VATICAN CITY, APRIL 8, 2005 (Zenit.org).- In his last will and testament, John Paul II reflected on life and the moment of death.
The testament, written at various moments of his 26-year pontificate, was published Thursday by the Holy See. The Pope began his reflections in the document as early as March 6, 1979. He added to the testament in 1980, 1982 and finally 2000.
In 1982, the first Polish Pope in history asked that the College of Cardinals attend to proposals for the place of his burial that might be presented by the Church in Poland. But later he clarified that there was no obligation to hold this consultation.
In 2000, he wrote that he hoped Providence would “help me to recognize up to what point I must continue this service to which I was called on Oct. 16, 1978.”
The document has virtually no indications regarding his property, as he explained: “I leave no property behind me of which it is necessary to dispose.”
“As for the everyday objects that were of use to me, I ask that they be distributed as seems appropriate. My personal notes are to be burned,” he added.
He requested that his secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, to take care of these matters and thanked him for “his collaboration and help, so prolonged over the years and so understanding.”
“As for the funeral, I repeat the same dispositions as were given by the Holy Father Paul VI: burial in the bare earth, not in a sarcophagus,” John Paul II wrote.
The Pope said that every year, at the Lenten spiritual exercises, he re-read his testament and added what he thought was necessary.
He began by putting his death, as he did his pontificate, in the hands of God through the Virgin Mary, with the motto “Totus Tuus ego sum” — Latin for “I am all yours.”
In 2000, he recalled the 1981 attempt on his life and said that the “Lord of life and death himself prolonged my life, in a certain way, he gave it to me again. From that moment, it belonged to him even more.”
“I ask him to call me back when he himself wishes,” he wrote, referring to the hour of his death. “I also hope that, as long as I am called to fulfill the Petrine service in the Church, the Mercy of God will give me the necessary strength for this service.”
When John Paul II wrote these words, the spiritual exercises were being preached by then Vietnamese Archbishop François-Xavier Nguyên Van Thuán, who moved the Pope with his testimony of suffering in his country’s Communist prisons.
The Holy Father’s last entries turn to Poland, his parents, his brother, his sister (whom he never knew as she died before he was born), his parish in Wadowice, his school friends and university, and “the people who were entrusted to me in a special way by the Lord.”
“To all I want to say just one thing: ‘May God reward you.'” And then he repeated in Latin Jesus’ last words: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”