Of so very many personal meetings with Saint John Paul II, my most memorable took place in the interior courtyard at Castel Gondolfo. Without any tickets for the audience, and with only minutes to go, I convinced the Swiss Guard out front that John Paul would surely like to meet with a friend of mine, an ex-prostitute who was now assisting women in getting out of that life.
I feel kind of badly to this day, as the Swiss Guard, bless their hearts, went inside and extracted two priests who had come all the way from Poland for this “private” audience. We took their places. The ex-prostitute had a Polish heritage. At the end of the audience when those of us who were there were meeting personally with Pope John Paul, she exclaimed, “MY Holy Father!” Pope John Paul was most gracious. :-)
As a side note, can you guess what that volume is under my arm? Pope John Paul signed it for me…
In the early mid 1980s I was finishing a semester of licentiate coursework at the Lateran’s John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family. Institutional founder (later Cardinal) Carlo Caffarra (+2017) was my professor for a course on some entirely fascinating passages from the great Saint Thomas Aquinas, particularly De Veritate, the Summa Theologiae, and some bits and pieces from his Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard. At the time, there was a war going on between the JPII Institute and the Redemptorists’ Alphonsianum, their school of “moral theology,” or more precisely between John Paul’s Caffarra and their heretic Bernard Häring. The JPII Institute and the Alphonsianum were only some stone’s throws from each other in Rome. I happened to live between the two, only a couple of stone’s throw from each.
The place where I lived had plenty of brave students at the JPII Institute, bucking the mafia-esque bullying of political correctness, but the powers that be sided with Bernard Häring (+1998) and had him give a lecture in the our library located just below my room. I went down to listen to the enemy. A dialogue? No. The tyranny of relativism. The bullying consequent to the abandonment of the Christ of the commandments. The ambiguity ensuring that no one, not now, not ever, will live in that love who is God, that love stronger than our situations, stronger than our weakness, stronger than our temptations, stronger than death. The JPII Institute was about growing in the strength of the love of Christ Jesus. The Alphonsianum was about never coming to know the strength of that love.
In the picture above I am just days before getting on a plane to be on my way Stateside. The picture with JPII was taken just after early morning Mass in the tiny chapel behind the “library” up in the Apostolic Palace of the day. The book, published by the JPII Institute, was a collection of some of the writings of John Paul II himself. If I reckon correctly, it was the eighth time I had met with the sainted Pontiff.
Yesterday (end of July 2019) I dedicated some time to catching up on what’s happening at the JPII Institute for Marriage and the Family. I perused the new constitutions, read up on the backgrounds of some of the new players, such as Paglia, and allowed myself to get upset, rightfully so. This brought out what seems to be some post traumatic stress from those ever-so-dark-days in Church history in Rome. So dark. All the horror of those days came flooding back. All of it. The demonic attitudes of the heretics, the loss of souls scandalized, the fright of seeing self-centered, absolutely narcissistic arrogant pride lusting after the power of being “the one, the only one” of importance in the universe. This set me to experiencing that hell as if for the first time all over again. A nightmare. Getting the legs cut out from under oneself? Yes, I know what that feels like. (That’s me in the picture having literally had that happen). That was my day yesterday.
What shocked me is that nothing at all has changed for the heretics over all these decades… Nothing! It’s all the same lust for power, lust for prestige, lust for… lust. All so very disgusting. It’s all the same arguments. So tired. So nothing. So lifeless. So boring. So very full of lies. So very predatory.
I, for one, am tired of it all, fed up, upset, but not despairing, not giving in, not caving in. This new scandal of the destruction of the JPII Institute for Marriage and the Family – following up on the 2017 warning – was, of course, good for me. You know the drill: It was character building. I now stand more confirmed – How to say? – more validated, more vindicated in standing with the truth of the “old” JPII Institute for Marriage and the Family, with Him who is Living Truth. Jesus is the One, the only One. It’s a sin to give up! We must stay strong. We must remain with Christ Jesus.
