Isaiah, Chapter 52, Verse 7
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the one bringing good news, announcing PEACE, bearing good news, announcing salvation, saying to Zion, “Your God is King!”
Men, even great men cannot bring peace, only our King, the Lord Jesus Christ.
‘Peace Will Be the Last Word of History’
On Jan. 1, 1979, Pope St. John Paul II gave his World Day of Peace message. The following excerpt is the end of that speech.
‘Pray with Mary, the Queen of Peace,’ exhorted St. John Paul II
We do not claim to find in the Gospel text ready-made formulas for making today this or that advance towards peace. But on almost every page of the Gospel and of the history of the Church we find a spirit, that of brotherly love, powerfully teaching peace. We find, in the gifts of the Holy Spirit and in the sacraments, a strength drawn from the divine source. We find, in Christ, a hope. Setbacks cannot render vain the work of peace, even if the immediate results prove to be fragile, even if we are persecuted for our witness in favor of peace. Christ the Savior associates with his destiny all those who work with love for peace.
Prayer for peace. Peace is our work: It calls for our courageous and united action. But it is inseparably and above all a gift of God: It requires our prayer. Christians must be in the first rank of those who pray daily for peace. They must also teach others to pray for peace. It will be their joy to pray with Mary, the Queen of Peace.
To everyone, Christians, believers, and men and women of goodwill, I say: Do not be afraid to take a chance on peace, to teach peace. The aspiration for peace will not be disappointed forever. Work for peace, inspired by charity which does not pass away, will produce its fruits. Peace will be the last word of history.
True Audacity of Hope
Today is also the feast of Saint John Paul II. He was a man afflicted, he was a man of endurance, he stresses that Christ is our only hope and he showed us the love of God.
Karol Wojtyla came of age at one of the darkest moments of the twentieth century. When he was 19 years old and just commencing his university career, the Nazis rolled through his native Poland and instigated a reign of terror over the country. Almost immediately, the conquerors decapitated Polish society, killing the intelligentsia outright or sending them to concentration camps. All distinctive forms of Polish culture were cruelly suppressed, and the church was actively persecuted.
Young Wojtyla displayed heroic courage by joining the underground seminary run by the Cardinal of Krakow and by forming a small company of players who kept Polish literature and drama alive. Many of his colleagues in both of these endeavors were killed or arrested in the course of those terrible years of occupation.
Sadly, the Nazi tyranny was replaced immediately by the COMMUNIST TYRANNY, and Fr. Wojtyla was compelled to manifest his courage again. In the face of harassment, unfair criticism, the threat of severe punishment, etc., he did his priestly work, forming young people in the great Catholic spiritual and theological tradition. Even as a bishop, Wojtyla was subject to practically constant surveillance (every phone tapped; every room bugged; his every movement tracked), and he was continually, in small ways and large, obstructed by Communist officialdom. And yet he soldiered on. Of course, as Pope, he ventured into the belly of the beast, standing athwart the Communist establishment and speaking for God, freedom, and human rights.
In doing so, he proved himself one of the most courageous figures of the twentieth century. Karol Wojtyla was a man who exhibited the virtue of justice to a heroic degree. Throughout his papal years, John Paul II was the single most eloquent and persistent voice for human rights on the world stage. In the face of a postmodern relativism and indifferentism, John Paul took the best of the Enlightenment political tradition and wedded it to classical Christian anthropology. The result was a sturdy defense of the rights to life, liberty, education, free speech, and above all, the free exercise of religion. More persuasively than any other political figure, east or west, John Paul advocated for justice.
George Weigel titled his magisterial biography of John Paul II, Witness to Hope, by identifying Karol Wojtyla with a theological virtue. In October of 1978, the newly elected Pope John Paul II gave his inaugural speech to a packed St. Peter’s Square. This man, who had witnessed at first hand the very worst of the twentieth century, who had intimate experience of how twisted and wicked human beings can be, spoke over and over again this exhortation: “Be not afraid.”
There was, of course, absolutely no political or cultural warrant for that exhortation, no purely natural justification for it. It could come only from a man whose heart was filled with the supernatural sense that the Holy Spirit is the Lord of history.
Finally, was Karol Wojtyla in possession of love, the greatest of the theological virtues? The best evidence I can bring forward is the still breathtaking encounter that took place in a grimy Roman jail cell in December of 1983. John Paul II sat down with Mehmet Ali Agca, the man who had, only a year and a half before, fired several bullets into the Pope. John Paul spoke to him, embraced him, listened to him, and finally forgave him. Love is not a feeling or a sentiment. It is, Thomas Aquinas reminds us, an act of the will, more precisely, willing the good of the other.
This is why the love of one’s enemies—those who are not disposed to wish us well—is the great test of love. Did John Paul II express love in a heroic way? He forgave the man who tried to kill him; no further argument need be made.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
PART THREE: LIFE IN CHRIST
SECTION ONE-MAN'S VOCATION LIFE IN THE SPIRIT
CHAPTER ONE THE DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON
Article 6 MORAL CONSCIENCE
III. To Choose in Accord with Conscience
1786 Faced with a moral choice, conscience can make either a right judgment in accordance with reason and the divine law or, on the contrary, an erroneous judgment that departs from them.
1787 Man is sometimes confronted by situations that make moral judgments less assured and decision difficult. But he must always seriously seek what is right and good and discern the will of God expressed in divine law.
1788 To this purpose, man strives to interpret the data of experience and the signs of the times assisted by the virtue of prudence, by the advice of competent people, and by the help of the Holy Spirit and his gifts.
1789 Some rules apply in every case:
- One may never do evil so that good may result from it;
- the Golden Rule: "Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them."
- charity always proceeds by way of respect for one's neighbor and his conscience: "Thus sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience . . . you sin against Christ." Therefore "it is right not to . . . do anything that makes your brother stumble."
· Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus