On Monday night, I had the privilege to speak at the H.L. Grant Catholic Student Center and Saint Jude Chapel on the campus of the Texas State Bobcats in San Marcos, Texas. My talk was on the Life and Times of Blessed John Paul II to the students of the Awakening Retreat at 4th day. This was the second time I have been invited to speak to the Catholic students at Texas State. My first trip was on November 14, 2011 when I spoke about Verbum Domini written by Pope Benedict XVI and the importance of reading the Holy Scriptures. I will return shortly to talk about the students I have met at Texas State.
Since the main purpose of my blog is to educate the lay faithful of the Catholic Church in the New Evangelization, I want to share just some quick facts about Blessed John Paul II during my research for the talk on Monday night. Please know that this talk was about 45-60 minutes in length. I joked with the students and said I really need about 45 days to talk about Blessed John Paul II. At the beginning of the talk, I told them to use the Twitter hash tag #BLJP2 during my talk if they liked something I said. I also gave them my account – @tom_perna, their account – @texastate_csc, and one for Pope Benedict XVI since it was his birthday – @PopeBXVI.
In 1939, the Nazi occupation forces closed the Krakow’s Jagiellonian University and young Karol Wojtyla had to work in a quarry and then in the Solvay Chemical Factory to earn his living to avoid being deported to Germany. Below is the picture of him with some fellow workers at the chemical factory. Do you notice what is around his neck? You guessed it – a Brown Scapular! Very cool indeed.
After being ordained a priest in 1946, he studied in Rome under the French Dominican, Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP. While in Rome, he worked on his Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL) and his Doctorate in Sacred Theology (STD). He returned to Poland and was Parochial Vicar (associate pastor – PV is the Canon Law term) of various parishes in Krakow as well as a chaplain to university students. Below is a picture taken of him when he was on an excursion with the university students. I wonder if Fr. Brian Eilers, the chaplain at Texas State, would take the students from Texas State to Colorado to go skiing.
In 1969, Wojtyla completed and published his principle academic work – The Acting Person. In this work he explains the philosophical approach to understanding the person and ethics that he had developed, using the phenomenological method of contemporary personalism together with the metaphysical teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas. Advocates for this philosophy are St. Edith Stein and Dietrich Von Hildebrand. This philosophical approach, synthesized with the equivalent theological approach (that the Person of Christ, the God-Man, must be in the center of theological reflection) continued to define his papal teaching. It also is the key to an authentic understanding of the personalism promulgated by the Vatican II Council.
As Holy Father, he wrote 14 Encyclicals, 15 Apostolic Exhortations, 11 Apostolic Constitutions and 45 Apostolic Letters. He also wrote the 129 Papal Audiences between 1979-1984 that would later become the Theology of the Body and countless other Papal Audiences, homilies, and other documents. As a private Doctor, he published five books. The first was Crossing the Threshold of Hope in 1994. This was the book I encouraged many of the university students last night to read first if they have never read Blessed John Paul II.
There is so much more I could write, but I will hold that information for later blogs. I hope you understand. If you are like me and love hearing about Blessed John Paul II continue to follow this blog and encourage others to do so. I will write about him often and his impact on the Church that Christ founded upon Peter as the Rock.
To conclude this post, I just wanted to share my experiences with the university students at the Catholic Center on the campus of Texas State. It has been a true pleasure to speak to these university students for so many of them are hungry for theological knowledge and are on fire for Jesus Christ and his Bride the Church. As one who has worked with many high school students over the years, I can see in a young person’s eyes when they have found the light and the Truth we know to be Jesus Christ. So many of the Catholic students at Texas State that are involved in their campus ministry program have that light in their eyes. They have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and through prayer speak to him frequently. Each time I have been down to talk, they have been very welcoming to me and after each talk ask great question’s which in turn allows conversations to occur after the talk. Great things are occurring there because the Holy Spirit is moving their hearts.
Remember the hash tag and the Twitter accounts I spoke of earlier in this post? Here are some that went up on Twitter during my talk –
Great Talk by @tom_perna tonight about #BLJP2. Wow. Inspired! What a beautiful Papacy.
So great hearing about Pope John Paul II. Learning so much! #BLJP2
#BLJP2 is such a stud. I love it.
Also, if you have a Twitter account and ever talk about Blessed John Paul II, please use the hashtag – #BLJP2. Let’s catechize the Twitter World as Blessed JP II brought the faith to the world in the New Evangelization. It will be known as “Tweetalization.”
Lastly, if you have extra finances since filing your taxes on April 15, I would encourage you to make a contribution to the H.L. Grant Catholic Student Center and Saint Jude Chapel. If you can’t give at this time, please keep these university students and the ministries that are occurring for them in your prayers.