Lori ElsassPastor

“Do not be afraid. Open, I say open wide the doors for Christ.”

On Monday, October 22 we celebrate the feast day of Saint Pope John Paul II, the longest reigning pope in modern history, a papacy that lasted more than 27 years.  While many will remember the Pope for the collapse of communism, his impact on world politics, his commitment to human dignity – especially for the poor and vulnerable – and his untiring call for a culture of life and civilization of love, it is also important that we understand his teachings were all based on Sacred Scripture. The things he stood for were not his opinions but were fundamental truths of the Catholic Church. He merely found new straightforward and compelling ways to explain truth for our time and culture.

The day of his canonization is Divine Mercy Sunday — an observance Pope John Paul put on the church’s universal calendar in 2000 on the Sunday after Easter.  He also instituted the annual February 2 World Day of Consecrated Life, the February 11 World Day of the Sick and a World Meeting of Families every three years. But welcoming hundreds of thousands of young people to the Vatican for a special Palm Sunday celebration in 1984, Pope John Paul launched what has become the biggest international gathering on the church’s calendar: World Youth Day.

In leading the Church into the third millennium of the Christian faith, John Paul encouraged Christians to “look at the face of Jesus Christ, the only Savior of the world, and to go out into the depths of faith, hope, and love, and so become a leaven of good in our turbulent world.”