Whether it's Homer's Odyssey, Dante's Divine Comedy, Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, or McMurtry's Lonesome Dove, epic stories are able to speak to people in a variety of different ways, at different stages of their own life journeys.
So what are some of your favorite moments from the epic life of St. John Paul II? If you're like me, perhaps some of these highlights may continue to inspire you:
- A host of dramatic new initiatives, such as: bringing the Papacy to the people, through countless visits to countries around the world; initiating World Youth Days; expanding his beloved Holy Rosary to include the Luminous Mysteries; forging new paths toward ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue; instituting Divine Mercy Sunday and globalizing this powerful devotion.
- A mountain of magisterial insights, including: A Catechism for the ages, to provide a foundation upon which future generations could stand firm; dozens of encyclicals and apostolic exhortations inspired by God's revelation of the dignity of the human person in and through Jesus Christ; a Theology of the Body for a world in which human sexuality has come unhinged.
- A witness of personal holiness, at the service of the Church in the world: From deep devotion to Christ's presence in the Eucharist, through total consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to the daily recognition of God's merciful love poured out in Confession, this holy Holy Father maintained the prayer life of a mystic amid the most active service to the Church and the world.
Of course, the very effort to list a few favorite moments only calls to the countless other scenes left off the list! From the prophetic opening words of his papacy, "Be not afraid," through the courageous way he embraced his final months of suffering, JP2 managed to remind us that the Lord is always near when we take up our daily Crosses.
As we look forward to celebrating his feast day on October 22nd, let's pray that St. John Paul II continues to intercede on behalf of all those striving to live the Gospel in these challenging times--
Prayer to St. John Paul II
O, St. John Paul, from the window of heaven, grant us your blessing!
Bless the church that you loved and served and guided,
courageously leading it along the paths of the world
in order to bring Jesus to everyone and everyone to Jesus.
Bless the young, who were your great passion.
Help them dream again, help them look up high again
to find the light that illuminates the paths of life here on earth.
May you bless families, bless each family!
You warned of Satan’s assault against this precious
and indispensable divine spark that God lit on earth.
St. John Paul, with your prayer, may you protect the family
and every life that blossoms from the family.
Pray for the whole world, which is still marked by tensions, wars and injustice.
You tackled war by invoking dialogue and planting the seeds of love:
pray for us so that we may be tireless sowers of peace.
O St. John Paul, from heaven’s window, where we see you next to Mary,
send God’s blessing down upon us all. Amen!
P.S. A new feature-length film entitled The Face of Mercy explores "the history and relevance of Divine Mercy in our turbulent times"--among other things, linking St. John Paul II's papacy with Pope Francis' call for a Jubilee Year of Mercy.