My beloved, we now have two wonderful Papal Saints of the Church. On Mercy SundayOur Holy Father canonized Papa Giovanni XXlll and Pope John Paul ll as Saints in St. Peter Square. Wow! I felt jubilated that these men were given this honor for I have a special love for each one of them.
Let me share, somewhat, their spirit with you, to help you to know them in a better light besides them being Holy Father’s. Papa Giovanni (Pope John XXlll) was truly a father figure in many ways in which he loved all God’s children, whether you were a Christian or an Atheist, it made no difference to him. Our Beloved Holy Father had indeed had a sense of humor and used it well. When he was the patriarch of Venice he bumped into a man who was one of the richest people there. He said to the man, “You and I have one thing in common: the money. You have got a lot and I have nothing at all. The difference is that I do not care about it”. Another time as a Papal Nuncio in Paris he attended a banquet. It was here he saw the Soviet communist ambassador all alone and no one talking to him. So Msgr. Roncalli (Our Saintly Pope) walked up to him and begin the conversation in this way…Ambassador, we are in opposite camps but we have in common an important thing, the belly- we are both quite rounded. The Ambassador laughed so hard and of course it broke the ice.
There was the spiritual side of Papa Giovanni. He loved the Mass and the Mother of God. Of course, he had a devotion to the Holy Angels, perhaps because his baptismal name was Angelo (Angel). I remember the story when he was the Nuncio in Communist Bulgaria and he had a meeting with the officials there. Our saintly Pope knew that in the past the former Nuncios could never reach any agreement with these people. Just before the meeting he prayed to his holy angel and asked him to work with the other guardian angels of these officials so that God’s will would win over evil. After the meeting was over the communist officials were surprised that they gave in to this Man of the Cloth in which they never did before. Papa Giovanni credited this to the Guardian Angels. Finally, he loved the little ones and at one of his evening audiences he asked the parents, “Dear children, when you return home, you will find (your) children: give them a caress (hug) and say, This is the caress of the Pope!” Finally, his priesthood was precious and he said this to group of seminarians once, “I live for Jesus Christ and the Holy Church.”
John Paul ll gave his whole pontiff to Mary, “Totus Tuus” I give all to you Mary! The Polish Pope, on the night he was elected, said this to the over-flowing crowd in St. Peter Square, “I was afraid to accept this responsibility, yet I do so in a spirit of obedience to the Lord and total faithfulness to Mary, our most Holy Mother. I am speaking to you in your… no, in our Italian language. If I make a mistake, please correct me” … here the crowd went wild! He is one of us! One cannot forget that this Pope suffered under the Nazi and Communist regimes. During the Nazi occupation he saved a number of Jewish people from the hands of these brutes. One of them was a runaway Jewish teenager from a hard labor camp. She arrived at the railroad station half dead. It was the seminarian Karl who helped her by going with her to her relatives in Krakow. He jeopardized his life for her, knowing full well if caught, he would be executed.
Its no secret that this holy saint had a tremendous love for Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Did you know since boyhood he always wore the brown scapular, even as Pope. When the doctors were taking him into the operating room after the assassination attempt, the Holy Father told them…”Don’t take off the scapular.” The Pope credited Her for his miraculous recovery. Oh for sure this Pope too had a sense of humor. I remember serving for his first Mass as the Bishop of Rome (the Pope is in charge of the diocese of Rome) at the Church of the Gesu. After the Services were over, we went in the sacristy with the Pope. We were staring at him like a bunch of dummies and when he was finished unvesting, he looked at us and we didn’t move an inch. Finally he put his hands in the air and said well what are you waitng for. He smiled and invited us to his side and of course he couldn’t get us to shut-up after that. When he was in India and there was a large number of Sisters who could not enter the Basilica because it was filled with the laity and bishops and priests, he gave the Sisters this message: Sisters, when we meet on Sunday (he was to meet all religious in that area) I have a message for you, and the message is this : Keep the priests out. Do not let them come in…and the Pope smiled.
Let us pray… .Oh Holy Saints, Papa Giovanni and John Paul ll, help us to be in love with our faith so that we will always be sunshine to our neighbors by shining with the love of Jesus!