Saturday, April 02, 2005

Con Te

©"L'Osservatore Romano"
Photo from the book John Paul II: A Light for the World.
As dawn broke over [St. Peter's] square, the crowd was considerably diminished, with a group of about 100 faithful continuing their vigil from overnight. They huddled around a message, written with prayer candles placed on the ground, that read "con te," Italian for "with you."
- AP source

"With you." Sometimes, the media catches something truly brilliant, and this is one of those cases. What a beautiful image to contemplate - pilgrims camped out in St. Peter's square praying in solidarity with the man who has meant so much to their faith, to their lives, and to the world. The news is replete with stories of what the Pope has done in his 85 years, especially the latter score during his Pontificate. I ought not bother with these stories, about the fall of communism and the role he played in taming Fidel Castro. They're well-covered by the press, and besides, I wasn't even born until the fourth year of John Paul II's reign; my only real memories are of the latter half of his papacy.

But apart from those earth-shattering tales, the stuff of encyclopedias and almanacs, I have my own stories... and I think my type are the ones that matter most. They are the stories of the average Catholic who, somehow, has been touched to the core of his being by this travelling Pope: by this great man who rose from simplicity and brought himself into the lives of countless people, faithful or not: this man who broke down barriers of class, race, language, and even stone.

Certainly the Pope's example has been a profound influence on my own vocational journey. He's inspired me with a love for the Eucharist, and a desire to consecrate my heart to Jesus through Mary, the Mediatrix of all graces. His "theology of the body" has shed a light on celibacy that has enabled me (at least intellectually) to perceive therein a gift, a unique blessing for one called to receive it. John Paul II's unwavering moral stances have inspired me with courage to defend my faith; his apologetic humility in echumenism has helped to cool my Irish blood on more than one occasion; his dexterity in a dozen languages has brought blood to my cheeks when I've complained in Spanish class about the difficulty of the material. Karol Wojtyla has given me a reason to be proud of my Polish last name - a pride that the combined force of every ethnic joke ever told can never dent. For no matter how many Poles it may take to screw in a lightbulb, it only took one Pole in particular to illuminate the lives of billions.

I commend the Holy Father to God in my prayer tonight, and pledge my own thoughts and prayers in the upcoming days that the will of God be brought to bear gently and mercifully in the life of the Pope. Siamo con te, Papa. We are with you. As you are with us. Be not afraid.


Blogger mary said...

Very nice

4/2/05, 2:31 AM  

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