MartiniPundit

Random thoughts and insights – always shaken, never stirred

John Paul the Great

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Today is the first anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II, the first pope to be acclaimed “Magnus” by the people in some fourteen centuries (he joins Leo the Great and Gregory the Great as only the third pope so honored by his flock).

It’s still hard to imagine he’s gone. For twenty-seven years, this man was our shepherd, and for many, he was the only pope they had ever known. I myself was born in the pontificate of Paul VI, but he was a distant figure in Rome when I was a child. I didn’t fully appreciate who (or even what) he was. John Paul I went by in a wink of an eye, so even for me, John Paul II was really the only pope. If others have a similar experience, that means a sizeable percentage of the population simply had no idea what the Catholic Church was like without John Paul II at the head.

It’s been a long year in some ways. At first, despite my very positive reaction to the election of Benedict XVI, it seemed as if the house was empty. It was with surprise each Sunday for almost a year that I heard not “John Paul our Pope” but “Benedict” at the consecration. I watched the new Pope with approval, but still it seemed less somehow. And it was. We have lost something we’ll never get back – a truly saintly man, a truly great man, and a truly humble man. Two out of three ain’t bad, as they say, but for a while – a generation – we had all three. That legacy can take the Church far I suspect – beyond any of us now living. I’m still digesting the notion that we witnessed one of those rarest of things – a truly transformative pope. He is missed.

While we’re at it, George Weigel has written an excellent book on the last days of John Paul II, the conclave that elected Benedict XVI, and his take on this present Pontificate. It’s called God’s Choice and it’s a must read for anyone interested in this topic.

My take last year on John Paul II’s death and my own encounter with a living saint.

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Written by martinipundit

April 2, 2006 at 12:26 am

Posted in Church, History, Leadership

Tagged with ,

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