Alright. I should be more honest. I’ll be more graphic about my darkness. What came to mind yesterday in my darkest moment was a demonic twist of story line, an analogy with the Wizard of Oz, you know, with the proclamation that the wicked witch is dead. In my upside-down, back to front, inside-out analogy, in my dark and beady heart, the munchkins singing are the same as the overlords of the destruction of the “old” JPII Institute: The “old” JPII Institute in this twisted analogy is the wicked witch that the heretics are so happy is dead. The heretics also hold themselves to be the ever so innocent Dorothy.
Having said all that, it’s a sin to be lost to hopeless bitterness. So, it needs to be said that I’m not better than Paglia or Häring or, to drudge up old names, Richard A. McCormick, Charles E. Curran, Joseph Fuchs, or even their guiding “light” Karl Rahner with all of his confusion of the natural and supernatural. Jesus is the only one who is good.
Having said all that, I don’t think it’s a sin to point out heresy and the spread of darkness. Nor do I think it is a sin of presumption to want to remain in the joy of the Holy Spirit even in the face of the darkness of all the heresy all around us. Blessed are we if there are two things going on:
“They” might say that Saint John Paul II is dead. They might say that the Church is dead. “They” might say Good riddance! But the sainted Pope is still with us in heaven. And Jesus is still with us. Jesus sees all these things. He wants that we be faithful in Him no matter what. Don’t be mistaken. Jesus will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire.
We read in the Book of Revelation: “The one who gives this testimony says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.” (Apocalypse 22:20-21)
While preaching this Palm-Sunday on what would be an appropriate meditation for this Holy Week for my parishioners – the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane and then the 4th and 13th Stations of the Cross: Jesus meeting his mother after getting smashed down by the cross for the first time and then Jesus being lowered from the cross into her arms, ever so dead – in preaching on all that… well… I mean… I suppose I could put the audio of the homily up… It’s just that it’s embarrassing as I got entirely choked up a number of times, entirely unable to speak for at least what seemed like ten seconds… thirty seconds…
Here’s the deal: Not that it at all came out in what I said necessarily, but it was in preaching on Jesus and His good mom that I “understood” – beheld quite directly, if you will – the dynamic, if you will – by which it is entirely necessary that Mary be Co-Redemptrix. To me this wasn’t just an “insight”, but rather an invitation to behold what’s really going on with our Redemption, ever so personal for Jesus about Mary, the good Son of a good mom. It was like seeing Mary as Mother from the eyes of her good Son.
I asked a specialist in psychology and priests about this fault of mine, getting choked up, which the Brits would call weakness, and even worse. He knows me well, and is my spiritual director. He straight up laughed at me for stupidly even asking the question, saying that Freud would say that it all has to do with an unresolved conflict with my own mom. But, then he said that Freud has been discredited on saying everything like this must be a “conflict,” adding that surely this was, in fact, for me, a valid religious experience. And then he went on to mention some of his own like experiences.
I say all that just to rid some of such unnecessary distraction so that they might pay attention to what is important. Here are some points spelling out a bit what I didn’t entirely spell out in the homily because of my getting choked up:
Just to say it:
Our Redemption by Jesus is equal, not more, not less, to the maternal intercession of Jesus’ good mom for us. He looked to her, the Son to the Mother. Just as Adam looked to his wife as to just how far he should fall, so did the new Adam look to The Woman to see just how far He should lift us back up. Being Immaculate, she saw our need perfectly, and, in perfect solidarity with her Son, interceded for us perfectly. Having said all that, it is she who set us before our Redemption. Jesus would not have done it without her indicating that Redemption. Mary is entirely necessary as Co-Redemptrix for our Redemption.
Academically, the point is entirely valid with all my years of doctoral studies on Genesis 2:4–3:24 (including 3:15). I have much to say on all this, drawing out all the implications, drawing out the incisive ironies. I am overwhelmed with the entirely and very personal dynamic, if you will, of what is happening with our redemption, Jesus looking to His good mom: “Woman! Behold! I make all things new!”
