Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thirty Years On....


On this day thirty years ago Pope John Paul II arrived in Ireland for a three day visit. It was historic for many reasons. I was twelve years old at the time and I wanted to go to Galway for the large gathering of young people. My parents didn't allow this to happen as I was too young. I remember watching the visit of the Pope on television. Much of what he said went over my head, but even as a 12 year old, I remember being so impressed with his appeal in Drogheda for an end to violence.

Who will forget the words : 'Now I wish to speak to all men and women engaged in violence.I appeal to you in language of passionate pleading. On my knees I beg you to turn away from the paths of violence and to return to the ways of peace. You claim to seek justice, I too, believe in justice and seek justice. But violence only delays the day of justice. Violence destroys the work of justice. Further violence in Ireland will only drag down to ruin the land you claim to love and the values you claim to cherish. In the name of God I beg you: return to Christ, who died so that men might live in forgiveness and peace. He is waiting for you, longing for each one of you to come to him so that he may say to each of you:your sins are forgiven; go in peace'?

Much of what Pope John Paul had to say was directed to specific groups of people during the pastoral visit. In looking at his speeches and homilies while he was in Ireland, he didn't specifically mention vocations, but he never let any opportunity pass to encourage people to get to know Christ better as can be evidenced by this extract to the youth gathering in Galway:

Something else is needed: something that you will find only in
Christ, for he alone is the measure and the scale that you must use to
evaluate your own life. In Christ you will discover the true greatness
of your own humanity; he will make you understand your own dignity
as human beings ‘created to the image and likeness of God’ (Gen
1:26). Christ has the answers to your questions and the key to history;
he has the power to uplift hearts. He keeps calling you, he keeps
inviting you, he who is ‘the way, and the truth and the life’ (Jn 14:6).
Yes, Christ calls you, but he calls you in truth. His call is demanding,
because he invites you to let yourselves be ‘captured’ by him
completely, so that your whole lives will be seen in a different light.
He is the Son of God, who reveals to you the loving face of the
Father. He is the Teacher, the only one whose teaching does not pass
away, the only one who teaches with authority. He is the friend who
said to his disciples, ‘No longer do I call you servants... but I have
called you friends’ (Jn 15:15). And he proved his friendship by layingdown his life for you.

These words uttered in Galway are as relevant in 2009 as they were then.
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