POPE JOHN PAUL II HAS SET OUT A ‘PROGRAM’ in this new millennium for us as a Church to follow, to usher in “New Springtime graces.” It is an exciting program…a very profound and significant one for our times. And, Pope Benedict XVI, and now Pope Francis, have taken the helm to continue the course.
WE INVITE YOU TO JOURNEY WITH US toward the “New Springtime”; as we open ourselves ever-more deeply to the abundant graces available today as never before.
For, as the dark continues to get darker in our world, the light is getting brighter; and if we play our cards right, we are better off for it. Trials and struggles become no longer stumbling blocks, but stepping stones. We ride the wave of grace throughout life, rather than be tumbled beneath it.
“To CONTEMPLATE THE FACE OF CHRIST, and to contemplate it WITH MARY, is the ‘programme’ which I have set before the Church at the dawn of the third millennium…to contemplate Christ…ABOVE ALL IN THE LIVING SACRAMENT OF HIS BODY AND HIS BLOOD”
(John Paul II 2004, Eucharistia).
John Bosco’s Most Famous Dream
In 1862, St. John Bosco had a famous dream, where he saw a huge ship on rough waters with the Holy Father and the clergy at the head. There were many smaller boats surrounding it. Some of them, which represented different persecutions and people who were against the Catholic Church, were shooting at the ship.
The dream went through a series of Holy Fathers and then came to one who was steering the ship in between two huge pillars to anchor on. On top of one pillar was our Heavenly Mother and on top of the other higher up was our Eucharistic Lord. Every time the ship was shot at, a mighty wind, representing the Holy Spirit, would blow from the two pillars and restore it. Then a final Holy Father came aboard, accomplishing the final anchoring of the ship to the two pillars; after which a peaceful calm came over the waters, representing the era of peace, the “new springtime”.
Many of the boats which were once shooting began to sink, others began anchoring on to the two pillars as well.
Bosco prophesied, “There will be chaos in the Church. Tranquility will not return until the Pope succeeds in anchoring the boat of Peter between the twin pillars of Eucharistic devotion and devotion to Our Lady.”
John Paul II Guides us to Anchor On!
During this time in which we live, the Church is in a state of great chaos and upheaval. Our late “Totus Tuus” Pope, John Paul II, has clearly steered the “Bark of Peter”, the Church, between the two pillars of the Eucharist and Mary to anchor on. He sent us many letters throughout his time as Pope; among which I highlight three where he guides us as a Church into this new millennium… a millennium that he said would be “intensely Eucharistic.”
At the Beginning of the New Millennium
Pope John Paul II ushered in the new millennium by sending us a letter entitled Novo Millennio Inuente (At the Beginning of the New Millennium). The letter’s main theme was, “Duc in Altum” or “Put out into the deep,” and encourages us to deepen our relationship with God.
We do this by fostering an intimate union with the Most Holy Trinity who dwell within us through Baptism. John Paul said we can achieve this intimate union by “starting afresh with Christ“, by “contemplating the face of Christ.”
The Rosary of the Virgin Mary
Then he sent us another letter, Rosarium Virgo Mariae (The Rosary of the Virgin Mary, 2002). In it he tells us, “I have felt drawn to offer a reflection on the Rosary, as a kind of Marian complement to [Novo Millenio] and an exhortation to contemplate the face of Christ in union with, and at the school of, his Most Holy Mother. To recite the Rosary is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ.”
The Eucharist in the Church
Then he sent us a third letter, an encyclical, Eucharistia de Ecclesia (The Eucharist in the Church, 2003), and in it he desires to rekindle a Eucharistic “amazement.“ He points us to the “Source and Summit” of the whole Christian life, the “Heart of the Church;” and further sets out the program for us to follow, as we move forward in this “new evangelization” to which he has strongly called us:
“To contemplate the face of Christ, and to contemplate it with Mary, is the ‘programme’ which I have set before the Church at the dawn of the third millennium…to contemplate Christ…above all in the living Sacrament of His Body and His Blood.”
What Bosco’s Dream Means for Us
Even following these three letters, Pope John Paul II again and again encouraged us to anchor on to these two great pillars of the faith, not only as a Church, but individually. As waves washing upon the shore, he continuously asked us to respond to the “program” he set before us.
He entrusted the “Year of the Eucharist” (2004) to Mary the “Woman of the Eucharist,” as our model and guide in coming to know, reverence, and adore Jesus ever-more perfectly and wholeheartedly.
He pleaded with us as a Church to respond to his call, even so far as to end his letter on the Rosary with, “May this appeal of mine not go unheard!”
Pope Benedict XVI continued the path of steering the Church right up to these two pillars to anchor on. He clearly stated at the beginning of his pontificate that he would carry on the program set out by John Paul II. And now our beloved Pope Francis continues the program, bringing in a more personal, hands-on dimension; calling us to bring the healing power of God’s grace to everyone in need, to stay close to the marginalized and to be “shepherds living with the smell of the sheep.” And, we can’t authentically live with the smell of the sheep without first being in touch with our own “stench”… without first casting out into the deep of our own lives.
IN MANY WAYS WITHIN OUR CHURCH, John Paul II’s appeal has been going “unheard.” May we as Catholics respond to the program set out for us in this new millennium; that we may move forward into the “new springtime,” receptive to the many graces available to us; that we become the “New Jerusalem,” the “Spotless Bride” spoken of in Revelation, ready to meet our Divine Bridegroom Christ our Lord.
Concrete ways of responding to the program are:
1) Participating wholeheartedly in Holy Mass as often as possible
2) Spending time in Adoration before Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist
3) Consecrating to Mary our whole lives (Totus Tuus)
4) Praying the Rosary daily