In Memoriam - Pope JP II
I don't know about you but I have cried my eyes out most of this weekend, I might have ran out of tears to shed.
I am sorrowful for myself - because I personally miss Pope John Paul II; I have a few fond memories of him which I am narrating below.
And I join our whole Mother Church in sorrow - for we have lost a good shepherd and a loving holy father and grandfather, not to mention, another "living saint" amidst us here on earth.
For strength, I am going by with his first statement to the faithfuls, upon his election to papacy, "Be not afraid".
Remember, after Jesus' resurrected from the dead, He asked St. Peter (the first pope) a series of questions, e.g. (John 21:15-19) "Simon Peter, do you love Me?" then He said, "feed my sheep". Jesus repeated this a few times, emphasizing to Peter that it is his responsibility to tend to His flock - us, the Church.
So now, we are shepherd-less, but hopefully we get past this moment soon. I know Jesus loves us all so much that He would not leave us shepherd-less this way. And we can only hope and pray that He "appoints" another good one, just as JP II.
I know we have several "assistant" shepherds (the bishops/cardinals) but all of us, together with these assistants need one to keep us together and whole, as One Whole Mystical Body of Christ, instead of separated "body parts", divided among different countries. Remember, chaos happens if there are different leaders, different presidents for a given country or institution - each will do its own thing and we can't have that happen to the "Body of Christ" - chop it up and make each part direct itself separate from the whole.
That is one very goodness of our Church, having a pope, the vicar or representative of Christ.
Unlike other religions and Churches which have separate leaders, having one leader keeps the Mystical Body of Christ together and working in one accord - Truly One Faith, One Body.
At the end of that Scripture passage, Jesus hinted that St. Peter was to "extend his hand while another girded him", alluding to how he was going to suffer but that in his suffering, he would glorify God.
Similarly, our dear pope indeed suffered in his last years but he stood his ground and fulfilled the shepherd position greatly to the very end, with sacrifice but all with dignity.
Even when no words were heard from him that Easter Sunday, his blessing, gesture and expression, being there for the crowd, spoke plenty that satisfied the people who watched him.
In his great papacy, his suffering and death, he indeed glorified God as many people from all walks of life, different cultures, even different religions and beliefs have come to respect him because they have seen "true love and devotion" from a true servant of God. He clearly and successfully conveyed the Good News, The Message, that our God is ever merciful and loving and that God can conquer all evil and sufferings amidst us and replace them with good - like forgiving his would-be assassin, downfall of communism, ecumenism of different religions around the world, even pain, suffering and disease, all reduced to just mind and faith over matter.
Truly, Pope John Paul II was a great hero to many people from all walks of life.
When the bell tolled at St. Peter's Square, this chant rang in my mind, while tears flowed. "John Paul II, we love you." "John Paul II, we love you." "John Paul II, we love you."
To which, he would answer back, "I love you too" or sometimes, "I love you more."
This chant has rung over and over because this is what the crowd always shouted to JP II, wherever a big crowd of people gathered, like at World Youth Day celebrations held around the world.
I am dearly fond of Pope John Paul II, especially because, being Filipina, he made me and my country feel special.
He canonized and beatified a couple of Filipinos (Lorenzo Ruiz and Pedro Calungsod, respectively). And whenever he visited the Philippines, we all feel so blessed, re-united with Rome, with the whole Church, and our faith even more strengthened.
The pope was very Marian. And Filipino Catholics are also very Marian. Right there, we have a special "bond", with "Mama Mary".
The Pope had the Latin phrase, "Tutos Tuus" (Totally Yours) possibly "engrove" in his heart conveying total love and dedication to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Philippines, having the first and largest Catholic Christian faithfuls in Asia, makes us special in the pope's eyes because he knew we have a special responsibility to ourselves and to the rest of the world - we should maintain a role and be a good role model to the rest of the flock. He recognized this and has conveyed to us this special recognition in some public messages to the world.
Of course, the pope did not play favorites although I would like to think the Philippines and Filipinos were dear in his heart especially with our "Marian bond".
