The renowned Pope John Paul II biographer George Weigel gave a moving keynote presentation on suffering in the life of St. John Paul II at the 2005 national conference of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious. The conference theme was Healing and the Mystery of Suffering. I was there to give my testimony of suffering and healing in the family but the greatest witness we heard was Weigel on the life of Karol Wojtyla. In the latter days of his life that played out on the theatre of the world, the Polish Pope became an image of the Suffering Servant of whom the prophet Isaiah wrote so eloquently.
Pope John Paul II’s apostolic letter on the meaning and value of human suffering (Salvifici Doloris, 11 Feb. 1984) contained a prophetic message—one of many. The theme of Christian suffering will permeate three points presented in this reflection on the life of a saint who forever changed my life.
During my three trips to his beloved Poland, I traced his footsteps praying along the way for the grace to be a lover of God and souls under the mantle of Mary according to Wojtyla’s example. The six times I saw Pope John Paul II in Rome I experienced Christ’s love radiating through this chosen prophet, priest and exorcist. I attended his canonization on 27 April 2014 because I owe him a debt of gratitude.
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