Last Saturday night my school had a watch party for the canonization of (now saints) Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII. We watched a beautiful movie about JPII earlier in the day, and oh my goodness. He was an incredible man. I don’t know how accurate the movie was, but to know how much adversity he came from blows me away.
There were moments in the movie where you could just see and feel the mercy he exuded. There was a guy who was dating a student of JPII’s. The guy was hired to spy on JPII, and planted a bug in the confessional, listening to every one. (Sidenote – anyone know if that really happened??) The guy was so moved by hearing the mercy of JPII, and told his boss that he could not find one word to use against the then Bishop.
It hit him hard. And he realized that JPII wasn’t this old white guy telling people what to do. He came to JPII crying, confessing what he did. It was really a beautiful moment.
That night we had adoration, lots of snacks, and a “Whose line is it anyway?” hilarious event leading up to the live streaming of the Mass in St. Peter’s square (which started around 3am). It was tough staying awake since I had gotten up at 5am to sidewalk counsel (up for about 24 hours, whoohoo!).
As I looked around in adoration, it kind of hit me how blessed I am to be here where so many people are striving to live an authentic Catholic life. It’s hard to explain, but there is something utterly beautiful about the church (*ahem* Jesus) that gives us hope and passion for life. Most people, I am convinced, do not understand this concept, and why Catholics do what we do.
You see, there is so much joy in abandoning yourself to the life you were made for.
It’s not easy. There are days when you might be tempted to succumb to the pleasures the world offers. I can’t imagine anyone is really without that in their lives. But when you have faith in something bigger than yourself, life makes sense. Because you know what doesn’t make sense?
– school shootings
– an article I saw today about a model who went in public in a mini-skirt, stripper heels, and bra (yeah, no shirt)
– the rampant technology that is melting people’s brains
– the recent news stories about moms killing their newborns
– all that happened during the Holocaust (which JPII’s story reminded me of)
How do we manage to survive in this world? How can we not be overcome with despair with what our world is coming to?
It’s this faith and hope. I know that no matter what happens, God will not give me anything I cannot handle. I know that he is there to carry me when life is hard, and to celebrate in life’s moments of joy. I can’t lose hope, because I have every reason to hope. I have faith in something, and someone bigger than myself and this world. His name is Jesus.
The movie about JPII reminded me how much believers have suffered for the faith in the past. They were horrendously murdered, tortured, and martyred. And yet, they refused to renounce God. They gave him their lives. In those moments, you can see the beauty that living a faith-filled life brings. It causes us to live differently.
Do you know of anyone who has died in defense of their belief in atheism?
Me neither. There’s just something about God that gives me, and many other people, an inner peace and confidence that the things in this life are incomparable to those of the next. It gives us a courage to face all that life throws us while abandoning ourselves to something so much bigger that our lives. That doesn’t mean people who aren’t Catholic are terrible people. Absolutely not! But at some point you have to ask the questions: What gives us hope?
How are we, when we strive to live the authentic Catholic life, given the grace to live so fearlessly?
I’m not really sure where this is going, except to say that I am so happy and thankful to be Catholic. Maybe it doesn’t make sense to you. Maybe you wonder what gives us this hope. Maybe you’ve only seen the rules the church has, and not all the joy. I’m sorry if you’ve never met an authentic Catholic person.
For your sake, I hope that you are able to encounter at least one person who is truly striving to live the authentic Catholic life. It’s something that is hard to wrap your head around until you experience it – this deep, and fearless hope, this confidence in our creator, this faith in truth that has been revealed to us.
Thank you, JPII (and all the saints!) for giving us examples of how to live the authentic Catholic life. Jesus, please give me the grace to reveal the beauty of Catholicism to people in my life. Help me to spread your love everywhere I go, and to “be your light” to our darkened world. You give us hope to live fearlessly while striving to love you more perfectly. Please help us show others why we have this hope.
P.S. Have questions about Catholicism? Ask away! I don’t have all the answers, but am more than happy to talk about my faith.