34 years ago Karol Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II.
Today the American Church is celebrating his feast day for the first time.
I am fairly positive you would really enjoy the Office of Readings for today, featuring the homily newly elected Pope John Paul II gave on that day. Though it may have been done hundreds of times today, it doesn’t hurt to quote these famous words again: “Do not be afraid. Open, I say open wide the doors for Christ.”
On a perhaps lesser known note, I wanted to offer an explanation of the quote on the photo above. During mission trips this summer, a young missionary told me a story about JPII after I shared a series of stories about him during our final night together. Gary told me about the time when during a speech to a group of young people who were chanting, “We love you” he responded with the classic words, “Perhaps I love you more.”
This happened during Pope John Paul II’s first trip to the United States as our Holy Father. He was speaking with a group of students at CUA. (Feel free to watch this beautiful moment for yourself — it occurs between minutes 2:00 and 4:00.)
That day, I am sure he meant those spoken words. More powerfully, he demonstrated this love for them throughout his entire Papacy. He taught the young Catholics of the world the art of living and loving. During each one of his 104 foreign trips around the world, he addressed the young people of the nation he was visiting. And throughout them all, he taught the path to true love —
“Real love is demanding. I would fail in my mission if I did not clearly tell you so. For it was Jesus—our Jesus himself—who said : “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (Jn 15 :14). Love demands effort and a personal commitment to the will of God. It means discipline and sacrifice, but it also means joy and human fulfillment.
Dear young people : do not be afraid of honest effort and honest work; do not be afraid of the truth. With Christ’s help, and through prayer, you can answer his call, resisting temptations and fads, and every form of mass manipulation. Open your hearts to the Christ of the Gospels—to his love and his truth and his joy. Do not go away sad!”
– Homily on October 1, 1979 in Boston
Today, and every day, do not hesitate to ask this master in living and loving to intercede for you, the young people of the Church and all of those who work with the youth of the Diocese. Blessed John Paul II, pray for us!