Thursday, May 12, 2011

"Love is possible"

One of my guest professors at the John Paul II Institute (where, incidentally, I graduated one year ago today), Stanislaw Grygiel, and his wife Ludmilla, share their reflections on John Paul II's pre-papal ministry to young married couples and their families. The Grygiels knew John Paul in Poland.

The article is quite beautiful, but I must highlight a portion:

He was a spiritual father and teacher, but also a student. He learned the truth of love that links a man and a woman, and of motherhood and fatherhood, from the laypeople he served. This knowledge is expressed in his letters and literary works, especially in the book Love and Responsibility, and in the plays The Jeweler's Shop and The Radiation of Fatherhood. It was obvious that the knowledge he imparted, first as a priest and later as pope, was not merely a result of theological and philosophical studies, but also of pastoral ministry and personal experience. John Paul II was certain that a beautiful and pure love is possible and that Catholic married life does not require the impossible. This certainty made him a trustworthy mentor for the young around the world.

A good example of this took place in 1980, when Czesław Miłosz, a Polish writer lecturing at the University of California, Berkeley, visited Rome with his son after receiving the Nobel Prize. We were invited along with them to Mass with the pope in a private chapel and then to breakfast. At the end of the conversation, Milosz's son turned to John Paul II requesting him to relax the Church's "too strict" teaching about conjugal morality. By requiring premarital abstinence and prohibiting contraception, he argued, the pope would lose a great chance to raise young people to the Church, because these teachings were impossible to follow in the 20th century. John Paul II, after hearing this argument with a kindly smile, assured the young interlocutor that the teaching of the Church was feasible and, what is more, that he personally knew many young people who lived according to the Church's teachings. In saying this, he certainly had before his eyes numerous friends who formed happy families in accordance with the Church's wisdom.
Be sure to read it all.

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