This weekend, on October 22, we observe the feast day of Pope John Paul II. There are so many things that we could say about this great saint of our times. Today I am merely going to mention two: his mission of mercy and his devotion to the Mother of God. Pope Francis has often called John Paul II the “Pope of Mercy.” From the beginning of his papacy, John Paul II made the announcement of Divine Mercy the centerpiece of his apostolic mission. As he said, “The message of merciful love needs to resound forcefully anew. The world needs this love. The hour has come to bring Christ’s message to everyone… The hour has come when the message of Divine Mercy is able to fill hearts with hope and to become the spark of a new civilization: the civilization of love.”
The day that he canonized, St. Faustina Kowalska, the Polish nun who received the message of Divine Mercy for our times, St. John Paul said that it was the happiest day of his life.
It was the fulfillment of his destiny to make known to a world in profound need of healing and redemption the answer to its longings: God’s mercy. The promotion of the Divine Mercy is truly the key to understanding Pope John Paul II’s papal legacy.
Closely connected to this devotion was the Polish Pope’s consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary. As then-Cardinal Ratzinger said in his homily for the funeral Mass of John Paul II, “Divine Mercy: the Holy Father found the purest reflection of God’s mercy in the Mother of God. He, who at an early age had lost his own mother, loved his divine mother all the more. He heard the words of the crucified Lord as addressed personally to him: ‘Behold your Mother.’ And so he did as the beloved disciple did: ‘He took her into his own home’ (Jn 19:27) – Totus tuus. And from the mother he learned to conform himself to Christ.”
His motto, “Totus tuus” was drawn from St. Louis de Montfort’s book, True Devotion to Mary. This signifies that John Paul desired to belong entirely to Our Lady. He always said that God’s victory over evil, when it comes, will come through Mary. She will lead us to the victory of Divine Love, and mercy that flows from the Heart of Jesus.
As we face these times of persecution, apostasy, violence, terrorism and division, the life and teachings of St. John Paul II are ever more relevant. The great hour of redemption is at hand! As John Paul declared, “Consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of the Mother means returning beneath the Cross of the Son. It means consecrating this world to the pierced Heart of the Savior, bringing it back to the very source of its Redemption. Redemption is always greater than man’s sin and the ‘sin of the world.’ The power of the Redemption is infinitely superior to the whole range of evil in man and in the world.”
St. John Paul the Great, pray for us!
Fr. Tim Byerley