A couple of his visits to Manila that I remember are, especially because I was there or took part in it: 1) At my alma mater, the University of Santo Tomas (first and largest Catholic University in Asia, possibly the largest single-compound in the world). I was in my early years in engineering. When the whole university learned that the pope was stopping by for a brief moment, we all prepared and stood in line very early in the morning that day to wait for his helicopter to land on one of our big open fields (if I remember correctly, where we did some field surveying). The chopper arrived all right and was about to land. However, for some reason which I forgot, it did not complete its landing and instead flew back away. We were still under the Marcos regime then, in the mid-80's or so. Perhaps, due to the preceding assassination attempts to the pope, they were just being cautious for the pope while he would be out in that open field. Although, we were able to wave at him and saw him from above. Anyway, it was the thought of seeing him which counted even though he did not touch the university ground then.
2) World Youth Day 1995 - Manila, Philippines. Ahh...simply bliss. As a U.S. resident, I went on vacation to Manila, specifically to attend this event. I know for sure that the pope went and possibly even celebrated Mass at the University of Santo Tomas. It was a blessing to my alma mater and for those students who were there then. Then on the last day of the event, at the Luneta Park Grand Stand, where almost 5 million, I repeat, 5 MILLION people gathered to be part of the pope's celebration of the Mass there - I was one of those 5 million people!
I, together with other people I met at special cathechisms for the public during the WYD'95 events held at another alma mater (Concordia College a.k.a. Colegio de Immaculada Conception - were I went for kindergarten thru H.S.) walked several miles (at least 7), a pilgrimage, from our local city all the way to the Park, on the day preceding the final day of WYD'95. In joyous times as those, we did not feel tired nor hungry. Our hearts were full. Hundreds of thousands came in droves throughout the eve of that final day. We camped-out over there, towards the night while prayer vigils, singing and shows were held all evening through midnight. The pope dropped by briefly to be with us and to watch the presentations. Even after midnight near the early mornings, in the quiet of the night, while most of us tried to sleep under the stars, a few silent "lullaby-like" chants continued on and on and on...
We were (are) one Church and one Faith, all right, united as one in Christ, by the pope.
The next day - the last Mass for this WYD'95 - almost 5 million people gathered at one occasion, in one location. Inspite barely having a couple of hours sleep, we all still felt invigorated at the dawn of that new day, with the bright sunshine and a huge sea of people all around us eagerly anticipating the coming of Pope John Paul II.
Yes! I am very proud to be part of that historic event, that happened once and may not happen again. My parents taped this occasion from home and so I have a transcript of the event.
Since all roads towards the Park, surround the Park were all blocked (concentration of 5 million people!), the pope did not arrive in the pope-mobile. Rather, he arrived by a chopper.
I love all the songs and the pope loved them too. He liked the singing and the dancing. The original theme song, "Tell the World of His Love" and also, "Shine, Jesus, Shine" were top hits. Best of all, I loved the theme of this WYD: "As the Father sent me, so I'm sending you." (John 20:21). A true, meaningful message to all people, especially the youth. That plus the theme song, definitely, we are spreading Jesus' love all over the world.
Our hearts were really "on fire" as we repeated all the hit songs and the verse "Blaze, Spirit, Blaze, set our hearts on fire..."
We did a lot of "love waves" with our arms. You could see the sea of people passing on the "love waves" from one side towards the other - from left to right; then back from right to left; or from front to back.
You can imagine with the 5 million people around, how awesomely the "love wave" flowed amidst the sea of people. The aerial view (I re-viewed my tape recorded transcript the event) was fantastic and can never be duplicated, afterall, the source of such huge gathering on earth is not with us now. I can only imagine a more superior one in heaven upon his arrival there.
I brought back tapes of all of these in the U.S. I may be reviewing them nowadays to reminisce of that great experience with our dearest pope and with millions of people who came together, to unite as "One Body in Christ".
Truly, we are Jesus' Church, His Mystical Body here on earth.
To God and to the late parents of Pope John Paul II, I am ever so grateful. Now, he is reunited with his whole family in eternal life and joy.
