Pope John Paul II died today, at the age of 84.
I disagree with many of the things for which he stood, not the least of which were his opposition to the use of contraception, his view on the role of women in the faith he lead for nearly 27 years, and his stance on the sin (he would say) of homosexuality. I am not Catholic. Yet, over the past few days, I have watched with the rest of the world as he has given up his struggle, a struggle lived in the public spotlight, as he has, to quote media reports, "serenely abandoned himself to the will of God".
I am moved to tears by the loss of this great servant of God; someone who, until nearly his last breath, struggled to lead a God-led life, and to make the world, and the lives of each individual he encountered on his life's journey, the best he could in his own small way. If we can all follow, in our own way, this great example, then perhaps, as in the words of the great prayer, God's will may be done "on Earth as it is in Heaven".
Though it was a random happening, I will remember that, at the time of the Pope's passing, I was among friends at a rehearsal of the Chapel Choir, practicing the Gloria
Credo (fixed May 4, 2005) from Victoria's Missa O Magnum Mysterium, part of the liturgy of the Catholic mass which he would have practiced for much of his life. I take some comfort in this time from the reassurance the Pope would have found in his faith, perhaps even in these words:
|Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero.|
Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum.
Et vitam ventura saeculi.
|God from God, light from light, true God from true God.|
[I] await the the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come"