On May 18, 1920 Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, was born in Wadowice (Poland). To commemorate the centenary of his birth, the LEV (Libreria Editrice Vaticana) has published a book entitled Saint John Paul II: 100 Years. Words and images, which collects writings and photographs from the years of his pontificate (1978-2005). It can be found in three languages: English, Italian and Polish. The foreword is written by Pope Francis, who granted the Avvenire newspaper to anticipate the publication of his words.
In it he defines Saint John Paul II as "a great witness of faith, a great man of prayer who lived fully immersed in his time and constantly in contact with God, a sure guide for the Church in times of great change."
He highlights the richness of his teaching and the fertility “of his long and fruitful pontificate, his great passion for the human being, his openness, his search for dialogue with everyone, his determination to implement every attempt to stop wars, his propensity to go out. meet anyone and hug those who suffer. "
But there is another aspect of his life in which he wishes to stop: “What we sometimes risk forgetting, and which I would like to draw the attention of the readers, is how much this Pope has suffered in his life. His personal sufferings were related to those of his people and his nation, Poland. "
It runs, from this perspective, the biographical data of his childhood and youth, especially the impact that the consequences of war have on him. “The suffering he experienced in fully trusting in the Lord forged and further strengthened the Christian faith for which he had been raised in the family. He was an extraordinary educator of many young people who, through him, a young priest, were introduced on the path of a concrete faith, witnessed, lived at every moment of life.
And he contemplates the suffering he experienced during his pontificate: “He suffered the terrible attack in 1981, he offered his life, shed his blood for the Church and testified that even in the difficult test of illness, shared daily with God made man for us and Crucified for our salvation, we can continue to be happy, we can continue to be ourselves, we can rejoice in the certainty of the encounter with the risen Jesus ”.
Finally, he invites us to remember him and follow his example: “Let us listen to his call to open the doors to Christ, not to be afraid. Despite the difficulties, let us walk happily along the paths of the world, following in the footsteps of the giants who preceded us with the certainty that we are not and will never be alone. Saint John Paul II taught us this throughout his life, always cultivating a special bond with our mother in Heaven, Mary, Mother of tenderness and mercy. ”
Source: Avvenire, 5.5.2020
Photos: from the book.