POPE WAS STILL ASKING HIMSELF QUESTIONS
Milena Kindziuk talks with Agnieszka Rudziewicz – one of editors of the book entitled ‘I am in God’s hands, indeed’
MILENA KINDZIUK: - When you found out that you would read and edit texts of John Paul II, then….?
AGNIESZKA RUDZIEWICZ: - I was terrified!
– Because nobody gives manuscripts for publishing any more. So, from the very beginning this work had a different character than usually. We were dealing with a text which, first of all, required reading, then rewriting and later careful editorial work.
From the beginning only a few people had been involved in the editorial works. When we found out that we would be working on these texts, then…..first of all, we were proud because publication of these texts was an unusual event. Besides, we were aware that we were one of the first readers of the notes! It was touching. However, when we saw what the texts looked like, on which we were going to work (we received scans of the notes), we were simply terrified.
– Did you agree straight away?
– We did not have any doubts that we were participating in a historical event. And probably none of us hesitated any moment, although we knew from the very beginning that we would have to devote a few months to this book. And, please, believe me – everything was indeed subordinated to this work.
– Was it easy to read the handwritten notes of the Pope? Did John Paul II write illegibly?
– Because the notes comprise over 40 years of life of John Paul II – they finish two years before his death – it is seen, how the handwriting character of the Pope was changing. In the 60s it was strong, very clear and definite. Karol Wojtyła used nearly every smallest fragment of a sheet of paper – every page is even dense in words, which are written in very tiny letters, as if he did not want to waste any single line. Later, within years passing by, his handwriting style is less legible, there are less and less complete sentences. The Holy Father often noted down very single phrases, key thoughts. The last page of the notes are nearly a few words, written with difficulty. When one looks at the last notes, the ones of the year 2003, it is seen how important it was for him to keep them. He was not strong enough for it, and so did he try to write at least one word, a fragment of a sentence…..It is very touching.
– The texts were being prepared for half a year. How were they changed?
– The texts were not changed by us. First of all, we must remember that these notes are thought abbreviations, key words, the most important sentences, matters for reflection. We assumed a rule that, in order to make the texts, which had been written, be faithful, we added only the sentences written by the Author and which were translated in foreign languages – mainly in Latin and Italian, distinguishing them in colour. We were also trying to solve the abbreviations if they were evident. On the one hand we wanted to make it easy for readers to read the notes, and on the other hand – present the texts in such a form in which they had been written.
– Which sentences remained in your memory the most?
– I remember the sentences written by John Paul II just after the conclave in 1978…But I encourage everyone to read the notes – each of us, people working on this text found sentences in it which basically touch us personally. The whole text are great retreats. We were feeling so, while working on the notes – they were our retreats.
– What papal thoughts made the greatest impression on you? What kind of person of John Paul II emerges from these notes?
– The reader is greatly impressed by…….questions. Karol Wojtyła, and later John Paul II is asking himself questions all the time. The most important, key questions. He asks: How is it with me? He is thinking about whether he is getting mature enough for God’s gifts? Is his life a real answer to God’s love? We, looking at his pontificate, do not have doubts, and he was asking himself the questions all the time….Reading these notes I did not have any doubts that somehow I am touching holiness. The author also used to note down the whole schedule of every day – I assure that when readers analyse how many activities, prayers, conferences, meditations are within twenty four hours, they will come to the same conclusion, to which we came ourselves – papal day and night included more than twenty four hours! A very hard-working person emerges from these notes. A man who did not waste any single moment.