Finally, this provides me the engine – how to say it? – to draw out a popular version of the thesis. I pray that I’m able to accomplish this. I pray that this works toward what has been called the fifth Marian dogma.
Now it’s more personal than it ever was. It’s like a project with Jesus.
I entirely realize that making it personal makes me look to be the fool. Delusional. An idiot. Fine. Whatever. I know what I know. It’s all come together. Whatever authority by which I write anything has nothing do with me. It’s to be judged on consistency with the Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, the Magisterial interventions of the Church. It’s to be judged on the reasoning. Yes.
All I can say is that, right now, at the start of Holy Week, I’ve been shaken to the core of my being before God that Mary, our good mom, is necessarily Co-Redemptrix. It has to be that our Redemption in entirely involved with Jesus looking to His good mom. And, yes, she was singled out in Genesis: “I will put enmity between you [Satan] and The Woman [in context, the future Mother of the Redeemer].
In saying that, what is left to say? Just this:
Jesus, Immaculate Mary’s Divine Son, has done all things well.
Racing along the highway with The Bread of Life, Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, while going from nursing home to shut-ins on Communion calls the other day, this raven decided to do up a bit of photo-bombing. I just wanted to get the snow-capped ridges.
He’s empty-beaked. In this case, I’m the raven of Elijah the Prophet’s fame as I’m bringing the Bread of Heaven to the great prophets, that is, those friends of Jesus in the parish.
And this got me to thinking about the Holy Spirit and the Carmelites who speak of Elijah as Our Holy Father Elijah just as the Benedictines speak of Our Holy Father Benedict. My mind wandered, as it tends to do, to the way of prayer, so to speak, of the Carmelites, and to someone who was refused entry into a Carmelite prayer group because he couldn’t make all the meetings because of his pastoral duties, namely, Karol Wojtyła.
When interviewed as Pope John Paul II, he was asked about how he goes about praying. His answer was, in great Carmelite fashion, to say that one would have to ask the Holy Spirit, who, as it were, transported his soul to the needs of the world such as they are on any given day.
Not so diversely, one may recall that any cloistered nun of any contemplative order may answer to say that such a vocation has one accompany Jesus’ good mother in her maternal concern for the members of the Body of Christ still battling away in this ecclesia militans, in this Church militant, and so are transported in their intercession whithersoever such a good mother would have them go, so to speak.
I remember a time when, back in the day, in my stupid days (not always in the past)… when I just could not for the life of me figure out the motive for the personal apologies of Pope John Paul II for that which the Catholic Church was accused of doing even though – if something bad and evil was done – it was not done by “the Catholic Church” but only by this or that individual, or – yes – whatever idiot group of individuals, even across centuries of self-absorbed individuals. But not by “the Catholic Church.” That kind of generalizing prejudice would be filthy tender snowflake entitled-to-kill-everyone prejudice: one person does something wrong and all 1.3 billion people are held to be guilty. That’s what the FBI in cahoots with the Southern Poverty Law Center does. And not only them:
Saint Pope John Paul II exclaims many times:
“I apologize, as the Pope, for such filthy sin. I’m sorry.”
When such apologizing was coming forth from the See of Peter, the filthy liberals rejoiced (“Yay!”) and the ultra-tradition-al-ism-ists condemned the now canonized Pope:
“Damn him for personally apologizing for something he didn’t do. Damn him for apologizing for stuff some individuals did even centuries ago. What is he doing? It doesn’t make sense. The whole Church and the world is going to hell and he’s pushing them all down more quickly.”
But, here’s the deal, you’ll notice that in none of this condemnation for apologizing did anyone ever refer to Immaculate Mary’s dear Son, Jesus, who took upon Himself the sins of the world, holding himself to be personally guilty before His heavenly Father for all of our sin, yes, even filthy prejudice, even filthy perversion, fill in the blank. Jesus stood in our place, the innocent for the guilty.
As the Master, so the disciple. Get it? This isn’t hard.
