We now approach another Advent and Christmas season, and it's a year and a half since Pope John Paul II died and went to his eternal reward. What an instrument of God this man was, that at the time of his dying, death, funeral, and its aftermath he drew more undivided attention from people of all nations and faiths as no one had ever done before in such a way that gave so many people a glimpse of the human bond that unites all human beings that it was reminiscent of what we call the "spirit of Christmas". May these days be an occasion of a fruitful reflection for you on the meaning and purpose of life in light of the revelation of God given to humanity in Jesus Christ! November 27th, 2006.
Christ is risen! Alleluia! Alleluia!
As we witness Pope John Paul II serenely and prayerfully surrender his life into the merciful hands of his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, I am filled with emotion and with memories, ever since that day October 16, 1978 when, at the beginning of my first semester at St. Paul University Seminary in Ottawa, I witnessed Karol Wojtyla be elected Bishop of Rome. "Be not afraid to open the doors to Jesus Christ!" he proclaimed. He has profoundly marked my life of faith and inspired my ministry as a Roman Catholic priest and pastor.
Often, in the course of shepherding the people of God entrusted to me or who simply come up to me or call, I have reflected on countless life issues and situations. Inspired by Pope John Paul II's dedication to preaching and teaching the truth and to showing pastoral charity to believer and unbeliever alike, I have accumulated some reflections in such questions as: Why go to church on Sunday?
What is the significance of praying the Rosary - how is that in accord with Jesus' command that we pray to his Father? Why do Catholics give such attention to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and isn't that taking away from the worship we owe to Christ the Lord?
In fact, Catholic and Orthodox faith in Mary's God given privilege of having already shared in the Resurrection of Jesus is supported by St. Paul to the Corinthians, in his first letter, where he says that Christ is the first fruits of those to rise from the dead, followed by those that belong to Him. It is clear then that Christ valued his own Mother above all others by sharing the grace of resurrection with her first.
Other questions often asked are such as these: Of what value is prayer, and of what use is it for couples to pray together? Why does the Roman Catholic Church make such a fuss over sex and why has the Pope been so conservative about sexuality? Why do the youth at World Youth Days cheer Pope John Paul II when he appeals to them to safeguard their chastity?
Is the Bible true or is it just a myth? What's wrong with a Catholic Christian or any Christian joining a Masonic lodge, the Free Masons? Why don't more recently ordained priests want to celebrate Mass for our family or group, when our previous pastor/priest would celebrate Mass for us at home or for our group?
There are many more questions that come up, and you will find many of them given excellent treatment by Fr. Thomas Dowd in his blog.
Let's continue to pray for our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, now and beyond his hour of death, that the Lord may grant him a swift entry into eternal life and the reward of his banquet table; notwithstanding any regrets or shortcomings or sins he may have on his conscience. God bless you and your loved ones!