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Rome Reports

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Year for Priests: A priest named John Paul II

Slawomir OderPostulator, Cause for beatification of John Paul II“A seminarian once asked him, ‘Holy Father, is it difficult to live as the Vicar of Christ?’ And he responded beautifully. He told him that, yes, it was difficult and laborious, but it wouldn’t be possible without the strength of being a priest and acting “in persona Christi.”

John Paul II said on more than one occasion that what defined him was the word “priest.” Conscious of the difficulty of this task, he always stayed close to priests. And by the letters that the postulator receives from priests, it’s almost as if he still was.

Slawomir OderPostulator, Cause for beatification of John Paul II“I remember one particular story that impressed me very much that came from the mother of a priest. After witnessing their son doubt his vocation, she asked John Paul II for grace and saw how her son went back to being a priest according to the heart of Christ.”

But the decision to become a priest was not easy for Karol. Even though his closest friends and some professors saw the priesthood in his future, it was hard for him to take the first step. He was part of a theatre company, and his vocation would have meant giving up his acting career. He would’ve had to put aside his love for poetry, art and music.

Slawomir OderPostulator, Cause for beatification of John Paul II“The price he paid for his vocation was renouncing his love for literature. But in return, he found the word of God, that filled his life. Then he communicated that to mankind.”

But it wasn’t a complete renouncement. That love for poetry helped him get closer to God and understand people. It also helped him get closer to young people, something he had done in his early years as priest when he talked to students and doctors.

Slawomir OderPostulator, Cause for beatification of John Paul II“He had a particular character that allowed him to have direct contact. He was passionate with young people. I’m convinced this forms part of his nature and character. But also of his experience as priest.”

As they await new developments in his beatification process, priests, young people and non-Christians alike continue to find new words in John Paul II.