John Paul II exemplified Christian life, chaplain reflects

John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington DC CNA US Catholic News 4 3 13 The Blessed John Paul II Shrine in Northeast Washington, D.C.

On the eighth anniversary of the death of Blessed Pope John Paul II, the chaplain of a shrine in his memory explained that the Pope called others to holiness through the witness of his own life. 

"Blessed John Paul II embodied the 'man of God' in his life and teaching," said Fr. Gregory Gresko, chaplain of the Blessed John Paul II Shrine in Washington, D.C. 

Fr. Gresko told CNA on April 2 that since his death, Blessed John Paul II "may be remembered most for the profoundly personal encounters he shared with fellow human beings, regardless of their state or position in life."

"Pope John Paul II loved the human person and treasured his face-to-face interactions with the people of God," said Fr. Gresko, adding that the Blessed Pope knew "that within each one of them he would find the mark of the Creator, Who had formed each of these persons in the image and likeness of God."

"Blessed John Paul II lived a life of consistent testimony to the value of the human person at all moments of life."

Therefore, Fr. Gresko explained, "it comes as no surprise that billions of people throughout the world felt an intimate loss in their hearts when the beloved Pontiff passed from his earthly life."

He added that the Pope left a mark on the world that continues to this day.

"Perhaps the greatest legacy that Blessed Pope John Paul II has left to the world is his own personal witness as to what it means to live a life of genuine faith, ever striving to fulfill in his own life the call to holiness that flows fundamentally from Christian baptism," said Fr. Gresko.

"During his early life and work as a bishop, and then subsequently throughout his papacy," he said, "the man who would become pope – Karol Wojtyla – showed the world what it means for a Christian to be a "man of God."

The chaplain further explained that Blessed Pope John Paul II taught that man is called to freedom "because he stands in front of God and thus should never be afraid to stand in front of God." In turn, man is free from himself and from the material world to follow God.

Thus, Fr. Gresko said, the Pope taught that this freedom from the world "helps him to realize his full dignity as a human person."

"In choosing Christ, the man of God is a free man who makes a complete gift of himself. Free from himself, the man of God accepts suffering and is empowered by the Holy Spirit to love as God loves," Fr. Gresko added of the late Pope's teachings.

The former Pope continues to teach Catholic faithful even today, he said, by providing "an authentic testimony to us of what it means to live the Christian life through the virtuous choices we are called to make in our daily lives."

The chaplain added that the late Pope's life and writings show Catholics "that the man of God is one who actively seeks the will of God the Father at all moments," and "grows in holiness as he chooses what is authentically good and shuns that which is evil."

"Blessed John Paul II demonstrated through his own holiness of life how each one of us – regardless of our own state and position – can, and always ought to, cooperate with the grace of the Holy Spirit to become a saint, which indeed is our fundamental vocation in baptism," said Fr. Gresko.

"An authentic Christian thinks as Christ, acts as Christ, lives as Christ, and loves as Christ. Blessed John Paul II showed us how to do precisely this."

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