Happy Birthday to my hero – Pope St. John Paul II

Today would have been the 97th birthday of Karol Wojtyla, known to so many as – Pope St. John Paul II. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about him fondly. The reason I do what I do on this blog and in my position at the parish is based on his life and his many great documents. The influence of John Paul II on my own life is truly immeasurable. I was blessed to see him three times in my life – Phoenix, Arizona in 1987, Denver, Colorado in 1993, and in Rome, Italy in 2000. I am the JP2 Generation.

Pope St. John Paul II as a young priest.

For a collection of pictures from a previous post, check out this one I wrote on his birthday in 2014. Below are the Top 5 All-Time Posts (most views) I have written in the past –

1. 12 Quotes from Blessed Pope John Paul II on the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World 

2. 12 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on Our Lady of Guadalupe

3. “Mondays with Mary” – 5 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on the Mother of Mercy

4. 5 Quotes on Pentecost from Pope St. John Paul II

5. 10 Quotes on the Holy Family from Pope St. John Paul II

For the complete collection of my writings on him, click here.

Pope Saint John Paul II…Pray For Us 

Pope St. John Paul II’s Rookie Card

Today is the memorial for Pope St. John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla) as well as the 38th Anniversary of his Installation to the Papacy of the Catholic Church. Below you will find two pictures – the front and back of a prayer card from October 1978.

In some aspects, this prayer card for Pope St. John Paul II is like a “baseball rookie card.” It states the dates of his birth, ordination to the priesthood, elevation to the episcopate, cardinal creation, election to the papacy, and installation to the papacy.

If the prayer card below is like his baseball rookie card, then my blog post titled, Pope Saint John Paul: Mission Accomplished, is his induction to the Hall of Fame, well in this case, the Heavenly Kingdom.

In the 4½ years of writing on this blog, I have written about Pope St. John Paul over 50 times. He is one of the main reasons why I teach and write about the Catholic faith so much. His inspiration in my life, which began through Robert “BK” Kloska, has fueled many of my projects on here and in different parish and school positions that I have held over the years.

JP2 Rookie Card, Side 1JP2 Rookie Card, Side 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For your reading pleasure today, here are the blog posts that I have written on the Polish Pope and Saint since last year’s memorial day –

1. Pope St. John Paul II on the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

2. 7 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi 

3. “Mondays with Mary” – 5 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on Mary’s Connection to Pentecost

4. “Mondays with Mary” – 5 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on Mary as the Virgin of Virgins

5. Remembering Pope St. John Paul II: Eleven Years Later

6. “Mondays with Mary” – 10 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on the Presentation of the Lord

7. 10 Quotes on the Holy Family from Pope St. John Paul II

This link will take you to the many other blog posts I have written on him.

Pope St. John Paul II…Pray For Us!

JP2, We Love You! 

Be Not Afraid! 

Beatification Pic of JP II

Karl von Habsburg: The Last Catholic Emperor and King of Austria

Today is the memorial for Blessed Karl of Austria, the last Catholic emperor and king of Austria, who is currently in the Canonization process.

Karl von Habsburg was born on August 17, 1887 in the country of Austria. He had a wonderful childhood and was taught the Catholic faith. He was a virtuous young man known for his generosity, loyalty, and intelligence. His tutor recollects that he loved serving as an altar boy in Mass. From his young days as a child, he had a great devotion and love for the Holy Eucharist and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. When he turned 16 years old, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Imperial Army.

After courting Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma (now Venerable Zita) for some time, Karl takes her to the Marian Shrine of Mariazel. There he proposes to her in front of the Blessed Sacrament. He places their engagement under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On the night before their wedding Karl tells his bride: “Now
 we must help each other get to Heaven.” Their marriage is blessed with eight children.

As a family, they focused on daily devotions such as the Rosary, novenas, and reading the Scriptures. They would attend daily Mass together, study the catechism, and were devoted to the Blessed Sacrament, the Immaculate Conception, and the Holy Cross.

Blessed Karl and Venerable Zita Wedding Photo

On June 28, 1914, Archduke
Ferdinand is assassinated beginning the First World War. Karl is the next in line for the throne. On November 30, 1916, Karl is elevated to Emperor. He was a good moral and Catholic emperor who desired to put the needs of his people before his own which did through spiritual and civil actions.

After the First World War was finished, he was told he had to give up his throne. He refused stating that the crown entrusted to him was from God and a holy trust. He could never betray God, his subjects or his dynasty. For Karl of Austria, the culture he bears is Christianity.