Let’s do a test, with you filling in the blank:
“People hate priests so much because ________________________________.”
Then, when people show their worst in all their tender snowflake entitlement to hate and smash down in prejudice an entire classes of people, showing what sin they themselves are capable of, then maybe they’ll see the truth. For the centurion on Calvary, it was only after he had smashed his sword into the heart of Jesus that he then exclaimed, “Truly this was the Son of God.”
After a day with Pope Francis, the Missionaries of Mercy were treated to a nice lunch at the Audience Hall. With ice cream, btw.
In the Atrium, this image of JPII carried by the winds of the Holy Spirit always catches my eye. Here’s a detail of suffering for the Church, weighed down with the burden, as it were, of the glory of God:
Of course, I think it’s really cool that St. George has his back.
This is the spot not far from the obelisk where Saint John Paul II was almost taken out by the Muslim KGB guy. A humble marker. JPII lived another 24 years. But still. Can’t it at least say what happened? Or is that “building the shrines of the prophets” as the hypocrites do? He drew me into the confessional, to the priesthood, unto the Eucharist. He’s John Paul the great to me.
A reader sent in the above video. It reminds me of the one I made, perhaps even more to the point, at Yad vaShem back just before the first Gulf War:
As I mentioned in my first post on John Kerry’s bogus speech 28 Dec 2016, I had a long chat with him in the Vatican Gardens. That was immediately after the funeral of Saint Pope John Paul II. The diplomats had to leave through the gardens, as well as the priests who were helping with Communion (I was with the choir right at the facade of Saint Peter’s). I beckoned him and we had quite the conversation about Catholic doctrine and abortion, at the end of which he agreed to a televised debate. That never came about. He was, after all, moving up in the world, right? His body guards were almost pulling him off his crutches (he having a broken leg at the time). But he insisted on speaking with me at length. Those were the days when, after pushing for abortion as strenuously as he might, he would be televised going to Communion. Thank the Lord that diplomats never ever receive Communion at Papal Masses. I would have scolded him just like JPII scolded Father Knucklehead in Nicaragua. Did I mention that today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents? The nations rage against the Lord and against his anointed, but the Lord is the Lord of History.
This calls to mind the night I spent at the Iranian Embassy with the Chief Rabbi of Rome. The Jews of Rome gathered to pray since just hours before Iran threatened to wipe Israel from the face of the earth. I was in my roman cassock and collar, obviously a priest. The Rabbi came over to greet me, he saying to me: “Praised be Jesus Christ!”
ISIS sawed in half a five year old boy the other day. I wonder if that kind of thing is what John Kerry means by “not-significant security risks.” I wonder if kids don’t matter to John Kerry outside the womb just like they don’t matter for him inside the womb.
On the Feast of the Transfiguration, 6 August 2000, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith promulgated with the ratification of Saint Pope John Paul II the Declaration Dominus Iesus, on the unicity and salvific universality of Jesus Christ and the Church. The raging debate has always been about the understanding of the word “extra”.
Dominus Iesus is an important doctrinal document meant to be a teaching document settling controversies. It is brief, to the point. Most extraordinary. Well worth the read. There is a paragraph at the end which is interesting:
In treating the question of the true religion, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council taught: “We believe that this one true religion continues to exist in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, to which the Lord Jesus entrusted the task of spreading it among all people. Thus, he said to the Apostles: ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you’ (Mt 28: 19-20). Especially in those things that concern God and his Church, all persons are required to seek the truth, and when they come to know it, to embrace it and hold fast to it”
Obviously there are more refined questions about the phrase “continues to exist” blah blah blah. But I’ll tell you this, if one accepts what is written in that document, there is no way that one could say that Islam has anything whatsoever to do with any kind of religion, even while the revelation which both Jews and Catholics have received is precisely the same in all ages (Aquinas, Siri et al.).
And let’s get this right: religion is part of the virtue of justice, so that one is to render to God that which is His due, which is proper worship, which can only be done through, with and in Jesus, to the greater glory and honor of God in the unity of the Most Holy Spirit. And remember, Christ Jesus, the Son of the Immaculate Conception, will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen.
