John Paul II: The Great Mercy Pope: Beatification Edition by Rev. George W. Kosicki, CSB, is a genuine treasure for all who wish to make St. John Paul II's legacy of Divine... Read more
Photo: Marie Romagnano
'Be Not Afraid'
Marian Press has released the Beatification Edition of John Paul II: The Great Mercy Pope, by Fr. George W. Kosicki, CSB, and David Came. The following is an excerpt from chapter 2:
John Paul II began his papacy with the cry: "Be not afraid!"
When, on October 22, 1978, I said the words "Be not afraid!" in St. Peter's Square, I could not fully know how far they would take me and the entire Church. Their meaning came more from the Holy Spirit, the Consoler, promised by the Lord Jesus to His disciples, than from the man who spoke them. Nevertheless, with the passing of the years, I have recalled these words on many occasions. ... Why should we have no fear? Because man has been redeemed by God. ... The power of Christ's Cross and Resurrection is greater than any evil which man could or should fear (Threshold of Hope, 1994).
On one special occasion he recalled these words, "Be not afraid" while at the Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Poland, June 7, 1997. He related them to the abandonment of self-giving that is the "Law of the Gift" in the message of Divine Mercy:
And it is a message that is clear and understandable for everyone. Anyone can come here, look at this image of the merciful Jesus, His Heart radiating grace, and hear in the depths of his own soul what Blessed Faustina heard: "Fear nothing. I am with you always" (Diary, 586).
And if this person responds with a sincere heart: "Jesus, I trust in You," he will find comfort in all his anxieties and fears. In this "dialogue of abandonment," there is established between man and Christ a special bond that sets love free. And "there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear" (1 Jn 4:18).
John Paul II relates his "Be not afraid" theme to trust in Jesus. He then goes on to renew once more his entrustment of his Petrine pontificate to the merciful Lord by praying: "Jesus, I trust in You!"
At the canonization of St. Faustina, John Paul II again related the prayer "Jesus, I trust in You!" to his theme of "Be not afraid:"
This simple act of abandonment to Jesus dispels the thickest of clouds and lets a ray of light penetrate every life. "Jezu, ufam Tobie" (8).
And addressing Faustina, he prayed as a conclusion to his homily:
Fixing our gaze with you on the face of the risen Christ, let us make our own your prayer of trusting abandonment and say with firm hope: Christ "Jesus, I trust in you!" "Jezu, ufam Tobie!"
+ "SINGING OF THE MERCIES OF THE LORD FOREVER" (Ps 89:2) is another way John Paul II expresses his trust and hope that overcomes fear. He has repeated this "singing of the mercies of the Lord forever" at the significant moments of his pontificate:
• At Fatima, May 13, 1982, a year after the attempted assassination, he came to give thanks to the Mother of Divine Mercy by "singing of the mercies of the Lord" (Ps 89). In his parting address he said:
I began this pilgrimage with the canticle of God's mercy in my heart; and, on my departure, I want to tell you that my soul is still vibrating with this canticle; and "I will sing the mercies of the Lord" (Ps 89) in the choir of the present generation of the Church, which has as first soloist the Mother of Divine Mercy.
• On his 75th birthday, May 18, 1995, he thanked God for the graces of his parents, his ordination as priest and bishop, saying he is "singing the mercies of God forever!"
• On his 50th anniversary of ordination, November 1, 1996, he published his memoirs as priest recalling all these things as "singing of the mercies of the Lord forever!"
On coming to the Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Poland, June 7, 1997, he began his address with "'I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever!' — and join the unending hymn in honor of Divine Mercy."
• Then at the canonization of St. Faustina, April 30, 2000, he began with Psalm 118:1, "Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His mercy endures forever." In his text, he quoted Psalm 89 and stated that Sr. Faustina had made her life a hymn to mercy. Then again he said:
"The mercies of the Lord I will sing forever" (Ps 89:2). Let us too, the pilgrim Church, join our voice to the voice of Mary most holy, "Mother of Mercy," and to the voice of the new saint [St. Faustina] who sings of mercy with all God's friends in the heavenly Jerusalem.
Father George W. Kosicki is a longtime collaborator with the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception in spreading the message of Divine Mercy. In 1987, he headed their Divine Mercy Department in Stockbridge, Mass., which was responsible for editing and proofing the English translation of the Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska.
David Came is executive editor of Marian Helper magazine, the flagship publication of the Association of Marian Helpers, which is headquartered in Stockbridge, Mass. He is the author of Pope Benedict's Divine Mercy Mandate.