Pope St. John Paul II embraced suffering with love, even during his illness, a cardinal and the archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica said on the 15th anniversary of the saint’s death.
The spread of the coronavirus pandemic, and the growing number of infected and dying people “has fallen on an unprepared society, highlighting the spiritual emptiness of many people,” Cardinal Angelo Comastri told Vatican News April 1.
“Pain undoubtedly frightens everyone,” he stated. “But when it is enlightened by faith it becomes a way to cut back selfishness, banalities and frivolities.”
Pope St. John Paul II died at the Vatican on April 2, 2005, 15 years ago, after months of illness and a years-long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Cardinal Comastri recalled one of the pope’s final “appearances” before his death, when, unable to attend, he watched the Good Friday Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum via video from his private chapel.
“The image we saw on television is unforgettable,” Cardinal Comastri said. “The pope, who had lost all his physical strength, holding the Crucifix in his hands, gazing at it with pure love. One could sense he was saying: ‘Jesus, I too am on the Cross like you. But together with you I await the Resurrection.’”
According to Cardinal Comastri, “John Paul II was a true master of pain redeemed by love and transformed into an antidote to selfishness: a redemption of human selfishness. This is possible only by opening one’s heart to Jesus: only with Him can one understand and give value to pain.”
“John Paul II,” he said, “knew that life is a race towards God’s Banquet: the Feast of God’s embrace, His infinite glory and happiness.”
“John Paul II lived his suffering with this spirit: even in the hardest moments,” he noted, adding that “he never lost his serenity. Why? Because before him he always had the purpose of life.”
According to Cardinal Comastri, “today many people no longer believe in that purpose. That’s why they live pain with despair: because they can’t see beyond the pain.”
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