The renowned Pope John Paul II biographer George Weigel gave a moving keynote presentation on suffering in the life of St. John Paul II at the 2005 national conference of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious. The conference theme was Healing and the Mystery of Suffering. I was there to give my testimony of suffering and healing in the family but the greatest witness we heard was Weigel on the life of Karol Wojtyla. In the latter days of his life that played out on the theater of the world, the Polish Pope became an image of the Suffering Servant of whom the prophet Isaiah wrote so eloquently.
“A man makes the most progress and merits the most grace precisely in those matters wherein he gains the greatest victories over self and most mortifies his will.”
–St. Francis de Sales
Saint Francis of Assisi (1182 – 1226) – we know all about him. The gentle garden figure, bird perched on his shoulder, rabbits at his feet; the peace prayer hymn we sing at Mass; his Canticle of the Sun, praising God for all facets of Creation; the lover of poverty simply clad in a rough brown robe.
“O Jesus, my Love, my Life … I would like to travel over the whole earth to preach Your Name and to plant Your glorious Cross on infidel soil. But O my Beloved, one mission alone would not be sufficient for me. I would want to preach the Gospel on all five continents simultaneously and even to the most remote isles. I would be a missionary, not for a few years only but from the beginning of creation until the consummation of the ages.” (Story of a Soul)