Two Polish men.
Both persecuted by Nazis, in their native land. One was a prisoner, one was a slave. When the Nazis left, the Communists came.
One, Roman Polanski, becomes a filmmaker. He encounters a 13 year old girl.
One, Karol Wojtyla, becomes a priest. He too, encounters a 13 year old girl.
After his encounter, the filmmaker -still a youngish man- runs away, out into the world, saying “everyone wants to do what I did.” He lives what is for the most part a rather good life, with privileges and honors and worldly accolades. He travels to many places, attracting admirers. At age 76, in the course of accepting yet another award, he becomes a martyr to some, for the crime of forcing himself on the 13 year old.
After his encounter, the priest -still a youngish man- opens his arms and runs out into the world, saying “Do not be afraid; open wide the doors to Christ”. He lives what is for the most part, a rather good life, despite multiple assassination attempts and a cruel debilitating illness. He travels the world, attracting huge crowds for the worship of Christ. At over 80 years of age, he is still traveling and reaching out to young people, still carrying them on his hunched back and kindling warmth for them. He dies at age 83, and the whole world stops, and marks his death, and mourns. By the millions, the young travel to Rome from every continent, to mark his passing and to shout “Sancto subito!”
Two men who suffered under the jackboot of totalitarianism and the disregard for human life and human dignity.
Both media geniuses.
One taught only what he had learned.
The other taught how to transcend it.
“Do not be afraid…open wide the doors to Christ.”
In this “Year of the Priest,” let us ask Karol Wojtyla to pray for the soul of his countryman, who is perhaps, now feeling very, very afraid. And for the very confused people who seem not to understand why that might be.