Tuesday 4th August 2015

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

A Book Review . . . Illuminating The Heart Of A Great Saint

June 17, 2014 Featured Today No Comments

By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN

Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves, by Jason Evert (Totus Tuus Press and Lighthouse Catholic Media: Lakewood, CO 80228, 244 pp. $21.95). Available through www.ignatiuspress.com.

END BOLD INSERT

Just as a great portrait painter captures the soul of the person in his art so that the body, face, eyes, and expression reveal the essence of a person’s character, so too good biography glimpses the soul of a person. Like a masterful painting, this book illuminates the heart of a great saint.
The first six chapters of part I provide an engaging biographical account of Karol Wojtyla from his birth in Wadowice, Poland, in 1920 to his pontificate from 1978 until his death in 2004. Although familiar to many from other biographies, the story of the great Pope’s life never ceases to amaze or lose human interest. This book’s account of the saint’s life traces the hand of God’s Providence in the life of the future Pope who suffered great tragedies in the first 20 years of his life and lived under the scourge of Nazism and Communism.
At eight years old Karol returned from school to learn of his mother’s death. At 14 he lost his older brother, a physician who contracted scarlet fever from a patient, and at 20 he found his father’s dead body upon returning home from work during the Nazi occupation: “I’m all alone. . . . At twenty I’ve already lost all the people I’ve loved” — a vast haunting loneliness that “had opened up immense spiritual depths in him.” Laboring for four years in a quarry, the future Pope called this experience an education “worth more than two doctorate degrees.”
During the Nazi occupation, the college student studying Polish literature at Jagiellonian University felt a change of heart. Because of the war, Karol’s passion for literature and drama underwent a change of vocation, especially when “people around me thought I would choose the priesthood” — a decision inspired by the patriotic Poles who sacrificed their lives for the liberation of Poland, noble heroism that reflected “the essence of the priesthood” to the college student.
Secretly studying for the priesthood at night while laboring in the day, the young seminarian knew the price of his vocation as one-third of the Polish priests had already gone to their deaths under Nazism — an introduction to “the culture of death” the future Pope fought throughout his lifetime.
Witnessing the end of the German occupation, the seminarian then confronted another atheistic regime committed to the extermination of religion in Poland. The Communists seized Church property, limited Church publications, imposed censorship on freedom of worship and thought, and imprisoned 2,000 priests. Ordained a priest at 26, Fr. Wojtyla left Poland to begin doctoral studies at the Angelicum in Rome, completing his degree with a dissertation on St. John of the Cross and returning to his native land to begin his priesthood at a rural parish.
Always spied upon by the secret police, the young priest fearlessly taught the faith, organized youth groups, cultivated drama, and held firm to a central tenet of Catholic teaching: “When the laws of a state are not based upon the truth of the dignity of the human person, inhuman conditions and acts inevitably follow.” From the beginning, Fr. Wojtyla defended the civilization of love from the culture of death.
Assigned to a parish in Krakow and then directed to earn a second doctorate, Fr. Wojtyla completed a degree in Christian ethics on the thought of phenomenologist Max Scheler and returned to Poland at age 35 as the chairman of the ethics department at the Catholic University of Lublin. Always eager to win souls and evangelize, the future bishop, cardinal, and Pope — defying Communist orders — organized hiking, kayaking, and camping excursions with “holy defiance” of threats and consequences.
When the Communists refused permission for the building of new churches, Wojtyla — the youngest of the College of Cardinals at 47 — celebrated Mass outdoors in inclement weather as testimony of human dignity, man’s inherent right to worship: “The sight of a bishop and his soggy flock celebrating Mass under umbrellas in a vacant lot made the government look petulant.” Throughout his priesthood the Holy Father fearlessly served God first before he obeyed the state.
Because where a man’s treasure is, there his heart is also as Christ taught, Evert identifies as the treasure of John Paul II’s heart young people, human love, the Blessed Sacrament, the Virgin Mary, and the cross — his five loves. The priest who took students on camping trips became the Pope who organized World Youth Day. Evert explains this special affection for the young as John Paul’s intuitive understanding of their hearts and his admiration of their idealism, their attraction to the good, the true, and the beautiful.
Quoting the Pope’s words, “. . . young people are always searching for the beauty in love. They want their love to be beautiful.” Evert adds, “He knew that their hearts were made for love and their minds were made for truth.” The Pope exhorted the young not to be daunted by the heart’s longing for sainthood, inspiring them “not to be content with anything less than the highest ideals,” and he praised them for their disappointment “with hollow entertainment and passing fads, and with aiming at too little in life.”
Never diluting the truth or pandering to the young, John Paul II boldly proclaimed the Gospel of Life with famous statements like “Without the bond of marriage, sexual relations are a lie” and “Man cannot live without love . . . if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it. . . .” The Pope who championed the civilization of love gave most personal attention to the young and to families.
The Pope expressed his second great love for the magnificence of marriage and “the true gift of self” that husbands and wives give and receive. His praise for the beauty of marriage, Evert explains, cherished “the soul of the woman” and appreciated in human love “a visible sign icon of the inner life of God.”
This wonder at human love inspired the Pope’s theology of the body with its inherent language and meaning that Evert summarizes: “Therefore, the total gift of one’s body should only be offered with a total gift of the persons.” The Pope’s writings and letters on marriage and the family restored its noble, heroic sense of vocation and sacrifice for the cause of life in the anti-family culture of legalized abortion.
John Paul II identified the Blessed Sacrament as another great love, a treasure where his heart lay: “For me, the Mass constitutes the center of my life and my every day. . . . Nothing means more to me or gives me greater joy.”
The book captures the Pope’s life of constant prayer throughout the day and night — a sight so moving that Cardinal Schönborn remarked, “I never saw anyone so constantly immersed in union with Christ and God, as though it were a permanent state” — a sentiment also reflected in Cardinal McCarrick’s observation: “I’ve rarely seen anyone in that state of such deep prayerfulness. He wasn’t with us anymore.”
The Holy Father both prayed and wrote before the Blessed Sacrament and often spoke aloud in dialogue with God. To John Paul II the faithful must not only receive the Eucharist but also contemplate it as a source of the profoundest love. He writes that the contemplation of the Blessed Sacrament is like contact with the fire of love: “Love is ignited within us, love is renewed within us.” This love that burns in the Sacred Heart then flows into human hearts, preparing them “in the best possible way for any kind of service.”

