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Bishop of Gallup . . . Recalls Importance To St. John Paul II Of Praying Rosary In Troubled Times

March 31, 2021 Frontpage No Comments


PHOENIX — Even though Pope John Paul II was a great intellect, his favorite prayer was the simple “Christo-centric” one of the rosary, the bishop of Gallup, N.M., James S. Wall, said during a four-hour Zoom spiritual life conference originating at the Institute of Catholic Theology (ICT), based here at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish.
As the day began with 8:30 Mass in the parish church, Wall recalled that St. Thomas the Apostle was the only place he had been a pastor, from 2002 through 2007, before being named by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 to fill the Gallup vacancy, in northwest New Mexico.
He also served as vicar for priests for the Diocese of Phoenix, from 2006 until his consecration as bishop.
The March 20 spiritual life conference also heard from two members of the theology faculty at the Franciscan University of Steubenville as they spoke electronically from the Ohio location.
During his morning presentation from the ICT classroom, Wall, who was ordained a priest in 1998, said the future saint from Poland said that “in the simple prayer of the rosary, there beats the rhythm of human life.”
Wall began his presentation by noting “a lot of things going on right now in the world” that “are unsettling us.”
They include, he said, a large majority of Catholics not believing in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, according to the Pew Research Center. “You always have to wonder how that question was asked” by pollsters, Wall added.
Also, “We see riots, we see anger, we see embittered people,” along with the coronavirus pandemic severing people’s connections, he said, adding that in dark times, Benedict XVI said “abandonment of God” is behind much of this.
“When God is rejected,” the bishop said, other things happen, including “idolatrous things.” He cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 2124) criticizing the limited view used by practical materialism and atheistic humanism, as well as economic and social liberation theories that regard religion as hindering human progress.
Wall said he doesn’t know a single person who left the Church who had understood their Catholic faith — although some who left only thought they understood it.
The resulting lack of God spells “emptiness and pain without meaning,” he said.
A great way to express love for neighbors, Wall said, is to bring them to faith. “Faith offers eternal life.”
Devotion to the Eucharist is a prime way to be in tune with this, alongside which is Marian devotion, just as St. John the Beloved Disciple followed the Lord’s instruction to take His Mother into John’s home, the bishop said. Devotion to Mary “isn’t a Catholic add-on,” but goes back to being a disciple of Christ, he said.
Next to his own father in Arizona, Wall said, John Paul II serving as Pope was his hero, and the entire life of the Pope, who was born Karol Wojtyla, was blessed with a great love, devotion and trust for Mary.
When Karol’s mother died when he was age 9, her husband realized he could replace the boy’s loss with devotion to the Blessed Mother, so they would go on pilgrimage to Marian shrines, Wall said.
Karol’s elder brother, Edmund, also died, then Karol’s father died while the future Pope still was a young man, leaving him “all alone in the world,” Wall said, but the Blessed Mother continued to care for him — “he ran right into her arms.”
People should strive to live out a Marian consecration each day, which takes a burden off their backs, the bishop said.
“If we try to do it on our own, we’ll fail miserably, we’ll fall flat on our face.”
Living out such consecration to Mary, St. John Bosco was able to build churches and St. Teresa of Calcutta provided for the poor, Wall said, adding that a special petition used by St. Teresa when in need was to say the Memorare prayer nine times, then one more time in thanks for the favor being sought.
“Marian consecration…is something for everyone” because it strengthens devotion to the Lord, Wall said.
After a gunman attempted to assassinate John Paul II in 1981 in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope attributed his survival to Mary because a “mother’s hand guided the bullet” away from his vital organs, Wall said, adding that the bullet later was placed in the crown of a statue of Mary at Fatima.
On October 29, 1978, a week after he was selected as the new Pope, John Paul said, “The rosary is my favorite prayer, a marvelous prayer,” that “put us in living communion with Jesus” through His mother’s heart, Wall said.
To pray the rosary is to meditate upon events in the life of the Lord as seen by Mary, the Gallup bishop said, who went on to comment on how religious imagery lifts the mind to God and beyond distractions.
Ornamentation in churches draws people up to Heaven while they also can use Scripture to provide for their reflections, he said.
Silence also is helpful although perhaps difficult to obtain, Wall said. “When we enter into silence, that’s when we’re able to hear the voice of God. . . . Speak, God, your servant is listening.”
John Paul II “said the rosary is essentially a Christo-centric prayer,” he said.

A Life Of Suffering

The second speaker at the spiritual life conference was Sr. Johanna Paruch, a member of the theology faculty at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, who said that God doesn’t speak in a vacuum but calls for a response. She recommended daily reading in the Catechism, although most people don’t do this.
“The Catechism is from John Paul,” Paruch said, adding that developments were “going south” after Vatican II, so in 1985 he called for a new catechism in order to pull things together.
These difficulties weren’t due to Vatican II itself, she said, but some people’s reactions to it were “a disaster.”
Paruch called upon the example of the Blessed Mother in cooperating with God’s will.
At the Annunciation, Paruch said, Mary “submitted herself completely” to God, “full submission of intellect and will. . . . Every baptized person is called to do that. . . . We abandon our wills, we abandon our intellects,” even though Mary’s motherhood was to be “mysterious and sorrowful.”
John Paul II himself lived a life of suffering that concluded with Parkinson’s disease, she said.
The conference’s third speaker, Franciscan University’s Professor Scott Sollom, also appearing by Zoom from Ohio, said that the Temple in Jerusalem “was the sole place of sacrificial worship” offered by the Jewish priesthood, and “If you were a healthy Jewish male, you went to Jerusalem” for the feasts.
Sollom, also a member of the university’s theology faculty, said, “John makes a big deal of Jesus as the High Priest. . . . John is showing Jesus is the new and eternal High Priest.”
Christian prayer for believers is “to be wholly God’s because He is holy,” and this was Mary’s attitude at the Annunciation, he said.
Believers face Holy Week as Mary did with Jesus, “with confidence and expectation,” Sollom said on March 20.

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