In the end, he is exiled with his family. At the end of his short life, at the point of death, he calls his eldest son to be at his bedside to say good-bye. He says to his son, Otto, watch “how a Catholic and Emperor conducts himself when dying.” At the age of 34 years old, in his wife’s arms, he enters eternity holding a crucifix and saying the words, “My Jesus, Thy Will be done—Jesus.”

At the Mass for his Beatification, Pope St. John Paul II said in his homily,

The decisive task of Christians consists in seeking, recognizing and following God’s will in all things. The Christian statesman, Charles of Austria, confronted this challenge every day. To his eyes, war appeared as “something appalling”. Amid the tumult of the First World War, he strove to promote the peace initiative of my Predecessor, Benedict XV.

From the beginning, the Emperor Charles conceived of his office as a holy service to his people. His chief concern was to follow the Christian vocation to holiness also in his political actions. For this reason, his thoughts turned to social assistance. May he be an example for all of us, especially for those who have political responsibilities in Europe today!

To learn more about Blessed Karl of Austria, I would suggest checking out these websites – Blessed Karl of Austria Beatification and Canonization SiteOrder of Malta – Blessed Charles of Austria, and Crisis Magazine – Blessed Karl von Habsburg.

Blessed Karl of Austria

Blessed Karl of Austria…Pray For Us.

The 50th Anniversary of Gravissimum Educationis (Declaration On Christian Education)

Today, October 28, 2015 we commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Gravissimum Educationis (Declaration on Christian Education). Along with this declaration, we also commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Christus Dominus (Decree Concerning the Pastoral Office of Bishops In the Church), Perfectae Caritatis (Decree On Renewal of Religious Life), Optatam Totius, (Decree On Priestly Training), and Nostra Aetate (Declaration On the Relation Of the Church to Non-Christian Religions).

Out of the sixteen documents produced by the Council Fathers, this is one of the shortest, however, just because it’s one of the shortest does not mean its importance is any less. There are two key elements of this declaration: first, it focuses heavily on “the dignity of the human person.” Unlike other papal documents on education as that focused on the family and institutions, this document focuses its attention on the human person. Education should never be just about graduating from an institution of higher learning, getting a job, and making money. Education truly focuses on the importance of the person as well as the common good of society as a whole. The second element of this declaration points out that Christian parents are the principal and primary educators of their children. For a child to have the most solidified education, the parents must be involved and take an active role in both the classical and spiritual formation.

Since parts of this document have not reached fruition yet, it is now our time to assist the Council Fathers in seeing this document bear the fruit it was meant to produce when it was first promulgated. In the latter part of this declaration, the Council Fathers focus on Catholic universities. In a time where most Catholic universities have lost their Catholic identity and focus solely on secular thoughts, we must also read with this document, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the Apostolic Constitution promulgated in 1990 by Pope St. John Paul II.

A quick footnote here: we must keep in my mind that most documents from ecumenical councils don’t take hold in the Church for at least 40-50 years after the original council date. We are now at that point.

Source: Liturgical Press (https://www.litpress.org/Home/Index)

Source: Liturgical Press (https://www.litpress.org/Home/Index)

To conclude today’s blog post, I give you ten quotes from the declaration. There are other good quotes from this document, but these stood out to me when I read it –

1. “All men of whatever race, condition or age, in virtue of their dignity as human persons, have an inalienable right to education…True education is directed towards the formation of the human person in view of his final end and the good of that society to which he belongs and in the duties of the which he will, as an adult, have a share.”

2. “All Christians…should learn to adore God the Father in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:23), especially through the liturgy. They should be trained to live their own lives in the new self, justified and sanctified through the truth (Eph. 4:22-24). Thus they should come to true manhood, which is proportioned to the completed growth of Christ (cf. Eph. 4:13), and make their contribution to the growth of the Mystical Body.”

3. “As it is the parents who have given life to their children, on them lies the gravest obligation of educating their family. They must be therefore be recognized as the being primarily and principally responsible for their education.”

4. “It is therefore above all in the Christian family, inspired by the grace and the responsibility of the sacrament of matrimony, that children should be taught to know and worship God and to love their neighbor, in accordance with the faith which they have received in earliest infancy in the sacrament of Baptism.”

