An article in the Spanish newspaper ABC has published several excerpts from the new book written by Pope John Paul II about his life as bishop.
In “Get Up, Let’s Go!” an autobiographical work published on his 84th birthday, the Holy Father writes of the relation of his vocation with the sacrament of the Eucharist.
“I find that the source of my vocation is in the Upper Room of Jerusalem. I give thanks to God for having been able to pray there in the ‘upper room’ where the Last Supper took place, during the Jubilee year of 2000. In this moment I hearken back to that memorable Thursday, when Jesus Christ made his apostles priests of the New Covenant,” reveals the Pope.
In another passage from the six-chapter book, John Paul II offers some reflections on the relationship a bishop should have with the world of science. According to the Pope, “It is well known that some bishops show a particular interest in dialogue with scholars. However, in my opinion, it is worthwhile that priests and bishops personally enter into contact with the world of Science and its leaders.”
In the same sense, he says that both bishops and priests “should maintain a close relationship with university life: reading, going to meetings, discussing and becoming informed about what happens there.”
An especially emotional memory for the Pope is the song, “Pescador de hombres” (“Lord, When You Came to the Seashore”), which he recalled from the conclave of 1978, quoting the chorus: “Oh Lord, in my eyes you were gazing/ kindly smiling/ my name you were saying/ all I have I have left on the sands/ close to you, I will find other seas.”
“The profound meaning of this song sustained me when I had to face the decision of the Conclave. Afterwards, throughout my Pontificate, I have always remembered this song, which has been sung to me in Poland and other countries. Listening to it reminds me of my encounters with young people,” the Pope writes.
The Pope also expresses his closeness and hopefulness with respect to the new ecclesial movements which the Holy Spirit has inspired.
“I have remained close to several new initiatives in which I felt the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, as soon as I arrived in Rome I found the Neocatecumenal Way and Opus Dei, which I made into a Personal Prelature in 1982.”
According to the Pope, “they are two ecclesial phenomenon which have inspired great determination among the laity. Both were born in Spain, a country which throughout history has given providential impulse to spiritual renewal. In October of 2002 I had the joy of canonizing Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, founder of Opus Dei, an exemplary priest and apostle of the laity for our times.”
The Pope also dedicates a few lines to the martyrs of the 20th century. “In 1999 I beatified 108 martyrs, victims of Nazism, including three bishops. A well-known example of sacrifice in martyrdom is that of the Polish Franciscan Maximilian Kolbe, who give his life in Auschwitz to save another prisoner, a father, who he did not know. But there are other martyrs closer to our times. I remember with emotion my meetings with Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, a witness to the Cross in his years of imprisonment in Vietnam.”
Lastly, in the epilogue to the book the Pope addresses his brother bishops saying, “Echoing the words of our Teacher and Lord, I repeat to each one of you, beloved brothers in the Episcopate: ‘Get up! Let’s Go! Let us forge ahead, trusting in Christ. He will be with us on the way until the final goal which only He knows.”