I was talking with a priest friend of mine who is just back from
having been at the beatification of Blessed John Paul II. He had lots of wonderful stories to tell about what were truly a grace-filled few days. Rome
As we discussed the ceremony he said that as the Holy Father said the formula of beatification it suddenly became apparent was Pope John Paul was back. This sense was reinforced as his image was unveiled. I could identify with what he said. There is something in that moment, something which changes everything forever. We may have devotion to a Servant of God for a long time, but when the Pope proclaims that person Blessed it seems everything is changed, everything is different – the person seems to be more alive than ever. They are back, you might say.
And how true that is. Beatification is an act whereby the Church recognises that someone is in heaven and praying for us. As we discussed it I said that that sense of being back was a sign of the person’s glorification – now they are glorified with Christ, and living with God and in God, and so they are here, among us, in our midst in a way which is more real and radical than when here in their earthly existence. I have often felt this with Saints and Blesseds, but it is much more tangible with Blessed John Paul. Indeed it reminds me of his Audiences. When he came into the Audience Hall you were suddenly aware of this tremendous presence, a power, a holiness which seemed to fill the entire hall and touch your heart and leave you in shedding tears of joy. I often noticed it. I remember when I went back to
for the first time after his death I sensed an absence – he was gone. But now…he’s back, your heart feels it: he is now, through beatification - with God's blessing, a tremendous presence in the Church. Deo gratias! Rome
There has been much talk about beatification. The secular media struggled to understand it, and, while the Vatican recognised the universal significance of Blessed John Paul, they also reminded us that his cult is reserved to the diocese of Rome and Poland: the cult of a Blessed is local. As I mentioned in a previous post this seems to be so strange, perhaps even meaningless, when it comes to Pope John Paul. In discussion, my friend and I agree that in life John Paul had universal jurisdiction and universal love, it is now strange to apply the usual rules of a restricted cult. Of course I accept the Church's process, and perhaps we should double efforts and prayers for his canonisation. May the Lord grant it soon!