Fr. Ray de Souza reflects on the anniversary celebrations in Rome and talks about the great gift to the Church that Pope John Paul has been. He notes that while many have predicted (and hoped for) the Holy Father’s death for many years now, there’s no denying that this elderly man, now 83 years old, unable to walk, and almost unable to speak, is approaching the end of his time with us. It may not be the end now, but it is certainly the beginning of the end.
Just compare the decline of the Holy Father in the last few months. At the beginning of the summer, he was able to read his speeches, albeit slurring the words, but now he’s almost completely unable to speak. There have been several audiences where he hasn’t said a word. during his trip to Slovakia in early September, he was seen as waving his arm—above the shoulder—at the crowd, but at the consistory this week, he wasn’t even able to place the birettas on the cardinals’ heads.
Yet, what an example. Despite the infirmity of his body, he remains a vital force, his mind unchecked by his mouth’s inability to speak. He goes on despite his weakness and suffering to show us that the old and infirm are not “useless,” that they deserve love and life regardless of their utility. It’s a wonderful message for those fighting for the life of Terri Schiavo.
The Sunday Mass readings of recent weeks lead us to reflect on the Passion of Christ and the call to all Christians to walk in His footsteps to Calvary. Christ showed us that suffering is not useless, but that it is expiation. John Paul is teaching us that lesson again. Does anyone have any doubt that he offers his suffering for the Church? Wouldn’t any good father offer up his sufferings for his children?
Sto Lat, Holy Father. May you live a hundred years.