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"It is unbecoming for a Cardinal to ski badly."
(JPII)

This April 27th is a special one, the church canonizes Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II.  I don't really know much about John XXIII, but he's a saint, so I probably should.  Just thinking about John Paul II brings a smile to my face.  I love the legends about him sneaking out of the Vatican to ski to catch up with friends.  Stories that if they aren't true should be.  I remember the joy I felt being in St. Louis as he drove by in the Popemobile.  "JPII we love you!"  That almost mischievous smile he would give.  His incredible teaching, the great gift of Theology of the Body.  I remember asking myself if I could forgive someone that shot me, like John Paul II did.  Watching him age was hard, but he was so humble and elegant in his decline.  his life was really remarkable.  I immediately felt for the popes that would follow him.  Hard to live up to that standard.

The reality is we are all called to live up to that standard.  It's special to have a saint canonized that we were around for.  We saw sainthood lived out.  We were attracted to it.  It's good to have that reminder, that example to look to.  There's no sugar coating that life can be hard, and John Paul the Great didn't skimp on hardship, but his burden was light because of Christ.  He spoke after he became Pope that we should not have fear, and we believed him because he was living it out.  Being a saint isn't rocket surgery, it's doing what God puts in front of you willingly.  It's finding joy in where you are.  We have another intercessor in heaven to help us.

I'll leave you with three quotes from Pope John Paul II.

"Jesus Christ has taken the lead on the way of the cross.  He has suffered first.  He does not drive us toward suffering but shares it with us, wanting us to have life and to have it in abundance."

"Faced with today's problems and disappointments, many people will try to escape from their responsibility.  Escape in selfishness, escape in sexual pleasure, escape in drugs, escape in vioence, escape in indifference and cynical attitudes.  I propose to you the option of love, which is the opposite of escape."


The pope's last audible words on hearing tens of thousands of young people singing in St. Peter's square as he lay on his death bed April 1, 2005: "I sought you out and now you come to me.  Thank you."

Father Benjamin F. Green
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