Pope John Paul II, I have no doubt, is one of the main reasons I am a Catholic. In my estimation, he was the towering figure of the last half of the twentieth century. I have shared this here before, but I have a most vivid memory of Pope John Paul II's election in October 1978, when I was in seventh grade and staying at what was then my grandma's fairly remote farmhouse. It was like I felt a jolt of electricity pass through me when I saw this man, having no idea who he was apart from being the new pope.
Since today marks the public promulgation of Pope Francis' first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, let's look at Pope John Paul II's first encyclical, promulgated in March 1979, Redemptor Hominis. Here is the opening sentence: "The Redeemer of man, Jesus Christ, is the center of the universe and of history."
What else would I post today for our Friday traditio except this from Pope John Paul II's 1979 Apostolic Journey to United States, delivered in Boston, his first stop?
Pope John Paul II's fellow Pole, Artur Sebastian Rosman, on his new and very worthwhile blog, Cosmos The In Lost, posted something very good about what the witness of John Paul II at the end of his life means to atheist psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva, "Kristeva’s Declaration of Dependence: On JP2.". I urge you to read the whole thing, it is really quite amazing, even stunning in certain respects, but I was struck by this, referring to John Paul II in his last years, Kristeva wrote, 'the body of the handicapped pope was and remains and invitation to know life up to its limits. And to develop this solidarity with people who are dependent–the handicapped or the aged–which modern humanism has so much difficulty doing."
My lovely wife and I have started to plan out pilgrimage to Rome. we marked our twentieth anniversary last month, but didn't have the opportunity to do anything befitting such an auspicious event. I think perhaps this was in the cards all along. The date has yet to be announced.
None of this is to slight Good Pope John, but Pope John Paul II's canonization is something very personal, even immediate, for me.