Now that the pope has passed from us, we, God's people, should continue his legacy - be out there - spread the Good News to the world.
This past couple of days, I kept praying and imagining how happy the pope must be to personally meet God, our Lord Jesus, face to face and how everyone in heaven, including Blessed Mother Teresa are celebrating with other saints and angels. However, come to think of it, didn't Jesus rise from the dead on the third say? Since, with our Lord Jesus, there was that 3-day or so "delay" before resurrection from death, I would think the pope's "resurrection" could not be earlier than that?
Remember, even when Mary Magdalene saw Jesus before her, Jesus did not let her touch Him. As he said, He had still to "talk to His Father" and perhaps the "process was not yet complete".
So now, in the case of the pope, I may be imagining it incorrectly because in the first few days, he might still be around and among us here, and not yet in heaven? If so, then I am imagining that he could see how sorrowful we are of his departure.
Anyway, I just thought, in going by the "time-table" of Jesus' death and then rising from death, similarly, the pope might not necessarily be in heaven yet until the "3rd day"?
I do like to speculate when it comes to such "mysteries" and mystical matters. It makes me analyze and align how Jesus' life comes to play into our life and how they coincide with each other in the Great Grand Scheme.
I have always thought God is a "systematic" God and not everything is random with Him. He has a process and so everything turns out well and good.
So I guess I might be ahead of the process when I first imagined, the pope reached heaven right away after his death. After rethinking Jesus' death and resurrection, it should fit the same pattern, I would think.
Perhaps after the 3rd day, indeed, lots of jubilation would be happening in heaven as he may have definitely arrived by then. So until then, I continue to pray that Mama Mary and angels will accompany the pope wherever he may be. I do hope before then, he was given a glimpse back at all of us here on earth that he left behind, who loves him and misses him so much. Even though that's unnecessary and besides the priority and point, I do want to offer him that sense of satisfaction that he did a great job and show how much he is loved and missed.
And who knows, he may "stick around" to watch and guide the election of his successor. God works in mysterious ways, afterall.
What I am looking forward to now is observing the election of the new pope. Previously, since I was just a kid, I was oblivious to the goings-on in the hierarchy. Yes, this time, I am interested and eager to watch how things will turn out, with prayers and hope for what is best for our whole Church.
PRAY FOR CONCLAVE
TIMELINE / SCHEDULE OF CONCLAVE
So let's all pray that Pope John Paul II's successor is as solid and strong as he was, a faithful and a true servant of our Lord, who will lead his flock towards the straight and narrow path, abiding by God's teachings and commandments and at the same time convey our Lord's true love and care to His people - Marian, compassionate and loving, loyal, conservative and obedient to God's will and way.
"Be not afraid."
O Holy Spirit, come upon the Apostles! Enlighten and guide them in their decision, so God's Will and Way in appointing the new righteous pope will prevail. Dear God, please always renew the vow of all your ordained and humble servants to always love and serve You and to obey and promulgate Your love, will and teachings to us.
Dear Lord Jesus, thank you so much for giving us and appointing Pope John Paul II to be Your Vicar. As the Church is your Bride whom You love dearly, may the new pope You appoint be as loving as Your humble servant, Karol Jozef Wojtyla.
(St.) John Paul the Great, pray for us! Thank you for taking care of Jesus' Church and loving us all.
Mama Mary, pray for us! O loving Mother, spread your mantle over your sons in Rome to protect them from satan's snares and corruption.
Blessed Mother Teresa, pray for us! Pray for the humble servants of God in Rome whom you love and respect - so they do the will of God, the Father just as Jesus has done.
St. Michael, bring forth your battalion and fight the good fight against satan in Rome. Guard the servants of God, protect the whole Church of Jesus Christ from evil snares and corruption.
St. Michael, the Archangel, defend us in the battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray.
And do thou, O prince of the Most Holy Host, by the power of God,
cast into hell satan and all evil spirits. Those who wander through
the world seeking ruin of souls. Amen.
Copyright © MI 2005-2011 (previous update was May 4, 2005)