Personal notes underscore John Paul II's Marian devotion

Blessed John Paul II.

In private letters of Bl. John Paul II which have been published by his former secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the pontiff reflects on the three theological virtues, emphasizing that Mary is the highest example of each.

“Nothing can be dangerous for us; neither Satan nor the world, nor sin – if there is in us the power of Christ in the Marian way,” Bl. John Paul II wrote in one of his personal notes.

Entitled “I am so much in God’s hands: Personal records 1962-2003,” the book containing the Pope’s letters was published by Krakow-based publisher Znak on Feb. 12, and contains 639 pages of meditations and some photos and scans of the pages from two of his notebooks, one beginning in 1962 and the other in 1985, which were both published in Italy by the Archdiocese of Milan.

Reflecting on the virtues of faith, hope and love, the blessed expressed his thoughts regarding their nature, observing how each is brought to full fruition in the life and example of the Mother of God.

On the virtue of faith, the pontiff highlights three separate dimensions, referring to them as “the faith of Mary,” her “availability to receive the God’s Word and to fulfill it,” and that she is “a model of faith for all for the pastors of the Church.”

The faith of Mary is the “legacy of the faith of Israel, which in Mary has been ‘exceeded,’” he wrote, observing that in listening only to God’s word, “she conceived the Word – the Son, first spiritually, then physically.”

Her availability goes hand in hand “with being ‘poor in spirit’” noted the blessed, adding that in her “persistent faith” she “never wavered,” and that she is truly a “Virgo fortis,” or “Brave Virgin.”

As a model for pastors, the pontiff expressed that “the point is that the faith would be a truly dominant characteristic in our lives, no matter how full it might be of human affairs and worldly tasks.”

Looking to the virtue of hope, Bl. John Paul II spoke of how St. Paul is a strong model, but that he was still a citizen of Rome, and because Mary had “no human connections, no human points of reference,” her hope “is more wonderful.”

“At the cross and especially later: with her hope she was holding the initial Church. And Her hope is deposited in the holy Church.”

Questioning to what extend we actively participate in Mary’s hope, the blessed asked in his letter “Do we base ourselves fundamentally and exclusively on the grace of God? How do people feel after meeting us?”

Drawing attention to Mary’s optimism, he prayed “’Give me, Mother, your hope, ply my heart to permeate with Your hope.’”

Reflecting on the virtue of love in a shorter meditation, Bl. John Paul II highlighted that “it must be universal,” and that “it cannot be particularistic and cannot create divisions…it must be serving.”

“A servant’s nature perhaps points to love in the strongest way,” he observed, adding that it must also “be forgiving,” and that “all of this should be learned in the Heart of Jesus through the Heart of Mary.”

In another meditation the soon-to-be saint spoke on holiness, stating that “In Christ the absolute holiness of God is hypostatically united with the holiness of Man” as love of God and hatred of evil, “but especially as love of goodness in everything, even in one who is bad.”

“Every kind of goodness (the total sum of values) other than God, has its prototype in God Himself. God loves one in another – herein lies His Holiness.”

“God restores the value of everything in Man, who is personally united with Him,” the pontiff continued, adding that “for Christ – Redemptor (Redeemer): the holiness of a Man consists of undertaking this Goodness which God loves,” and that “in this way Christ is a model of holiness.”

“In Him this holiness identifies in a way with Redemption (Redemptio). In us it should mean 1st a conversion to God, and 2nd a restoration of everything according to the value that everything has in God and which the Lord Jesus Christ pointed out.”


The meditations included in this piece were translated from the original Polish by Anna Artymiak, Polish correspondent to the Vatican, reporting from Rome.

[This article is the second in a two-part series providing excerpts of personal notes written by Bl. John Paul II dating between July 1962 when he was auxiliary bishop of Krakow, to March 2003, two years before his death and in the 25th year of his service as Roman Pontiff.]

Please see below for the full text of the meditations provided in this article:

4th STEP FAITH
Medit (III) The Dimension of the Faith of Mary
“Blessed are you who believed.” Perseverant faith – never wavered, a true “Virgo fortis” (Brave Virgin).

a) The Faith of Mary: the legacy of the faith of Israel, which in Mary has been “exceeded.” Listening only to God’s Word, she conceived the Word – the Son, first spiritually, then physically. Speak Lord, Your Servant is listening.
b) Availability to receive God’s Word and to fulfill It: This availability goes together with being “poor in spirit.” It goes together with Her virginity. Persistent faith – she never wavered, a truly “Virgo fortis” (mulier fortis [brave Virgin]).
c) A model of faith for the pastors of the Church: the point is that the faith would be a truly dominant characteristic in our lives, no matter how full it might be of human affairs and worldly tasks. Faith as readiness to accept the Magisterium of the Church /exp: mgr Fitzgerald: infallibility/

5TH STEP HOPE
The Conference
St. Paul as a model of Christian hope, but he was still a Roman citizen. Differently, “Ancilla” (handmaid) (Virgo Marya [the Virgin Mary]), [had] no human connections, no human points of reference. This is why Her hope is more wonderful. In every step of Her life. At the cross and especially later: with her hope she was holding the initial Church. And Her hope is deposited in the holy Church. In what measure do we participate in the Hope of Mary? The Church in Poland is in the situation of “ancilla,” that is, of a slave. The Lord God allows this to enhance our hope.
Stabat Mater – stabat episcopus sub Cruce Christi [Standing Mother – a bishop standing under the Cross of Christ]. Do we live this hope?

Do we base ourselves fundamentally and exclusively on the grace of God? How do people feel after meeting us? If they remain standing, infected with the Bishops’ optimism, we have fulfilled the service of hope. – “Give me, Mother, your hope, ply my heart to permeate with Your hope” (nostra conversatio in coelis est [our being is in the heaven]). Nothing can be dangerous for us; neither Satan nor the world, nor sin – if there is in us the power of Christ in the Marian way. – And God’s love, the Holy Spirit itself, spreads in our hearts through these sciences, according to Mary’s model.

6th STEP LOVE
On the subject of love: it must be universal, it cannot be particularistic and cannot create divisions. Furthermore: it must be serving; a servant’s nature perhaps points to love in the strongest way. Finally: it must be forgiving. – All of this should be learned in the Heart of Jesus through the Heart of Mary.  

7th STEP HOLINESS
“copiosa apud Eum Redemptio” (“abundant Redemption in Him):” holiness is the source. In Christ the absolute holiness of God is hypostatically united with the holiness of Man. The holiness of God (as love of goodness and hatred of evil), but especially as love of goodness in everything, even in one who is bad (per accidens [accidentally]). Every kind of goodness (the total sum of values) other than God, has its prototype in God Himself. God loves one in another – herein lies His Holiness. That holiness is a basis of Redemption – understood also as a “restoration” of everything: God restores the value of everything in Man, who is personally united with Him. For Christ – Redemptor [Redeemer]: the holiness of a Man consists of undertaking this Goodness which God loves – in this way Christ is a model of holiness. In Him this holiness identifies in a way with Redemption (Redemptio). In us it should mean 1st a conversion to God, and 2nd a restoration of everything according to the value that everything has in God and which the Lord Jesus Christ pointed out.


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