I set out to write a short analysis of John Paul II’s funeral, in which the crowd raised signs and voices — proclaiming “Santo subito!” — and how this is an example of authentic expression of the sensus fidelium (standing in stark contrast, in many respects, to the way the term is used and misused in our age, as trumped up basis for dissent from Magisterial teaching), but alas, time has slipped away and I fear that I am ill-equipped to do the topic justice.
But I do want to say something else:
I loved him long before I became Catholic. For the years that preceded his death in 2005, I despaired over his declining health, that he contended with in such a public way. I am a “JPII Catholic”, and I was incapable (at the time) of imagining a Church without him at the helm.
The witness of John Paul II, particularly in his final years, dispelled the last of my doubts about his sanctity. He placed suffering in a context that I could understand, such that my personal suffering seemed small by comparison, and provided hope that the nature and extent of suffering never supersedes God’s ability to bless, sanctify and heal.
And the death of John Paul II dispelled the last of my doubts about the sanctity of the Church. When Benedict came to the loggia, I heard John Paul II: “Be not afraid.” And I wasn’t afraid. Praise God!
God did not replace JPII in the form of Benedict XVI, but Providence made way for the possibility of an even further galvanizing, not by reiteration of JPII-like qualities, but by enrichment through the humility, genius, and quiet love of Benedict.
Only God turns dissonance into harmony, and He did it in this age, for us. And, I am convinced that He continues to do so in Pope Francis.
What is the single greatest thing about John Paul II? In one word: joy. He lived in the light of the Lord. Everything about him was an invitation to joy.
Thank you, Your Holiness, for your holiness.
Thank you, Holy Father, for being my spiritual father. I so desperately needed you.
St. John Paul II, pray for me, for my whole family, and especially for my little boy who bears your name. Amen!