On May 18, we mark the 100th birthday of St. John Paul II. Though he passed away 15 years ago this past April, the magisterium of the man who for 26 years was our beloved Holy Father, lives large in the life of the Church.
For much of 2018, I had the privilege of reading many of the works of John Paul II as I compiled my latest book “Praying the Rosary with St. John Paul II” that was released by OSV last fall. I also finally read George Weigel’s incomparable biography “Witness to Hope.” While I don’t by any means consider myself a foremost expert on John Paul’s works, I do find myself speculating on what his message might be for us during this time of global pandemic. Here are some hints from his previous works.
JPII on comfort
“Remember that you are never alone, Christ is with you on your journey every day of your lives! He has called you and chosen you to live in the freedom of the children of God. Turn to him in prayer and in love. Ask him to grant you the courage and strength to live in this freedom always. Walk with him who is ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life’!” — Baptismal Vigil with Young People, 12th World Youth Day, 1997
JPII on trust in God
“Duc in altum! [Put out into the deep.] These words ring out for us today, and they invite us to remember the past with gratitude, to live the present with enthusiasm and to look forward to the future with confidence: ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever’ (Heb 13:8).” — Novo Millennio Ineunte, 2000
JPII on prayer and peace
“The Rosary is by its nature a prayer for peace, since it consists in the contemplation of Christ, the Prince of Peace, the one who is ‘our peace’ (Eph 2:14). Anyone who assimilates the mystery of Christ — and this is clearly the goal of the Rosary — learns the secret of peace and makes it his life’s project. Moreover, by virtue of its meditative character, with the tranquil succession of Hail Marys, the Rosary has a peaceful effect on those who pray it, disposing them to receive and experience in their innermost depths, and to spread around them, that true peace which is the special gift of the Risen Lord (cf. Jn 14:27; 20.21).” — Rosarium Virginis Mariae, No. 40
JPII on reliance on Mary, health of the sick
“Dear brothers and sisters who are enduring trials, generously offer your pain in communion with the suffering Christ and with Mary, his most gentle Mother. And you who work daily at the side of the suffering, make your service a valuable contribution to evangelization. Feel that you are a living part of the Church, since in you the Christian community has been called to embrace the Cross of Christ so as to give the world the reason for its Gospel hope (cf. 1 Pet 3:15).” — Message for the Fourth World Day of the Sick
JPII on solidarity
“[Solidarity] is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all.” — Sollicitudo rei Socialis, No. 38.
The words of St. John Paul II continue to be as relevant today as ever, even and especially in times of trial. St. John Paul II, pray for us!
Gretchen R. Crowe is editorial director for periodicals at OSV. Follow her on Twitter @GretchenOSV.