A Monk Reflects on Divine Mercy and the Sacred Heart of Jesus
wherever he went, especially to the new generations, to shape their future and to encourage them in building a better world through the establishment of a civilization of God's love. In his relationship with these young people and countless others, the Blessed served during his life as a strong and genuine sign in his very person of God's love for humanity.
In Pope John Paul II's opening words of his pontificate to the world on October 22, 1978, the date that now marks the newly Beatified's feast day, the Blessed exhorted the Christian Faithful to break down any walls that would keep them from encountering the Lord of Divine Love and Mercy: Non abbiate paura . Aprite, anche spalancate le porte a Cristo! Be not afraid . Open wide the doors to Christ!
This initial message of Blessed John Paul II's pontificate was punctuated for the Christian faithful to see on last Sunday morning along the Colonnade of Saint Peter's Square. In the Gospel of Divine Mercy Sunday, we also heard Jesus encourage and strengthen His disciples: Peace be with you! . Receive the Holy Spirit! At the moment of His death on the Cross, Jesus -- full of the Holy Spirit -- pours forth His Love and Mercy upon the world in a certain sense passively (having just died on the Cross as Son of Man), at the moment of the Roman centurion's piercing Jesus' Sacred Heart.
At the same time, Jesus as Eternal Son of God actively permits this piercing so that He may pour forth His Love and Mercy from the Cross transcending all ages, gushing forth the flows of the Holy Spirit as the never ending Source and Fountain of Eternal Life . the Son of God Who eternally pours forth His Holy Spirit as Living Water for our thirsty souls to drink.
Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI reflected during last Sunday's Divine Mercy Mass on the importance of May 1st as Blessed John Paul II's date of beatification. In celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday, the Blessed had passed into eternal life on the vigil of this liturgical feast six short years ago. May 1st also is the first day of the month dedicated in our Church's life to Mary, who is Mother of the Church (Mater Ecclesiae), our Mother who loves and protects her Son's disciples.
In Mary, specifically through the icon of Totus Tuus, we certainly see Blessed John Paul's devotion to the Mother of our Lord. Joining in spirit with Saint Louis de Montfort, the soul of the Blessed Pontiff articulated: All that I have is yours, O Virgin Mary. Mary, give me your heart!, which we know is an Immaculate Heart always perfectly in communion with her Son's Sacred Heart . the heart of Redemptor hominis, the Redeemer of Man and the title of the newly Beatified's first papal encyclical (cf. Pope Benedict XVI, Homily of the Mass of Beatification of Blessed Pope John Paul II, 1 May 2011).
Our Holy Father, in continued reference to Redemptor hominis, shared in his homily that even in suffering, Blessed John Paul remained a rock in the footsteps of Peter. Benedict XVI emphasized that John Paul II indeed is blessed because he believed and has strengthened us to believe, helping us not to fear the Truth, for Truth is the guarantor of our freedom, our genuine liberty. He highlighted a particularly salient linguistic point from last Sunday's Gospel, finding the reality of the Christian Faith is that we do rejoice, we do believe as witnesses. This reality is expressed not as a command in the imperative tense but rather in the indicative, as a point of true and existing fact: Christians rejoice as part and parcel to our faithful belief in Jesus the Risen Lord!
May we join Pope Benedict in calling out to Blessed John Paul just as we did together with him during our Holy Father's funeral homily (April 8, 2005) for the newly Beatified: Santo Padre, ci benedica . Holy Father, bless us!, remaining confident that John Paul II is at the window of the Father's house. As Pope Benedict XVI so beautifully articulated, we encounter in Blessed John Paul II a man of God who wrote his last encyclical without words as he suffered and died, teaching us how to do so in true belief, where he (and we with him) would discover genuine freedom in total abandonment to the loving mercy of Jesus Christ.
In last Sunday's Gospel, Thomas discovered his freedom in Christ through his belief, holding to the Truth that ultimately sets him free. Jesus the Way, the Truth, and the Life -- the Source of our hope, where we are called to immerse ourselves in the Love and Mercy of His Sacred Heart -- pours forth sacramentally upon us the Holy Spirit to nourish us in sacrament and in prayer.
In celebrating the unfathomable depths of God's Divine Mercy, may we ask through the newly Blessed's intercession in heaven for our Lord to pour forth God's Divine Mercy upon us and the entire world, reinvigorating souls in loving and hope-filled faith in Jesus Christ and renewing the face of the earth in an authentic civilization of God's love and mercy!
May we open wide the doors of our hearts to Jesus' Divine Love and Mercy, so that the Sacred Heart of Jesus may pour forth the Holy Spirit into our hearts of stone and convert them to hearts of flesh united in Him (cf. Ezechiel 36.26-27). May we always hold in pectore with loving devotion the Church's new liturgical prayer for the feast of Blessed Pope John Paul II:
O God, who are rich in mercy,
And who willed that the Blessed John Paul II
Should preside as Pope over your universal Church,
Grant, we pray, that instructed by his teaching,
We may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ,
The sole Redeemer of mankind.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God forever and ever. Amen.
Fr. Gregory Gresko is the Prior of Mary Mother of the Church Abbey in Richmond, Virginia. He earned his S.T.B. from the Pontificial Athenaeum of Sant'Anselmo in Rome and his S.T.L. magna cum laude in Moral Theology (Marriage and Family Studies) in 2008 from the Pontifical Lateran University, John Paul II Institute (Vatican City). His S.T.L. dissertation was entitled, "Educating to Love: Foundational Pedagogy in Light of Karol Wojtyla's Love and Responsibility". Fr. Gregory is working on his doctoral dissertation for the same Vatican institute, on "The Consecration of the Family to the Heart of Jesus in Light of the Pastoral Ministry of Père Mateo Crawley-Boevey"
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Divine Mercy, Blessed John Paul, Sacred Heart, Pope benedict XVI, Fr Gregory Gresko
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