Feast of Pope John Paul II
The West Coast of the US is full of mountains. But rising above even the very high mountains are volcanoes – Mt. Shasta, Mt. Rainier and the other snow giants that dwarf mountains that would be high by any standards. They are vast, serene, powerful, mysterious, unmistakable.
John Paul was like that. There can be fairly impressive people near the top of any institution either by dint of their God-given gifts or their human-given ambition! But a real giant is rare. A 90 year British Jesuit superior I greatly admire, long resident in Rome, simply said of him: “The pope of a thousand years.” Well, my British friend has lived for almost 10% of that stretch of time, so I can only trust his opinion as a non-Pole. John Paul’s countrymen had our own reasons for rejoicing. Mostly that God is just – that only God can really give justice – and that it is worth waiting for.
Perhaps the justice we crave is not ours to give, perhaps it is best we not push that too hard. Surely John Paul II saw the tremendous crimes that were perpetrated by people drunk with a passion for justice. No doubt that is why he loved mercy above all, the ocean of mercy of which St. Faustina spoke. How curious, that the vast volcano covered with the snow of mercy yet had within a burning fire of passion for truth, and, yes, for justice! Perhaps the blend is really called love.
Thank God for His gifts, which seem to come mostly when we most need them. And, alas, they leave when God calls them back to Himself. Praise God for Saint John Paul II!
Grace: An intimate knowledge of the many blessings received, that filled with gratitude for all, I may in all things love and serve the Divine Majesty.
Reflection: In the meditation upon sin, we made reference to Dante’s vision of hell, a cold, desolate place where the fire of love has been extinguished and all lies in a spiritual torpor. This is the perfect image of the heart grown cold to the stirrings of love which God places within it. At the opposite end of Dante’s journey lies a vision that perfectly encapsulates the final meditation of the Spiritual Exercises, the Contemplation to Attain Divine Love. From the lowest reaches of the spiritual universe, Dante ascends to the heights of heaven, where he views “the love that moves the sun and the other stars.” At the heart of the universe lives the Trinitarian God, whose perfect love draws all being into an ordered symphony of praise. Dante feels himself drawn into this harmonic vision through the enflaming of his passions and desires. No one with eyes to see can sit impassively at the vision of God’s love. From the disordered state in which Dante had fallen at the beginning of the poem, he becomes progressively cleansed of his disordered affections through the grace of God and the intercession of Beatrice until finally he is able to pass through the heavens and stand in the presence of God. But notice that Dante only sees God’s depths after he has been interiorly transformed.