The private papers of Bl. John Paul II will be released in Polish next month in a book titled “I am so much in God’s hands. Personal records 1962-2003”, from the Krakow-based publisher Znak.
The book, being published Feb. 5, contains meditations from two of the late Pope's notebooks, dating from between July 1962, when he was auxiliary bishop of Krakow, to March 2003, two years before his death, and in the 25th year of his service as Roman Pontiff.
Znak says the book contains “the most important personal, innermost questions and moving reflections and prayers that marked (the Pope's) everyday life.” This includes “notes that show his concern for those dear to him - friends and collaborators – and for the Church that was entrusted to him.”
In his testament, Bl. John Paul II asked his personal secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, to burn his personal notes.
But Cardinal Dziwisz, now the Archbishop of Krakow, said in a Jan. 22 press conference he “did not have the courage” to burn all of his friend's notes after his death.
The cardinal also maintained that in preserving some of the notes, he was motivated by the "despair of historians" when the letters of Pius XII were burned after his death in conformity with his wishes.
The book's title, “I am so much in God’s hands” is taken from the opening statement in the diary, which is taken from two notebooks: “Agenda 1962” and “1985.”
In the first notebook, Bl. John Paul II used his own page numbers, from 1 to 220. The notes, however, are not in chronological order.
The reflections in this notebook cover the blessed's time as auxiliary, and then Archbishop of Krakow; two conclaves; and the first six years of his time as Pope. It concludes with his notes on the 1984 Lenten spiritual exercises preached to the Roman Curia by Cardinal Alexandre do Nascimento, then the Archbishop of Lubango, in Angola.
In writing of the conclave in which he was elected Bishop of Rome, Bl. John Paul II made particular note of the stroke suffered by his friend, Bishop Andrzej Deskur, then the president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Bishop Deskur's stroke, which occurred Oct. 13, left him paralyzed on the left side of his body.
The two had both been priests in Krakow since Bishop Deskur's ordination in 1950, and the late Pope wrote that the following day “I visited Andrzej in the hospital, on my way to the conclave which was to choose the successor to John Paul I.”
Two day's later, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla was chosen to succeed John Paul I as Bishop of Rome.
“The sacrifice of Andrzej, my brother in the episcopate, seems to me a preparation for the fact,” he wrote. “Through his suffering, all this has been placed within the mystery of the Cross and Redemption carried out by Christ.”
The second notebook compiled in “I am so much in God’s hands” covers the years 1985 through 2003, on 315 notebook pages. This notebook had originally belonged to the papal secretary, Bishop Emery Kabongo Kanundowi, as evidenced by a blurred inscription on the first page and by an embossed seal with the abbreviation ‘E.K.’ in the center and the inscription 'Library of Emery Kabongo'.
Znak said they were honored to be publishing the book, and noted that its editors, Agnieszka Rudziewicz and Anna Szulczynska, had taken great care in their work. Part of the challenge of its editing was that later entries, in particular, were written in languages other than Polish.
Cardinal Dziwisz authored the foreword of the book, in which he wrote, “I faithfully followed the Holy Father’s will after his death in 2005, by distributing all his possessions, particularly his personal mementos.”
“However, I did not have the courage to burn the notebooks he had left behind, because they contained important information about his life.”
The cardinal also said, “What had to be destroyed, was destroyed. And what had to be saved, for the benefit of humankind, has been saved.”
Polish news agency KAI was told by the cardinal, “I didn’t burn John Paul II’s notes, because they are the key to interpreting his spirituality, his innermost self: his relationships with God, others, and himself.”
Cardinal Dziwisz had turned them over to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and they were used in the process of his canonization.