The latest Retreat Guide from RC Spirituality, Be Not Afraid: A Retreat Guide on St. John Paul II, is now available at www.RCSpirituality.org.
When Karol Wojtyla, the Archbishop of Krakow, Poland, emerged onto the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome after being chosen by the conclave of cardinals as Pope John Paul II, he made history.
- Not only was he a young choice, not even 60 years old at the time, but he was also the first non-Italian pope in almost five hundred years.
- Standing on the balcony and overlooking the tens of thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square to welcome him, he departed from the usual protocol. Instead of simply giving a blessing, he engaged in a spontaneous dialogue with the crowd. He gave an off-the-cuff reflection about feeling inadequate for the papacy, about his trust in God, and about his confidence in the people of God, the very people who had gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
That night, he hand-wrote his first papal homily, which set the tone for the next 26 years of his papacy. In it he said:
Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power… Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ… So often today man does not know what is within him, in the depths of his mind and heart. So often he is uncertain about the meaning of his life on this earth. He is assailed by doubt, a doubt which turns into despair. We ask you therefore, we beg you with humility and trust, let Christ speak to man. He alone has words of life, yes, of eternal life. (Homily, 22 October 1978)
“Be Not Afraid!” That is the title of this Retreat Guide, which will give us a chance to reflect on what made this Polish Pope so holy, inspiring, and spiritually fruitful.
• The First Meditation will explore his conviction about the power of ideas.
• The Second Meditation will explore his belief in the power of witness.
• And the Conference will reflect on the theme of vocation—of life as a calling.