|CNS photo (www.ncregister.com/daily-news/john_paul_iis_1970_novena)|
Peggy Noonan has an incredible way with words. The thoughts she has penned about Pope John Paul II are particularly beautiful and well-crafted. Her Wall Street Journal piece, "We Want God" from many years ago, chronicles our late Holy Father's incredible pilgrimage to Poland in 1979, beginning with the Pentecost vigil. Since today is Pentecost, I thought it relevant to resurrect her column. In case you are unsure of the worth of clicking, let me assure you with this:
Why, the pope asked, had God lifted a Pole to the papacy? Perhaps it was because of how Poland had suffered for centuries, and through the 20th century had become "the land of a particularly responsible witness" to God. The people of Poland, he suggested, had been chosen for a great role, to understand, humbly but surely, that they were the repository of a special "witness of His cross and His resurrection." He asked then if the people of Poland accepted the obligations of such a role in history.
The crowd responded with thunder.
"We want God!" they shouted, together. "We want God!"
What a moment in modern history: We want God. From the mouths of modern men and women living in a modern atheistic dictatorship.
The pope was speaking on the Vigil of Pentecost, that moment in the New Testament when the Holy Spirit came down to Christ's apostles, who had been hiding in fear after his crucifixion, filling them with courage and joy. John Paul picked up this theme. What was the greatest of the works of God? Man. Who redeemed man? Christ. Therefore, he declared, "Christ cannot be kept out of the history of man in any part of the globe, at any longitude or latitude. . . . The exclusion of Christ from the history of man is an act against man! Without Christ it is impossible to understand the history of Poland." Those who oppose Christ, he said, still live within the Christian context of history.
Christ, the pope declared, was not only the past of Poland--he was "the future . . . our Polish future."
The massed crowd thundered its response. "We want God!" it roared.
That is what the communist apparatchiks watching the mass from the hotels that rimmed Victory Square heard. Perhaps at this point they understood that they had made a strategic mistake. Perhaps as John Paul spoke they heard the sound careen off the hard buildings that ringed the square; perhaps the echo sounded like a wall falling.
Read it all.