Four years later; Remembering Pope John Paul II

Here is my Friday column. Today marks the fourth anniversary of Pope John Paul II's passing, and I thought it merited a column.

Four years ago, many Catholics felt their hearts break.
On April 2, 2005, Pope John Paul II (born Karol Józef Wojtyła), who had been the Vicar of Christ since October 16, 1978, died of heart failure after developing septic shock at the age of 84.
He fell into a coma that day, four hours after speaking his final words: "pozwólcie mi odejść do domu Ojca,” (which translates "Let me go to the house of the Father.")
I was not Catholic at the time of John Paul II's death, so at the time, it did not resonate with me. Sure it was sad that someone lost a family member, but to me, he was just some guy in Rome, the leader of a bunch of crazy Christians.
But four years later, as I get ready for my first communion, I look at his death differently. Especially after hearing other people at St. Joseph talking about staying glued to their TV's during the Pope's final days. It made me realize that Pope John Paul II wasn't just a leader, as I had thought.
He was a family member. A trusted friend that meant so much to many people around the world.
A trip to newseum.org testifies to the magnitude of his death that I was apparently not paying attention to. Newseum keeps international archives of front pages from memorable events around the world (including shocking events like the Virginia Tech massacre, and fun ones like the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series in 2004).
Among those archives are newspapers published the day after John Paul II's death, with nearly every paper in this country going the extra mile when it came to making their front page stand out with reverance and respect to the Pope.
For instance, the Albuquerque Journal in New Mexico had a photo of John Paul II covering the entire front page, with the headline "Mourning a Modern Apostle." The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle in New York had a beautiful photo of a dove being released over John Paul II, with a quote from his writings.
There are so many more that are worth a visit to the Web site, but those are the two that really stuck out.
What sticks out even more than these beautiful newspaper pages is his influence. Time magazine included John Paul II on its list of the top 100 most influential people of the 20th century, citing his fight against communism (in 2004, he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize due to his work) and charisma.
"One sees the most radiant face on the public scene," the article states, "a presence so commanding as to have arrested a generation of humankind, who wonder gratefully whether the Lord Himself had a hand in shaping the special charisma of this servant of the servants of God."
In 1979, shortly after he became Pope he visited the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland (the Anti-Defemation League said after his death, "more change for the better took place in his 27 year Papacy than in the nearly 2,000 years before.”
What really resonates with me, as I look back and study his life is determination and unwillingness to back down. Instead of bowing to the pressure that wrongheaded people placed on the church to change its views on abortion, he steadfastly held to the truth, condemning this act of murder as "an unspeakable crime."
So many times, we as Christians are pressured to be "tolerant" (accepting) of other viewpoints (G.K. Chesteron said, "Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions). We can think abortion is evil, but we should support other people's decision to choose for themselves. After all, isn't that the loving thing to do?
There have been moments in my life where I was tempted to believe that lie, thinking it would make my life easier. A life without dealing with that confrontation would be great.
But it's people like John Paul II who remind me that speaking the truth isn't an easy cross to carry, but that it is worth a lifetime of hassle to do right in God's eyes.
I wish I had realized what a great man John Paul II was before he died. But the fact that I'm finding this out four years later testifies to just how influential he was.
God bless you Father.


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    About This Blog

    A blog for the masses, if by masses you mean myself and family members who probably read this out of pity.

    I'm dustin Faber, the 16-bit Catholic. This blog is an amusing, sometimes thought-provoking look at my life and the world around me. Poetry, cooking recipes, gaming, faith, things that make me go awww, things that make me go grrr, and my obsession with a good glass of root beer can be found here.

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