This coming Sunday, the late Pope John Paul II is being beatified. This means that he will now be given the title of Blessed John Paul II. Beatification is the second-to-last step in the process of being recognized as a saint in the Catholic Church (He won’t be Saint John Paul II unless/until he is canonized).
I’m especially excited for this Sunday, not only because of my own personal devotion to JPII (after all, he is the namesake of my University), but also because this Friday I am getting on a plane in order to be in Rome for the beatification mass on Sunday morning!! I’m writing this post to invite you along with me, if not to follow along as I blog from the experience, to allow me to carry your prayer intentions with me as I make this pilgrimage.
What is a Saint?
A saint isn’t someone with magical powers and a halo floating above their head. “Saint” is simply what the Catholic Church calls the people in Heaven. As Christians, we believe that the people in Heaven are not dead at all—in fact they are more alive than us here living on Earth because they are united with God who is life. This is why we know we can ask the saints in Heaven to pray for us.
The Catholic Church doesn’t make anyone a saint. By beatifying or canonizing people, the Church only acknowledges what God has done through the life of a specific person. In order to be beatified, there has to be shown evidence of one posthumous miracle performed by that person, meaning that it has to be proven that a miracle has happened as a result of that person’s prayers after they passed on from this life. In order to be considered a saint (canonized), there needs to be evidence of a second miracle. The miracle for John Paul II’s beatification was approved earlier this January.
If you have anything you want me to pray for through the intercession of John Paul II, please feel free to use the contact form below and I’ll add your intention to the book of intentions I’m putting together for the trip.
[contact-form 1 "Contact form 1"]
Feel free to leave your name if you want me to know who I am praying for, otherwise anonymous intentions are completely fine. God Bless, and I look forward to praying for you!
We often hear it said that it is never too late to start over. Well, not to be a negative Nancy, but apart from looking nice on a motivational poster or as something “inspiring” to post on a Facebook status, this saying doesn’t always have the most practical meaning for my life. I’m only 21 years old and sometimes (and I know I’m not alone in this) I just get the feeling that I’ve missed it. I’ve missed that one golden opportunity I was born for to really do something with my life. I’ve missed the chance to be who I was born to be.
There are a number of reasons we can point to for why we “missed out” on who we think we were supposed to be. We were too busy daydreaming in class. We were too insecure to actually speak up and be apart of that project we could have worked on. Or maybe we made poor choice after poor choice and were so far off of the path we needed to be on by the time our golden opportunity came around that we stood no real chance of grabbing it.
I thought it appropriate to post about this today because today is Holy Thursday—3 days before Easter. Today begins the commemoration of the greatest story of victory over tragedy in human history. In fact my inspiration for writing this post came from one of my favorite lines from the liturgy of my favorite mass of the year, the Easter Vigil:
O Happy Fault
O Necessary Sin of Adam,
Which gained for us so great a Redeemer!
As a basic part of our human nature, it is not at all common to refer to faults as “happy.” Mistakes shouldn’t be “happy,” and we often wish they weren’t at all “necessary” either. But when it comes to the plan for our lives, God knows what He is doing. It’s not that we shouldn’t try always to do the right thing, or that we should look at our mistakes as no big deal. To understand it that way would be to miss the point.
The point is that when we do make mistakes, we aren’t supposed to collapse to the ground in despair and tell ourselves we will never amount to anything. We are to look to Adam, whose mistake was so great that he brought sin upon all of humanity. Look what God was able to do through that sin in giving us His Son, Jesus. Now imagine what God can do with the mistakes and “missed opportunities” in your life.
…Whoever said we only get one golden opportunity anyway?
Last week, the Philadelphia Public Health Department launched a new campaign encouraging teens to “take control of their health”. The website, TakeControlPhilly, educates teens on the importance of condom use, and invites children as young as 11 to request to have a package of condoms mailed to them—completely free of charge! Yippee!!
When asked by members of the public if perhaps giving condoms away to 11-year-olds wasn’t such a good idea, the City Health Commissioner, Donald Schwarz replied:
“Clearly, we don’t think it’s OK for 11-year-olds to be having sex,” says Schwarz. “But we don’t have the infrastructure in place to fix [that] problem fast. We can, however, make condoms available fairly quickly to whoever needs them.”
Schwarz wasn’t the first to use this talking point, and he won’t be the last. For some reason, people actually believe that giving away free condoms without discretion actually solves more problems than it creates. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that using condoms doesn’t help to stop the spread of certain diseases (though just a fun fact for you: HPV is the most common type of STD and the condom is useless against it). I’m saying that arguing that giving condoms away doesn’t encourage more people to have sex is like trying to argue that little kids won’t eat cookies that are placed right in front of them. …Which reminds me of a video I saw on YouTube a while back…
Ok so you get the point. These kids were even given a real incentive for not eating the cookie right away…they would get another cookie! And even then some couldn’t do it. Can you blame them? The cookie was right there, and no real consequences threatened them if they decided to eat it.
Obviously we’re talking about something much more meaningful (and much more appealing) than cookies, here. And what is the incentive that the city, who is giving the 11-year-olds condoms, giving them for not using them? “Only use these if you need them”? What does that even mean to an 11-year-old? Giving condoms away doesn’t really solve any real problems. It’s like settling for putting a Band-Aid on a gaping wound.
On Sunday morning, I did something that I find myself doing every weekend, no matter where I am in the world or what is going on in my life at the time. Sunday morning came and I once again found myself sitting in a pew attending mass.
Having a faith in college is somewhat rare these days. People my age are often undecided even when it comes to the question of the existence of God. To make a decision to set aside an hour or two for the public worship of such a God every week, without exception, is almost unheard of. Surely some more pressing matter will come up that we have to attend to that will keep us from going to service—homework, sleep, sports, etc. We are busy people! “If God does exist,” we think, “He is probably a pretty nice guy. I’m sure He doesn’t really care if I make to church every week. I’m just trying to get by here, after all.”
Sitting in mass on Sunday I was kind of struck by this. There are a thousand other ways I could potentially spend an hour of my day on any given Sunday. There have been times when attending mass has been difficult and somewhat disruptive to the flow of my day. So why on earth do I make it a point to go every single Sunday, without exception?
Simply put: I can think of no more important way to spend my time. Think about it. I profess a belief in a God that is all-powerful and all knowing. This same God I believe was the creator of the universe, who created and set everything into motion, including me. If I really believe as I say I do, then what could possibly be a better way to spend an hour of my Sunday if not to spend it in worship of this God I say I believe in? What could be more important?