Yes, the dark is getting darker, but the light is getting brighter, and grace is being poured out upon us as never before. But where do we need to be to get under that outpouring of grace?
Jesus has left behind the “Vicar of Christ” to be His tangible presence here on earth, to guide us under this spout of grace.
Pope John Paul II set out a “program” in this new millennium for us as a Church to follow. It is an exciting program…a very profound and significant one for our times. And, Pope Benedict XVI has taken the baton to continue the mission.
John Paul II played a significant role in fulfilling the famous dream that St. John Bosco had in 1862, where he saw a huge ship on rough waters with the Holy Father and the clergy at the head. There were many smaller boats surrounding it. Some of them, which represented different persecutions and people who were against the Catholic Church, were shooting at the ship.
The dream went through a series of Holy Fathers and then came to one (who some speculate is JPII) who was steering the ship in between two huge pillars to anchor on. On top of one pillar was our Heavenly Mother and on top of the other, higher up, was our Eucharistic Lord. Every time the ship was shot at, a mighty wind, representing the Holy Spirit, would blow from the two pillars and restore it. Then a final Holy Father (possibly Benedict XVI) came aboard, accomplishing the final anchoring of the ship to the two pillars, after which a peaceful calm came over the waters, representing the era of peace, the “new springtime”.
Many of the boats which were once shooting began to sink; others began anchoring on to the two pillars as well.
Bosco prophesied, “There will be chaos in the Church. Tranquility will not return until the Pope succeeds in anchoring the boat of Peter between the twin pillars of Eucharistic devotion and devotion to Our Lady.”
In the times in which we live, the Church is obviously in a state of chaos and upheaval. Our late “Totus Tuus” Pope was steering the “Bark of Peter” in between these two pillars to anchor on, especially in this new millennium.
He set out a program for us as a Church to follow.
John Paul II began the new millennium by sending us a letter, Novo Millennio Inuente (At the Beginning of the New Millennium). Its main theme was Duc en altum — “Cast out into the deep!” He encouraged us to cast out into the deep in our relationship with God, in living the fullness of our Baptismal vows, which is intimate union with the Most Holy Trinity who dwell within.
And, he said we do this by “starting afresh with Christ,” by “contemplating the face of Christ.”
Then he sent us another letter, Rosarium Virgo Mariae (The Rosary of the Virgin Mary). He said that this letter was a “Marian compliment” to Novo . In it he told us to contemplate the face of Christ especially in and through our Heavenly Mother who knows and loves Him most.
Then he sent us a third letter, an encyclical, Eucharistia de Ecclesi a (The Eucharist in the Church), and in it he pointed us to the “source and summit” of the whole Christian life, the “heart of the Church.” In it he further set out the program for us as Church to follow as we move forward in this “new evangelization” to which he was strongly calling us. He said, “To contemplate the face of Christ, and to contemplate it with Mary, is the ‘program’ which I have set before the Church at the dawn of the third millennium…to contemplate Christ…above all in the living Sacrament of His Body and His Blood.”
Even following these three letters, Pope John Paul II repeatedly encouraged us to anchor on to these two great pillars of the faith, not only as a Church, but individually.
He entrusted the “Year of the Eucharist” (2004) to Mary, “Woman of the Eucharist” as our model and guide in coming to know, reverence and adore Jesus, ever more perfectly and wholeheartedly.
He pleaded with us as a Church to respond to his call, even so far as to end his letter promoting the Rosary, “May this appeal of mine not go unheard!”
Now our beloved Pope Benedict XVI has continued the path of steering the Church right up to these two pillars to anchor on. He has clearly stated at the beginning of his pontificate that he will continue the program set out by John Paul II.
But in many ways within our Catholic community John Paul II’s appeal has been going unheard. May we respond to the program set out for us as a Church in this new millennium, so that we can move forward into the “new springtime,” in becoming the “New Jerusalem,” the “Spotless Bride” spoken of in Revelation, ready to meet our Divine Eucharistic Bridegroom Christ our Lord.
Concrete ways of responding to the program are: Participating wholeheartedly in Holy Mass as often as possible and spending time in adoration before Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist, consecration of our whole lives to Mary (Totus Tuus), praying the Rosary daily.
May this appeal of his not go unheard!