GENERATION - meaning whom?
The editorial board of 'Pokolenie'
First a few thoughts about the fashionable word 'generation.' Having such a witness of Christ as John Paul II we obviously refer the term 'JP2 Generation' to him, and thus we give special value to our times. Therefore, when someone wanted to use this term for his own purposes, perhaps for advertising, the Patent Office did not issue a patent because this term is somehow reserved for all of us. However, we need some definition of this expression, which actually is not explicit but we realize what it means.
For example we are talking to people who belonged to the academic centre run by Fr Karol Wojtyla, those who participated in excursions, rides, canoeing in Mazury, climbing in the mountains, and all of them say that they belong to this generation; they were directly taught by John Paul II. They know the way he thought, the way he dealt with certain issues, the way he defined certain problems; they know how he transferred his knowledge, reflection, prayer into articles, books or dissertations. They are the generation of the Uncle and his papacy did not separate them from him. He was faithful to the friends of his youth and he proved that his pastoral ministry was not only words.
The term 'generation' would certainly include the students who were examined by Prof. Karol Wojtyla at the Catholic University of Lublin and in Krakow, and they would also say: 'he was our professor, we listened to his lectures, we read his thoughts.' They would state that as his students they are his generation, he belongs to them and they belong to him. Those who met Cardinal Wojtyla in Krakow, those who received the sacrament of confirmation from him, those whose marriages he blessed, whose children he baptized, the priests he ordained and the religious who took their vows before him would also claim to belong to this generation. They will have the right to say, 'We are the generation of John Paul II because we had deep relationships with him.'
But vast multitudes of pilgrims who went to the Eternal City, took part in the audiences, especially on Wednesdays, who listened to the teaching of John Paul II, also belong to this generation. It also embraces readers of 'Niedziela' who studied his teachings and followed all his steps and words. Those who explore the works about the Pope have the right to belong to the generation, too.
Today we have the generation who remembered the funeral of the Pope, in which almost one billion people participated; those people who still can see the coffin on which wind turned, as if by human hand, the pages of the evangeliary to close it for ever... Those people will also say that they share in the legacy of John Paul II, that they were charmed by him, that they pray for his near beautification and canonization - they are his generation. We also look at very young people who did not know John Paul II; they watch films about him, which are more or less documentary, and they listen to the older generation speaking about him. And they have the temptation to be called the generation of John Paul II.
Although there are discussions who has the right to own to the Servant of God John Paul II one thing is certain: John Paul II was a man who knew and showed that his concern was always Lord God, Christ, the Gospel and new evangelisation. That's why when we talk about the generation of John Paul II we should mean those people who are concerned about the great and beautiful world of Christian values. This is the key to be embraced by the term 'JP2 generation'. The dates of births, education, material status or social position do not matter.
There are old people whose spirits are young and who would like to do a lot for Lord God, for the Church and Homeland. There are middle-aged people who want to live normal and peaceful lives but at the same time they care for wonderful family, success in life; those who passionately and wholeheartedly take up many initiatives influenced by the teaching of Jesus Christ, his Gospel and civilization of love. And finally, there are young people who are opened to the world, begin new lives and face a dilemma: to go abroad or to build a better Poland. The most important thing is to have 'well ironed' conscience, which the Holy Father John Paul II often spoke about.
The Polish Pope was a universal man who embraced the whole world by the depth of his heart, mind and zealous prayer. Saying good-bye he himself gave us a definition of his generation: this is the generation of those who build the civilization of love.