At Easter with John Paul II
Fr Ireneusz Skubis
On 1 April, Poland began celebrating the first anniversary of the Holy Father John Paul II's passing away to the Lord. The climax of the celebration was on Sunday, 2 April at 21.37. At that time almost every Pole held his/her breath, recollecting that extraordinary event, which had happened last year and which shocked the globe, and they offered cordial prayers to Lord God for our late and much lamented Pope. The sign of our memory was Masses celebrated in the places that John Paul II had visited during his pilgrimages. There were also prayer vigils and concerts, as well as some actions promoting good. The candles in the windows were signs, too. The role the media played during that time is worthy of great praise. They broadcast the celebrations from Rome, Warsaw, Krakow, Wadowice and other places. There were also fragments of the papal visits, speeches and people's recollections. Due to satellite live reports we could pray the rosary with Benedict XVI and thousands of believers from all over the world at St Peter's square. It was a great experience and some extraordinary unity of all people with John Paul II. The moving moment was when the successor of John Paul II spoke to the Polish young people that had gathered in front of the 'papal window' in Franciszkanska Street in Krakow. The greeting of Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, special witness to the life and death of John Paul II, was very meaningful. We are very grateful for that to him.
One must admit that the words of John Paul II are still valid and concern the issues, which are most important to our nation and to each of us. So we must read them as often as possible and we must draw extensively on these words; we must listen to the great Prophet who at the appropriate time reminded his fellow countrymen of their great task from God; the task that concerned themselves, the community of their homeland as well as Europe and the whole world.
But most of all the Servant of God John Paul II appears as a candidate for priesthood, as a saint, as someone whose life was united with God and the Church. I remember the day of the inauguration of John Paul II's pontificate. What enormous love he had when he addressed us, when he cried with joy, 'Open wide the doors to Christ - open it wide! Do not be afraid! Do not fear!' This short message showed his enormous love for the Lord who was very close to him.
When we recollect the first words of the new Pope after 27 years our thoughts go to the Easter celebrations. We have just experienced Triduum Sacrum (a special insert of 'Niedziela' helped our readers). The Church lives in the spirit of Easter and resurrection. And the anniversary of the death of John Paul II perfectly suits the celebrations of the Lord's Resurrection. While dying the Holy Father was going towards resurrection, towards life. He showed that faith led to life and allowed us to go on with hope and love and that it was a beautiful road to God.
John Paul II went to living God; he went straight to the Resurrected Christ. We want to experience Easter in unity with him. We want to experience it like he did - with joy and hope. He tried to pass those values to us. Those values were his treasure and he lived according to them. And the people, not only Poles but also all mankind, felt filled with faith and love, confidence and security during his visits and pilgrimages. Let us notice that there were no crimes, theft, and provocation at those large gatherings of believers. Those large crowds somehow disappeared peacefully and each person was filled with comfort and hope. He brought that message to all and each of us. We pray that the Resurrection of the Lord Anno Domini 2006 would be the time of great hope, great peace and full confidence in the Resurrected Jesus to all our Friends. May the Servant of God, and soon Saint John Paul II, show us the way to God, following the footprints of the Resurrected Christ.
And may our 'Niedziela', whose meaning is resurrection (in Russian Sunday - woskriesienie, means resurrection), and which is celebrating its 80th anniversary, be to each of us a wonderful multiplied echo of the joy flowing from the resurrection of Christ and a testimony given to him every week.