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Pope John Paul II & Providence

Notes from the Pastor [74]

(Please note this is an archival post that is decades old.  Msgr. Awalt passed away a number of years ago.)

When Pope John Paul II arrived at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal in 1982, there was a phrase he used in his address that certainly seems to pertain to his life as far as we can judge.  He said “in the design of Providence there are no mere coincidences.” All creation obeys God without thought of hesitancy except us humans.  In the case of Pope John Paul II, we can certainly see God’s hand in bringing him to the papacy.  In his youth, he was subject as were his fellow Poles to the invading forces of Germany and Russia.  He took part in resistance movements.  If he were detected, he would have suffered the concentration camp and/or death.  Yet his work was not detected.  As a youth he was struck by a car and left lying in the street until a German soldier (sic) was instrumental in saving his life.  At Fatima, he came to give thanks for being spared when a knife-wielding assassin was apprehended in an attempted attack on his life.  All of us are aware of his being shot in St. Peter’s Square, greeting pilgrims.  Had the shot been a fraction of an inch closer to his vital organs, he would have died.  Had his would-be assassin shot again, he certainly would have died.  Then we see the hand of God in giving us such a leader. His traveling abroad at his age would have been prohibitive to the ordinary man. Yet his physique as a youth from long hours spent hiking and kayaking have given him the strength to bring God’s message to so many lands and peoples in spite of his physical ailments. While others are guessing who will succeed him as Pope, he is still planning at the age of 80, future trips to distant lands to bring the Gospel himself to the people.

Each morning before his Mass, he arrives at 5:30 and spends two hours in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. He often writes his addresses and letters on a small table in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

The secret of his success, the secret of his resiliency seems to be his oft-quoted phrase from his Master, “Be Not Afraid.”

Each time we attend Mass we pray for him in the Canon. May we be thankful to God for giving us such a successor to St. Peter, the Rock, and pray more earnestly for him as he leads us into the new millennium.

Msgr. William J. Awalt

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