One sunny day Father Lawrence DiNardo, our Pastor, recommended the “Pope App.” Later, someone mentioned St. Peter is Still Speaking® which airs on WAOB (We Are One Body) 106.7FM, at 9, 12:30, 5 M-F, and 8 & 12:30 on Saturdays. If you can access either of these, you find will food for heart and soul. Specifically today, I think reflections about Saint Pope John Paul II are useful in our 40 Days for Life reflections. We began with his poem, SCHIZOID, quoted above.
Anguish is the theme, but not the only theme. George Weigel’s biography of Pope John Paul II glows with the story of this man who accepted Jesus’ challenge to go into the deep.
“After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Luke 5:4
Karol Jozef Wojtyla (Lolek) was born on May 18, 1920, a member of the first generation of Poles to be born in a free country since the late eighteenth century.
Wojtyla’s mother died one month before his ninth birthday. Edmund, his older brother, died when he was twelve. His father died when he was 21.
Wojtyla’s father was “a man of profound Catholic faith and granitelike integrity, whose example of manly piety left a lasting impression on his son.”
After finishing high school in 1938, father and son moved to Krakow for Lolek to attend university. “Yet because of the lethal ambitions of Europe’s two great totalitarian powers, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, Karol Wojtyla’s university career lasted only a year.”
In 1939, after the Nazi invasion of Poland and the partition of the country following the “Soviet invasion from the east, the University was shut down by the Nazi occupation, with the distinguished members of its faculty deported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.”
“Poland under Nazi occupation was a brutal and deadly place in which the rule of law was superseded by the rule of arbitrary terror. The occupiers believed the Poles to be a low-level race of untermenschen who were to be minimally educated, and just as minimally fed….”
In 1942, Wojtyla presented himself to the archbishop of Krakow, Adam Stefan Sapieha. “For two years, Wojtyla lived a triple life – as underground theatrical performer, manual laborer, and clandestine seminarian.”
“On August 6, 1944, the Gestapo swept Krakow, seeking to arrest all the city’s young men in order to forestall a repetition of the Warsaw Uprising, which had broken out on August 1. Archbishop Sapieha called in his clandestine seminarians and hid them in his residence…. During those months, Wojtyla had daily contact with the “prince-archbishop” who would become his model of heroic episcopal leadership.”
The Soviets “liberated” Krakow in 1945.
Father Karol Wojtyla was ordained in 1946 and sent to Rome to study. He returned to Krakow in the summer of 1948.
“Many records of the communist war against Karol Wojtyla and against Pope John Paul II were destroyed during and immediately after the communist crack-up in 1989, but a vast archive that had only begun to be explored in the first half decade after John Paul’s death remained. Careful analysis of even a modest selection of these primary source materials…yields a much richer and more detailed portrait of how and why communism went to war against Karol Wojtyla, when he was archbishop of Krakow and after he became Bishop of Rome.”
The End and the Beginning. George Weigel.
From his biography, we see John Paul buffeted by misfortune and evil… boorish, persistent evil.
Reading his poem we see that though he is suffering, he is aware of “heart-space” and “growth”.
Those of us blessed to have lived during his Papacy know something of the rest of the story.
“Because he truly believed that Jesus Christ is the answer to the question that is every human life, and because he further believed that that question deserved the utmost respect, he could engage those who did not know Christ, who were hostile to Christ, or who had simply become bored with the claims of religion.”
The End and the Beginning George Weigel
Prolife people ask people vulnerable to abortion to choose life.
Has anyone ever said life is easy?
Perhaps life is designed to be challenging.
Do we have evidence that the effort is worth it?
WE HAVE AMPLE EVIDENCE.
Saint Pope John Paul II
Darkness can only be scattered by light, and hatred can only be conquered by love.
Love is never defeated.
Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.
NOTES FROM THE SIDEWALK
Today’s Gospel account of the Transfiguration of our Lord (Matthew 17: 1-9) is so encouraging to us as we stand on the sidewalk during our 40 Days for Life vigil.
The voice of God, heard from the bright cloud, assured the disciples, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.” We are obeying God and listening to Jesus when we go out searching for the lost sheep of our world’s culture of death, and when we put their needs before our own.
