He let himself be caught by the ‘papal wind’. And he became an excellent expert of not only the teaching of John Paul II, but also literal activity of saint Polish Pope. And both in everyday life and on feasts he speaks using his quotations
He often recalls and quotes poetry of Karol Wojtyła in various circumstances, and he often takes his listeners to the deepness of quoted verses, helps in understanding their mystic sense and discover the richest layer of the content. This prominent expert of teaching and work of John Paul II is archbishop Wacław Depo, the metropolitan of Częstochowa.
When in December 2011 pope Benedict XVI was sending him from Zamość and Lubaczów to Częstochowa, in the environment of Radomsko and Sandomierz, close to him, where there are his family and professor’s and rector’s roots, a saying was going round: ‘It is impossible to understand John Paul II without Wacław Depo’. Today we confirm it in Częstochowa, and we have even a new evidence – the book entitled: ‘Papal wind’ which came out on the occasion of canonization of John Paul II.
In the introductory word Fr. Włodzimierz Kowalik explains that the title of the book by archbishop Wacław Depo referring to the words of John Paul II, and were said in Radom on 4 June 1991 – at the end of the Holy Mass celebrated on a military airport, during a papal pilgrimage to Homeland. ‘The content of the book – writes Fr. Kowalik – is a sign of the fulfillment of the prayer of the Pope, said at the end of that meeting, so that the wind of the Spirit would carry his words, would place him in the Polish reality anew and would form a new life in its all dimensions. Collected homilies, sermons and interviews are the confirmation of the fact that words said by the Pope during his pilgrimages to Homeland and to other countries as well as during meetings in Rome, and also words included in papal documents, were forming hearts and minds of people. How strongly they did it in the person of archbishop Wacław Depo – the book is a significant testimony’.
Touch of poetic strings
We find out from the pages of the presented book that archbishop Depo used to speak to John Paul II either using the words of Wojtyła or the Pope. In his speeches published in this book, he often returns in his memories to unusual meetings with the Holy Father. One of them took place on 4 June 1991 on the threshold of the Seminary in Radom, when as a rector he was welcoming John Paul II. In the book we read: ‘I came out and I am coming up to the Pope, and he takes my hand and listens to what I say. I said: I welcome Your Holiness as a man in whom – using the words of Karol Wojtyła – ‘Heaven matters connect with he matters of the earth’. And he looked at me, and pointing with his finger to my direction, straight at the height of my heart, says: ‘You see!’. And we were going on’. Archbishop Depo explains: ‘I took these words from his poetry, when he was speaking about bishop Stanislaw’. The author of the ‘Papal wind’ in his statements ‘touches poetic strings’ also of other creators – national bards, priests-poets and poets discovered by him. We find in it, among the others, verses of Cyprian Kamil Norwid, Fr. Jan Twardowski, Roman Brandstaetter, Fr. Kazimierz Wojtowicz.
Pronounced with the language of faith
Another meeting, saved for ever in the memory and heart of the author of the ‘Papal Wind’ took place on 14 September 1994. At that time he was celebrating the Holy Mass in a private chapel of the Holy Father in Castel Gandolfo. ‘The participant of the Eucharist was also my Mum – he reminiscences in one of his sermons on the anniversary of the election of the Polish Pope. – Later when she came up to the Holy Father and I introduced her, then my Mum greeted the Pope so spontaneously, saying very beautiful words: ‘May God be adored in His saints, in angels and in You, Holy Father!’. The Pope looked at my Mum and asked: ‘Are You from Radom?’. And she said: ‘No, I am from Szydłowiec near Radom’. Archbishop Depo notes that in this greeting there was not only the faith of his Mum, but there was also a kind of prophecy whose fulfillment we can enjoy today, when John Paul II has already gained the glory of altars, was proclaimed a saint. Archbishop mentions that his Mum often stood at the monument of John Paul II, placed near the church in his home town Szydłowiec and she used to pray with the same words, which she said in Castel Gandolfo.
Keep to Christ
In speeches of archbishop Wacław Depo we find many clear annotations, outlining and deepening the spiritual silhouette of saint Polish Pope. On page 48 of the ‘Papal Wind’ we read: ‘The image of the Holy Father John Paul II with the pastoral and the cross held at the height of his eyes, were deeply inscribed in our consciousness of faith. This image seen during every Eucharistic celebration summarizes indeed everything what one would like to say or write about the 264th successor of St. Peter, the first Polish Pope. Let’s express this summary with words which were said by Fr. Prof. Tadeusz Styczeń: ‘He knows, Whom he keeps to and he knows to Whom he is leading us’.
When a prayer becomes a breath
Another outline of John Paul II, strongly keeping to Christ is a prayer being his ‘weapon’ towards constant challenges in the world and the Church’ -we read. The author finds words of Andre Frossard reaching the essence: ‘The Pope prays in the same way as he breathes’. And he gives us many personal annotations proving it in the book – describing for example, the visit of John Paul II in the seminary in Radom in 1991, he records that in a short time he entered the chapel twice, going for further meetings. It has somehow a kind of the general significance, as it confirms the confession of a person from the close group to the Holy Father, who revealed that during his papal pilgrimages, it was necessary to close the chapel door for fear of the fact that the Holy Father would visit it again and it would be impossible to realize further points of the schedule on time.
