The beatification of John Paul II has been in the news lately. Pope John Paul had a lifetime full of twists and turns. His eventual ordination and priesthood was hidden so as to protect his life and those of his countrymen. John Paul knew persecution and violence against one's faith in a very personal and close up way. In a sense this made him all the more zealous and committed to the priesthood and the sacraments he celebrated. John Paul was a true shepherd both as a bishop, but especially as a Pontiff.
For many catholics today, John Paul was the only Pope that they had ever known. He had understood the world as his parish and frequently visited his parishioners throughout the globe. Some have be taken aback that Pope Benedict does not travel often. But the charisma of John Paul could not be withdrawn from him, nor could anyone hold him in one place for long.
Whenever JP II came to a place, he would often remind his hearers to "Not be afraid." In many ways this was his own mantra throughout life. The idea of not allowing one's fears, or detractors, to keep one from living their profession of faith was so very important for John Paul. Perhaps because he did not fear Sin and Evil, he maintained a powerful stand against much of the brokenness and pain which afflicts our world. While seemingly traditional in some ways, John Paul spoke forcefully against oppression and the indignities which violated human life.
Even now the Internet is abuzz with whether his sainthood is a good thing or a bad thing. But in the end sainthood is about the virtuous and holy life we are all called to live. I look forward to seeing where the first St John Paul parish will be. In the end we continue to pray for the Church, its pastors, and especially its mission and ministry.