To all who are passionately dedicated
to the search for new “epiphanies” of beauty
so that through their creative work as artists
they may offer these as gifts to the world. – Letter to Artists, St. John Paul II 1999
When John Paul II passed away in 2005 I watched his Funeral Mass on EWTN. The breeze was just enough that day that the Book of the Gospels that lay at his feet opened, the pages turned one after the other, and closed by the end of the Mass. His earthly service done. Today I am privileged to watch John Paul II’s canonization along with one of his namesakes John XXIII.
I was not quite 10 when John Paul II was elected Bishop of Rome in October 1978. I remember experiencing a deep sense of excitement and relief at his election. I have no idea why this was so important to me but it was.
John Paul II wrote “On the Dignity and Vocation of Women” in 1988 – which I didn’t know until 1992 and did not read until probably 1995 when the Holy Father traveled to the US. Knowing that the Holy Father was coming may have been why I originally read this Apostolic Letter which changed how I look at the Church and myself. My sweetie and I were invited to be Ushers during his visit to St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers – we have a bottle of water that was blessed by John Paul II and somewhere in my studio I have a piece of broadcloth the ushers were given to call for help when needed. My husband used his as a young woman fainted. We were also able to get tickets for the Mass in Central Park, the very next day. So overcast was the that we could not see the tops of the buildings surrounding the park. It was a beautiful moment. I do not remember the homily I remember that he sang a song from his childhood in Poland to us.
A quick glance at the Vatican website shows us what a prolific writer he was, including a Letter to Artists – which will be my reading for today before I go quilt on this day of great joy in the Church.
God gives us the people in our lives that we need at just the right time. I am grateful for John Paul II, his great love, example, artistry and leadership.