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Popes & Saints

We ought to fly away from earth to heaven as quickly as we can; and to fly away is to become like God, as far as this is possible; and to become like him is to become holy, just, and wise.  ~ Plato

The Crucifixion of Saint Peter by Caravaggio
The Crucifixion of Saint Peter by Caravaggio

Yesterday marked a truly blessed occasion.  Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII were canonized as saints.  This is the first time a dual canonization has ever taken place, with the presence of two Popes, another first.  Pope Francis declared the canonization in the Vatican City, in front of a million supporters with the company of Pope Benedict XVI.

In my short life alone, I have been honored to witness such acts of goodness from God’s chosen disciples.  It certainly helps me to continue my belief that people are innately good and the wrong in the world, however tragic and devastating it is, even though we seem to be consumed in its wake, is not prevailing over good, nor is it a commodity.  It’s actually very refreshing and reassuring to be reminded of true goodness since there seems to be such an influx of malignant spirits.

Now onto those who set an example of how to live and conduct life.  Please note, even popes are not perfect, not in the slightest.  We are all human with the ability of free will.  However, these saints have worked very hard to follow in the way of the Lord and set an example for all to join, going above and beyond.

(Obediencia et Pax – Obedient & Peace) Pope John XXIII, was successor to Saint Peter from 1958-1963.  What did he do exactly?  I was not around to see his works, only reading about this benevolent spirit.  He convened the Second Vatican Council in 1962.  This type of meeting should never be taken lightly, for it is rare collaboration of the worlds most influential and spiritual leaders and discussions are made on major issues, affecting the world’s spiritual guidance.  During such a time, Pope John XXIII helped to modernize our Mass by spreading the word of God in the local languages rather than the traditional Latin.  (Even though there is a push to bring back the Latin Mass, which is nice to keep traditions.)  He also encouraged and spearheaded discussions and interactions with those of other faiths, specifically Jews.  He was a sort of mediator.

JohannesPaul2-Aunt Heather Piper
Pope John Paul II – now officially a saint

(Totus Tuus – Totally Yours)  Pope John Paul II, the one I remember, was the second longest reining Bishop of Rome from 1978-2005. (26 years)  The longest was Pope Pius IX, 31 years.  He was also the first Polish Pope and the first non-Italian pontiff in four hundred years.  As per my mom, who is half Polish, she said her grandmother would have loved to see the day we had a Polish Pope.  We did!  And a fine one he was!

Pope John Paul II ventured out in the world were no Pope had been present.  He too, like Pope John XXIII opened communication with different faiths including the Protestant and Orthodox denominations.  Living through the Nazi invasion of Poland, Pope John Paul II spoke out heavily against war, economic injustice and political oppression by helping to overturn communism through his support of Poland’s Solidarity movement.

Pope John Paul II established the World Youth Days, bringing back a renewed interest in the Catholic Church.  However, he didn’t let his morals slip, but instead maintained the conservative church teachings, even after the morally loss and influence of the 1960’s.

Vatican_II Aunt Heather Piper
The Second Vatican Council

He left us his legacy and spiritual enlightenment through a dozen encyclicals and many, many other documents.  Pope John Paul II also seemed to believe in the goodness of others, around him and before his time.  He beatified and canonized more than a thousand men and women from every aspect of life, including Mother Teresa.

My wish is that this act of canonization for both popes brings a renewed hope in the goodness of people and sets the example for the next generation.  It makes for a more positive day when we share in goodness rather than hate or wrong doing.  I am also praying for the canonization of Mother Teresa.  In my opinion one deserving of such a title.

God Speed Everyone!






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