“I leave no property behind me of which it is necessary to dispose. Regarding those items of daily use of which I made use, I ask that they be distributed as may appear opportune. My personal notes are to be burned. I ask that Don Stanislaw oversees this and thank him for the collaboration and help so prolonged over the years and so comprehensive. All other thanks, instead, I leave in my heart before God Himself, because it is difficult to express them.” (John Paul II, Last Will and Testament 6.03.1979).
This request was left by Blessed John Paul II in his last will and testament. I faithfully fulfilled the will of the Holy Father after his death in 2005, giving all his things which he had, especially his personal souvenirs. However, I was not courageous enough to burn these sheets of paper and notebooks with his personal notes, which he had left, because they include important information about his life. I saw them on the desk of the Holy Father, but I had never read them. When I saw the testament, I was moved by the fact that John Paul II, whom I had accompanied for nearly forty years, entrusted me also with his personal matters.
I didn’t burn John Paul II’s notes, because they are the key to interpreting his spirituality, his innermost self: his relationships with God, others, and himself. They somehow reveal another side of the person, whom we knew as Bishop in Kraków and in Rome, Peter of our times, a Pastor of the universal Church. They even show his life much earlier, in the years when he was ordained a bishop and was taking over the bishopric in Kraków. They allow us to look at the intimate personal relation of faith with God, the Creator, Giver of life, the Master and Teacher. They also show sources of his spirituality – his inner strength and a definite will to serve Christ till the last breath of his life.
When I return to the notes of John Paul II, I see the person of the Holy Father, whom I see in the home chapel on Franciszkańska street, when he is praying engrossed in God, kneeling in front of the Holy Sacrament and I hear his sighs from the small chapel of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. His radiant face never betrayed what he was feeling. He always looked courageously at the crucifix and the icon of Our Lady of Częstochowa. He was learning from her a complete entrustment to God, repeating the words of Ludwik Maria Grignion de Montfort: ‘Totus Tuus ego sum, o Maria et Omnia mea Tuasunt’ – ‘I am wholly yours, oh, Mary and everything of mine is Yours’. Complete trust in God, following the example of Mary and fulfilling God’s will till the end were characteristic features of this Man of prayer, who discovered a rich world of spirit in the relation with God.
May this book of spiritual notes of [Blessed] John Paul II help everyone discover the spiritual depth of this man of XXI century and may it us lead to a greater love of God and all people.
+ Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz
Given On the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary