Attending the Beatification events of Blessed Pope John Paul II, was a real highlight for our seminarians studying in the eternal city. Here is a personal report from Br Francis Joseph Coyne, SOLT.
The original newsletter can be viewed here.
Blessed John Paul II believed. He showed us that a life penetrated by faith will be singularly magnificent and unrepeatable. At his funeral people chanted‘SantoSubito!’-canonizehimnow! His successor, Benedict XVI, waved the normal 5 year waiting period and started the process of beatification posthaste. His beatification is the fastest on record. But what is it that made people all over the world feel that they knew him and he them? Why did the youth erupt in joy when he passed them at the WYDs? How come the Spirit surged within so many like a fountain of living water, a cleansing bath of truth, causing tears of gladness to flow from eyes and sounds of joy to emanate from lips when they encountered him?
What did he hold out to us? Why do we lovehimandfeelsoclosetohim?Hislife, like his beatification, was an affirmation. He affirmed Jesus’ Yes to mankind, a Yes which he made his own. He promoted the value and dignity of each person. He knew that ‘man is the way of the church and Christ is the way of man.’ He made himself the servant of mankind. In the face of totalitarian regimes, secular and atheistic ideologies, ‘he gave us courage not to fear truth, for truth is the guarantee of liberty.’ He believed, like Peter, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. That Jesus Christ is the answer. That Jesus Christ alone knows what is in man. Like Peter, he confirmed the faith of his brethren. He confirmed our faith. Many, following his example, have let themselves be embraced by truth. This is why we loved him, and love him now more than ever.
Be Not Afraid!
200,000 kept vigil at the Circus Maximus, that ancient site where many martyrs trampled death. We heard testimonies from some of those who knew him best. We listened to Sr. Marie Simon- Pierre who was healed of Parkinson’s disease through his intercession. We watched footage from his pontificate, including his first homily as Pope when he proclaimed those famous words, “Be not Afraid. Open wide the doors to Christ!” We saw him addressing peoples of different countries who gathered to witness light shining in darkness. Particularly moving was his last public appearance when from his study window, crucified with Parkinson’s disease, he found himself unable to speak. His love, unable to find expression in word, erupted in the sign of the cross made in broad gesture. We prayed the Mysteries of Light with five Marianshrinesviasatellite.Goingforth from this event many thousands met the RisenLordonthealtarsofeightchurches in Rome, during the White Night of Prayer. Gathering in these places we offered hearts full of thanksgiving, and boldly opened ourselves to the gift of his grace. We were as children fearlessly splashing and exalting in the waves of Divine Mercy.
Open Wide The Doors!
Spalancate le porte a Cristo! Open wide the doors to Christ!--the words, writ large, on one arm of Bernini’s colonnade of St Peter’s square. On the other, a series of banners tracing each year of his remarkable pontificate. 1.5 million had gathered in the wee morning hours. The gates opened. We poured in, flooding via di Conciliazione, and beyond. We were a universal family gathered to celebrate the blessedness of our papa. Hundreds of Polish flags rose from our ranks, as well those from lands near and far, Brazil, Australia, USA. Together we beseeched God’s mercy through the Chaplet. Mass began. JPII’s biography was read. Benedict XVI pronounced the official formula. Joy erupted. Two sisters carried in the reliquary containing avileofJPII’sblood for the Pope to venerate.Theimage of the new blessed was unveiled. The Gloria gathered and focused our excitement. The homily proclaimed faith as the reason for JPII’s blessedness; told of how he gave us strength to believe in the Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of man; and how following the light of Vatican II he ‘led the People of God across the threshold of the Third Millennium, which thanks to Christ he was able to call the ‘threshold of hope.’’ At Holy Communion the Pierced One came personally to each one of us. Peace reigned. Veneration of JPII’s remains followed and did not cease for two days. Bl. John Paul II opened wide the doors to Christ, and left us an example to follow.