Formerly the Thinking Catholic Strategic Center
This morning I turned on the TV and watched the Beatification Mass of Blessed John Paul the Great, offered by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, and once again my soul was stirred by remembrance of this great soul and his great, calm, motivational words. To say that John Paul the Great had a major impact on my life would be a gross understatement of the case. He had stirred my soul to action, as he did, I suppose, the souls of many millions of others. His easy, calm, smiling countenance accompanying his “Be not afraid” words called me to absolute commitment to Truth, no matter what the cost in this life.
Blessed John Paul the Great had as great an effect on the world as he had on me personally, and I’m sure on many, many others. It was monumental. To calmly walk into the belly of the beast in Poland, and preach the Word, to call faithful people, held in Communist bondage, to holiness, solidarity and Truth, to call them to courage, fearlessness, and to Life, stunned the world. Even the Reds were speechless. By miraculous coincidence or Divine Providence, John Paul the Great, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were championing liberty and decency each in their own ways, and history records that the combination of their valiant and heroic efforts brought down the Iron Curtain. But it was John Paul who quietly, calmly, and always with a smile, got the ball rolling, and kept it rolling.
How we loved him! He was our Pope; we claimed him; he stirred us to resolve, to action, to commitment, and to new life in Christ Jesus. How he moved the youth of the world, everywhere he went, again and again! He started a tidal wave of Catholic spiritual renewal that swept over the world.
When it was announced that he was coming to America in 1995 we resolved to go and see him. Limited numbers of tickets were available at various Churches for people to go; some were given out by lottery. We (and most people) couldn’t get any. We think within the first hours of availability, they were all snatched up. Priests and vowed religious, of course, always got first shot at a limited number for them; those for lay people were “all out” everywhere we inquired. We were still determined to go, even without tickets; we wanted to see this great man, even if only in passing.
We decided to go to Baltimore rather than New York, and so we got a hotel as near as possible, which was not very near. On October 7, 1995, we drove to the hotel, and the next day we took a commuter train into Baltimore. We planned to go to the Cathedral while John Paul was busy at Camden Yards ball park, and get a good spot, perhaps even inside if we were lucky. On the train, some nuns were near us, and heard us talking and praying. One of them took pity on us and gave Marcie a ticket to the Papal Mass at Camden Yards! She had an “extra” ticket; perhaps one of the nuns couldn’t make it for some reason. We were overjoyed!
So, we changed our plans quickly. We each had a tourist map of Baltimore; Marcie would see the Mass while I would go to the Cathedral and try to get us a good spot to save. She would rush over as soon as the Mass was over, find me, and we would observe the proceedings at the Cathedral. We found our way to Camden Yards and began saying our goodbyes and double checking our plans and routes.
There was a huge line of people with tickets going through the gates, and Marcie was about to get in it, and I was about to leave, when a woman standing next to us yelled out “I need two more!” Then, a monk stepped out of the line and handed her two tickets. !!! Then, a short distance away, someone else called out in a loud voice, “we need three more!” and someone else stepped out from the line and handed that person three tickets! We were stunned. We looked at each other for a moment, and then we each yelled out “We need one more!” and, blessed be God Almighty, a nun came forward and handed me a ticket! Just like that!
So there we were, tears of joy welling up in our eyes, still not believing what had happened, acting like a couple of little kids at a rock concert or something. We had come with nothing; no tickets, hoping to glimpse John Paul in the Pope-mobile perhaps at best, or maybe see him from a great distance in or around the Cathedral, and now we were both going in to participate and offer up a Papal Mass. We had to sit a great distance apart from each other, but we both had good seats and a good view; and we participated in Eucharist, in which the Host had been elevated and consecrated by the Holy Father himself.
It was Glorious.
After the Mass, we learned, in the flood of people, that our previous plan never would have worked. Walking to the Cathedral in the sea of people was impossibly slow. By the time we got there, everything was just about over. We did get another glimpse of him in the Pope-mobile, but that was about it. We felt so blessed to be able to celebrate Mass with him.
After that experience, when it was announced that he was again coming to America, this time to St. Louis, we again resolved to go, this time forearmed with a little knowledge about how this stuff worked. Again we tried, and again we failed to find any tickets, and again we got a hotel and drove to the area with nothing but hope. This time, on January 27, 2999, we went right up to the Kiel Center ticket-holder line, and began calling out “We need two tickets!” and it didn’t take long before someone stepped out and handed us two tickets. We were in again.
We were seated together this time, in one of the massive convention rooms off of the main arena area where the Mass was to be offered; it wasn’t so bad, because it had a very large screen on which to view the main Altar and the Pontiff. When John Paul the Great came touring around in the Pope-mobile, he came within about 8 feet of us and paused for some reason, and there he was. He came right past us again on his way out.
Again, it was a glorious Mass, and again, his homily called us to fearlessness, courage, and the championship of life, and of truth. Both Masses were unforgettable. We had been close to the greatest champion of truth, life and fearlessness in our era, and perhaps any era. We have his books and his encyclicals and his teachings and his speeches; and we have his pictures and papal-visit memorabilia. But what we have most from this great man is in our hearts and in our souls. He changed us. His Camden Yards homily on Moral Truth convinced us that we must stand in the Truth no matter what. And that is what we do.
