A member of John Paul II's office of Liturgical Celebrations recently reflected on the late Pontiff's death.
Msgr. Konrad Krajewski explained that Cardinal Stanislao Dziwisz, who was Pope Wojtyla’s personal secretary for 40 years, broke the silence at the time of the Pope’s death.
“We were kneeling around John Paul II’s bed. … The soft light of the lamp illuminated the wall, but you could see him well. Later the archbishop rose. He turned the lights on the room and interrupted the silence of John Paul II’s death,” Msgr. Krajewski said in an April 2 L’Osservatore Romano article.
John Paul II died on April 2, 2005.
“In a moving but surprisingly firm voice, with his typical mountain accent, dragging out certain syllables, he began to sing: ‘We praise you, God. We proclaim you, Lord.’ It seemed like a voice from heaven. We all looked with wonder at Don Stanislao. And the light followed the hymn and the verses continued: ‘Oh eternal Father, all the earth adores you…’ And gave assurance to each of us,” Msgr. Krajewski said.
“Thus we found ourselves before a totally distinct reality, we thought. John Paul II has died. That means now he lives forever,” he said.
Despite their sadness, Msgr. Krajewski continued, they continued to sing. “With each word our voices became stronger and more confident. The hymn proclaimed: ‘Victor over death, you have opened the Kingdom of Heaven to those who believe.’ Thus, singing the Te Deum, we glorified God, who was visible and recognizable in the person of the Pope.”
“This is also the experience of all who encountered him during his pontificate. Whoever came into contact with John Paul II encountered Jesus, whom the Pope showed with his entire being.”
“One immediately noticed that he was a person overflowing with God.”
During the last years of his life, Msgr. Krajewski said, “by just looking at him you could see the presence of God.”
“It was enough to make you go to confession, not only because of your sins, but for not being holy like him.”
On April 2, 2005, when he left the papal apartment at the apostolic palace, Msgr. Krajewski said he saw “a multitude of people walking silently in devotion. The world had closed down, got on its knees and cried.”
“There were those who cried only because a beloved person was gone, and later they went back to their homes like they came. And there also those who united the tears on the outside with those on the inside and realized that they were not right before the Lord. Those were blessed tears: they were the beginning of the miracle of conversion,” Msgr. Krajewski said.
He noted that even today, many of those who work at St. Peter’s and at the various Vatican offices spend a moment of prayer before John Paul II’s tomb. They touch the tombstone with a reverent kiss. “This happens every day,” he said.
“If I had to say what the most important thing is in the life of priest and in each of our lives, looking at him I would say: to not obscure God with ourselves, but rather, to show him and make ourselves a visible sign of his presence. Nobody has seen God, but John Paul II made him visible through his life,” Msgr. Krajewski said.