Today in the Archdiocese of Ottawa--as in Italy, Poland and the United States generally--an optional memorial of Blessed John Paul II is permitted.
The date was chosen to memorialize the Inauguration of Pope John Paul II on October 22, 1978 when a young, vibrant Polish Pope stepped out on to the balcony in St. Peters Square and signaled his mission with those memorable words: "Be Not Afraid! Open up, no; swing wide the gates to Christ. Open up to his saving power the confines of the State, open up economic and political systems, the vast empires of culture, civilization and development.. Be not afraid!"
His magisterium (teaching office) set a framework for what is becoming under his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, a new missionary age of the Catholic Church throughout the entire world. His teaching helped to bring about an authentic renewal of the Church. It reasserted the mission of the Church to engage and transform all of human culture, including the arts, politics, the academy, and economic and political realm - because no area of human experience is "off-limits" to the influence of the Gospel and the Church.
He confronted, exposed and opposed the "culture of death", wherein the human person is treated as an instrument to be used rather than an unrepeatable gift to be received. He proposed a different way, building a new "culture of life" where every human person, at every age and stage, is recognized as having an inviolable dignity and right to life, freedom and love.
He charted a path to peace and solidarity, proclaiming to the nations that we are all our brothers' keeper and that we owe an obligation in solidarity to one another and, most especially, to the poor in all of their manifestations. He wrote of authentic freedom as a freedom "for" and not just a freedom "from", a freedom that must be bounded by truth and lived in accordance with the moral understanding of our obligation to do what is right.
He exposed what he called in his Encyclical "The Gospel of Life" the "counterfeit notion of freedom" as a raw power over others. He countered the false notion of the autonomy of the individual as the measure of a "freedom" to do whatever one wants by insisting that the path to human flourishing is communion.
He proclaimed a new and true humanism, reaffirming that we were created in the Image of God, made for communion. He insisted that through applying the treasury of the social teaching of the Catholic Church - in our relationships with one another, in our families, in our societies, our nations and in the global community - authentic justice and freedom can actually be achieved.
Entrusted for twenty six years with the Chair of Peter, Pope John Paul II was a prophetic Pope in both word and deed. From his first encyclical letter entitled "The Redeemer of Man" to his last, the "Church of the Eucharist", he proclaimed that the truth is, as he wrote in his profound Encyclical Letter on the Moral Life, a "splendor".
He called for reconciliation among separated Christians in "May They Be One" and a new model of full communion with the Church which is beginning to be implemented under Pope Benedict XVI with the creation of Anglican Ordinariates as an example. With deep love for the "Light of the East" he called Eastern and Western Christianity to rediscover their dependence upon one another in order that the entire Body of Christ might once again breathe with "two lungs" and present the whole Jesus Christ to a world that needs to be liberated.
On April 2, 2005 at 9:37 p.m. this dearly beloved Pope died in the Lord while the whole world watched, prayed and wept. Almost immediately upon his passing throngs of the faithful gathered in St Peters Square and began a chant which continues in the hearts of millions throughout the world "Santo Subito", Sainthood Now!
Friday, January 14, 2011 the Holy See released the "Decree for the Beatification of the Servant of God John Paul II". Sunday, January 16, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI, announced "On 1 May I will have the joy of proclaiming the Venerable Pope John Paul II, my predecessor, as a blessed. The date chosen is very significant because it will, in fact, be the second Sunday of Easter which he himself dedicated to Divine Mercy and on the eve of which his earthly life came to an end.Those who knew him, those who respected and loved him cannot but share in the Church's joy at this event."
In the last ten centuries of Church history no Pope has beatified his predecessor. From the beginning of Pope Benedict's pontificate it has been clear that he has longed for this day. On April 3, 2011 at another Angelus, he told the faithful who gathered of his memories of the late John Paul II, "I remember him in prayer with affection as I think of you all. While we journey through Lent and prepare for the feast of Easter, we come with joy to the day when we will also venerate as a saint this great pope and witness of Christ, and rely even more on his intercession."
The choice of the Feast of Divine Mercy, May 1, 2011 for the beatification was intentional. Pope John Paul II had a deep devotion to his fellow Pole Sr. Faustina Kowalska and to the Divine Mercy devotion identified with her. In August 2002, in Lagiewniki, Poland where Sr. Faustina lived and died, John Paul II entrusted the entire world "to Divine Mercy, to the unlimited trust in God the Merciful."