The Holy Spirit And Mary

The Pope honors as his fourth great love the Virgin Mary, whose miraculous intercession saved him from the bullet of his assassin, Mehmet Ali Agca — a shot that amazingly missed the aorta by a few millimeters. Marveling at the coincidence of the bullet shot on May 13, 1981, and the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima also on that date in 1917, John Paul II witnessed the hand of divine Providence delivering him from death again through the mediation of the Holy Mother.
Formed by the spiritual writing of St. Louis de Montfort, the Holy Father also consecrated his life to the Blessed Virgin with the memorable words “Totus Tuus” (All is yours) and experienced in his own life de Montfort’s words about devotion to Mary as a reciprocal love: “She engulfs him in the ocean of her graces, adorns him with her merits, supports him with her power, enlightens him with her light.”
According to de Montfort, when the Holy Spirit finds devotion to Mary in the soul, He abides there: “He gives himself generously to that soul according to the place it has given to his spouse.”
Loving the cross for its great redemptive power, the Pope taught that suffering “burns and consumes evil with the flame of love and draws forth even from sin a great flowering of good.” Instead of viewing suffering as useless, he considered it as wealth to purchase souls and a power to release love in others to serve the afflicted.
The Pope also lived the life of the cross from the time he was struck by a Nazi truck in Poland, to his assassination, to accidents requiring hospitalization, to Parkinson’s disease, to feeding tubes and colonoscopies. In the midst of all these sufferings the Holy Father offered gratitude for the gift of suffering: “The Pope must suffer, so that the world may see that there is a higher gospel…by which the future is prepared, the third millennium of families….I am indebted to the Blessed Virgin for this gift of suffering and I thank her for it.”
As this inspiring, heart-searching biography shows, sainthood is to give as God gives, to serve as Christ serves, to forgive as God forgives, to love families as God loved His Mother and Father, and to carry the cross as Christ suffered it on Calvary.

+    +    +

(Dr. Kalpakgian is a professor of humanities.)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Untitled 3

Pope FrancisAn Open Letter To His Holiness Pope Francis      Given the controversy and confusion surrounding the 2014 Synod on the Family, the staff of The Wanderer and its supporters thought it appropriate to address Pope Francis with an open letter . . .