When I went through the Cincinnati Archdiocesan Athenaeum of Ohio Lay Pastoral Ministry program, it was the teaching and the example of John Paul the Great that sustained me, in the face of outright heretical teaching that was pretending to be Catholic. My purpose for entering the program was to fulfill the Archdiocesan prerequisite for entering the Diaconate program. As it turned out, it was designed as a program for turning people away from the magisterial teaching of the Church, ostensibly as part of a process to change Catholic teaching, perhaps even to change the Church herself. Apparently Archbishop Pilarczyk opposed the Church as it was created.
I went through the entire program on my own dime, having turned down the Parish Council’s offer to pay my tuition and expenses for the LPMP program, and then the Diaconate program. And, as it turns out, I’m glad that I did, because I would have felt terrible about it if I had used Parish funds on such a wasted effort. I wrote about some of these classes in the various Cafeteria Catholic pages on this Website; it was, for the most part, disgusting.
It taught the goodness and normalcy of homosexuality, among other things. It taught the acceptability of contraception; the “conditional” non-sinful nature of abortion, the possible – you have to decide for yourself – non-sinful nature of masturbation, it presented the magisterial teaching prohibiting women priests as repressive and divisive, it taught the “holy” nature of active homosexuality, and it even called into question the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. What can I say?
Under the inspiration of John Paul the Great, I took up the banner of Truth and defended the faith, against all odds. I argued with the professors, and won the arguments, but I lost the war. I was “not invited” to enter the Archdiocesan Diaconate program, after completing the LPMP prerequisite program, because I was “too rigid in my doctrine,” as if it were my doctrine. The Archdiocese of Cincinnati, under Archbishop Pilarczyk, didn’t know what doctrine was, or they just made it up as they went along.
I took John Paul’s advice to Be not afraid! and to Stand in the Truth! to heart, and I championed the Truth. I did not back down. I would rather be a lay spokesman of Truth than a Deacon who goes along to get along with an Archbishop who teaches sin and error, and pretends to be Catholic.
And so, because of the inspiration of Blessed John Paul the Great, you see this Website. You can think of it as a Be not afraid Website, that champions Truth, and that attacks falsehood. It is as much an attack site as it is a defense site; perhaps more so. I hate untruth, in any area of human knowledge, and I attack it head on. I especially hate untruth in Catholic teaching.
On this site, if you submit something, you had better be able to back it up, because if it is the least bit shaky, it will be vigorously challenged. Your submission must at least have some substance to it in the first place, or it won’t even be published here. I don’t even waste my time any more on bumper-sticker slogans or political talking points alone, as thin support for clearly nonsensical positions.
Begin wherever you choose; everything on this site is held to be true; if I didn’t believe it to be true it would not be on this site. I stand prepared to defend it. Introduce a new topic, if you wish. Be not afraid. Stand in the Truth. You have nothing to fear here, unless you stand in untruth.
John Paul was fearless; I wish I could be so calm. But if you are on the side of Truth, who do you have to fear? God Himself will sustain you. People in this life can only touch you in this life; they cannot harm your soul unless you let them do it. The only way to live this life is to live it in Truth, as John Paul did.
He championed life all his days. We watched him age and suffer, and continue in Truth, and hide nothing, and remain in the public eye. He challenged falsehood until his dieing day. He forced men to look at evil, at the culture of death they had brought about, and to look anew at life, and at what is good and beautiful, and to remember and re-learn the purpose of life. His devotion to the Blessed Virgin was total – Totus Tuus, meaning Completely Yours, was his pledge and his motto – he had committed himself totally to our Lady, who, from her yes to the angel, was the perfect example of sacrificial obedience to God and His will.
We celebrate his beatification, and we await his sainthood; may it be soon. His words and his example will live forever in the Church and in human history, and one day his name will be sung in the Litany of Saints.
The following is copied from a Beatification-day prayer card.
Karol Jozef Wojtyla,
Pope John Paul II,
1920 – 2005
Reigned as Supreme Pontiff
October 16, 1978 – April 2, 2005
Beatified May 1, 2011
”Be Not Afraid.”
God our Father, in your wise and loving
providence, you raised up
Pope John Paul II
as shepherd and universal father of your
pilgrim Church on earth.
Your Spirit made him a shining light
ablaze with the radiance of your Son, even
In the darkest shadows, that we
might not fear.
Through him you called your Church to
to walk in justice, to taste your mercy, and to
face in worship the Son whose fiery rays
illumine the splendor and dignity of
each human life.
He has now crossed the threshold of
of hope to hear the song of the Word, no
longer in echoes but face to Face with his
beloved Mary and all the saints. Embrace
him with your everlasting mercy and
preserve in you Church the voice of this
shepherd who said with the Fisherman:
“Lord, you know that I love you.”
John Paul the Great, pray for us!
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