5. “The influence of the Church in the field of education is shown in a special manner by the Catholic school. No less than other schools does the Catholic school pursue cultural goals and the human formation of youth. But its proper function is to create for the school community a special atmosphere animated by the Gospel spirit of freedom and charity, to help youth grow according to the new creatures they were made through baptism as they develop their own personalities…”

6. “But let teachers recognize that the Catholic school depends upon them almost entirely for the accomplishment of its goals and programs. They should therefore be very carefully prepared so that both in secular and religious knowledge they are equipped with suitable qualifications and also with a pedagogical skill that is in keeping with the findings of the contemporary world. Intimately linked in charity to one another and to their students and endowed with an apostolic spirit, may teachers by their life as much as by their instruction bear witness to Christ…”

7. “This Sacred Council of the Church earnestly entreats pastors and all the faithful to spare no sacrifice in helping Catholic schools fulfill their function in a continually more perfect way, and especially in caring for the needs of those who are poor in the goods of this world or who are deprived of the assistance and affection of a family or who are strangers to the gift of Faith.”

8. “The Church is concerned also with schools of a higher level, especially colleges and universities. In those schools dependent on her she intends that by their very constitution individual subjects be pursued according to their own principles, method, and liberty of scientific inquiry, in such a way that an ever deeper understanding in these fields may be obtained and that, as questions that are new and current are raised and investigations carefully made according to the example of the doctors of the Church and especially of St. Thomas Aquinas, there may be a deeper realization of the harmony of faith and science.”

9. “Since the destiny of society and of the Church itself is intimately linked with the progress of young people pursuing higher studies, the pastors of the Church are to expend their energies not only on the spiritual life of students who attend Catholic universities, but, solicitous for the spiritual formation of all their children, they must see to it, after consultations between bishops, that even at universities that are not Catholic there should be associations and university centers under Catholic auspices in which priests, religious and laity, carefully selected and prepared, should give abiding spiritual and intellectual assistance to the youth of the university.”

10. “The sacred synod earnestly entreats young people themselves to become aware of the importance of the work of education and to prepare themselves to take it up, especially where because of a shortage of teachers the education of youth is in jeopardy.”

The Rookie Card of Pope St. John Paul II

Today is the feast day for Pope St. John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla) as well as the 37th Anniversary of his Installation to the Papacy of the Catholic Church. Below you will find two pictures – the front and back of a prayer card from October 1978.

In some aspects, this prayer card for Pope St. John Paul II is like a baseball rookie card. It states the dates of his birth, ordination to the priesthood, elevation to the episcopate, cardinal creation, election to the papacy, and installation to the papacy.

If the prayer card below is like his baseball rookie card, then my blog post titled, Pope Saint John Paul: Mission Accomplished, is his induction to the Hall of Fame, well in this case, the Heavenly Kingdom.

In the 3½ years of writing through this blog, I have written about Pope St. John Paul II 47 different times. He is one of the main reasons why I teach and write about the Catholic faith so much. His inspiration in my life, which began through Bobby Kloska, has fueled many of my projects on here and in different parish/school positions.

JP2 Rookie Card, Side 1JP2 Rookie Card, Side 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For your reading pleasure today, here are the Top 5 most read blog posts that I have written on the Great Polish Saint, John Paul II –

1. 12 Quotes from Blessed John Paul II on the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World

2. “Mondays with Mary” – Pope John Paul II on Mary’s Witness to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

3. “Mondays with Mary” – 5 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on the Mother of Mercy

4. 5 Quotes on Pentecost from Pope St. John Paul II

5. 12 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on Our Lady of Guadalupe

This link will take you to the many other blog posts I have written on him.

Pope St. John Paul II…Pray For Us!

JP2, We Love You! 

Be Not Afraid! 

Beatification Pic of JP II

The 10th Anniversary of Pope St. John Paul II’s Entrance into Heaven

During the Funeral Mass of Pope St. John Paul II, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the soon-to-be successor of John Paul II said this about the Saint in his homily,

“‘Follow me.’ The Risen Lord says these words to Peter. They are his last words to this disciple, chosen to shepherd his flock. ‘Follow me’ – this lapidary saying of Christ can be taken as the key to understanding the message which comes to us from the life of our late beloved Pope John Paul II. Today we bury his remains in the earth as a seed of immortality – our hearts are full of sadness, yet at the same time of joyful hope and profound gratitude…None of us can ever forget how in that last Easter Sunday of his life, the Holy Father, marked by suffering, came once more to the window of the Apostolic Palace and one last time gave his blessing urbi et orbi. We can be sure that our beloved Pope is standing today at the window of the Father’s house, that he sees us and blesses us. Yes, bless us, Holy Father. We entrust your dear soul to the Mother of God, your Mother, who guided you each day and who will guide you now to the eternal glory of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”

