Friday 29th May 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 . . .

UN Official Reports on Islamic State’s “War on Women”

A United Nations official has painted a chilling picture of how the Islamic State group oversees a vast network of sexual slavery, including an elaborate pricing system, violent treatment by slave masters and casual branding of female bodies and reselling…Continue Reading

Confidential Meeting Seeks to Sway Synod to Accept Same-Sex Unions

ROME — A one-day study meeting — open only to a select group of individuals — took place at the Pontifical Gregorian University on Monday with the aim of urging “pastoral innovations” at the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the…Continue Reading

Ireland has voted to legalize gay marriage, both sides say

DUBLIN (AP) — Irish voters have resoundingly backed amending the constitution to legalize gay marriage, leaders on both sides of the Irish referendum declared Saturday after the world’s first national vote on the issue. As the official ballot counting continued,…Continue Reading

Vatican’s eco guru champions Occupy Wall Street thugs

May 22, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — Jeffrey Sachs wears many hats. He is known as the architect of the UN Millennium Development Goals, and the proponent of the upcoming UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). His new book, entitled, (what else) The…Continue Reading

Boy Scouts president: We need to allow open homosexual leaders

May 22, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Boy Scouts of America president Robert Gates says the youth organization must change with the times and allow open homosexual men to serve as Scout leaders. Gates, the former U.S. Secretary of Defense and CIA…Continue Reading

Federal Court Forces University of Notre Dame to Obey Pro-Abortion HHS Mandate

A federal appeals court has denied a request by the University of Notre Dame to get out of having to comply with the pro-abortion HHS mandate that is a part of Obamacare and requires businesses and church groups to pay…Continue Reading

The Reception of Holy Communion in the United States

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council. Pope Francis has decided to mark the occasion with the “Year of Mercy.” Despite much happy-talk and positive papal press, it is a time of foreboding in…Continue Reading

‘Eleven Christians Killed Every Hour,’ Says Irish Bishop

According to Bishop John McAreavey, the Chair of the Council for Justice & Peace of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, statistics show that the situation of Christian persecution in the world is far more dire than most people understand. The…Continue Reading

Africa’s experience of family life must be heard at synod, Pope tells Togo’s bishops

Pope Francis received Togo’s bishops in audience on May 11 as part of their quinquennial ad limina visit to Rome. The West African nation of 6.8 million is 20% Muslim, 15% Protestant, and 14% Catholic, with approximately half of the…Continue Reading

The eco-encyclical won’t commit the Church to unsettled science

By the time the environment encyclical of Pope Francis is released, it will be anti-climactic. Not anti-climate change to be sure, as the Holy See is certainly enthusiastic about the issue. Actually, it is against climate change, but enthusiastic about…Continue Reading

“America’s Changing Religious Landscape.”

The Pew Research Center just released its latest study on “America’s Changing Religious Landscape.” The subtitle tells the story: “Christians Decline Sharply as Share of Population; Unaffiliated and Other Faiths Continue to Grow.” For our purposes, I want to focus…Continue Reading

Vatican cardinal sees no change in family teachings at synod

VATICAN CITY (AP) — A senior Vatican cardinal predicted Saturday that there will be no change in the Catholic Church‘s practice and teaching about marriage, divorce and the reception of Communion at an upcoming meeting of bishops on family issues. Cardinal…Continue Reading

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 subscribe 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: Evangelize with a language of merciful love

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday received members of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization at the end of their Plenary session. During the course of their Plenary session the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization has been discussing the relationship between evangelization and catechesis and it was on that theme that Pope Francis addressed members of the Council, including its President Archbishop Rino Fisichella. Speaking to them…Continue Reading

Pope: coherent Christians draw people to Christ

pope788

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ homily this morning focused on the Gospel account of Bartimaeus, the blind man who cried out to Jesus to be healed, and whom the disciples called to be silent. The Gospel led the Holy Father to reflect on three different groups of Christians. First, there are Christians who are concerned only with their own relationship with Jesus, a “closed, selfish” relationship, who do not hear the cries of others: “This group…Continue Reading

Pope speaks with open heart to Argentinean newspaper

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says that being with people does him good. In a long and very personal interview with Juan Beretta, a reporter from the Argentinean newspaper “La Voz Del Pueblo”, the Pope speaks of his feelings of when he was elected Pope, of how he misses walking the streets, using public transport and sitting down for a pizza, of how he feels moved and sad when he meets sick children, prison inmates and…Continue Reading

