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"The certainty of future immortality and hope in the promised resurrection cast new light on the mystery of suffering and death, and fill the believer with an extraordinary capacity to trust fully in the plan of God". Evangelium Vitae ("The Gospel of Life"),
With the passing of John Paul II, there will be the biggest wave of prayers circling the world yet! Because there are more Catholics today than ever in history (one billion of us), because he is admired and respected by many others, may they be Protestants, Jews, or even secular intellectuals, JPII touched the hearts of many people.
So therefore on the spiritual and supra-natural level, there will be a tsunami of prayers, good wishes and concerns spreading around the globe within days. This is quite a window of opportunity for all of us to beg our Lord for blessings on His Church and on the whole world, forgiveness for the structures of sins in our own culture and mercy for our own weakness and timidity in living out the Gospel, asking and imploring the Holy Spirit for his guidance and discernment in choosing the next Pope.
On the historical and moral level, the Catholic Church is going to be in the news constantly for a couple of weeks (at least until the next Pope is in place) and this is the time to open the doors to the medias and to our neighbor, answering their questions as best as we can, aware that this is a unique chance to teach the basics of our faith to the world at large. Think about it: witnessing as the Body of Christ in the global village! (If it sounds overwhelming, then it usually helps me to remember that I cannot do anything on my own but that it is only thanks to God's grace and thanks to God's love that I am able to stand up and speak out His truth…).
But we have to speak up and share the Good News: as Christians, we have a unique perspective on suffering and death and it is most urgent for us to share it with our non-believers friends. We have many resources unknown to them: we have prayers and the sacraments, the help of the Saints and especially of Mary - the very first Saint, the very first Tabernacle of the Lord. We believe that death is not the end but only a passage to our other life and that Jesus is there waiting for us! This is big stuff and we need to share it. (Of course, it is also a very good time, before anything else, to remind ourselves of all this - because we have often pushed it out of sight to the back burners of our hearts until we almost forgot it ourselves…).
This is the perfect time to put all our worries in God's hands. I found it very interesting that our Pope struggled with his illness and old age and frailty for a long time and that it is only now, after Easter and just before Divine Mercy Sunday, that God called him back. I want to look at this timing as a call for rejoicing even in the midst of suffering and grieving, as a reminder to put into practice what we pray for so often: to put all our trust in the Lord and in His mercy. His plan of salvation is unfolding itself on the global scale right now, as it always is, but I have an opportunity to see it more clearly right now and the only thing I need to do is to put my trust in Him, to thank Him, to pray for myself and for my neighbor and bless the whole world.
John Paul II: thank you for being such a strong leader for the youth of the world, for being such a clear voice for the culture of life, such an international force for reconciliation, for enduring illness and old age with patience and kindness and finally, most of all, I thank you for being such a strong witness to our faith in Christ!
May your death be a blessed moment for all.
In your honor, I will join this tsunami of prayers and I will add my own voice from my own little corner of the world, here in San Francisco, California, on this April 3, 2005, to praise God and His Son and the Holy Spirit.
Copyright ©2005 Michele Szekely