Wednesday, August 17, 2005

"I Feel As If He Were My Grandfather"

A few days after the pope's death last April, Fr. Thomas Rosica, CEO of World Youth Day Toronto, reflected on the many gifts the late Pope John Paul II gave to young people. As a member of the John Paul II generation, this essay moved me deeply, and this part was especially meaningful:

"Finally, one of the most profound lessons he taught us in the twilight of his Pontificate was that everyone must suffer, even the Vicar of Christ. Rather than hide his infirmities, as most public figures do, he let the whole world see what he went through. The passing of this Pope did not take place in private, but before television cameras and the whole world. In the final act of his life, the athlete was immobilized, the distinctive, booming voice silenced, and the hand that produced voluminous encyclicals no longer able to write. Yet nothing made John Paul waver, even the debilitating sickness hidden under the glazed Parkinsonian mask, and ultimately his inability to speak and move. In a youth-obsessed culture in which people are constantly urged to fight or deny the ravages of time, age, disease, he reminded us that aging and suffering are a natural part of being human. Where the old and infirm are so easily put in nursing homes and often forgotten, the Pope was a timely and powerful reminder that our parents and grandparents, the sick, the handicapped and the dying have great value. Many young people have confided in me over the past few years that they were "deprived" of their grandparents in their families and witnessed in the public diminishment and suffering of John Paul II the real meaning of aging and suffering. I have heard over and over again from young people these past years: "I feel as if he were my grandfather."

Yes. Yes, indeed.

(Hat tip to LAMLand)