In Saint John Paul II’s words

In honor of (and preparation for) the canonization of Pope John Paul II, I recently completed reading his book ‘Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way’ in which he talks about his spiritual journey and those that inspired him along the way.

A couple of excerpts struck me as valuable lessons, which I write below:

About Fear’s effect on Being an Apostle:

These words were actually spoken by Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, a mentor to Pope John Paul and recounted in the book. they are worth reflecting on in one’s own spiritual journey.

“The greatest weakness in an apostle is fear. What gives rise to fear is a lack of confidence in the power of the Lord.” Wow, think about that. Could I lack confidence in the Lord by my own fears? I hope not! This is a powerful message to contemplate. He continues,

“The disciples who abandoned the Master increased the courage of the executioners. Silence in the presence of the enemies of a cause encourages them. Fear in an apostle is the principal ally of the enemies of the cause.”

I think this observation comes from the experience of those in communist Poland during the time of Soviet oppression. In my words, I think of this as intimidation of the state, the enforcement tool of totalitarian society. There’s more:

Use fear to enforce silence is the first goal in the strategy of the wicked.” Indeed, this is what sinks the ‘silent majority’ in any society, even those not oppressed by totalitarianism. Those commonly held beliefs and moral standards that most people hold can be overrun by bully tactics simply because people don’t speak up. We see this today.

Pope John Paul puts it this way, “We have to bear witness to the truth.” In my words, we must have courage over fear to speak up. This is our duty as witnesses of the Lord.

“Rise, let us be on our way.” (Mark 14:42)

John Paul writes about these words of Jesus this way: “When His hour had come, Jesus said to those who were with him in the Garden” – Peter, James and John – ” ‘Rise, let us be on our way’. Not only He must “be on his way” to fulfill His Father’s will: they, too, must go with Him.”

I would add, we all must view this message of Jesus as directed to us as well.

John Paul thought this message was especially important to the bishops of the Church. He adds, “Even if these words indicate a time of trial, great effort, and a painful cross, we must not allow ourselves to give way to fear. They are also words of peace and joy, the fruit of faith.”

“Rise, and do not be afraid!” (Matt. 17:7)

John Paul observes “God’s love does not impose burdens upon us that we cannot carry, nor make demands of us that we cannot fulfill. For whatever He asks of us, He provides the help that is needed.”

I have often contemplated this thought during times of trials in my life. No matter what I face, I think God has given me the ability to overcome it.

Concluding with this message we should all take to heart, ” ‘Rise, let us be on our way!’ Let us go forth full of trust in Christ. He will accompany us as we journey toward the goal that He alone knows.”



St. Faustina’s Vision of Hell

It’s a scary thought to be sure. Hell. We don’t really want to think about it. Many people say it doesn’t exist, or that they certainly will not be destined for eternal damnation.

I was reading an interesting article about the Bible’s references of Hell in its text. According to what I read, there are more than 30 references to the existence of Hell in the Old Testament alone. Further, Jesus spoke more of Hell than Heaven. This reference in the Gospel of St. Mark (13:41-42) is particularly disturbing:

“The Son of Man shall send his angels and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”

Key to note in this passage is that we are responsible for our actions that may lead others to sin, as well as our own sins. To me, this is another reason why we should not be complacent about the disturbing secularization of society today. And if we care about others, we should speak up when we see their errors. We should not cause others to sin. (In particular, legalized abortion is an affront to the Almighty Giver of Life. And now it is further institutionalized in the mandatory Healthcare law.)

St. Faustina was an early 20th century Catholic Nun from Poland. (The great and Blessed Pope John Paul II canonized her in April 2000). A truly blessed and holy Saint, Faustina left an invaluable legacy in her diary writings that expressed her inner-soul’s journey, and her relationship with our Lord Jesus.

Our Lord permitted her to visit Hell in 1936. She wrote of this vision in her diary. Here are some portion of her account:

“Today, I was led by an angel to the chasms of hell. It is a place of great torture; how awesomely large and extensive it is! The kinds of torture I saw:”

1] the loss of God;
2] perpetual remorse of conscience;
3] one’s condition will never change;
4] fire will penetrate the soul without destroying it – a terrible suffering since it is a purely spiritual fire, lit by God’s anger;
5] continual darkness and a terrible suffocating smell, and despite the darkness, the devils and the souls of the damned see each other and all the evil, both of others and their own;
6] constant company of Satan;
7] horrible despair;
8] hatred of God, vile words, curses and blasphemies

“These are the tortures suffered by all of the damned together, but that is not the end of the sufferings. There are special tortures destined for particular souls. These are the torments of the senses. Each soul undergoes terrible and indescribable sufferings, related to the manner in which it sinned. There are caverns and pits of torture where one form of agony differs from another….

Let the sinner know that he will be tortured throughout all eternity, in those senses which he made use of to sin….

…most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a hell.”

Please, let us all contemplate this warning.