The disciples were terrified by the vision and voice, but Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” It can be frightening to be on the sidewalk when emotions are running high and the stakes are literally life and death. Our Lord comforts and strengthens us when we are afraid to do His will.
Another beautiful thing to notice – Jesus came and touched the disciples as He helped them. Physical presence is so important to human beings, and it’s something that we are only able to provide by leaving the comfort of our homes and churches and taking our prayers out into the trenches.
We can truly say, along with Peter, “Lord, it is good that we are here.”
Thank you to Diane and Tom for setting up all of our wonderful resources early this morning. Thank you to Maureen and Phil from St. Bernard’s Church, Vince, Bill, Ben, Peter, Sue, and Libby for taking a stand for life today. God bless you all!
SUE M. 9-11
Today on the sidewalk was freezing cold again, but very quiet — not just compared to the revelry of yesterday’s parade crowd, but also quiet for a Sunday in general.
Vince stayed over a bit from keeping Jen company on the 7-9 shift and prayed the Glorious mysteries with us. For some reason, we kept messing up on who was leading which decade and felt a bit like the Three Stooges much of the time. Vince reminded us that God does have a sense of humor and still hears our prayers and sees our hearts despite our occasional flubbery!
A young man came by while we were praying and said he thought abortion should be legal in the cases of rape and endangerment to the life of the mother. Vince stated kindly but firmly that there are two lives in each situation, regardless, and that the innocent child should not suffer by being murdered in the case of rape. Although I don’t think we changed his mind in the short encounter, the young man left smiling and seemed to me to be a bit more enlightened when continuing down the sidewalk.
Vince left to continue his day, and Libby and I continued the prayerful spirit already in progress. Pat arrived as she always does to pray with us, and Rich and Roseann arrived super early as is their habit.
May God hear and honor our prayers and let lives be saved this week in Pittsburgh!!!
ROSEANN AND RICH 11-1
Even though the weather was cold, dedicated pro-lifers showed up. A regular on Sundays, Pat came to witness and pray. Sue, Pat and family (also regulars) from St. Bernard’s showed up. Mary and Jim from St. Elizabeth’s and Bill also were present. Looking forward to warmer weather.
Thanks to all who sacrificed for the unborn.
The shift from 1 to 3 was COLD. We had a lot of passersby for the Home and Garden show, but otherwise it was uneventful.
Maggie’s pix are worth a thousand words!
AUDREY AND JIM 3-5
Jim and I had never done a Sunday witness at 40 Days, but we assumed the city would be quieter and there would be less people than on a busy workday. We also thought parking would be readily available on the street.
Well, none of the above turned out to be true. Jim dropped me off and went to find parking which left me all alone for about 20 minutes. Being alone on a street in the city causes one to contemplate LIFE and the pro-life movement. Jim and I have been shift managers for a few campaigns and we diligently place a notice in our church bulletin and personally invite all of our friends. We belong to Holy Child, a parish of over 2,400 families. It is truly a sad day when not one member of a very large parish joins you. Not one. No one who talks pro-life support, no one….
So Jim and I said the pro-life rosary – the Bible quote that stood out to me was…
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life.”
There it is – plain and simple – the Lord speaking to us – CHOOSE LIFE.
But you never know what to expect at a 40 Days vigil. Marion blessed us with her presence. She was talking about a play “Findings” at The Gallery just down the street, when an elegant older woman stops to talk to us about the play. It seems it has a pro-life theme since the main character chooses life over abortion.
Evelyn begins talking to a man walking down the street who also has just left the theater. They seemed to know each other. He happens to be a famous producer, Andrew Paul, and they chat about the play. They include us in the conversation about pro-life issues. They agreed to have their picture on our blog.
Joe and Michele along with Philene arrive early for the next shift and we have a prayerful, peaceful end of our shift. It was a cold and blustery day, but the Lord shined warm blessings on us today. CHOOSE LIFE. AMEN!
JOE W. 5-7
My shift was prayerful, peaceful, reflective. Jesus is good, and abortion is evil. I’m so grateful to be brought into this battlefield and to be accompanied by two potent warriors, Philene and Michelle.
Praise be to God.
And God saw that it was good.