The Popes of Our Times

Sunday will be a big day for the Catholic Church all over the world because we will have two more canonized saints. These were two human beings of our times. Most of us have had the time to read, watch on TV or even meet John Paul II and this makes it even more special.

What is a saint? Who is a saint? As members of the Church, we are all called to be holy like God is holy. The Book of Leviticus says; “Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy; for I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 20:7). This call is what gives meaning to our lives. We have been born with a purpose to “unfold,”
to be who we truly are, not in terms of accomplishments but in terms of “reaching the stature of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). We are all called to be saints, there are many more saints than the “canonized” ones. The canonized saints are those who after death, the Church declares to be an example to others in living heroic
Christian virtue. The lives of saints can inspire us to persevere in our daily life, to be truly free, to choose what takes us closer to Christ and true fulfillment. This doesn’t mean that saints had no mistakes and sins for we are all sinners and we are all weak. It means that they “fought the good fight” and with the grace of God, they were able to imitate Christ.

What makes John XXIII and John Paul II examples of heroic virtue? They were two Shepherds who took care of “God’s flock” responding to the needs of their time. John XXIII known as “il Papa Buono,” the Good Pope was a humble and loving priest with a good sense of humor. Cardinal Poupard said, “John XXIII was the first Pope to speak off the cuff’” and he also “introduced a new style of encyclicals, the reading of the signs of times”. You can learn more about John XXIII in his autobiography, “Journal of a Soul,” a beautiful book filled with his joy and simplicity.
John Paul II, known as “John Paul the Great” was a thinker, an actor, a scholar, an adventurer, a man of his time who was able to take God’s message to the whole world during his worldwide trips as the “Pilgrim Pope.” He is also remembered as the Pope of the youth, always close to their questions and search for meaning. At one World Youth Day (the largest gathering of young people in the world which he started), he said; “The pope is 83 years young.”

There are many things to learn from them. They were humble and joyful men of their time who were able to reach out to the needs of the world in a Christ-like way. In an interview both postulators agreed that “all of us have faults, but true holiness is the one in which man responds to the grace of God correcting their mistakes.” What can you learn from them? Share your thoughts with me.

Would you like to learn more about them? Watch these videos:

About Pope John XXIII

About Pope John Paul II

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