There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think of Pope St. John Paul II in some way. Everything I do in my career, in my teaching of the faith at the parish, and even in these blog posts, I give praise and thanksgiving to Jesus Christ for giving us the man of Pope St. John Paul II. Without him, I may have never known my friend Bobby Kloska, who for the first time really introduced me to John Paul II and his writings. Without him, I may have never studied Philosophy, and eventually Theology. Without him, my love, passion, and dedication to Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church would not be the same.

JP II and papal cross

Over the past three years of writing on this blog, I have written extensively on Pope St. John Paul II, it is my hope that if you have not read these posts yet, that you find the time to begin reading them soon. You can find this post and the others by clicking on the link above.

As we celebrate the 10th Anniversary of his entrance into Heaven, let us give praise and thanksgiving to God Almighty for giving us the man, the priest and the archbishop known as Karol Wojtyla, and the universal shepherd known as John Paul II.

For those of my generation, he is our Pope, he is our Saint, and we will always be his – The JP2 Generation.

“Mondays with Mary” – ‘The Handmaid of the Lord’

Over the past three weeks, I have focused on variety of teachings underlining the Solemnity of the Annunciation. The first week we looked at what the Catechism of the Catholic Church states about Mary’s Virginity; the second week focused on some of the Early Church Fathers teachings on the subject of Mary’s faith at the Annunciation; and last week we looked at the Annunciation through the theology of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and Hans Urs von Balthasar.

To conclude this short four-week series on the Annunciation, I give you five “words” focusing on Mary’s Fiat from the soon-to-be-saint, Pope John Paul II. As I have promised in other posts, as we get closer to his official canonization, which is less than one month away, I will write more about him and the theology he wrote for the Catholic Church during his twenty-six pontificate.

Redemptoris Mater, 28 –

“In the faith which Mary professed at the Annunciation as the ‘handmaid of the Lord’ and in which she constantly ‘precedes’ the pilgrim People of God throughout the earth, the Church ‘strives energetically and constantly to bring all humanity…back to Christ its head in the unity of his Spirit.’”

Address in Rome, July 13, 1994 –

“The whole ecclesial movement of women can and should reflect the light of Gospel revelation, according to which a woman, as the representative of the human race, was called to give her consent to the Incarnation of the Word. It is the account of the Annunciation that suggests this truth when it tells that only after the ‘fiat’ of Mary, who consented to be the Mother of the Messiah, did ‘the angel depart from her’ (Lk. 1:38). The angel had completed his mission: he could bring to God humanity’s ‘yes’,’ spoken by Mary of Nazareth.”

The Annunciation - Henry Ossawa Tanner

The Annunciation – Henry Ossawa Tanner

Insegnamenti, March 19, 1982 –

“The Blessed Virgin intoned the Magnificat, knowing that to accomplish the plan of salvation for all mankind, the Lord willed to bring her, a simple maiden of his people, into association with it. We are here to intone our Magnificat, after the example of Mary, knowing that we have been summoned by God to a service of redemption and salvation, in spite of our inadequacy.”

Address in Rome, June 18, 1979 –

“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 of 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 hope in your heart.”

Mulieris Dignitatem, 5 –

“When Mary responds to the words of the heavenly messenger with her ‘fiat’, she who is ‘full of grace’ feels the need to express her personal relationship to the gift that has been revealed to her, saying: ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord’ (Lk 1:38). This statement should not be deprived of its profound meaning, nor should it be diminished by artificially removing it from the overall context of the event and from the full content of the truth revealed about God and man. In the expression ‘handmaid of the Lord’, one senses Mary’s complete awareness of being a creature of God. The word ‘handmaid’, near the end of the Annunciation dialogue, is inscribed throughout the whole history of the Mother and the Son. In fact, this Son, who is the true and consubstantial ‘Son of the Most High’, will often say of himself, especially at the culminating moment of his mission: ‘The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve’ (Mk 10:45).”

As always, let us keep in our hearts and minds, Mary’s Fiat, her Yes to God. Let us always be prepared in our hearts to say YES to God just as our Blessed Virgin Mary did at the Annunciation when the Angel Gabriel visited her.