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Friday, January 14, 2011

He Wanted to Be an Actor, Instead He May Become a Saint...

Pope John Paul II
As a child in Poland, Karol Wojtyla dreamed of becoming an actor and playwright and some could say his flare for the dramatic continued during his more than 26-year papacy, where he became one of the most influential world leaders of the 20th Century, helping to bring down Communism in his homeland, inspiring millions and  surviving an assassination attempt in the process. 

The Vatican announced that Wojtyla, better known internationally as Pope John Paul II, will be beatified this spring, putting the late pontiff one step closer to sainthood, almost six years after his death and millions shouted, "Santo Subito" (Saint Immediately) in St. Peter's Square during his funeral.

At that time, Pope Benedict XVI bypassed the normal 5-year wait after a person's death and started the beatification process immediately.

A long and tedious investigation by Vatican experts confirmed the first miracle attributed to Pope John Paul II; the healing of a French nun with Parkinson's.
Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre, a member of the Congregation of Little Sisters of Catholic Maternity Wards, was confined to bed by the disease, and experienced a "complete and lasting cure," after continuous prayer, along with her community, to the late pope for his intercession.  Pope John Paul II had himself suffered from Parkinson's, one of the reasons why the sisters decided to seek his help. Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre, is now Parkinson's-free and working again at a maternity hospital run by her order.

On Friday, Pope Benedict XVI certified the divine phenomenon and announced the date for his predecessor's beatification; May 1st, the Feast of the Divine Mercy, which the late pontiff had a deep devotion to because of fellow Pole Sr. Faustina Kowalska.

In an article on National Review Online, Pope John Paul II biographer George Weigel writes:

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints has certified a miraculous cure through the intercession of Pope John Paul II, thus clearing the way for the late pontiff’s beatification on May 1. Using the word “miracle” in a broad sense, however, the greatest miracle of John Paul II was to restore a sense of Christian possibility in a world that had consigned Christian conviction to the margins of history.

In 1978, no one expected that the leading figure of the last quarter of the 20th century would be a priest from Poland. Christianity was finished as a world-shaping force, according to the opinion-leaders of the time; it might endure as a vehicle for personal piety, but would play no role in shaping the world of the 21st century. Yet within six months of his election, John Paul II had demonstrated the dramatic capacity of Christianity to create a revolution of conscience that, in turn, created a new and powerful form of politics — the politics that eventually led to the Revolution of 1989 and the liberation of central and eastern Europe.

Beyond that, John Paul II made Christianity compelling and interesting in a world that imagined that humanity had outgrown its “need” for God, Christ, and faith. In virtually every part of the world, John Paul II’s courageous preaching of Jesus Christ as the answer to the question that is every human life drew a positive response, and millions of lives were changed as a result. This was simply not supposed to happen — but it did, through the miracle of conviction wedded to courage.

To make Christianity plausible, compelling, and attractive by preaching the fullness of Christian truth and demonstrating its importance to the human future — that was perhaps the greatest miracle of John Paul II, and his greatest gift to the Church and the world.
Canonization (sainthood) would follow after the confirmation of a second miracle.  Until then, starting May 1st, he will be known as Blessed John Paul II.

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