“Christ my hope is arisen!” John Paul II was a living witness to Easter joy and the Divine Mercy message, all of which we celebrate at his beatification this weekend.
I never went to World Youth Day, but John Paul’s writing was a focus of a marriage and family class I took in college, and his teaching was prominent at my college Newman Center (St. John’s Catholic Newman Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), in my life and the lives of all of my young adult Catholic friends who are participating in all sorts of ways in the New Evangelization: as journalists, Catholic teachers (including my sister), Focus (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) missionaries, physicians and other health-care professionals, youth ministers, faith-filled parents and spouses, etc.
I was out of college when Benedict was elected, after all. So JP2 is the Pope I grew up with. His outreach to the faithful remains fresh in my mind. His promotion of a culture of life and unwavering proclamation of Church teaching remains strong in all of our hearts and minds — and resonates within the culture at large.
And May recalls his Marian devotion. He beatified and canonized many saints, including Mother Teresa and one of my other favorites, St. Gianna Beretta Molla, whom I wrote about in the Register a few years ago and whose feast day is today, April 28.
As John Paul said, “What really matters in life is that we are loved by Christ and that we love him in return. In comparison to the love of Jesus, everything else is secondary. And, without the love of Jesus, everything is useless.”