The Lion and the Lamb
By Deacon Keith A Fournier
(c) Third Millennium, LLC
Like millions of the faithful throughout the world, I have watched and prayed throughout the night for our wonderful Pope. He has showed us how to live, fully given over to Jesus Christ. He has showed us that suffering, joined to the Savior, can become a sign of God’s continued mercy and an occasion of grace. Now, he shows us how to embrace death, not with fear, but with faith.
There is no doubt that we who are alive at the beginning of this Third Christian Millennium have been profoundly privileged to experience the leadership, in both word and deed, of this successor of Peter, this Vicar of Christ, Pope John Paul II. To encourage us all to a continued, prolonged and heartfelt prayer for the Pope, the entire Christian people and for the world, I offer a tribute that I wrote on the twenty fifth anniversary of his pontificate:
In October of 1978, Pope John Paul II stepped out on to the balcony in St. Peters Square and proclaimed:
"Be Not Afraid! Open up, no; swing wide the gates to Christ. Open up to his saving power the confines of the State, open up economic and political systems, the vast empires of culture, civilization and development…. Be not afraid!"
Affirmed by many as one of the chief architects of the Second Vatican Council and its extraordinary document on the relationship of the Church to the “modern” world” (entitled "Joy and Hope" or “Gaudium et Spes” in Latin), this strong, passionate, charismatic priest and Bishop now occupied the chair of Peter. At a critical time in the history of both the Church and the world, he stepped forward like a lion, with a prophetic roar. He strode onto that platform with strength and vitality. This mountain climbing Polish Pope was so filled with the love of God it was contagious. A talented and gifted "man of letters", a playwright, a philosopher, an intellectual giant, a poet, but more importantly, a genuine human being with a heart that embraced the whole world, like the Heart of the One whom he represents on earth. He truly has been the “Vicar of Christ”, representing the Lord, the King of Kings, for so many millions throughout the world.
Like a lion in Peter’s chair, he consistently and tirelessly lived what he boldly proclaimed with great courage. Unafraid, he traversed the globe, proclaiming freedom to the captives and truth to the victims of failed false ideologies that had ravaged the people of the twentieth century, the bloodiest in all of human history. He has not stopped passionately re-presenting the classical, unchanging, Christian message with a prophetic urgency, profound clarity and contemporary relevance.
Communism, atheism, secularism, false humanisms … have now all been exposed in both their empty promises and the horrors that they unleashed in the wake of their false utopian claims. This Pope proclaimed that the “Redeemer of Man” (the title of his first encyclical letter), Jesus Christ, is the path to authentic personal, social and universal freedom! He authored more encyclical letters, apostolic exhortations, constitutions and letters than any Pope in the two thousand year history of the Christian Church. In these writings and so many allocutions, this marvelous man has given us a treasury to unpack for centuries.
He has meticulously and brilliantly developed themes during his service to the Church and the world. Among them; "The Culture of Life", "The Civilization of Love", "The New Evangelization", "The New Springtime of world missions ", "The Universal Call to holiness"; "Christian Marriage and family life as a domestic church"; "A Spirituality of Communion"; "The Theology of the Body"; "The Common Good"; "The Unity of Life"; "The New Humanism"; "The New feminism and the Feminine Genius"; "The Two Lungs of East and West"; “A New Catholic Action", and a “New Advent” for all of humanity in Jesus Christ.
His rich teaching sets a framework for what I believe will be a five hundred year renewal of the Church and, through her, a transformation of the entirety of human culture, including the arts, politics, the academy, and economic and political theory - because no area of human experience is “off-limits” to the influence of the Gospel and the Church. The Church is, in the words of the Fathers of the second Vatican Council, an “expert in humanity”.
Pope John Paul II has called all men and women to the Redeemer, Jesus Christ. In Him they are invited to discover the purpose and fulfillment of human life itself. He has proclaimed the profound truth that human existence itself is an invitation to communion with God and with one another. He has proclaimed to an age bent of “self fulfillment” that we only find our human fulfillment in giving ourselves in love to God and to one another. He calls us to ...
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