Thursday, October 16, 2014

Saint John Paul the Great

Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves is the book we are reading and discussing in a mom's group at St. Cecilia Academy where my daughter goes to school. I hesitated joining the group because of work and morning Mass. But, after reading the first couple of chapters and learning so much about the suppression of the Polish people by the Nazis and then by the Communists, and the struggles of Karol's family during that time, I just wanted to read more and hear what others had to say. It was very emotional for me.

The first day, as I passed by the St. Henry School Chapel after dropping my 7th grader off, I bemoaned the fact that I was missing Mass. I actually asked Jesus to come to me in some other way. As I arrived at the high school office, I was told that the book group was not meeting until 9:15 due to a PTO meeting. Well, darn. I had some work to do at the Aquinas library so I went over and then decided to go to the Atrium of Overbrook School where Sr. Mary Charles teaches the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. I'd been promising to visit. As I entered, she was teaching some young students about St. Jerome and the importance of his work of translating the Scriptures and the importance of having the Scriptures available in every language for all people. Then, she holds up a few bibles in foreign languages and talks to the children and says, "And, this bible is Polish and we are going to get Sr. Mary Karol to read a little bit." Oh, the beauty of the sound of the Polish language! I cannot express how deeply I was touched as she read Scripture and I kept thinking that here was this sister from Poland whose parents, or some part of her family, were true survivors and who kept the faith and passed it on, obviously, to their daughter, who appropriately took the name of one of the great Saints of her Country. Tears formed as she spoke. Coincidence? Not. I truly felt the presence of God in that place.
Then, the children were allowed to go to the different areas of the Atrium and spend time. I walked around and watched as two boys put together the liturgical calendar, another set the altar for mass, some girls showed me about making unleaven bread and others were working with maps. It was beautiful and so fulfilling.

So far, we've had two group meetings and are on Chapters 6 and 7 for the next time. I have journaled all along the way writing quotes from this great Saint and from those with whom he worked. He is definitely a Saint for our times and this book is full of information to help us on our spiritual journeys, no matter our vocation.

"The more ready you are to give yourselves to God and to others, the more you will discover the Authentic Meaning of Life." St. John Paul II

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