Five Insights on Death and Dying From Pope St. John Paul II

Pope St. John Paul II led the Church from 22 October 1978 till he died on 2 April 2005. The first Polish pope, and the first non-Italian to be named successor of St. Peter in 455 years, Cardinal Karol Wojtyła accepted his election with the words, “With obedience in faith to Christ, my Lord, and with trust in the Mother of Christ and the Church, in spite of great difficulties, I accept.”

He took the name John Paul II, following his predecessor, who had combined the names of his two predecessors. He was only fifty-eight.

 

To save means to liberate from radical, ultimate evil. Death itself is no longer that kind of evil, if followed by the Resurrection.

Crossing the Threshold of Hope

Dying to the Lord means experiencing one’s death as the supreme act of obedience to the Father (cf. Phil 2:8), being ready to meet death at the “hour” willed and chosen by him (cf. Jn 13:1), which can only mean when one’s earthly pilgrimage is completed.

Living to the Lord also means recognizing that suffering, while still an evil and a trial in itself, can always become a source of good. It becomes such if it is experienced for love and with love through sharing, by God’s gracious gift and one’s own personal and free choice, in the suffering of Christ Crucified. In this way, the person who lives his suffering in the Lord grows more fully conformed to him (cf. Phil 3:10; 1 Pet 2:21) and more closely associated with his redemptive work on behalf of the Church and humanity.

— Evangelium Vitae

The Church prays for the dead and this prayer says much about the reality of the Church itself. It says that the Church continues to live in the hope of the eternal life. Prayer for the dead is almost a battle with the reality of death and destruction that weights down upon the earthly existence of man.

This is and remains a particular revelation of the Resurrection. In this prayer Christ Himself bears witness to the life and immortality, to which God calls every human being.

— Crossing the Threshold of Hope

Our daily experience tells us that life is marked by sin and threatened by death, despite the desire for good which  beats in all our hearts and the desire for life which courses through our veins. We discover that everything within us impels us to overcome the temptations of superficiality and despair. It is then that we are called to become disciples of the One who infinitely transcends all.

— World Youth Day message, 1993

Be not afraid.

— His inaugural homily as pope

 

The picture was taken by Mndv78 and used under a Creative Commons license. It’s been cropped.

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