Today marks a wonderful day in the history of the Catholic Church and of the world: the canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII. Both of these Popes made a profound and unspeakably beautiful impact on the Catholic faith. This canonization was made even more historic by the fact that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was present to concelebrate the Mass with Pope Francis. So, as all of the Catholic faithful have been proclaiming today, it has been the day of 4 Popes!
This day is has brought such a great joy to my heart, so many different reasons!
I just recently came to know what a great impact Pope John XXIII had on our Church and our faith, and my heart is forever indebted to the wonderful work he did. Through the work of the Second Vatican Council, Pope John XXIII renewed the participation of laity in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Our Church today absolutely takes for granted the laity’s participation in the Mass, but John XXIII’s legacy should call our hearts to a an attitude of renewed gratitude and wonder every time we go to Mass. Saint Pope JohnXXIII pray for us!
As for Pope John Paul II, this man changed, and continues to change, my life. Of all of the incredible, remarkable and wonderful things he did during his papacy, what has changed my heart the most is all of the work he did on the matters of marriage and family life. From his Letter to Families to Familiaris Consortio to Theology of the Body, John Paul II shed light on the true sacred nature of marriage as God designed it. Theology of the Body has changed everything for me from the way I view my friendships, my sexuality, my calling to marriage, to the way I understand myself as God’s daughter. Christopher West rightfully says, “Brace Yourself! If we take in what the Holy Father is saying in his Theology of the Body, we will never view ourselves, view others, view the Church, the Sacraments, grace, God, heaven, Marriage, the celibate vocation..we will never view the world the same way again.” Saint Pope John Paul II, Pray for us!
So let me share with you my favorite quote from Pope John Paul II (this will probably become a blog post in and of itself eventually) :
Spouses are therefore the permanent reminder to the Church of what happened on the Cross; they are for one another and for children witnesses to the salvation in which the sacrament makes them sharers.
Besides what these two great Popes have done for me personally, they have done so much for the Church as a whole and continue to do so to this very day. I am so blessed to go to school right across the street from the (now) Saint John Paul II Shrine. Needless to say, this day was a big deal for the shrine and so they held celebratory events all through last night and today. I arrived at the Shrine at 11:30 pm last night to get seats for Midnight Mass of Divine Mercy Sunday. I am also so blessed to say that I have some wonderful friends in my life willing to do this with me, so so blessed. The shrine was PACKED. So many Catholics came out for this event. After Mass I was able to tour their JPII exhibit, get some coffee (after all it was 2 am) and pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Around 3 am they streamed the live canonization from Rome. As soon as the canonization was completed, the shrine brought out the only liquid blood relic of JPII in all of North America for veneration. Pretty awesome right? Amidst all of this my beautiful friend Greta (read her blog here) turns to me and says “Catholics are crazy” and indeed we are. Our love for our Church, our faith, our Popes and especially God Himself cannot be contained.