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Be Not Afraid!

4/2/2005 - 4:21 PM PST

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By Deacon Keith Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC
Catholic Online

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"I am happy. You should be too. Let us pray together with joy” Pope John Paul II

"Now it begins…now it all begins." Words spoken by Zerah upon entering the crypt and seeing the cloth lying on the empty slab. Franco Zeffirelli's, Jesus of Nazareth

"I feel that my mission is about to begin, my mission to make God loved as I love him, to teach souls my little way ... the way of trust and absolute surrender ... I will spend heaven doing good on earth." St. Therese

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The words were just announced to a waiting world “Pope John Paul II has died.” The heart of that world has broken. The tears of the faithful will fill rivers. We will pray, and reflect on the life and example of this incredible gift, Pope John Paul II, for centuries to come. We had in our midst, John Paul the Great.

With millions of the faithful throughout the world, I watched and prayed throughout these painful days for our Pope. He showed us how to live for Jesus Christ. He showed us how to love, poured out for others. He showed us that suffering, joined to the Savior, can become a sign of God’s continued mercy and an occasion of grace. Then, he showed us how to die, not with fear, but with faith.

Just this morning, he spoke these words to a friend at his bedside “I am happy. You should be too. Let us pray together with joy”

It seems like only yesterday that he 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!"

He strode onto that platform with strength and vitality. This mountain climbing Polish Pope was so filled with the love of God that 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 was truly the “Vicar of Christ”, representing the Lord, the King of Kings, for us all. We had him but a short time.

Now, he is home with the Lord.

He lived what he boldly proclaimed with such 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 passionately proclaimed the ever new, classical, unchanging, Christian message with a prophetic urgency, profound clarity and contemporary relevance.

Many tried to label him a “conservative” or a “traditionalist”. He demonstrated just how shallow and worthless the labels are. He was a Christian, who stood on the shoulders of giants, rooted in the ancient rich tradition of the Church, proclaiming the unchanging message of Jesus Christ whom he regularly proclaimed as “forever young.”

Communism, atheism, secularism, false humanisms, were exposed in their empty promises and the horrors that they unleashed in the wake of their false utopian claims were ended because he had the courage to stand up to the tyrants with the bold message of the God who came among us and makes us all new! He taught that 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. He was, himself, as the Apostle Paul wrote, a “living letter.”

In all of his writings and allocutions, this “Pope of popes” gave us a treasury that we must now unpack. Though we no longer have him to hold, the legacy that he left us must be made flesh. We must build a living legacy. The themes of his pontificate provide the building material for a restored Church and, through her, the culture of life and civilization of love can be spread throughout the whole 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 can lead to a transformation of the arts, politics, the academy, and economic and political theory –the entirety of culture- because, as he so wonderfully preached and ...

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