Pope: worldly Christians can’t have both heaven and earth

pope787

(Vatican Radio)  It’s sad to see a Christian who wants to “follow Jesus and the things of this world.” That’s what Pope Francis said at Tuesday morning’s Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, stressing that a Christian is called to make a radical choice in life:  you can’t be “half” Christian or have both “heaven and earth.” In his homily Pope Francis reflects on Peter’s query to Jesus:  what would he and the disciples get…Continue Reading

Saving The Fourth

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO The Patriot Act has a bad pedigree and an evil history. In the fearful days immediately following 9/11, the Department of Justice quickly sent draft legislation to Congress that, if enacted, would have permitted federal agents to violate their oaths to uphold the Constitution by writing their own search warrants. The…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “How Many People Are Homosexuals?”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995.) + + + “Homosexuality is one in 10. It’s one in 10 on the football team. It’s one in 10 on the baseball team. It’s one in 10 on the softball team. It’s one in…Continue Reading

It Is A Christian Country: At Least It Used To Be

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK I realize that there are intelligent commentators on the right who are convinced that homosexual activists are pushing for the day when Christian churches will be compelled by law to perform same-sex marriages. I may be wrong, but I do not think that we will see that dictate anytime soon. It…Continue Reading

Sharper Than A Serpent’s Tooth

By DONALD DeMARCO Commutative justice demands that we repay what we owe. If I owe my brother $10, I should pay him $10. Justice in this sense is a proportion between the debt and the repayment. It is morally and often legally binding. There is a similar proportion on a higher level though it does…Continue Reading

Intense Conflicts . . . Is The Catholic Church In Germany In Danger Of Apostasy?

By MAIKE HICKSON For several weeks now, the German Catholics — bishops and laymen alike — have been in debate and disagreement over Catholic moral teaching and its continuing validity for Catholics today. After the German Bishops’ Conference came out on April 16 with its report to be sent to Rome for the upcoming October…Continue Reading

The Wanderer Interviews His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke . . .

burk10

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, who previously served as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome from June 2008 until November 2014, recently visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis. Prior to that he served as Archbishop…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Q. I like to attend daily Mass, but the town where I live only offers two — at 6:45 and 7:00 a.m. at two different churches. Now that I am getting older and have trouble sleeping, these early Masses are very difficult to attend regularly. I wonder if every parish priest would consider offering at least one Mass per week in the…Continue Reading

The Blood Of Christ Cleanses Our Consciences

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Solemnity Of Corpus Christi (YR B) Readings: Exodus 24:3-8 Heb. 9:11-15 Mark 14:12-16, 22-26 In the first reading today we hear about the covenant that was entered into between God and the people of Israel. Moses was the representative of both God and the people in this case. Consequently, he speaks to the people on behalf…Continue Reading

Archbishop Martin In Lourdes . . . In Defending Marriage, We Are Not Trying To Hurt Or Offend

LOURDES (ZENIT) — Here is a homily given May 13, on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, by Archbishop Eamon Martin at Mass in Lourdes on his first pilgrimage to the Marian shrine as archbishop of Armagh, Ireland. + + + At Mass in Lourdes, Archbishop Martin remembered and acknowledged the faithful in Ireland, and around the world, who…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Social Networks, Addiction To Images, And Custody Of The Eyes

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK A follower on my Facebook page recently messaged me about a sordid situation arising from an association based on a Facebook “friendship.” She “friended” a man who then used her account to gain access to her daughter. What started out as a hope to meet someone who may become a real friend ended in inappropriate…Continue Reading

An Apologetics Course… The Order Of The Universe Proves God’s Existence

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA Part 3 Let us put our thinking cap on, and reason: Whenever you see something whose parts are arranged in order, following a specific logical pattern, you know that someone did it. Furniture in a living room, chess pieces on a board, books in a library. Orderly arrangement cannot be explained except as being due to…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . St. Ephrem

By CAROLE BRESLIN For centuries — no, for millennia — the Mideast has been the center of tragedy and unrest. Particularly significant in this historical conflict sits the city of Nisibis, now named Nusaybin. Nusaybin is an ancient city which sits on the border between Syria and Turkey. In ancient times this fertile land, located between the Tigris and Euphrates…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Charles Lwanga And Companions

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Catholic Church in Africa has experienced unprecedented growth in the past century. In 1900, shortly after the martyrdom of Charles Lwanga and companions, there were two million Catholics in Africa. When Pope Benedict XVI visited Africa in 2009, the Catholic population was 158 million. Once again the Church has witnessed that the blood of martyrs is…Continue Reading