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Pope Saint John Paul II by Ann Walker

Some people have the most awesome smile.

When I think of Pope Saint John Paul II, I always envision him smiling.  He always seemed to be filled with so much joy. In 1985, Pope Saint John Paul II invited the world’s youth to the first World Youth Day. I couldn’t afford the trip overseas, but I recall how monumental that event was by what was shared on television. What a glorious time it must have been—so many faith-filled people! I remember thinking how awesome it would have been to be surrounded by so many people similar in age who had real fervor for their faith.

Fast-forward to almost 40 years later. Church attendance has dropped dramatically over the years since then. What happened so that those young people—who now have children and even grandchildren of their own—have left the church? Even if they still identify as Catholic but aren’t attending church, their children most likely aren’t learning core Catholic beliefs--which in turn results in the younger generation straying from the church since they have a hard time relating to the faith. How can we change things? Hopefully, considering some quotes from Pope Saint John Paul II will inspire us to become stronger instruments in sharing and growing the faith.

“As a Christian, you learn commitment to the love and service of God by imitating Jesus. To live a gospel life, and thus buck the trends of our times, you must have great courage.” We may be surrounded by people who think that religion is silly. Maybe they haven’t yet been exposed to the right messages. Perhaps it is up to us to share our Love of God with them.

“Our parishes must become genuine ‘schools’ of prayer; where meeting with Christ is not just for petitions but also for thanksgiving, praise, and listening with ardent devotion.” “Help transform the world around you by giving the best of yourself. Teach others the value of faith and prayer and goodness.” The easiest way to start doing this is by going to Mass. I don’t know about others, but sometimes it can be a challenge to commit to going to church every Sunday—especially when there are so many demands on our time. However, attending Mass is more than just an important part of our faith. It is a requirement: "Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day." If we regularly set aside time to attend Mass, it naturally becomes a special part of what we do to begin each week on a good footing. We get to the place where we don’t even think about it—it just naturally becomes part of our routine. It then follows that when we see the same people at church, we begin to know them better. We become involved in activities in the church because it feels good to be surrounded by others who are like us. We imitate Jesus by willingly following God’s requests for us to live out our faith. Even though acquaintances might be busy doing other things, we get great joy from attending Mass and hearing words of wisdom each week (and hopefully even more than once a week)!

We also must not forget the most important part of the Mass—we are receiving the Eucharist! What graces we get from allowing Jesus into our hearts during Communion! We have much to celebrate - and Mass is the best celebration! When we attend Mass, we are doing our part to follow God. Others can see how it is an important part of our lives. Hopefully, they will want to share in our wisdom. “Be a forceful witness of love for life, which is God’s gift to you. Be a prophet of life! Then your words and deeds will give hope to those who have no hope.” “It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your life and the will to commit yourself humbly and patiently to improving yourself and society.”

Here are a few more quotes that are especially fitting:

  • “Because Jesus is the Light, you too become light when you proclaim him. You are called to make the light of Christ shine brightly in our World.”
  • “Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”
  • “Be a faithful witness to Christ, as difficult as this might be for you.”
  • “The future starts today, not tomorrow.”

What do these quotes suggest? Let’s get out there and evangelize! If that idea is too daunting, then let’s start out small and plant a few seeds (ideas) by the way we live our lives--so much so that people can see the joy we experience by following our faith. If we put on a smile like Pope Saint John Paul II had, it might spark a fun conversation about why we are smiling so much. It’s the faith we have in our God that gets us smiling! How can we not smile when we know that no matter what happens, we have God to go to for support?!

Gospa Missions has been following in Pope Saint John Paul II’s footsteps in spreading the message of Truth, grace, and repentance with the world with the goal of leading souls to conversion. This is happening through the Conferences/Retreats we have put on over the years that have drawn large crowds, our Abode for Children Ministry for children in India, the Amazing Grace store (physical and online) which supports our Mission, and our outreach Newsletters, Video Log and Blog. Our Mission states that we aim “To lead all souls, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, into the fullness of Truth found in the Catholic Church; in the hope that they grow in their relationship with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Following the precedent set by our founder, Thomas Rutkoski, we promise to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, while we attempt to act with complete charity, as we provide experiences, resources, and personal communication; always encouraging others to a deeper conversion in Christ." 

Especially on his feast day, we thank Pope Saint John Paul II for being a great inspiration. We can reflect with one last statement, “Let Christ strengthen you in virtue and fill you above all with his charity. Let him guide you along the path that leads to holiness. Don’t be afraid to be a saint.” Well said!

- By Ann Walker

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