WASHINGTON — The Congregation for Divine Worship has approved the celebration of Blessed John Paul II’s feast day in the dioceses of the United States, after setting the feast day for Oct. 22.
The congregation was petitioned for permission by the U.S. bishops’ conference following their November 2011 meeting.
Blessed John Paul II’s feast day is observed as an optional memorial in the dioceses of the United States. His office includes the opening prayer at Mass and the second reading in the Office of Readings, which is part of the Liturgy of the Hours. Additional texts for the Liturgy of the Hours should be taken from the texts common to all pastors who are celebrated liturgically.
Oct. 22 was chosen because it is the anniversary of his inauguration as Pope in 1978.
The opening prayer at Masses celebrated in his honor asks, “Instructed by his teaching, may we open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ, the sole Redeemer of mankind.”
The reading in the Office of Readings is taken from his inaugural homily as Pope, when he urged Christians to “be not afraid” and to “open wide the doors for Christ.”
Blessed John Paul II was born Karol Wojtyla in 1920 in Poland. He was ordained a priest in 1946 for the Archdiocese of Krakow and was consecrated as an auxiliary bishop for the same archdiocese in 1958. He was elected Pope on Oct. 16, 1978, and served in that capacity for almost 27 years.
“His exceptional apostolic zeal, particularly for families, young people and the sick, led him to numerous pastoral visits throughout the world,” reads the new biography for Blessed John Paul II in the Liturgy of the Hours.
“Among the many fruits which he has left as a heritage to the Church are above all his rich magisterium and the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as well as the Code of Canon Law for the Latin Church and for the Eastern Churches,” it adds.
Blessed John Paul II died April 2, 2005. He was beatified only six years later, after the Vatican recognized his intercession in the healing of a French nun who suffered from Parkinson’s disease.
Beatification permits the veneration of a person by particular groups or by locale, and, consequently, the Vatican has authorized John Paul II’s feast day to be observed permanently in the United States.