On my 32nd birthday in 2006, my friends Michael and Laura (Parks) Garibaldi gave me the book titled, The Place Within – The Poetry of Pope John Paul II. Only days before receiving this gift from them, Michael and I were talking about reading French poetry to significant others and how romantic the whole idea seemed. He wrote in the book, and I quote, “well brother, not exactly French poetry, but any lady worth her salt will want our Papa read to her before anyone else…”
It’s been eight years since this text was given to me and a year doesn’t go by when I at least pick it up a few times to read through the many great poems written by the soon-to-be saint, Pope John Paul II. Many of these poems, written between 1939 and 1978, were published under pseudonyms and were not recognized as John Paul II until after his election to the Chair of Saint Peter.
I know many of you have read the plethora of his papal writings, but have you read his poetry? Do yourself a favor and purchase this book before April 27. You will be glad you did. Please share this post with your family and friends too. I imagine many will not be aware that Pope St. John Paul II wrote poetry.
I leave you with the poem that shares the same title with the book – The Place Within. It speaks of Jesus Christ, the cross, and “the source and summit of the Christian faith” – the Holy Eucharist.
“My place is You, your place is in me. Yet it is the place of all men. Am I not diminished by them in this place. I am more alone – more than if there were no one else – I am alone with myself. At the same time I am multiplied by them in the Cross which stood on this place. This multiplying with no diminishment remains a mystery: the Cross goes against the current. In it numbers retreat before man.
In You – how did the Cross come to be?
Now let us walk down the narrow steps as if down a tunnel through a wall. Those who once walked down the slope stopped at the place where now there is a slab. They anointed your body and then laid it in a tomb. Through your body you had a place on earth, the outward place of the body you exchanged for a place within [emphasis mine], saying: ‘Take, all of you, and eat of this.’
The radiation of that place within relates to the outward places on Earth to which I came on pilgrimage. You chose this place centuries ago – the place in which You give yourself and accept me.”
For those of you unable to purchase the book, as we get closer to Lent, reach the Easter season, and celebrate his canonization, I will post a few more of his poems that correlate with the correct season.
Pope St. John the Paul the Great, Lover of Humanity…Pray For Us!