Saturday, October 22, 2011
Feast of Blessed John Paul II
Happy Feast Day of Blessed John Paul II everyone!
It is hard for me to really try to think how much influence this man had on my reversion. He was always just kind of in the background my whole life, all the time.
I distinctly remember when he came to Denver for World Youth Day. I was in Louisiana visiting my grandparents, of course, and my Aunt who had just had my cousin went to one of the events. I remember she bought a t-shirt for one of my other cousins but not me. My grandparents are really Catholic and I remember sitting in their living room of the house on the farm and watching the evening news where they were talking about JPII and what he was doing. I was only 9 or 10, so it's strange that I recall that so clearly.
Even as I lost my faith, I always loved to watch the Pope say Christmas Eve mass and my mom and I would watch it on PBS, even when we didn't actually go to Mass.
When I was a freshman in college, my friend had gone thrift shopping and brought home a plate with a portrait of JPII on it, commemorating his US Visit in the 80's. Even though I wasn't a practicing Catholic, I hung that plate up in my kitchen, and it's still in my kitchen today.
In 2005, I remember feeling really sad when he died. I was fascinated by the conclave, and I didn't envy then Cardinal Ratzinger having the biggest shoes to fill in the world. My mom and I went to Europe that year, and visited Rome and I was overwhelmed by the amount of John Paul II-love that I encountered everywhere. That was when wanting to be Catholic again started taking hold in me. The faith that the people had as they visited St. Peter's, the way people looked when they talked about the Church and the former Pope (and the current Pope), the interest and peace that emanated from the faithful. I wanted that.
I was confirmed the day JPII was Beatified, and I think that was a little wink from him.
I credit Blessed John Paul II and the Blessed Virgin Mary for bringing me back to the Church, in tandem. Working together of course, as his motto was always totus tuus.