Saturday, April 2


It's approaching 4:00 pm in Rome and, remarkably, Pope John Paul II remains alive. I thought when I arose this day that he would be gone from us. The man is remarkable. The man is strong as a bull and as courageous. The assassin met his match in this man, as did the Nazis and a string of illnesses. He has overcome so much in his life -- the tryanny of men and their malevolent philosophies, the tyranny of disease and its life-sapping grip. He has stood tall before God and before men, and his humanity and mercy have gently left their ineffable mark on this world. Another like him will be long coming.

He seems like King Lear, shouting back at the tempest that is death's approach:

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow! You cataracts and hurricanes, sprout, Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks! You sulphurous and thought- executing fires, Vaunt - couriers to oak - clearing thunderbolts, singe my white beard!"
But, perhaps not. We mere mortals rage against death. But this good, saintly man accepts it now, choosing his own bed in his living quarters at the Vatican in which to greet it. He awaits the next passage in his life, this time to enter the Kingdom of God and to know His love through all of eternity.

Albert Schweitzer once observed: "Not one of us knows what effect his life produces, and what he gives to others; that is hidden from us and must remain so, though we are often allowed to see some little fraction of it, so that we may not lose courage. The way in which power works is a mystery."

I believe Albert Schweitzer was right about the vast majority of us, those who preceded us and the many who will follow. But somehow I don't believe this applies to Pope John Paul II. He must know ... he truly must know the effect he has had on this world and the imprint he will leave behind. A man who ventured so far and wide to see and touch so many people must know those people pray for him now and will mourn his passing.

Many are called, but few are chosen. Fewer still can change an entire planet. They say Heaven is pure perfection. But I think John Paul will somehow find a way to make Heaven even better. As his soul soon touches the souls of all the dearly departed, I am comforted in knowing his spirit will visit Theresa's and together they'll share in the memories of the good fight waged and the essential goodness that is their legacy.