Democrats Defeat Senate Effort to De-Fund Planned Parenthood After It Sells Aborted Babies

Senate Democrats today defeated an effort to revoke taxpayer funding for the Planned Parenthood abortion business by filibustering the bill and preventing a vote on it. Republicans were unable to secure the 60 voted needed to invoke cloture and stop…Continue Reading

With Apologies to Donald Trump for the Crazy ‘Nativist’ Rant of Cardinal Dolan

This week, Cardinal Timothy Dolan took to the New York Daily News to write an incoherent and defamatory political hit piece against Donald Trump. As a Catholic priest, I can only say it is embarrassing to have a Cardinal so blatantly and unfairly trying…Continue Reading

Promote the common good and give workers a raise, Catholic leaders tell Congress

Washington D.C., Jul 31, 2015 / 05:31 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholic leaders are calling on Congress to raise the minimum wage, for the good of low-wage workers and their families. “An economy thrives only when it is centered on the…Continue Reading

Catholic Colleges Must Regain the Art of Temperate Drinking, Says Author

July 30, 2015, at 2:40 PM  |  By Justin Petrisek  | Catholic colleges need to be mindful of the moral and spiritual state of their students, said Dr. Michael Foley, associate professor of patristics at Baylor University, in an interview…Continue Reading

Last Catholic priest at US base in Antarctica leaves post

A Catholic priest who served at the U.S.-operated McMurdo Station in Antarctica was told he will have to leave his post due to declining attendance and budget cuts. Father Dan Doyle, who lives in Christchurch, New Zealand, would spend summers…Continue Reading

Jamestown Excavation Unearths Four Bodies and a Possible Catholic Reliquary

Could a mysterious box unearthed in historic Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in North America, point to a Catholic connection with the foundation of the United States of America? While Spanish and Portuguese exploration, settlement and conquest of…Continue Reading

Catholic officials, others react to Boy Scouts’ decision to allow openly gay leaders

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The top leaders of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting have made an uneasy peace with the Boy Scouts of America’s decision July 27 to allow openly gay troop leaders and employees to serve in their ranks…Continue Reading

The Remnant REALLY? . . . Is This How We Support Fellow Catholics Battling A Cause We Should All Be Behind?

Planned Parenthood Hires PR Firm to Run Damage Control After It’s Exposed Selling Aborted Babies

The Planed Parenthood abortion business is so desperate to put out the public relations fires that have developed in the wake of it being caught numerous times selling the body parts of aborted babies that it has hired a top…Continue Reading

More than Half of Young Catholic Families Are Latino Despite Recent Decline

More than half of young Catholic families (53 percent) identify themselves as Latino or Hispanic compared with 32 percent of all Catholics, according to a recent survey. Could the presence of Hispanic families in the Catholic Church indicate Latino congregational…Continue Reading

New York Catholic churches closing after decades of service

Parishioners in New York are losing their churches as the Catholic Archdiocese carries out an aggressive consolidation plan. The cuts are driven by declining membership, fiscal insolvency of churches, and fewer priests, according to church officials. While there are 2.8…Continue Reading

Kenyan President to Obama: You Will not Impose The ‘Gay Rights’ Agenda In Kenya

We need to speak frankly about these things” says President Kenyatta in response to Obama’s statement that Kenya must share the same values as the United States on sodomite rights issues. Kenyatta, at the press conference this morning in Kenya,…Continue Reading

Newsmax

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope Francis: “Jesus is the bread of life”

pope512

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged the faithful to look beyond material needs and turn to Jesus who is “the bread of life”. The Pope’s words came as he addressed the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus. Taking his cue from the Gospel reading of the day which tells of the crowd that went looking for Jesus, not because they saw the signs but because they had eaten the loaves of…Continue Reading

‘Shadow council’ speaker pushes Church acceptance of contraception, gay sex

By Andrea Gagliarducci Rome, Italy, Jul 29, 2015 / 03:01 am (CNA).- Yes to contraception, homosexual acts, and Communion for the divorced and remarried – all considering the circumstances. No to understanding any acts as intrinsically evil. These are the positions advocated by speakers at the May 25 “shadow council” which gathered prelates and theologians, led by the German bishops, at a Jesuit university in Rome. That day 50 specially chosen representatives of the the…Continue Reading

Canada’s Bishops Urge Faithful to Respond to Government Consultation on Euthanasia

Canada, July 31, 2015 (ZENIT.org) Staff Reporter Canada’s bishops are calling on the faithful to respond to a government consultation on euthanasia. Earlier this month (July 17), the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Peter MacKay, and Minister of Health, Rona Ambrose, announced the establishment of an External Panel of experts who will consult with stakeholders and with all Canadians on options for dealing with the Supreme Court of Canada’s lifting of the prohibition…Continue Reading

