Process like writing an icon
Milena Kindziuk and Artur Stelmasiak talk to Fr Dr Slawomir Oder, the postulator in the cause for the beautification of John Paul II.
– The book entitled ‘Cuda’ [Miracles] is almost one per cent of the all graces people have received through the intercession of the Polish Pope. Is there any miracle that impressed you most?
– These are the miracles concerning the gift of fatherhood and motherhood. Many couples have become parents although they had no human hope to conceive children. It seems that John Paul II ‘answers’ these requests concerning life in some privileged way. It is impressive. The testimonies of healings of the body and the spirit, which ultimately are the most important matters since they concern the sphere of faith, which means the deepest work of the Holy Spirit, are also moving.
– Now the question, which the whole world asks: when will the beautification take place?
– Well... people would like to have it as soon as possible.
– And what about you?
– I would like it, too, but it is not actually the essence of this process. I remember that after the Pope’s death I received a letter from Latin America, in which someone asked me to give him the date of the beautification since he wanted to book a plane ticket...
However, it is good that people ask questions since it testifies to the vividness of the cult and interest in the Pope. And it also mobilises me to work.
Yet, it would be better if these questions were reflected in daily life. This concerns my life, too. It would be good if they inclined us to ask further questions: how do I live? How do I understand the Holy Father? How does his teaching influence me and how does it transform my heart and my inner being? How does it influence my dialogue with other people? etc., etc.
But coming back to your question, I would rather ask: are we ready for the beautification of John Paul II?
– Are we ready?
– Perhaps we should ask another question: will we ever be ready? Will there be such a moment in our history when we are ready to receive a saint on this earth? Man is sinful and the Church is sinful – and it will always be so, to the end of this world.
– Certainly, saints are not only sent to saints. Although John Paul II often repeated that saints needed holy men on the earth, that they bore other, new saints and they ‘were nourished’ by other people’s sanctity. And above all, saints are needed to transform human hearts and help us take the way to sanctity to which we are all called. Each of us is to be holy.
– Well, now we will ask a somewhat perverse question: do we really need this process? After all, many people regard John Paul II as a saint. – Many people do, but not all people. The process of beautification is to support sanctity by objective evidence. This cannot follow the principle: hip, hooray!
– That’s why, recently the Vatican has said that this process will not be sped up...
– Since the very beginning it has been assumed that the process will be carried out in a normal way like other beautifications. The only change was to omit the period of five years of waiting to begin the cause for beautification.
– So there will be no other dispensations?
– There is no need. Why should we preach to the converted? John Paul is regarded as a saint by those who have favourable attitude towards him and who love him. He is a saint to many Poles, but as I have said, to not all people. And the process of beautification requires objectivisation. The thing is that we do not want anyone to accuse the Church in the future and to undermine the greatness of the person of John Paul II.
– Exactly. Recently there have been rumours that some issues of the teaching of John Paul II, e. g. concerning ecumenism or apology for the faults of the Church, can hinder the process. We know that those gestures were disliked by several theologians and hierarchs. Can they be obstacles in the process?
– They are not any obstacles. However, this is certainly one of the elements of John Paul II’s teaching that needs a special analysis since not all things are as obvious as they would seem to be.
– Does it mean that even the words that John Paul II spoke on behalf of the whole Church are to be evaluated by theologians?
– Not evaluated but properly understood.
– Is the process of beatification of the Pope to transform us spiritually?
– Yes, it is. In some way it is a process of painting, or exactly, writing a holy icon. In the Eastern Church to write an icon means to end the process of inner transformation of its creator, the metanoia. Every person that wants to reveal God’s graces must go through inner conversion. Similarly, one must put big spiritual efforts into the process of beautification to show the fullness of John Paul II’s sanctity.
– So you are an iconographer...
– I am trying to understand the depth of the message that is included in the beautiful, wonderful work, which was the fulfilled life of John Paul II.