Reading Scripture with and without faith.
Via Daniel Nichols via Kirk Kramer via Zenit.org, a meditative rememberance of the death of John Paul II. Normally courtesy would indicate that I link to the piece rather than posting it entire, but Zenit uses frames in such a way that I can’t easily link to anything but the main page.
Cardinal Dziwisz Recalls Polish Pontiff’s Last Days
"He Did Not Fear Death"
ROME, MARCH 31, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is an excerpt of the contribution of Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz — the longtime secretary to Pope John Paul II — to the book "Lasciatemi Andare" (Let Me Go).
. . . The love of Christ, stronger than death, comforted him in spirit and he would have liked to express it on Easter Sunday, when he appeared at midday to impart the blessing "urbi et orbi." Because of the commotion and his suffering, however, he was unable to say the words; he only made the sign of the cross with his hand and responded with a gesture to the faithful’s greetings.
This gesture of powerlessness, of suffering and of paternal love, as well as the moving silence of the Successor of Peter, left an indelible mark in the hearts of men throughout the world. The Holy Father was also profoundly disconcerted by this event. After moving away from the window, he said: "Perhaps it would be better that I die, if I cannot fulfill the mission entrusted to me," and immediately added: "Thy
will be done … ‘Totus tuus.’" In his life he never wished for anything else.
He did not fear death. During his whole life he had Christ as his guide and knew that he was going to him. During the celebrations of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 he wrote in his testament: "I pray that he will call me when he himself wishes. ‘If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord… we are the Lord’s’ (Romans 14:8)." He had always been profoundly aware that man, at the end of the earthly pilgrimage, is not condemned to fall into darkness, into an existential void or into an abyss of nothingness, but is called to the encounter with the best of Fathers, who lovingly embraces his own son in his arms, to give him the fullness of life in the Most Holy Trinity.
Knowing that for him the time was drawing close to pass into eternity, in agreement with the doctors he decided not to go to the hospital, but to remain in the Vatican, where he was assured of the indispensable medical care. He wished to suffer and to die in his home, staying close to the tomb of the Apostle Peter. The last day of his life — Saturday, April 2 — he took leave of his closest aides. He took part in the prayer that continued at his bedside, despite his high fever and extreme weakness. In the afternoon, at a certain moment, he said: "Let me go to the Father’s house."