BREAKING: Pope John Paul II’s Final “Book” to Be Released February 5

Wow!  Pope John Paul II has another book coming out?!

You’ve read Crossing the Threshold of Hope.  You have read much of the great body of work by Pope John Paul II which has become known as the Theology Of The Body.

Now another book is about to be released.

Vatican Insider broke this story:  On February 5, the Polish publishing house Znak will release “I Am in God’s Hands:  Personal notes 1962-2003

You may recall that the Holy Father specifically requested of his personal secretary and close confidante Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz that he burn his notes after his death.  “I ask that Fr. Stanisław see to this,” said the Holy Father, “and I thank him for his help and collaboration, so understanding for so many years.”

Dziwisz, now a cardinal, had been a lifelong trusted friend of the pontiff; but in this one instance, he did not obey.  Asked in an interview after the Pope’s funeral why he didn’t burn the notes as requested, Cardinal Dziwisz explained, “they were of historical importance. They are the key to interpreting his spirituality, his innermost self: his relationships with God, others and himself.”

According to the publisher, I Am in God’s Hands contains “the most important personal, innermost questions and moving reflections and prayers that marked [the Pope’s] everyday life.” This includes “notes that show his concern for those dear to him–friends and collaborators–and for the Church that was entrusted to him.”



Pope Francis Celebrates Mass at the Tomb of Pope John Paul II

Pope Francis celebrates Mass in the Chapel of St. Sebastian,
near the tomb of Blessed Pope John Paul II

On Thursday mornings, a group of Polish worshippers gather in the St. Sebastian Chapel, just inside St. Peter’s Basilica on the right side.  There, at the tomb of Blessed Pope John Paul II, they attend Mass and receive the Eucharist.

This morning, it was Pope Francis himself who celebrated the liturgy in the St. Sebastian Chapel.  Vatican Radio reported on his homily, which focused on the love of God, and on two powerful images illustrating the different ways this love may be received:  the apostle Paul, and the city of Jerusalem.

On the one hand, he said, we have the certainty of the apostle Paul: “no one can separate me from the love of Christ”. Paul lived through persecution, through illness, through betrayal, but the love of Christ was always at the centre of his life. On the other hand, Pope Francis continued, we have the sadness of Jesus as he looks upon Jerusalem, the unfaithful. And the heart of Jesus wept for this city that didn’t understand the love of God, for this love that was not received.

Pope Francis contrasted the two images – Paul, who feels he is a sinner, but finds strength in the love of God, and Jerusalem, with its people who don’t accept the love of God, or worse, who half accept it, depending on their own convenience. So let us ask ourselves, Pope Francis concluded – do I have a strong love, like Paul, or do I have a tepid heart, like Jerusalem?

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In May 2011, I was in Rome for the Vatican Blogfest and the Beatification of Pope John Paul II.  The beloved Pope’s body had, until that time, lay buried in the crypt level of St. Peter’s.  For the Beatification though, his simple wooden casket was removed from its marble tomb and he was moved to the dais for the Beatification ceremony; then for a day or two, his casket was placed inside St. Peter’s Basilica, where the faithful passed in silent prayer and reflection.  Finally, he was reburied in a more prominent place, under the altar in the St. Sebastian Chapel, where it would be easier for the faithful to find his tomb.

I was still in Rome and happened upon a crew of workmen, sealing the new tomb.  Here [right] is my photo of the tomb being sealed.

The following morning our friend, Monsignor Richard Soseman, an official with the Congregation for Clergy, had offered to celebrate Mass for our group of American bloggers in St. Peter’s Basilica.  While waiting to make our connection, we saw Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, Archbishop of Krakow and former private secretary to Pope John Paul II, who was passing through the Basilica on his way to celebrate the first Mass at the tomb.

Blessed John Paul II, pray for us.


BREAKING: Two Popes to Be Canonized on Divine Mercy Sunday

It’s official!  Pope Francis has just announced that two former popes, Blessed John Paul II and Blessed John XXIII, will be made saints on April 27, 2014—Divine Mercy Sunday.


BLESSED POPE JOHN XXIII, born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, was affectionately known as the “Good Pope” (in Italian, “il Papa Buono”).  He led the Catholic Church from October 1958 to his death in 1963.

Pope John XXIII was 77 years old when elected to the papacy, and some first thought that he would be a “caretaker pope”—simply filling the Chair for a few years, but not really reshaping the Church during what was expected to be a short papacy.  Instead, he convened the historic Second Vatican Council (1962–1965). His feast day is not the day of his death, as is traditional, but rather the anniversary of the opening of the first session of Vatican II:  October 11.


BLESSED POPE JOHN PAUL II, born Karol Józef Wojtyła, was the second longest-serving pope in history, leading the Catholic Church from October 1978 until his death in 2005.

He is considered one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century, recognized for his efforts to end Communist rule in his native Poland and all of Europe.  During his pontificate, he strengthened the Catholic Church’s relations with other religions including Judaism, Islam, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Anglican Communion.

During his long tenure, Pope John Paul II published many encyclicals pertaining to the role of the Church in the modern world, and promoted the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the new Code of Canon Law.  He defended Church teachings opposing contraception and the ordination of women, and he supported the reforms initiated during Vatican II.

A surprise, for your listening pleasure:  Here is a rendition of the Ave Maria sung by Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, in 1976.

AND HERE:  Pope Francis making the announcement in Latin, courtesy of Rome Reports.