Think of everything that Karol Wojtyła brought with him to Rome: his teachings, his knowledge, his holiness, his philosophy, his way of looking at certain things, and his concerns about family, youth, human rights, and more. All of this—his experience and contribution—came from events and people who shaped his mind and heart in the early years of his life.
Karol Wojtyła’s parents, Emilia Kaczorowska and Karol Wojtyła père, greatly influenced the future pope’s vocation with their example of deep faith, love, and Christian values that permeated their daily lives in an extraordinary way. As pontiff, he would later remark in his book Gift and Mystery: “My preparation for the priesthood in the seminary was in a certain sense preceded by the preparation I received in my family, thanks to the life and example of my parents.” Little Karol learned from his mother the sign of the cross. “This mystery was taught to me by the hands of my mother, who, by folding my little hands, showed me how to draw the cross, the sign of Christ, who is the Son of the living God.”
After his mother’s untimely death, Karol fils spent many years of his life with his father. Wojtyła reminisced about his widowed father: “His life became one of constant prayer. Sometimes I would wake up during the night and find my father on his knees, just as I would always see him kneeling in the parish church. We never spoke about a vocation to the priesthood, but his example was in a way my first seminary, a kind of domestic seminary.” Karol père taught his son to pray to the Holy Spirit as well. Years later, the pope recalled, “It was a great spiritual lesson, longer-lasting and stronger than all that I had received through my many readings and studies. In a certain sense, I owe him my encyclical on the Holy Spirit.”
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