Pope John Paul II: A Legacy of Dignity

the pope wavingAs the pope lay
dying in his apartment, the 24-hour news machine buzzed with life throughout the
night. Nearly all seemed to spend a great deal of time discussing the years before
his health declined due to Parkinson’s Disease and other ailments. They showed video
and photographs of his youth, admired his athleticism, and marvelled at his boundless
energy. These things are good in their own right, but I think the media missed the
point.

The pontificate of John Paul II, formerly Karol Jozef Wojtyla, was notable for its
constant championing of the dignity of every human life. In the youthful days of
his reign, he fought tirelessly for the dignity of the poor, the downtrodden, the
oppressed, and the unborn. In those years, he taught us that even those whom the
world had rejected had dignity as human beings. In his waning years, he taught us
that there is dignity in infirmity. Old age is not something to be ashamed of. Physical
impairment is not a curse. Life does not end when disability begins.

Too many societies, including our own, abandon our handicapped and elderly in nursing
homes. We’re either too afraid to deal with their weaknesses or too busy with our
youthful lives to be bothered with caring for them. There are many lessons to be
learned from examining John Paul II’s life, not the least of which is how to grow
old, face adversity, and die with grace and dignity. As many called for his resignation,
he bravely, yet humbly, continued to do whatever he could muster his body to do
in order to perform his duties. He showed that human worth is not defined by utility.

I pray that the societies of the world learns to embrace and support their weakest
members, because they are beautiful creations made in the image and likeness of
their Creator and without regard for how useful they are or are not. I pray also
that when faced with infirmities and approaching mortality I can do so with a fraction
of the dignity Pope John Paul II had.

May the Lord bless him and keep him. May He make his face shine on him and be
gracious unto him. May the Lord lift His countenance upon him and give him peace.
Amen

Comments 5

  1. howard wrote:

    I know he inspired me immensely.

    I’m not a Catholic (yet), but he may be a huge part of the reason I’m seriously considering becoming one. I’ve been fascinated by his life’s example for many years now, and I sense that many of the things that have impressed me about John Paul II are similar to the reasons why there are millions of non-Christians who, today, are also feeling a profound sense of loss. I think that his life will continure to inspire millions throughout the world to seek the truth of Christianity, whether in the Roman Catholic Church or elsewhere.

    May God bless him in his journey.

    Posted 03 Apr 2005 at 10:53 am
  2. Tom Smith wrote:

    I was similarly struck by the passing of our Successor of Peter. He is the only Holy Father I have been exposed to, and I feel like I knew him personally. Among the most valuable of the lessons he taught us were that, like you said, he taught us to treat life with dignity, but also that he taught us to treat death with dignity. His apostolate of suffering was a truly touching witness not only to Catholics, but to all.

    Posted 03 Apr 2005 at 7:53 am
  3. EmilyE wrote:

    May the angels lead him into paradise.

    Posted 03 Apr 2005 at 5:32 pm
  4. alektra wrote:

    My heart is breaking for the Pope who led my faith from a month after I was born.

    My leader, my heart is broken to have lost you. I now understand much more how the apostles felt when Christ left earth for heaven.

    Your simplicity and honesty should be mirrored forever, and may your lessons of dignity and beauty and understanding echo for centuries.

    Posted 03 Apr 2005 at 4:24 am
  5. Steve N wrote:

    Reportedly his last word was “Amen” as he listened to those outside his window keeping vigil and praying the rosary. Very fitting for a man so utterly devoted to the BVM.

    He was man at once standing completely in modernity, yet so utterly not of it. Would that those who would further divide the Church no longer trouble the Holy Father for he bears the marks of the Lord. John Paul, pray for us, for we (the weak and foolish of the world)yet stand in modernity’s corrisive flood.

    Cheers!

    Posted 04 Apr 2005 at 5:22 pm

Trackbacks & Pingbacks 1

  1. From Back For More @ Ales Rarus on 29 Mar 2007 at 7:54 am

    […] "Searching for a respectful eulogy [of John Paull II]? Then I would look at choir boy faced Ales Rarus (He'll ban your contraception but, hey, he's a guy who talks to God so he knows best lil' ladies…). Here's a predictably glowing excerpt praising God's top personal assistant:" […]

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