He showed us how to pray
Fr Ireneusz Skubis
From the beginning of his pontificate the Holy Father John Paul II knew that the most important task of the pope was to pray. He had prepared himself for this prayer all his life. Lord God also gave him a brilliant mind and he gave him extraordinary father as well as wise and responsible priests and laymen like Mieczyslaw Kotlarczyk and Jan Tyranowski, a candidate for sainthood. The Pope got to know the power of prayer when he carried out his great and various pastoral ministry, first as a curate, assistant pastor, in Niegowic, and then as a bishop managing the Archdiocese of Krakow and sharing the responsibility for the Polish Church, together with Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski. It was his deep prayer that caused God to take in his hands the matters, which seemed impossible. But God needed 'a good instrument' for that.
Cardinal Karol Wojtyla was known for his frequent and deep adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. He used to spend much time in his private chapel, also during the night, lying prostrate. His closest friends often found him praying like that. He loved the paths in Kalwaria - reflecting on the passion of Lord Jesus. He often went on pilgrimages to Marian shrines, including Jasna Gora. His prayer was great contemplation. He used every moment to pray. He paid much attention to the prayer that every priest is obliged to say - the breviary. He remembered about that prayer even when he suffered a lot on the day of the assassination attempt.
Many people who knew the Holy Father say that when he prayed he seemed to be completely lost in contemplating God and did not bother about the whole world.
The Holy Father frequently spoke about the value of prayer. We quote many fragments of his talks in the present issue of the Papal Collection. Some statements are less known, nevertheless they are very meaningful. In his apostolic activities there are numerous facts, which redefine our prayer and the prayer of the Church. How precious is for example the renewal of the Rosary by introducing the mysteries of light! The Holy Father added a pastoral and evangelization aspect of Jesus' life to the mysteries of the rosary, which have been reflected on by millions of people all over the world. Furthermore, his encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia and the proposal of the Year of the Eucharist were conceived from his extraordinary adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
During the liturgy of the Eucharist a priest says 'Let us proclaim the Mystery of Faith'. The Holy Father wanted to open our eyes to that mystery so that our Christianity was conscious and true... Another papal document confirms his love for the Eucharist as the central point of every Sunday, namely the apostolic letter Dies Domini, which explains the importance of Sunday to every Christian.
John Paul II wanted to tell us that prayer was the most important task not only for the pope. It is also the most important task for each of us who are called Christians. He showed us how to pray and convinced the world that such attitude was right.
We watched the Holy Father suffer and pass away, die. We all saw how he, in great torment, found his greatest joy in God. He died with prayer on his lips and in his heart, dedicating everything to God. In his last moments he blessed the crowns for the picture of the Czestochowa Mother of God; he was totally hers ('Totus Tuus'). Those words of his complete dedication to God like Mary were with him to the very end. His life was an extraordinary song that was sung to God under Mary's banner.
Papal Collection of 'Niedziela' 6/2005