prayers. I say “not-so” because many, if not most of these prayers are from public addresses and letters. It is lovely to have them all in one book, though. I will have to look the other three books in the series up sometime. They are all found fairly easily used on your favorite book-selling website. Or you can luck out at your local Goodwill like I did.
At the dawn of salvation, it is the birth of a child which is proclaimed as joyful news: ‘I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord’ (Lk. 2:10-11). The source of this ‘great joy’ is the birth of the Savior; but Christmas also reveals the full meaning of every human birth, and the joy which accompanies the birth of the Messiah is thus seen to be the foundation and fulfillment of joy at every child born into the world (cf. Jn. 16:21).
-St. John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae
“God is love.” These words are contained in the First Letter of St. John (4:16). They are the keystone of the truth about God. That truth is revealed through numerous words and many events until it reaches the full certainty of faith with the coming of Christ. These words faithfully echo Christ’s statement: “God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him may not die but may have eternal life” (John 3:16). The Church’s faith reaches its peak in this supreme truth: God is love! In Christ’s Cross and Resurrection he revealed himself definitively as love. “So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16). The truth that God is love constitutes the apex of all that has been revealed “by the prophets and in these days by the Son,” as the Letter to the Hebrews states (1:1-2). This truth illumines the whole content of Revelation, and particularly the revealed reality of the creation and of the covenant. Creation manifests the omnipotence of God the Creator. But the exercise of omnipotence is definitively explained by means of love. God created because he could do so. But is omnipotence was guided by wisdom and moved by love. This is the work of creation. Redemption has a more powerful eloquence and offers a more radical demonstration. Love remains as the expression of omnipotence in the face of evil, in the face of sin. Only omnipotent love can draw forth good from evil and new life from sin and death.
– St. John Paul II, Discourse at the Vatican, October 2, 1985
I state right from the outset: “Be not afraid!” This is the same exhortation that resounded at the beginning of my ministry in the See of St. Peter. Christ addressed this invitation many times to those he met. The angel said to Mary: “Be not afraid!” (Luke 1:30) The same was said to Joseph: “Be not afraid!” (Matthew 1:20) Christ said the same to the apostles, to Peter, in various circumstances, and especially after his Resurrection. He kept telling them: “Be not afraid!” He sensed, in fact, that they were afraid. They were not sure if who they saw was the same Christ they had known. They were afraid when he was arrested; they were even more afraid after his Resurrection. The words Christ uttered are repeated by the Church. And with the Church, they are repeated by the Pope. I have done so since the first homily I gave in St. Peter’s Square. “Be not afraid!” These are not words said into a void. They are profoundly rooted in the Gospel. They are simply the words of Christ himself.
– St. John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope
His feast day is tomorrow! Please remember this awesome saint! JPII, pray for us!
This filial relationship, this self-entrusting of a child to its mother, not only has its beginning in Christ, but can also be said to be definitively directed toward him. Mary is said to continue to say to each individual the words she spoke at Cana in Galilee: “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). For he, Christ, is the one mediator between God and mankind; he is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6); It is he whom the Father has given the world, so that man “should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The Virgin of Nazareth became the first “witness” of this saving love of the Father, and she also wishes to remain its humble handmaid always and everywhere. For every Christian, for every human being, Mary is the one who first “believed” and precisely with her faith as spouse and mother she wishes to act upon all those who entrust themselves to her as her children. And it is well known that the more her children persevere and progress in this attitude, the nearer Mary leads them to the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8). And to the same degree they recognize more and more clearly the dignity of man in all its fullness and the definitive meaning of his vocation, for (as is stated in Gaudium et Spes) “Christ…fully reveals man to man himself.”
– St. John Paul II, Encylical Redeptoris Mater (Mother of the Redeemer), March 25, 1987
The sacredness of the human person cannot be obliterated, no matter how often it is devalued and violated, because it has its unshakable foundation in God as Creator and Father. The sacredness of the person always keeps returning, again and again.
-St. Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation: On the Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World, December 30, 1988
Annunciation, Fra Angelico
“Hail [Mary] full of grace!” (Luke 1:28). The later words “The Lord is with you! Blessed are you among women” refer to the same thing. The mystery of this choice, in which God remains free and at the same sense–a very real sense–he waits to be chosen himself . Because freedom is an essential prerequisite for loving God and giving oneself to God, the Virgin replies fully in harmony with her inner truth. Mary’s inner truth was this: she had already made an unconditional choice and bestowed herself completely on the one and only divine spouse. That is why she was able to say: “How can this come about, since I know no man?” (Luke 1:34), and she said it immediately when she heard the angel announce that she would conceive and give birth to the Son. For motherhood entails “knowing a man,” and this is in direct contrast with her choice. When Mary asks her question, she is not contesting the divine plan: she is simply remarking that motherhood “according to the flesh” is difficult to reconcile with the choice she had made “according to the spirit.”
St. John Paul II, Sign of Contradiction