“He [The Blessed Pope John Paul II] restored to Christianity its true face as a religion of hope”
– Pope Benedict XVI, 1 May 2011
Blessed Pope John Paul II
In an interview, a reporter asked him how he felt about the enthusiasm and cheering of crowds for him. He replied that the enthusiasm is not about him, that the enthusiasm was for the Successor of Peter and Christ living in the church. His reply is splendid in the man’s humility, conscience, and convictions.
I am not a man qualified to demonstrate or explain the heroic virtue of that man to you. I am not qualified to describe the miracles nor the inquisitional examination of those miracles that qualify that man for beatification. Nor am I qualified to explain how he was one of the most influential leaders of the twentieth century or that he may have been the most important thinker and philosopher of the twentieth century. His titles and service recommend themselves as much as they recommend that gentle man.
If I am to be honest with you (and I do want to be honest with you) I can only share with you, inadequately, how that man encouraged me to pray, to think about the dignity and drama of the human person, and to remember the splendor of truth that shines from Christ, from the cross, and from the resurrection.
My emotional experience of John Paul II
I did not know the man in person. I saw him from a distance several times. I saw him from his Vatican window. I attended three masses in which he celebrated. And, a few times, I could almost reach out and touch him. He passed by once, but he didn’t shake my hand. There were a thousand outstretched hands being offered to him. I was very disappointed but I did not blame him.
But this is not important to share with you. I only write it as an introduction to more important things.
What is important is how I was moved in his presence. At a distance. Or close enough to touch his robe. It was an overwhelming emotion. It was an overflowing emotion. It was an overflowing of love, hope and faith. It was an overwhelming that I know to be one expression of the presence of God. Perhaps, a direct connection.
It’s like a live wire. It’s strong. And you’d really rather not feel it – I used to feel that way about it.
When God speaks in your heart, he writes upon your heart, and it is written like on a stone.
My intellectual experience of John Paul II
I read some of John Paul II’s writing and thinking – and I admit that I regret that I have not read more. It’s not too late – I hope. He wrote 14 papal encyclicals and other important treatises which illuminate the things that matter most including human rights, the dignity of women, and, yes, love and marriage.
In Fides et Ratio, he emphasized the complementary relationship between Faith and Reason. More importantly in other work, he emphasized the relationship between Emotion and Reason – a relationship that remains desperately neglected and obfuscated in modern philosophy.
We cannot understand ourselves without understanding that Emotion and Reason are inseparable within the human condition, in our hopes, and in our failures. Nor can we ever hope to understand more about ourselves, this world, and each other without understanding something of the beauty, goodness, and truth of Christ, his sacrifice, and, yes, how he calls us to him by name.
Without the sacred, the math goes something like this: 2+?=? and every answer must be a fiction. But if fiction can provide a substitute for solace, peace and love among other things, we still know in our hearts that substitutes do not fill our emptiness. Substitutes are ever inadequate to what we need- however often and desperately we want them.
The story of Pope John Paul II the Great is not over
He’s dead and your observation is correct and incorrect. His body is still. And his words may or may not be relevant to you or the twenty first century. They are for me. But something of him continues and shall continue. It’s power is greater than the power he possessed in body and mind. I’m not talking about his memory.
As I mentioned, I’m not qualified to discuss the miracles that confirm that blessed state which is defined by the Roman Catholic Church. I can only tell you that I am sure that the man exists because I feel movement when I contemplate him. Not every time. Not even often. Not even though I have his portrait on the wall (a gift to me from a Cardinal or so I was told) and his eyes seem to watch me at the computer or follow me out of the room.
Those following eyes are an artistic technique. Or so I tell myself. The same effect is felt in another room where a ceiling painting of Christ in judgment (surrounded by the fire that pours from the wine cup of God’s wrath) looks down upon you and may stir in you a crisis of conscience and humility.
Enough about art…
That Pope John Paul II continues in my life and thought… and also for countless millions is encouraging.
He is not Christ. Christ is the Son of God. Karol Jozef Wojtyla is a man. Just as Christ is also a man. Just as I am a man.
As a man, I hope to be as successful as Karol was successful. To be an encouragement. To give Hope.
Booker T. Washington, an African American who was born a slave and rose to become an educator, a successful businessman, and trusted adviser to Presidents, defined how a person’s success should be measured. And I quote him so you can be sure of what I mean by my aspirations to be successful.
… success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed.
It is an intention that I have failed to adequately express in my comments to several recent blog posts including the following:
Stacey Herbert’s Who Are You Going Pound For Pound With
Constantin Gabor’s Why Most People Work for Others
Eugene Faber’s Walking The Talk: I Quit My Job
1 May 2011
About Stan Faryna
Mr. Faryna is the founder and co-founder of several technology, design and communication companies in the United States and Europe including Faryna & Associates, Inc., Halo Interactive, and others.
Stan Faryna served as a Global Voices author and translator. Global Voices is a non-profit global citizens’ media project founded at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, a research think-tank focused on the Internet’s impact on society.
His political, scholarly, social and technical opinions have appeared in The Chicago Defender, Jurnalul National, The Washington Times, Sagar, Saptamana Financiara, Social Justice Review, and other publications.
Mr. Faryna also served as editor-in-chief of Black and Right (Praeger Press, 1996), a landmark collection of socio-political essays by important American thinkers including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Copyright 1996 to 2012 by Stan Faryna.
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