When Mehmet Ali Ağca , Soviet puppet, pulled the trigger, our Lady of Fatima redirected the bullets. Saint John Paul II survived.
Where were you at the time?
I was a seminarian and was at the Shrine of our Lady of Fatima just outside of Rome, looking back at the City. The panorama is burned in my mind.
This brings back many memories.
This was just five years after I had the privilege to be one of the cadets of our Lady of Fatima, carrying her statue for the main candlelight procession on the evening of 12 July, 1976, amidst a crowd of over two million, when I was sixteen years old. My sister had introduced me to the scapular and rosary and the Blue Army when I was only six. She’s the one who paid for the trip when I was sixteen. Anyway, on that same trip with many other cadets, we went to Coimbra and met Sister Lucia. Yikes! I would return to Fatima in 2008 with all my fellow permanent chaplains of the Sanctuaries of Lourdes, France. Much was the same. Much had also changed.
The one who throughout the years kept me close to our Lady of Fatima was Pope Saint John Paul II. The nations rage, but Mary Immaculate’s Son is the Lord of History.
Do you remember where were you at the time of the attempt? Have you been to Fatima? Do you belong to the World Apostolate of Our Lady of Fatima (Blue Army)? …
Some reactionaries are outraged by Pope Francis saying that absolution can be given to someone who can’t confess his sins. They quote Saint John Paul II in his Reconciliatio et paenitentia, to wit:
Whether as a tribunal of mercy or a place of spiritual healing, under both aspects the sacrament requires a knowledge of the sinner’s heart in order to be able to judge and absolve, to cure and heal. Precisely for this reason the sacrament involves on the part of the penitent a sincere and complete confession of sins. This therefore has a raison d’etre not only inspired by ascetical purposes (as an exercise of humility and mortification), but one that is inherent in the very nature of the sacrament.
Strong words to be sure. I’ve done otherwise 1000 times in my decades long priestly ministry. General absolution given to, say, a group of soldiers heading off to extreme danger, without hearing any of their sins, though reminding them that they must have the intention to go to individual confession, is both possible and recommended. I’ve never had occasion to do that, but I just wanted to insert that into the argument at the get-go. But I do want to say that I’ve granted absolution a 1000 times on, I think, pretty much every continent in the world, and in so many countries, to those who did not make, could not make a confession of sins in any way, that is, of those who were dying, who had suffered whatever form of violence, whatever.
If I’m shot and can’t speak, I hope that there’s a priest around to absolve me regardless of the idiocy of the traditional-ism-ists. Saint John Paul II was not one of those, and I’m sure that he’s done what I’ve done, as every priest I’m guessing pretty much without exception has done or will do in his lifetime of ministry, that is, grant an absolution expeditiously to those who are dying and cannot confess their sins in kind and number and aggravating circumstances with the due care by which this sacrament is honored. This sacrament is also honored when absolution is to be given regardless of oracular confession of sins.
Anecdote from Africa told to me, as I wasn’t there: A group of missionaries were detained by some warlords who had them standing in a big circle so as to interrogate them. They got tired of asking questions and said that they were just going to shoot them all. They were all Catholic and had a priest with them. One of the young men cried out, scared out of his mind, “Father, give the absolution! Give the absolution!” But the priest was so scared the words wouldn’t come out of his mouth. That intense fear seems to have melted the hearts of the warlords enough, or it was so humorous to them, that they just let them all go. The point is, however, that the priest could have given the general absolution.
Having said all that, I can imagine other examples perhaps more to the point, but what’s the use of speaking to those who are not priests, have never heard a confession in their lives, nor will they, but who only want to criticize and make sure that no one goes to confession by mocking pretty much all priests in the world as not being true priests since they were not ordained by this or that bishop of their liking? Just to say, I’ve been publicly mocked by this crowd, with them saying, in fact, that I’m not a real priest. Despite them: Go to Confession!