Sunday, May 1, 2011

A thought on today's beatification of Bl. Pope John Paul II

For me the personal holiness and heroic virtue of Karol Joseph Wojtyla are evident to anyone who has eyes to see. I guess if people want to be parochial and get worked up about what he would no doubt dismiss as so many bourgeois concerns, that is, choosing to focus on a couple of trees, thus failing to notice the majesty of the forest, they are certainly free to do so. I mean, it's not like Hitch didn't make a few worthwhile observations in his otherwise brutal "take" on Bl Teresa of Calcutta. Few people have changed the whole world for better, done more to usher in God's kingdom, than Bl. Pope John Paul II.

Like the late, great Dominican theologian, Yves Congar, I, too, have concerns about popes beatifiying and canonizing other popes. However, when the voices of literally millions of the faithful shout out repeatedly, "Santo Subito!", there is a very different dynamic. According to the way saints have traditionally been made, he was a saint then and there. So, while still only beatified, not canonized, all of this constitutes so many formalities, which only affirm the reality of what already is definitively. The heroic virtue and courage of Bl. Pope John Paul II immediately and dramatically affected for the better the lives of hundreds of millions.

Looking at another example, do you really think Archbishop Oscar Romero is not already a saint?

Jesus, I trust in you


  1. "when the voices of literally millions of the faithful shout out repeatedly, "Santo Subito!"

    Sure? It didn't happen in this way,it was planned the week before his death. I'm a former member of Focolare movement, we, jointly other members of ecclesial movements, began to shout out "Santo Subito". Our superiors ordered us to act in this way to push the crowd.It wasn't a spontaneous shout out.

  2. Cris:

    I think you missed my point, there is a reason for "Santo Subito", regardless of how it came about. While it may well be true that you heeded some directives of whomever (which is more to your detriment if you shouted and didn't mean it) your explanation does not even come close to capturing the totality of what occurred in Rome in those days, not a by a long shot.

    There was no way in which his holiness was made more evident than in how he bore his physical sufferings in old age and even in how he died. The fact that so many fervently joined in is proof enough of the esteem in which he was held by so many.

    Ask yourself, why were so many in Rome at that time? To honor him, to remember him, to say goodbye to their beloved Papa. So many just came, descended on the Eternal City from many places. The fact that even many of those belonged to the movements, like CL, with which I am affiliated, is no big deal. The point is they were there to honor him and came freely.

    I understand full well why there are those who dislike his beatification. Undoubtedly even more will come forward when he is canonized. My point is that the holiness of his life, starting when he was very young, is evident to anyone who wants to see. He was a person who served Christ with every ounce of his being until the very end, which was not the end, but only the beginning!

  3. I always appreciate your point of view Scott and certainly have done so today, both here and on my Facebook page.

    You are aware of my feelings on the subject and hearing you, well reading you - your words and prayers help me to open previously closed doors in my heart and mind. That is a gift that you constantly present me with and I thank God for this.

    It is interesting to see how many (on my FB) are ready to relegate Blessed John Paul II to some less than saintly corner. I think that is a sad.

    We tend to see what we want and that is a mistake when trying to see the Kingdom unfold.

    As for Oscar Romero - he is a saint to me, I would like to see this cause furthered and also have Blessed John XXIII be canonized. But there are so many saints, so many of them never to be known by name.

  4. I certainly agree about Abp Romero and, to an extent, about Papa Roncalli, though I remain wary of popes canonizing popes for the sake of canonizing popes. Like Dorothy Day, many cherish a kind of ideologically-tinged image of John XXIII that does not really bear a close resemblance to who he was, or what he sought to accomplish (i.e., he was not quite the “liberal” or “progressive” that many suppose him to have been- though he was truly a great man, open to the Holy Spirit). The popular acclaim given JPII is what makes his case so unique. This acclaim is the result of his manifest holiness and the heroic virtue that he demonstrated even as a young man. One example of this is his decision, during the Nazi-occupation of Poland, to culturally resist instead of taking up arms, even while he was forced to labor in the quarry and attended seminary underground.

    When it comes to those we raise to the dignity of the altar, it is never a question as to whether someone is a saint to me, which is just a way of expressing whether their story resonates with me or not. Because they are part of the Church, the communion of saints is an inherently diverse group of people. Nothing is more original in any age than true holiness. Nobody understood this better than JPII. The reason he canonized so many saints was precisely because he believed that holiness was not as rare as people think. It was important to him canonize lay people, including married women and men, even couples. After all, there are only a few saints (i.e., St. Joseph, St. Stephen, St. Martin of Tours, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, St. Gianna Molla, Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, St. Lawrence) whose intercession I actively and frequently seek, but most saints I do not.

    Of course, there are many blessed in heaven whose names we do not know, who are truly hidden in God with Christ. This is the reason we observe All Saints Day.


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