St. John Paul II: A Look at his Life

What a special place this man has in my heart. I was 9 years old when he passed away and I remember my mom crying as she watched it on tv, but I didn’t understand what was happening. I knew he was the pope but it wasn’t until high school that I began to learn who this incredible man was. Even though I didn’t get to experience much of his papacy, I can say that I was one of the many hearts touched and lives transformed by this holy man.

Reading his words inspired me to grow in my faith, stand firmly in what I believe and share it with others without fear. His words helped me to forgive others and heal from those wounds in my heart. His words encouraged me that true live does exist and that marriage between man and woman is one of God’s greatest gifts to us.

As I read Jason Evert’s Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves, the man whom I carry so closely in my heart became even more personal and awe-inspiring to me. Reading these personal stories from those who knew him best was so beautiful. As I read, I imagined what it must’ve been like to know Karol Wojtyla.

“Young people of every continent, do not be afraid to be the saints of the new millennium! Be contemplative, love prayer.”

— St. John Paul II

This man grew up in Nazi Poland and suffered great loss, yet the love he carried for others was one-of-a-kind. He would remember everyone he met, even if it was briefly, because he said it was an encounter with Christ. He had a special love for the youth. As a priest, he went on camping trips with those in his youth ministry. He saw the youth as the hope of the Church and the world. His work of Theology of the Body is one of most beautiful teachings of the Catholic Church and was not only impactful on the Church but for men and women alike.

Above his love for people though, was his love for God and Our Blessed Mother. The devotion he had to prayer, spending time with the Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady was on another level. It’s said that when he would pray hours would pass and nothing would distract him. It was like he was in another world. Someone could walk by and see him embracing the cross. He would spend time with the Blessed Sacrament in every church he visited even if it meant he got off schedule.

But JPII also knew great pain. After his assassination attempt his health deteriorated quickly and spent a lot of time in and out of the hospital. However, he kept his positive attitude through it all and would even make jokes about his many health problems. When he was put in his wheelchair he joked that while a lot of people had mobile phones, he had a mobile chair.

St. John Paul II will always be one of the greatest popes and saints in the history of the Catholic Church in my opinion. He touched so many lives and did so much for our Church. He performed miracles and continues to leave his mark on the lives of so many today. If you’re looking for a good read on this incredible saint, I highly recommend Saint John Paul the Great: His Fives Loves by Jason Evert. It will leave you feeling like you knew JPII personally and will reinvigorate your heart stand firm in your faith and be not afraid.

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