Pope John Paul II will be beatified on May 1. Millions will descend on Rome to witness the historic beatification, led by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Square. Millions more will watch the ceremony on EWTN and other television stations around the world.
It’s rare these days that a person is beatified so soon after death, though John Paul himself made an exception for another high-profile servant of God, waiving the rule for Mother Teresa of Calcutta that five years pass after her death before the beatification process could begin.
There is much to say about Karol Wojtyla, the Polish priest who became John Paul II in 1978 and led the Church into the third millennium. The Register is preparing special coverage of the beatification in Rome and lining up interviews with experts to discuss John Paul’s legacy — in Church affairs, in Christian education, in life and family matters, in the New Evangelization and in world history at the end of the 20th century.
But it’s important to remember that a person is not beatified for being famous or charismatic or influential in politics. Beatification and canonization are a recognition of a person’s holiness, of his faithful response to God’s call, of a life lived according to the beatitudes, of his perseverance to the Lord’s command, “Be perfect, as your heavenly father is perfect.”
As a priest and as a missionary pope, John Paul also was concerned about the holiness of God’s people. As the successor of St. Peter, he beatified and canonized more people than any previous pope — and a wider variety of people: not only priests and religious, but laypeople, family people, mothers, fathers, single people, people who worked out their salvation right where they were in the world, in whatever state of life. He did so because he realized that ordinary people needed good examples they could follow.
So, what about you? Did Pope John Paul II influence your life in any way? Was he a major influence in your spiritual life? Did anything he said, wrote or did provide a step (perhaps even the first step) on your path to holiness? Did he awaken a religious sense in you? Did he convince you of the importance of striving to be a saint, in whatever station in life God has called you?
As part of our coverage of this historic beatification, we’d like to know. Sure, it’s easy for our reporters to interview experts, philosophers, theologians, Church historians and political analysts on JPII’s legacy. But we also want to hear what he did for simple, everyday Christians.
How did John Paul impact your life? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also feel free to describe that in the blog post’s combox online. Give concrete examples. Tell your story.