Thinking John Paul II
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
We have the fourth anniversary of the death of the Holy Father John Paul II. We remember the days that we experienced together as mankind since over altogether one billion people participated in the funeral of the Holy Father. The world had never experienced such a funeral. A great man, a great Christian who gave a clear testimony about his faith, was dying. His death was watched by the whole world. He was filled with confident prayer till the end and was close to the Crucified Jesus. Therefore, we look at him as an example of passing to the Lord. Since it was a magnificent passing away at which the world held its breath. We also remember the symbolic scene in the square in front of St Peter’s Basilica, with the book of the Gospel placed on the coffin of the Holy Father. Some strange wind opened it and then closed it, which all people interpreted as a sign of the Holy Spirit reminding the world that John Paul II was a man of the Gospel, a man of great God’s preaching. And another scene from St Peter’s square: when the gathered crowd spontaneously cried, ‘Santo subito!’ Thus the people of God expressed their wish-request, being convinced about the sanctity of this man. And the Church saw this great desire, the cardinals saw it and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, saw it. And we all felt the same desire. That man of immense suffering and great love for God should receive the glory of the altar! Of course, this subject has adhered to the Polish soul in an exceptional way. The Church in Poland constantly prays for the quick beatification of John Paul II. And we still are the witnesses of the sanctity of John Paul II, listening to the people who privately pray asking God through his intercession and say about help that they have received through him. All the time we have tried to testify about our adherence to the Polish Pope and to our faithfulness to his teaching. All the time his splendid figure is for us an example of confidence in God and all references to him. The testimony of our love for John Paul II is numerous pilgrimages to his grave. People travel to him with great faith and hope as if they go for an audience. In Rome, at the grave of St Peter, John Paul II receives us, Poles, and surely he rejoices seeing so many countrymen praying, participating in Masses, filled with the best feelings. Looking from the window of Heavenly Father’s home, he is with us, with each of us. John Paul II was needed in Poland when he was alive – he was the Pope of the Homeland that was being restored after the night of the communist slavery and he is also needed very much today when we are struggling with so many problems, including the European ones or the problems connected with the processes of globalisation. He intercedes for his Homeland, tries to maintain our identity, faithfulness to the Gospel. That’s why it is so important not to forget this spiritual unity with John Paul II. We should remember that he favoured that Poland of ours, and in it, especially the sick and helpless, the lonely. When our beloved Holy Father is not longer with among us on the earth we should adhere to his teaching more, listen to his words, analyse his statements. Since he left us a great legacy, great inheritance in the form of many speeches, extraordinary reflections and books. We are to deepen all of them. This legacy cannot be marginalized but should become daily food for the Church in Poland, especially for bishops, clergymen and congregations. We must still remember John Paul II. How often did he repeat that all things that constituted Poland were close to his heart; that these native values could not be destroyed. We should also be faithful to them. And they are included in love for your country and in faithfulness to the cross of Christ and his Good News, in listening to the voice of the Church. Thus our unity with the Roman Church should be the most important element since if we abide with Peter, each Pope, we will be fulfilled as nation and as Christians. Therefore, may we experience every anniversary of the death of John Paul II in the spirit of faith and love for that great Countryman and for our Homeland because he gave us an example of the biggest love for Poland and all that is related to her. Today when we think about his grave, when our thoughts go to the Vatican, let us try to think about Christ’s Church with great love and let us ask the Servant of God for his intercession for all that Poland is.