Today is the memorial of Pope Saint John Paul II, who was installed as the 264th successor of Saint Peter on this day in 1978, which seems aeons ago in more ways than one. An era without the Internet, Facebook and smartphones, scarcely imaginable. His feast was added by Pope Francis two years ago when John Paul was canonized, a welcome addition to the calendar of saints, not least since I happen to share, by a quirk of my own parents’ choice, the name he adopted.
The greatness of a man such as he can only be measured in historical terms: His saintly life, formed and shaped by his acceptance of grace and his own disciplined habits, his missionary journeys, his obvious love for each peson he met, his voluminous writings, of a spiritual and intellectual depth that defies description, and which will guide the Church, the world, and all of our own consciences, through history, one would think until Christ comes again. Then the example of his death, accepting the suffering, whose depths we may never know, with a calm and serene resignation to the will of God, living out his own profound meditation on this mystery in his 1984 Letter Salvifici Doloris.
All I can recommend is that you delve into what he wrote, even little bits and snippets, his audiences and addresses, his encyclicals and letters, all of which which are truly transformative. I know it changes the lives of the students with whom I read a number of his works, year by year. We as Catholics are called not to focus over-much upon the travails, follies, even the evils of this world, the form of which is already passing away. Our eyes, with Pope John Paul, should be on our heavenly homeland, towards which we are all journeying. If we with him and Our Lady, to whom the great Pontiff was so devoted, but say a small fiat to God for what he wants to do with our lives, we will soon be with him and all the saints in the heavenly Jerusalem. You may be surprised at what fruits may be borne on the way.
Pope Saint John Paul II, ora pro nobis!