The Holy See hosted a press briefing today with the postulators for the causes of Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II. The briefing was the first in a series of press conferences to be held this week as part of the lead up to Sunday’s canonizations.
Msgr. Walter Insero, head of the Office for Social Communications for the Vicariate of Rome, opened the briefing by giving details of this evening’s youth gathering at Saint John Lateran Basilica. The event is entitled “L’eredita’ dei santi” (“Legacy of the Saints”), a phrase taken from 1 Ephesians 1:18.
Fr. Giovangiuseppe Califano, O.F.M. and Msgr. Slawomir Oder, postulators for John XXIII and John Paul II respectively, will offer their testimony. The liturgy of the Word will be presided over by Bishop Matteo Zuppi, auxiliary bishop of Rome.
Speaking to the press, Fr. Califano offered his reflections on Blessed John XXII and some aspects of his life which were considered in his cause for sainthood.
“When we think of John XXIII the images that are evoked are those of humility, generosity, authentic joy”, he said (per the translation of Fr Dorantes).
These qualities were manifested, for instance, by his visits to the Bambino Gesu children’s hospital, as well as by his willingness to go out into the peripheries.
“The writings that we have of John XXIII are essential in the process of canonization,” he said, adding that, as early as his first year of seminary, his writings indicate his desire to be a saint.
At the age of 21, the then Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli said: God desires truly that I be a saint, and therefore I should be a saint. Later, during his papacy, he is quoted as saying: “They call me the Holy Father. I should be so: Holy. He pursued this holiness,” Fr. Califano said, “by maintaining unity with Jesus, recitation of the Rosary, and keeping watch of his own actions.”
Fr. Califano also noted John XXIII’s humility, recalling the words of Saint Francis of Assisi. “God is everything and I am nothing. That is enough for me. This is what consoled the heart of John XXIII”.
John Paul II
The spiritual life of Blessed John Paul II, Msgr. Oder told the press, was formed in part by “prayer, and [an] incredible ability of self-reflection”, as well as a life of suffering. When he was young, he suffered the death of his mother, then his brother, and eventually his father.
From a very young age, Karol Wojtyla “had to face incredible suffering”, he said. Yet, “the synthesis of his program of life, was [that] man has to live his life in such a way that his own life is an expression of God’s glory.”
His spiritual life was also marked by a strong Marian devotion: “The spiritual guide that formed him was a deep Marian spirituality, a deep Marian embrace which guided him throughout his life,” he said.
“Life, is a mystery,” Msgr. Oder said, “a mystery which this young man decided to face. He did not run away from it. It is the theatrical drama of life [and] the life of man receives its weight, its qualitative weight, from charity. This was his program of life. This is what he lived.”