US Bishops Respond to Planned Parenthood Videos

Washington, D.C., July 30, 2015 (ZENIT.org) Kathleen Naab The Center for Medical Progress released today its fourth video exposing Planned Parenthood’s use of fetal tissue, with the results of its investigation attracting growing national and international attention. On Wednesday, the chairman of the US bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities released a brief statement about the videos. Cardinal Seán O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, cited Pope Francis’ teaching on abortion and said that the heart of the…Continue Reading

Caring For The Elderly Vs. Assisted Suicide

By FR. JOHN FLYNN, LC (Editor’s Note: Fr. John Flynn, LC, wrote this commentary for ZENIT News Agency. Fr. Flynn, a regular ZENIT contributor, holds degrees from the University of New South Wales and from the Pontifical Gregorian University. All rights reserved.) + + + On Sunday, July 26, the Church in England and Wales…Continue Reading

Holy See Stresses Pro-Life Creds At UN Amid Questions

By PATRICK B. CRAINE and PETE BAKLINSKI NEW YORK (LifeSiteNews) — The Holy See is emphasizing its commitment to promoting life and family at the United Nations after a confusing statement the nunciature made in a negotiation on the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in June. In a speech on June 22, Msgr. Joseph Grech, representing…Continue Reading

Hillary Lies Again

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO In a column I wrote in early July, based on research by my colleagues and my own analysis of government documents and eyewitness statements, I argued that in 2011 and 2012 then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waged a secret war on the governments of Libya and Syria, with the approval of…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . An Excellent Guide To Answering Anti-Catholic Attacks

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Five Anti-Catholic Myths: Slavery, Crusades, Inquisition, Galileo, Holocaust by Gerard M. Verschuuren (Angelico Press: 2015; 181 pages, $16.95 print edition). Available at http://angelicopress.com/. In this book the author sets out to investigate just how it has come about that anti-Catholic myths about particular topics have managed to become so deeply embedded…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Homosexuality And The Church Crisis”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For electronic copies of previous articles on homosexual “marriage,” the special rights agenda and the role of homosexuality in the Church crisis, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + “Facts are stubborn things,…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World… Marking Humanae Vitae’s 47th Anniversary

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Families are under attack on several fronts: whether it is what makes a marriage with one man and one woman, whether it is children who should have a mother and a father or about how life comes into the world. Those who wish to redefine God’s plan continue to apply euphemisms in attempts to change…Continue Reading

An Apologetics Course . . . The Divinity Of Christ — A Response To Islam

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 13 In our days, a misguided sense of ecumenism tends to equate the main monotheistic religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) as different ways to worship the same God. It is like saying that all Protestant denominations are OK as long as you mention the name of Jesus, regardless of the visceral doctrinal contradictions that…Continue Reading

The Four Marks Of The Church — Catholicity

By DON FIER Part 4 “The Church is catholic,” proclaims the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), firmly and without hesitation. “She proclaims the fullness of the faith. She bears in herself and administers the totality of the means of salvation. She is sent out to all peoples. She speaks to all men. She encompasses all times” (n. 868). Moreover,…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: In the wake of the latest Planned Parenthood scandal involving selling the body parts of aborted babies (see LifeNews.com to view the videos of interviews with Planned Parenthood officials), this is an opportune time to contact not only your legislators about ending taxpayer funding of this conglomerate that kills more than 330,000 babies a year, but also to…Continue Reading

Our Journey Through The Desert

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Nineteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: 1 Kings 19:4-8 Eph. 4:30-5:2 John 6:41-51 In the second reading today St. Paul instructs us to do nothing that will grieve the Holy Spirit. In his brief list of offenses that would grieve the Holy Spirit, St. Paul includes bitterness, fury, anger, reviling, shouting, and all malice.…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Martha

By CAROLE BRESLIN A popular pilgrimage among the Catholics of southern France takes visitors to the Grotte de la Sainte-Baume, located in the hills of Provence about 20 miles east of the port of Marseilles. To reach this holy site, the driver must cover miles of winding, ascending roads to the foot of the mountain. Then the pilgrim ascends a…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Bridget

By CAROLE BRESLIN One of St. Teresa of Calcutta’s most quoted sayings would fit with this column’s saint, “God hasn’t called me to be successful. He has called me to be faithful.” What encouraging words for anyone seeking to do God’s will, knowing that the cross, the setbacks, and the obstacles are all part of working for the Kingdom of…Continue Reading