The Decree of Beatification notes, "Since the beginning of his pontificate, in 1978, John Paul II often spoke in his homilies of the mercy of God. This became the theme of his second encyclical, Dives in Misericordia, in 1980. He was aware that modern culture and its language do not have a place for mercy, treating it as something strange; they try to inscribe everything in the categories of justice and law. But this does not suffice, for it is not what the reality of God is about."
There is no doubt that we had a saint in our midst. A man so filled with Jesus Christ that, like the Apostle Paul, he no longer lived but "Christ lived in him." (Galatians 2) The sentiment of the faithful expressed on the day on which his body was processed through the streets of Rome, "Santo Subito" has echoed as the Church has discerned the cause of his canonization. Now, he will be raised to the Altar on the Feast of Divine Mercy and the faithful will call him "Blessed John Paul II."
The final step to his canonization is an attested second miracle. In an interview with the ZENIT news service, Monsignor Slawomir Oder, the postulator for the cause of the late Pope was asked whether other miracles were revealed during the process. He replied "There were so many graces and also alleged miracles. Some were examined more in-depth, because this is the practice. Before carrying out a study on a miracle, a prior study is done which in some way guarantees the process itself. In some cases we did further studies and the preliminary statements were good, but we did not continue to study them because the study on the miracle that had been chose was already under way."
He was asked a follow up question "Can you tell us in what countries these miracles happened?" Monsignor Oder replied "They were verified in France, in the United States, in Germany and in Italy." The postulator expressed what impressed him most about the inquiry into the life and ministry of the late Pope, "The aspect that amazed me, which also happens to be the most important aspect of his life, was the discovery that the source and origin of his extraordinary activity, of his generosity in acting, of the depth of his thought, was his relationship with Christ.
"What came to light was certainly a mystic. A mystic in the sense that he was a man who lived in the presence of God, who let himself be guided by the Holy Spirit, who was in constant dialogue with the Lord, who built his whole life around the question [asked to Peter]: "Do you love me?" His life was the answer to this essential question posed by the Lord. I think this aspect is the greatest treasure of the process."
Jacques Berthieu, né en 1838, en France, fut très tôt passionné de Jésus-Christ. Durant son ministère de paroisse, il eut le désir ardent de sauver les âmes. Devenu jésuite, il voulait parcourir le monde pour la gloire de Dieu. Pasteur infatigable dans l’île Sainte Marie puis à Madagascar, il lutta contre l’injustice, tout en soulageant les pauvres et les malades. Les Malgaches le considéraient comme un prêtre venu du ciel, disant : Vous êtes notre « père et mère ! » Il se fit tout à tous, puisant dans la prière et dans l’amour du Cœur de Jésus la force humaine et sacerdotale d’aller jusqu’au martyre en 1896. Il mourut en disant : « Je préfère mourir plutôt que renoncer à ma foi ». Chers amis, que la vie de cet évangélisateur soit un encouragement et un modèle pour les prêtres, afin qu’ils soient des hommes de Dieu comme lui ! Que son exemple aide les nombreux chrétiens persécutés aujourd’hui à cause de leur foi ! Puisse en cette Année de la foi, son intercession porter des fruits pour Madagascar et le continent africain ! Que Dieu bénisse le peuple malgache !
Giovanni Battista Piamarta, priest of the Diocese of Brescia, was a great apostle of charity and of young people. He raised awareness of the need for a cultural and social presence of Catholicism in the modern world, and so he dedicated himself to the Christian, moral and professional growth of the younger generations with an enlightened input of humanity and goodness. Animated by unshakable faith in divine providence and by a profound spirit of sacrifice, he faced difficulties and fatigue to breathe life into various apostolic works, including the Artigianelli Institute, Queriniana Publishers, the Congregation of the Holy Family of Nazareth for men, and for women the Congregation of the Humble Sister Servants of the Lord. The secret of his intense and busy life is found in the long hours he gave to prayer. When he was overburdened with work, he increased the length of his encounter, heart to heart, with the Lord. He preferred to pause before the Blessed Sacrament, meditating upon the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, to gain spiritual fortitude and return to gaining people’s hearts, especially the young, to bring them back to the sources of life with fresh pastoral initiatives.