Thursday, October 16, 2008

Habemus Papam!
His Holiness Pope John Paul II

Thirty years ago today, God gave the Church and the world a spectacularly wonderful gift.

On October 16, 1978, at 6:18 p.m. (Rome time), white smoke appeared from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. Shortly thereafter, Pericle Cardinal Felici came out onto the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica and announced, "Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum: Habemus papam! Emminentissimum ac reverendissimum dominum, dominum Carolum, sanctæ romanæ Ecclesiæ cardinalem Wojtyła, qui sibi nomen imposuit Ioannis Pauli."

Karol Cardinal Wojtyla, the 58-year-old Archbishop of Kraków, Poland, had been elected as the successor of St. Peter and Pope John Paul the First, who had died suddenly a few weeks before. As Pope, he took the name of John Paul the Second, but toward the end of his papacy, and since his death, he has been known by many to be Pope John Paul the Great.

When it was clear after the first day of voting that none of the Italian papabili would be able to achieve the necessary two-thirds plus one needed for election, the cardinal-electors began to think the unthinkable by looking beyond Italy for a new shepherd of the Church. Having impressed those in the know for years, the name of Cardinal Wojtyla was advanced overnight, and he began to receive votes during the fifth round in the morning. During lunch, having gained votes in the sixth round, a shocked Cardinal Wojtyla was visibly upset by the voting coalescing around him. Poland's Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski took him aside and reminded him that he had a duty accept if God called him. At the end of the second day of voting, in the eighth round, with the certain guidance of the Holy Spirit, Cardinal Wojtyla was elected.

Praised be Jesus Christ! Dear brothers and sisters, we are still all very saddened by the death of the very dear Pope John Paul I. And now the most eminent cardinals have called a new bishop of Rome. They called him from a far-away country...far, but always near in the communion of faith and the Christian tradition. I was afraid in receiving this nomination, but I did it in the spirit of obedience to Our Lord and with total trust in his Mother, the Most Holy Madonna. I don't know if I can express myself well in your – in our – Italian language. But if I make a mistake, you will correct me. And so I introduce myself to you all, to confess our common faith, our hope, our trust in the Mother of Christ and of the Church, and also to begin again on this path of history and of the Church with the help of God and with that of men.
--First Address of Pope John Paul II

John Paul II came from a far country - a country that had been ravaged by the Nazis and Communists, a country of martyrs, Christian martyrs, Jewish martyrs, who overcame their persecutors because of their faith in the Lord and the graces bestowed upon them by the Holy Spirit. Athletic, and fluent in Polish, Latin, Italian, English, French and German, having known much suffering in his life, the new Pope was not afraid to confront evil and proclaim the truth.

Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power. Help the Pope and all those who wish to serve Christ and with Christ's power to serve the human person and the whole of mankind. Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ. . . . Do not be afraid. Christ knows "what is in man." He alone knows it. So often today man does not know what is within him, in the depths of his mind and heart. So often he is uncertain about the meaning of his life on this earth. He is assailed by doubt, a doubt which turns into despair. We ask you therefore, we beg you with humility and trust, let Christ speak to man. He alone has words of life, yes, of eternal life.

--Pope John Paul II, Mass of Installation

Prayer for the Intercession of the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II

O Blessed Trinity, We thank you for having graced the Church with Pope John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your Fatherly care, the glory of the cross of Christ, and the splendor of the Holy Spirit, to shine through him.

Trusting fully in Your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd, and has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you.

Grant us, by his intercession, and according to Your will, the graces we implore, hoping that he will soon be numbered among your saints. Amen.


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