St John Paul II, a great teacher of the road to holiness

The feast of St John Paul II, today, Saturday 22 October 2022, helps me appreciate the wonderful work the Holy Spirit worked through this great Pope.

Coming from the dear land of Poland, Pope Wojtyła brought within the Church that strong vigour for holiness. With him we have this fantastic passion to let the Holy Spirit sanctify us! His words and deeds had only one scope: holiness. For that matter, and thanks also to the rich magisterium he left us behind, we can easily say that Pope John Paul was a teacher of holiness indeed.

First, for St John Paul II, to be holy means to risk your life for Christ. He said: Are you capable of risking your life for someone? Do it for Christ. Second, to be holy means working daily to provide bread for one’s self and for one’s family. He wrote: Bless, O Lord of the centuries and the millennia, the daily work by which men and women provide bread for themselves and their loved ones. We also offer to your fatherly hands the toil and sacrifices associated with work, in union with your Son Jesus Christ, who redeemed human work from the yoke of sin and restored it to its original dignity. Third, to be holy means investing in the family so that the whole world will be sanctified by it. He states: As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live. Fourth, to be holy means to let St Joseph protect us and our families. He observed: St. Joseph was a just man, a tireless worker, the upright guardian of those entrusted to his care. May he always guard, protect and enlighten families. Fifth, to be holy means to be personally committed to fulfil God’s will. He said: Real love is demanding. I would fail in my mission if I did not tell you so. Love demands a personal commitment to the will of God.

Sixth, to be holy means not to have a closed heart. St John Paul II emphasized: The worst prison would be a closed heart. Seventh, to be holy means to live the priestly celibacy to the brim. He said: The vow of celibacy is a matter of keeping one’s word to Christ and the Church. a duty and a proof of the priest’s inner maturity; it is the expression of his personal dignity. Eighth, to be holy means to live today in its fullness. He said: The future starts today, not tomorrow. Ninth, to be holy means to keep loving. He stated: Do not forget that true love sets no conditions; it does not calculate or complain, but simply loves. Tenth, to be holy means to do what we ought to do. St John Paul said: Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.

Eleventh, to be holy means to defend life. He said: America you are beautiful . . . and blessed . . . . The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless. If you want equal justice for all and true freedom and lasting peace, then America, defend life. Twelfth, to be holy means not to be selfish, closed and slave to pleasure and comfort. St John Paul II said: The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish. Thirteenth, to be holy means not to treat a person as a means for pleasure. The Holy Father said: Treating a person as a means to an end, and an end moreover which in this case is pleasure, the maximization of pleasure, will always stand in the way of love.

Fourteenth, to be holy means to act freely. He said: No one else can want for me. No one can substitute his act of will for mine. It does sometimes happen that someone very much wants me to want what he wants. This is the moment when the impassable frontier between him and me, which is drawn by free will, becomes most obvious. I may not want that which he wants me to want – and in this precisely I am incommunicabilis. I am, and I must be, independent in my actions. All human relationships are posited on this fact. Fifteenth, to be holy means learning to wait. He said: For a stalk to grow or a flower to open there must be time that cannot be forced; nine months must go by for the birth of a human child; to write a book or compose music often years must be dedicated to patient research …To find the mystery there must be patience, interior purification, silence, waiting….

Obviously, the list goes on and on. But one thing stands sure with St John Paul II: The life of holiness which is resplendent in so many members of the People of God, humble and often unseen, constitutes the simplest and most attractive way to perceive at once the beauty of truth, the liberating force of God’s love, and the value of unconditional fidelity to all the demands of the Lord’s law, even in the most difficult situations. For this reason, the Church, as a wise teacher of morality, has always invited believers to seek and to find in the Saints, and above all in the Virgin Mother of God “full of grace” and “all-holy”, the model, the strength and the joy needed to live a life in accordance with God’s commandments and the Beatitudes of the Gospel.

Oh, St John Paul, from the window of heaven, grant us your blessing! Bless the Church that you loved and served and guided, courageously leading her along the paths of the world in order to bring Jesus to everyone and everyone to Jesus. Bless the young, who were your great passion. Help them dream again, help them look up to the heavens again to find the light that illuminates the paths of life here on earth.

May you bless each and every family! You warned of Satan’s assault against this precious and indispensable divine spark that God lit on earth. St John Paul, with your prayer, may you protect the family and every life that blossoms from the family.

Pray for the whole world, which is still marked by tensions, wars and injustice. You opposed war by invoking dialogue and planting the seeds of love: pray for us so that we may be tireless sowers of peace.

Oh St John Paul, from heaven’s window, where we see you beside Mary, send God’s blessing down upon us all. Amen.

St John Paul, pray for us!

Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap