Last week Catholics around the world received wonderful news from the Vatican, specifically from the Congregation for the Canonization of Saints, that Blessed John Paul II and Blessed John XXIII could be canonized by years end. Although I find John XXIII to be a great man in the 20th century Church, growing up as part of the JP2 Generation and knowing that “our” Pope is going to be declared a Saint of the Church is just so exciting. I mean really exciting!!
Blessed John Paul II is a major figure in my life as a Catholic man, but also as a Catholic educator, writer, and speaker. His life, his writings, and his witness have played a major role in my own journey in the Catholic faith since 1993 when my friend, Robert Kloska, first really introduced to me to him.
There are many reasons why I love Blessed John Paul II, but one of the BIG reasons is because of his love for the Blessed Mother. His love for Mary began as a small child when his own mother passed away. At that time, he asked Mary to his mother. As a child, he had a great devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. He had a great devotion to Our Lady of Czestochowa, Our Lady of Fatima, the Holy Rosary, and the Brown Scapular. He is the only Pope to put the letter “M” on this Papal shield to represent Mary.
He wrote numerous documents that focused on the Blessed Mother and even in those documents that did not specifically focus on Mary; he spoke about her. Even though many Popes before John Paul II had devotions to the Blessed Mother, it can be proclaimed very easily that John Paul II is the Marian Pope and Saint.
Below is a minimal sampling of his writings and addresses that focus on the Blessed Mother. These five quotes hardly due John Paul the Great and future Doctor of the Church justice, however, I would encourage you to read them once, read them again, and then pray with his words in order to implement them into your own heart and life of prayer.
“Mary shares our human condition, but in complete openness to the grace of God. Not having known sin, she is able to have compassion for every kind of weakness. She understands sinful man and loves with a mother’s love. Precisely for this reason she is on the side of truth and shares the Church’s burden of recalling always and to everyone the demands of morality. Nor does she permit sinful man to be deceived by those who claim to love him by justifying his sin, for she knows that the sacrifice of Christ her Son would be emptied of its power. No absolution offered by beguiling doctrines, even in the areas of philosophy and theology, can make man truly happy. Only the cross and glory of the risen Christ can grant peace to his conscience and salvation to his life.” – Veritatis Splendor, 120
“And in the moments of weariness raise your eyes to Mary, the Virgin who, forgetting herself, set out “with haste” for the hills to reach her elderly cousin Elizabeth who was in need help and assistance (cf. Lk. 1:39ff). Let her be the inspiration of your daily dedication to duty; let her suggest to you the right words and opportune gestures at the bedside of the sick; let her comfort you in misunderstandings and failures, hoping you always keep a smile on your face and a hope in your heart.” – Address, Rome, June 18, 1979
“In creating the human race “male and female,” God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity, endowing them with the inalienable rights and responsibilities proper to the human person. God then manifests the dignity of women in the highest form possible, by assuming human flesh from the Virgin Mary, whom the Church honors as the Mother of God, calling her the New Eve and presenting her as the model of redeemed woman.” – Familiaris Consortio, 22
“As the Council proclaims: Mary became “a mother to us in the order of grace.” This motherhood in the order of grace flows from her divine motherhood. Because she was, by the design of divine Providence, the Mother who nourished the divine Redeemer, Mary became “an associate of unique nobility, and the Lord’s humble handmaid,” who “cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the Savior’s work of restoring supernatural life to souls.” And “this maternity of Mary in the order of grace…will last without interruption until the eternal fulfillment of al the elect.” – Redemptoris Mater, 22
“Evangelization “is the greatest ministry or service that the Church carries out for the world and for men, the Good news that the kingdom of justice and peace reaches men in Jesus Christ” (Puebla Document, 679). Hence the Church, if she wishes to be really the bearer of the message of the Son of God, must proclaim, live, and bear witness to the Gospel faithfully and consistently. In the evangelizing history of the Church, the Virgin Mary has occupied and continues to occupy a singularly unique place. It has rightly been said: “to Christ through Mary.” – Address, Mendoza, Argentina, October 12, 1980
O, Mary, the Immaculate Virgin, be our guide and intercessor to the divine light, Jesus Christ. As we develop a personal friendship with your Son, assist us in being your children more and more each and allowing you to be our Advocating Mother. Our Lady Help of Christians…Pray For Us!