Friar Jack Muses About Pope John Paul II
Perhaps no man has so greatly influenced recent history as Pope
John Paul II. I want to share with you some insights that I
wrote recently for my new book "A Retreat With Pope John
Paul II: Be Not Afraid."
In the summer of 1958, Father Karol Wojtyla had to interrupt
his vacation at the Mazurian Lakes, in Poland, where he had
been taking some retreat days with a group of young people.
He received a message instructing him to go to Warsaw and appear
at the residence of the archbishop, who was then Cardinal Stefan
Wyszinski, primate of Poland. When Father Karol arrived, Cardinal
Wyszinski presented the 38-year-old priest with a letter from
Pope Pius XII appointing him auxiliary bishop of Cracow.
Father Karol calmly assured the cardinal of his willingness
to accept the appointment and left. He went directly to the
convent of the Grey Ursuline Sisters and asked to spend some
time in the chapel. He walked to the front of the chapel and
fell to his knees in the first pew.
Two or three hours went by. Father Karol knelt there silently,
head in his hands. One of the nuns asked if he would like to
eat. He declined. A few more hours passed. Father Karol continued
to pray in silence. He went without food the entire evening
and spent eight continuous hours in prayer.
We do not know the specific contents of Father Karol's prayer
during those eight hours or what went on between God and the
bishop-elect in the secret center of his heart. But the dramatic
incident speaks volumes about the importance, for Karol Wojtyla,
of taking time to listen to God in prayer. It conveyed the intensity
of his faith and his keen awareness that it is God's power and
loveand not primarily his ownthat must guide his life and
This reverent act of stepping aside from the activity of the
day to commune with God and contemplate the purpose of his life
is a trademark of Pope John Paul II. It is a practice worthy
Most of us are awareat least through the mediaof the pope's
busy schedule, especially hectic during his pilgrimages to destinations
around the world. Still, he maintains his custom of snatching
moments of private time to quiet his heart and tap the life
of the Spirit within.
At the end of this issue I'll share with you a special prayer
that I wrote in the spirit of John Paul II. But first I want
you to know about some other projects we've been working on
at St. Anthony Messenger Press.
An element of my "A Retreat With..." book about Pope
John Paul II is a series of prayers that I wrote. I'd like to
share one with you, and hope that you can take this prayer into
Loving God, you are always present to us even during our busy
activities. As Saint Paul says, "God is not far from any
one of us. For 'In him we live and move and have our being'...."
We ask you, gracious God, to help us to become more aware of
the gift of your presence. Keep us from getting so caught up
in our activitiesor in our rush to accomplish thingsthat
we lose sight of the immensity of your love and care for us.
Help us to learn from the example of Jesus and your servant
John Paul II how important it is to set aside times of silence
so that we can really listen to your guiding voiceand let
the wonder of your presence and love sink in. Amen.
You can order A
Retreat With Pope John Paul II, by Jack Wintz, O.F.M.,
at St. Francis Bookshop.
Peace and all good!
Friar Jack Wintz, O.F.M.
As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions via e-mail:
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