BEING LED BY MARY
FR. HENRYK MISZTAL
Waiting for canonization of John Paul II we are preparing also our souls for deeper understanding the significance of this fact. John Paul II was not only teaching about holiness but he was also implementing it in his whole life. He felt obliged himself to achieve it and set it as an essential task for all Christians, including the laymen
John Paul II considered holiness as an ordinary life path (see ‘Christifideles laici’, n. 16). He was teaching that every man – not saying a priest, bishop or pope – should care about the coherence of principles proclaimed of faith by them with their everyday life (see also n.17).
Paths of holiness are various and are adjusted to every form of vocation (see ‘Novo millenio ineunte’ n. 31).On pages of the Catholic weekly ‘Niedziela’ , in whose logo there is an image of Our Lady of Jasna Góra, we will reflect on various paths to holiness of the great Pole John Paul II, comparing his teaching with implementation of holiness in life. So, we will look at the path of the Polish Pope to holiness who was being led by Our Lady.
Through Mary to Christ
John Paul II was teaching that the motherly role of Mary does not blur or diminish the only mediation of Christ, but shows his power, and the event in the Galilean Cana is a kind of an omen of the mediation of Mary which is addressed to Christ and is also aiming at revealing His redemptive power (see ‘Redemptoris Mater’ n. 22).
This path through Mary to Christ was considered by John Paul II as one of the most important paths of his sanctification. In his childhood, after his earthly mother died on 13 April 1929, just before his First Holy Communion, that is, when he was four, he was entrusted to Blessed Mother by his father remaining in grief. Next, as a young boy, in a Cloister of the Bare-foot Carmelite Fathers in Wadowice on Górka, he received the scapular which he was wearing till the end of his life. It is also known that in 1941 he belonged to a community of the Alive Rosary. As a student, priest and bishop of Kraków – he was forming his piety of Mary through meditation of Mary’s path in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska and often visits and pilgrims to this sanctuary. He also made many pilgrimages to Jasna Góra and he confided to Our Lady….. His life motto of his pontificate, taken from the ‘Treaty about real religious service to Blessed Virgin Mary’ of St. Ludwik Maria Grignion de Montfort were the words: ‘Totus Tuus – whole of yours. John Paul II implemented this motto in his whole life. He write in the testament: ‘I want to rely on the will of Lord again. He decides himself when and how I am to finish my earthly life and pastoral ministry. In life and death ‘Totus Tuus through the Immaculate Mary’.
I am! I remember! I am vigilant!
The fact how much he lived in the religious service to Our Lady which was leading him to Christ is proved by the words of 14 August 1991, of the VI World Youth’s Day at Jasna Góra, when during an Appeal prayer he was analyzing the three words which are our guides: ‘I am! I remember! I am vigilant!’. Here is a paraphrase of his words which, despite of being said to the youth, the pope was referring them to himself, showing the state of his spirit.
In the human ‘I am’ there is the whole truth of existence and conscience. ‘I am’ towards You who ‘are’. The world which surrounds us, the modern civilization significantly contributed to pushing away the Divine ‘I am’ from the human conscience. This civilization is trying to exist in such a way as if God did not exist – this is its program. However, if God does not exist, do we really exist? ‘I am’ means Love. ‘I am by you. I remember’ We arrived here, dear friends in order to participate in Marian memory of any God’s matters. In order to participate in the memory of the Church, to which inspired Letters serve. Let’s make the Holy Scripture a source of inspiration for us. Let’s make it a source of our inner life. Let’s discover the wonderful and unknown mystery of the Divine ‘I am’ in it anew and more and more fully. Finally, - ‘I am vigilant’. It means that I am trying to be a man of conscience, I call the good and the evil by names, I do not blur them, I elaborate the good in myself and improve my bad behavior, and win the evil in myself. This matter is more important especially when more circumstances seem to favour our tolerating the evil and when we should make amends. Today I repeat them: ‘I am! I remember! I am vigilant!’
Mary will win
A sign of Marian religiousness of the pope John Paul II was his constant prayer of rosary. On the first days of his pontificate he stated it publicly at one of his first meetings with believers. He said that the Rosary prayer was his most favourite prayer. It contains the most important truths of faith, connects an oral, mind and contemplative prayers. We know this view: John Paul II with a rosary in his hand. He was saying first three, and later when the mysteries of light appeared- its four parts.
All encyclicals, exhortations, apostolic letters and pronouncements finish with entrustment of the Church and himself to Mary as God’s Mother. And in the ending of the first encyclical about Jesus Christ the Redeemer of humankind- ‘Redemptoris hominis’ of 4 March 1979, he wrote among the others: ‘……finishing this reflection with a fervent and humble vocation to prayer, I want us maintain united with Mary, Jesus’ Mother in this prayer (see Acts 1.14),like the Apostles and Lord’s Disciples did after the Ascension in the Upper Room in Jerusalem (see Acts. 1.13). And, first of all, I ask heavenly Mother of the Church to be with us in this prayer of the New Advent of humankind which is the Church, that is, the Mystical Body of Her Son’.
And so do the words once said by God’s servant cardinal August Hlond become true in the eyes of us who are getting prepared for the canonization of the great pope John Paul II: ‘If the victory comes, it will only through Mary’.