Remember his teaching always, was the essence of Pope Francis’ message two years ago, on the 10th anniversary of Saint John Paul II’s death (May 18, 1920 – April 2, 2005). A message that is just as valid on this 12th anniversary of the Polish Pope’s ‘birth’ in Heaven.
Pope Francis recalled this anniversary when addressing the Poles present at the General Audience on Wednesday, March 11, 2015, in St. Peter’s Square.
The Memory of His Teaching
“You have come here to pray at the tomb of Saint John Paul II, on the 10th anniversary of his death. Always keep the memory of his teaching and be faithful to God and to your homeland,” said the Pontiff in Italian before it was translated into Polish.
Pope Jean Paul II died on the evening of Saturday, April 2, 2005, during the liturgical time of Divine Mercy Sunday, which he instituted in response to Christ’s request to Saint Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938), whom the Polish Pope canonized on April 30, 2000, the same day of this institution. Thus, in some way, the date of his death sealed his spiritual testament.
Let us recall that Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II on May 1, 2011, also a Sunday of Mercy, and he was canonized by Pope Francis on April 27, 2014, on the occasion of this same feast — three confirmations in some way of the path indicated by this giant. Easter this year is on April 16 and the following Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday, is on April 23.
The Posthumous Message of April 3, 2005
John Paul II himself indicated this Divine Mercy message as his spiritual testament. He had prepared an allocution for that Sunday of Mercy, April 3, 2005, and he wished that the text be read and published by way of a posthumous message: “The Risen Lord offers as a gift to humanity, which sometimes seems lost and dominated by the power of evil, egoism and fear, His love that forgives, reconciles and opens the soul again to hope. It is love that converts hearts and gives peace. How much the world needs to understand and receive Divine Mercy!”
On opening the new Shrine of Divine Mercy at Krakow-Lagiewniki, on August 17, 2002, during his trip to Poland (August 16-18), he entrusted humanity to mercy, saying: “The world will find peace and man will find happiness in the mercy of God! I entrust this duty, dear brothers and sisters, to the Church in Krakow and in Poland, and to all the faithful of Divine Mercy, who will come here from Poland and from the whole world.”
“Be witnesses of Mercy!”
Humanity Entrusted to Mercy
“This is why today, in this Shrine – he added – I wish to entrust the world solemnly to Divine Mercy. I do so with the desire that the message of God’s merciful love, proclaimed here through Saint Faustina, reaches all the inhabitants of the earth and fills their heart with hope. May this message spread from this place throughout our beloved homeland and throughout the world. May the Lord Jesus’ solid promise be fulfilled; it is from here that “the spark” must spurt out, which will prepare the world for his final coming” (cf. Petit Journal, 1732, p. 576 ed., Apostolate of Mercy, Paris, 2007). It is necessary to light this spark of God’s grace. It is necessary to transmit the fire of mercy to the world.”
I Trust in You
Like Saint Faustina, said Pope Wojtyla, “we wish to profess that there is no other source of hope for man outside of God’s mercy,” “we wish to repeat with faith: Jesus, I trust in You!”
John Paul II stressed the urgency and timeliness of this announcement: “We have particular need of this announcement, which expresses trust in God’s all-powerful love, in our time where man experiences sentiments of loss in face of the multiple manifestations of evil. It is necessary that the invocation of God’s mercy spring from the depth of hearts full of suffering, apprehension and uncertainty, but at the same time an infallible source of hope.”
The Icon and the Shrine
The Pope then invited to contemplation before the icon of the merciful Jesus, saying: “We desire to contemplate, with the eyes of the soul, the gaze of the merciful Jesus, to find in the depth of that gaze the reflection of His life, as well as the light of grace that we have received so many times already, and that God reserves for us every day and for the last day.”
The Pope highlighted the importance of this Shrine of Mercy: “It is in this same spirit of faith that I have come to Lagiewniki, to dedicate this new church, convinced that it is a particular place chosen by God to shed the grace of His mercy.”
It was in this place that the International Congress of Divine Mercy was held in October of 2011, in the presence of the relics of John Paul II and Saint Faustina.
Saint John Paul II stressed the Eucharistic importance of this place: “I pray that this church will always be a place to proclaim the message of God’s merciful love; a place of conversion and penitence; a place of celebration of the Eucharist, source of mercy; a place of prayer and assiduous imploring of mercy for us and for the world.”
“It is the Holy Spirit, Consoler and Spirit of Truth, who leads us on the ways of Divine Mercy,” affirmed again John Paul II.
Merciful Love Is Necessary
He spoke of the world’s need today: “How <much> today’s world is in need of God’s mercy! An invocation of mercy upon all the Continents seems to rise, from the depth of human suffering. Where hatred and the thirst for vengeance prevail, where war sows grief and the death of innocents, the grace of mercy is necessary to appease spirits and hearts, and have peace spurt out. The merciful love of God is necessary where respect for life and the dignity of man is lacking, because, manifested in His light, is the inestimable value of each human being. Mercy is necessary so that every injustice of the world finds its end in the splendor of truth.”
Saint John Paul II concluded his homily with this prayer where there is an echo of the “chaplet of Mercy” taught by Christ to Saint Faustina:
“God, merciful Father,
Who revealed your love in your Son Jesus Christ,
And shed it on us in the Holy Spirit Consoler,
We entrust to You today the destiny of the world and each man.
Bend down over our sins,
Heal our weakness,
Vanquish all evil,
Let all the inhabitants of the earth experience Your mercy,
So that in You, One and Triune God,
They find always the source of hope.
Eternal Father, by the sorrowful Passion and the Resurrection of your Son, give us your mercy, as well as to the whole world! Amen.”