In the chapter entitled: ‘Faithful to God through a prayer’, we read the following words of archbishop Depo: ‘The History of the Church does not know an example of the man who, doing anything great and useful for the community of believers and not only for it – would not be a man of prayer at the same time’. And here the author explains us a lot….’Aren’t the prayer of breviary silence from Wawel during his papal pilgrimage to Homeland, as well as a prayer of the Good Friday with the crucifix of Christ cuddled to his face and heart good evidence and a conscious testimony of fulfillment of this postulate?’ – we read in the book ‘Papal Wind’, giving so much evidence that the prayer in the papal ministry of John Paul II had a fundamental character. Therefore biographers defined him as ‘the rock of the prayer’ and ‘the giant of faith’.
Archbishop Depo notes that for John Paul II the most important task every day was the Holy Mass. ‘It is the Holy Mass in which the most beautiful synthesis – a meeting of God in Christ and being with Him through a particular man is included’. The Saint Pope said that ‘it is impossible to go to a man without a prayer’. The author also suggests (in reference to the Catechism of the Catholic Church) an accurate ‘definition’ of the prayer which ‘is a meeting of two desires: God’s Heart and the human heart’.
Be a man of entrustment
During his first entrustment to Mary in his new ministry as the metropolitan of Częstochowa which took place on 2 January 2012 ( a month before the ingress to the arch-cathedral of Częstochowa), archbishop Depo addressed his words to Our Lady before Her Miraculous Image at Jasna Góra, calling after John Paul II: - ‘Love explained me everything. Therefore I adore this Love, wherever it would be and however it would appear to us’. Mary, I am, I remember, I am vigilant! And he is, and he, as the Metropolitan of Częstochowa is faithful to Mary, finishing his every day with his pilgrimage to Jasna Góra. At this time he gives the message of faith with his pastoral blessing from the Altar of Homeland, and it is expressed with the words of John Paul II, as well as he gives his fatherly heart, comprising the most important issues and all people of his pastoral path during the Appeal prayer. Archbishop Depo – the man of great entrustment to Mary – leads us on earthly roads to Christ according to his bishopric motto: ‘Ad Christum Redemptorem hominis’ – Towards Christ the Redeemer of the man, taken from the program encyclical of John Paul II ‘Redemptoris hominis’. And he learnt this entrustment to Christ and the Holy Mother from the greatest Pole – saint pope John Paul II and God’s servant Stefan Wyszyński, whose paths he is following now, leading God’s people, entrusted to him, on a road to Jasna Góra. The author of the book notes that Karol Wojtyła – the future pope – ‘was being born in the sign of entrustment to Mary’. It was on 18 May 1920 in Wadowice, when in the nearby parish church during a May divine service the Loreto Litany was being sung, when he was going away from this world and entering Father’s home’ – writes archbishop Depo.
Between Heaven and the earth
Let’s look at statements written in the book ‘Papal Wind’ concerning the year 2000, the moment of the turn of millenniums when the whole Church was making a pilgrimage to Rome in groups of various age and social states. Archbishop Depo, in the apostolic letter of John Paul II ‘Novo millenio ineunte’, edited on this occasion, found very simple, and even surprising words of saint Polish Pope: ‘….I looked at crowds of pilgrims many times from the window of the Apostolic Palace, how they were patiently standing in a queue and waiting for passing the threshold of the Holy Door in the Year of the Great Millennium of Incarnation’. John Paul II emphasized: ‘I saw this Church in its pilgrimage in you, who has gone everywhere in the world because Christ goes with every man’.
Archbishop Depo gives listeners and readers his belief that despite the death of John Paul II, he is always with us, because in the human life there are ‘such kinds of leaving which give a new kind of presence’. Throughout his whole pontificate John Paul II could look from the papal window at the Church making its pilgrimage to the tomb of the apostle Peter, to its sources. Now he is taking care of us from the window of Father’s home.
Closeness of the one who passed away
Finally, let’s reflect on the sentence of Karol Wojtyła, uncovered by the Archbishop: ‘Closeness of the one who passed away’. – These words ‘speak in me’, and ‘they are following me’ in every prayer – archbishop Depo confesses. ‘They took on a special meaning on that Saturday evening – 2 April 2005 at 9.37 p.m.’. It turns out that they come from the poem of cardinal Karol Wojtyła entitled: ‘Salvation’ which is quoted in this book. ‘The one who was writing these words – as John Paul II – passed ‘from life to Life’, to Father’s Home… and therefore he is close to us….’ – explains the author of the book ‘Papal Wind’.
I feel sad to finish quoting thoughts of Wojtyła and John Paul II, presented by archbishop Wacław Depo. However, each text in the newspaper has its definite limits of its volume. And in this case the whole book should be quoted. So, we can only find it in a publishing house or a bookshop and contemplate – page by page. However, we must do it immediately, because archbishop Wacław Depo is visiting all parts of the archdiocese of Częstochowa very quickly, fulfilling his pastoral ministry in the Church very fervently. Every day, as a spiritual father is very happy to meet people of his priestly road, proclaiming God’s words everywhere and giving his blessing. He leaves believers signposts leading to holiness on the path of entrustment on which St. John Paul II walked. Let’s catch up with him. The book ‘Papal Wind’ will surely help us in it.
Archbishop Wacław Depo ‘Papieski Wiatr’
Częstochowskie Wydawnictwo Diecezjalne
‘Regina Poloniae’ ul. Ogrodowa 24/44, 42-200 Częstochowa
Tel. (34) 368-05-60, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org