This handy little book contains hundreds of direct quotes and short sayings of St. John Paul II, arranged according to the Christian virtues and other spiritual topics, allowing the reader to encounter his thoughts about particular aspects of the Christian life in a more organized manner.
The first fifteen chapters are arranged under virtues corresponding to the classical Fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary, making this ideal for anyone to use for daily spiritual reading and inspiration. Reading these sayings while reciting the Rosary is like praying it with St. John Paul II, joining both prayer and the study of his writings in one great journey of advancing all the more in holiness and the love of God.
St. John Paul II canonized more saints than all of his predecessors combined to show that holiness is for all of the faithful. He wrote 14 encylicals and hundreds of other documents to help the Church remain faithful to the doctrinal and moral teaching received from the Apostles.Canonized in 2014, Pope John Paul II’s speeches and writings continue to be one of the main sources from which Catholics today draw their knowledge of the faith. He is also venerated for his defense of the family and the unborn.
We speak of a Pope as the “Successor of St. Peter”. And in the case of Pope John Paul II, we can add “Successor of St. Paul”. Karol Wojtyla was captivated by the gospel and the love of Christ Jesus. This divine love welled up within him and demanded a response, a response that Karol Wojtyla gave freely, increasingly, and daily. Responding to the love of God characterized the life of Karol Wojtyla and eventually brought him onto the public stage. Pope John Paul II, ministering from the Chair of St. Peter and mirroring the missionary zeal of St. Paul, sought to bring the message of Christ and His transforming love to all parts of the world.
Pope John Paul II lived to encounter Christ and to encounter men and women in the hope that he could inspire in them a deep searching for Christ who, the Second Vatican Council proclaimed, shows man and his meaning to himself (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22). Thus Christ is the answer to the question that is every human person’s life. Pope John Paul II was determined to spend himself to ask the question and to raise the answer found in the love of God, revealed in His Son Jesus Christ and him crucified (cf. 1 Cor. 2:2). In every season and setting of his life – in youth and seniority, in vigor and in frailty, in public and in private – Pope John Paul II was faithful in this commitment.
For five years as a student of theology during my priestly formation at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, I had the privilege of living at the center of the Universal Church during the reign of Pope John Paul II. I was able to see more up close the life and ministry of a great priest. Listening to him speak, attending his public and private Masses, serving him at the sacred altar, meeting him personally, reading his writings, and praying with him, I had many privileged experiences to encounter this man whose sanctity is legendary and inspiring.
Oddly enough the memory I have of him that, for me, most characterizes his life and priestly commitment was not a personal encounter at all. It was June 29, 2000, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter & Paul, and I was present at the Holy Mass in St. Peter’s Square celebrated by Pope John Paul II. It was my last full day in the Eternal City and I had a flight home the next day to begin preaching the gospel and doing the work of a priest in my home diocese. The sacred music swelled as the Pope came into view in the Square. As the Pope walked out onto the front porch level of the Basilica, my line of sight a few levels down from the porch was basically at the level of the Pope’s feet. At that time he was 80 years old and his physical frailty was obvious. As I stared at the shoes of the fisherman and watched those famous shoes shuffle with painful determination toward the altar, my eyes filled with tears – tears of awe. There was a man who had every right to appoint a cardinal to take the Mass for him, a man who had every reason to give himself rest in his physical pain. Yet he marched on. He vested, he prepared, and he exerted every bit of energy he had to get himself to the altar to lead God’s holy people in the greatest prayer we have. In that moment, preparing to return home to begin working as a priest, I hoped that I might develop at least a portion of that zeal and determination. I prayed that I too might be faithful in spending myself to preach the gospel. Those shuffling shoes became, for me, a sign of fidelity.
May the passages in this book inspire each reader to be captivated by the gospel and the love of Christ Jesus, and may our footsteps give glory to God so that others may come to know the love of God that compels us in our Christian journey. Saint Pope John Paul II: Pray for us!
Rev. Stephen V. Hamilton, S.T.L
Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
There are many Catholics who greatly desire to deepen their spiritual life and love of Christ by delving into the treasured writings of the Church’s great spiritual masters. But how many do so? The culture of today leads us to embrace such busy lifestyles. All too often the time needed to feed the soul takes a back seat, and we end up spiritually starved. The
Sermon in a Sentence series is designed for just such a person.
Imagine spending personal one-on-one time with Pope St. John Paul II, rightly considered the most influential Christian leader, writer, and communicator of our times. Millions of Christians spanning the globe were brilliantly and effectively presented the full teachings of Jesus Christ during John Paul’s long reign as Vicar of Jesus Christ, and they considered him as a spiritual father lovingly and confidently leading them to Our Lord and the Church he founded over 2,000 years ago. History will show that Pope John Paul II was a gift not only to the 20th century, but for the future of Christianity as it moves into its third millennium. Reflecting on Pope John Paul’s teachings and papal addresses will certainly move one to a greater love of Jesus Christ, and a corresponding compassion and charity towards all peoples and cultures. This Pope was for all of us. This “Sermon” book has been designed to bring the inspiration of his words and writings to you in a very simple and direct format.
Hundreds of short quotations and sayings taken from the writings and papal addresses of Pope John Paul II have been classified by the Christian virtues of which they speak and then categorized to complement the Rosary, proceeding from the first joyful mystery (the Annunciation, with its anchor virtue of humility) to the fifth glorious mystery (the Crowning of Mary, with its anchor virtue of love and devotion to Mary). The Luminous Mysteries, introduced by John Paul II as an optional addition to the Rosary, are also included. For those who choose to use these excerpts for meditation and reflection while reciting the Rosary, we have placed a type ornament after the tenth quote, to mark the end of a decade. Additional quotations follow, for use with a Rosary or for separate meditation and spiritual reading. A selection of additional quotations on other spiritual topics follows, bringing the reader a sample of Pope John Paul II’s insights into such subjects as prayer, the Church, the right to life, and the Bible.
It is hoped that this little book of spiritual gems will serve as an effective introduction to one of our Church’s greatest popes and director of souls. May these papal teachings and exhortations find a place in your heart and soul, and draw you ever closer to Our Lord Jesus Christ, who John Paul II so generously and effectively served as His priest and Vicar.
John P. McClernon
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