Thursday, October 22, 2015

Happy Feast Day St. John Paul II

“Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

Pope John Paul II is one of my favorite examples of holiness in the Catholic Church. He was far from perfect, but this saint has done a lot for the Church and a lot for my faith and arguably, a lot for the world as a whole. 

 He was the first pope to set foot in a mosque and the first pope to visit the synagogue in Rome even though it was only a short distance from the Vatican. By doing so, he profoundly demonstrated the need for the recognition and respect of religions beyond Catholicism. 

When Poland was under communist control and practicing Catholicism was difficult, the young priest would take groups on "camping trips" away from the cities so that they could safely participate in mass and share in their faith. His undying commitment to the formation and recognition of the faith of our youth is inspiring.

My European adventure this summer included many beautiful places and incredible sites and I have many more to share, but today (for obvious reasons) I wanted to focus on one in particular: Wadowice, Poland which is where St. John Paul II was born and raised.

While I was exploring my family heritage in Poland, it was wonderful to also explore my Catholic heritage there by taking a day trip from Krakow to the adorable little town that was home to young Karol Wojtyła (his name before becoming pope). 

In the back, left corner of this peach building is the apartment that JPII and his father lived in while he was growing up. The building is now a beautiful museum and tribute to the saint and visitors are able to walk through the small portion that was his home and see what it was like and quite a few pieces of furniture and other objects that did belong to the family. 

In complete honesty, this was one of the most beautifully done museums I have ever been to. If you are in the area and have any interest in JPII at all, I highly suggest visiting. 

Right next to their apartment is the Basilica of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary which is the church where JPII was baptized and received First Communion. 

 (the baptismal font where JP was baptized)

On the tour of the family home, our guide pointed out that directly out of the window where Karol and his father would eat meals, there was a plaque of a sun dial that read, "Time flies. Eternity is forever." They later added the date of his death to the same plaque.

What a beautiful message to reflect upon each day! When I first heard it, I couldn't help but recall another famous quote from Ignatius of Loyola (another fav) "For the greater glory of God."

I think what I loved most about the tour of his town and home was learning more about the context in which he grew up and how it molded him into the holy man he was.

There were so many beautiful memories and stories shared and my heart is once again glowing as I re-read my journal entries and look at photos from my visit.

St. John Paul II, pray for us.


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