A week’s rest from blogging and I offer a few thoughts on this Second Sunday of Easter – Divine Mercy Sunday. This beautiful Easter celebration takes me back to this time ten years ago. I was two years a Catholic and had gone through the dark days of a heart-breaking journey with my mother through cancer and into death in August of 2004 and was still very much mourning her loss. I followed with great attention the final weeks, days and hours of our late Holy Father, now St. John Paul II. St. John Paul was part of my Christian journey and I became captivated by the fanfare as a non-Catholic bus driver during World Youth Day in Toronto, and watched with intrigue, the pope speak about faith in 2002. As a bus driver, I spoke with many of the joyous pilgrims who rode my bus and I certainly might attribute some of this among many other powerful personal experiences to my own conversion in April of 2003.
But in 2005, this amazing man was dying. I watched as he withdrew from the balcony in the Vatican unable to speak to the people at Easter and then we heard day by day of how Pope John Paul II became bed ridden. I was discerning the priesthood then, and I was in Toronto on Saturday. I went for Mass at the St. Michael’s Cathedral where we all were praying for his life and a peaceful death. And then in the afternoon (but evening in Rome and on the Vigil of Divine Mercy) Pope John Paul II breathed his last. It was a beautiful life, and a beautiful death. Reports from his bedside were that the Holy Father was experience joy amid his suffering as he called out to God. This helped me greatly in my own mourning that this holy man whom I believed knew God better than many of us (most certainly me) was actually rejoicing in his own demise. That was faith! I was finishing reading “Gift & Mystery” at the time, and had read “Rise, Let us Be on Our Way” (John Paul’s reflections upon his vocation) as part of my own spiritual reading as I discerned the priesthood.
I reflect upon all this today because the pope who promoted our celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday and who committed his life to it passed from this life to the next one. Surely, his joy could only be expressed in the words I’m sure Pope John Paul (and so many of us) take upon our lips…Jesus, I trust in you! Let us take these words upon our lips friends as we continue to discern or live out our holy vocation. May God bless you.