Thursday, October 30, 2008

Papa's Prayers

He was one of the most impressive figures of this past century, if not the most impressive one. By God’s grace he lived through tragedies and crises that were daunting, always encouraging, always pointing people toward hope, always tangibly representing Christ in a way that touched hearts and changed the world.

It is a shame for me to admit it, but I didn’t pay much attention to him until after entering the third millennium. I had been, after all, living as one of the “separated brethren” and it wasn’t popular for an evangelical Protestant, let alone one active in preaching and teaching, to go around quoting Papa as an authoritative source. I suppose it all does filter down to a simple issue, one that centers itself in the realm of legitimate spiritual authority. I’m glad that I finally reconciled this issue and put aside my protesting.

His time among us was almost spent when he penned his Apostolic Letter considering the importance of the Rosary. Rosarium Virginis Mariae was signed, “From the Vatican, on the 16th day of October in the year 2002, the beginning of the twenty-fifth year of my Pontificate. John Paul II.” It’s always wise to listen to sage wisdom that comes through those whose final rite of passage is imminently on life’s horizon. They have a way of communicating essentials that cut through all the fluff and glitter that draw us away from what we honestly need to see, hear, and do.

Concerning this prayer, the aged Pontiff says, “The Rosary has accompanied me in moments of joy and in moments of difficulty. To it I have entrusted any number of concerns; in it I have always found comfort. Twenty-four years ago, on October 29, 1978, scarcely two weeks after my election to the See of Peter, I frankly admitted: ‘The Rosary is my favorite prayer. A marvelous prayer! Marvelous in its simplicity and its depth. … With these words, dear brothers and sisters, I set the first year of my Pontificate within the daily rhythm of the Rosary.’ Today, as I begin the twenty-fifth year of my service as the Successor of Peter, I wish to do the same.”[1]

From the beginning of his long Pontificate through to the end. Not only while he sat in the Chair of Peter, but throughout the many difficult years of his life and ministry in Poland, the Rosary became and remained his favorite, most important, personal devotional prayer. The daily rhythm of the Rosary became the daily rhythm of his life, a life well lived, a witness and testimony proclaiming to the world the grace of God in Christ.

[1] John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, p. 8-9