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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anthony Lilles

Saint John Paul II

St. John Paul II believed that believers have nothing to fear amidst the deep cultural crisis that threatens contemporary society. Instead, we need "to show to what depths the relationship with Christ can lead"in Novo Millennio Enuente, 32. He observed that we live at a time of deep spiritual hunger and that cultural forces opposed to the Church are unable to address this growing need. The Modern Metropolis, no less than once did the ancient ones, is waiting for the word of hope that the Christian faith provides. To build a culture of life and civilization of love in these tough times, Pope John Paul was convinced that a vital Christianity "returns continually to the sources" of our faith. "The great mystical tradition of the Church of both East and West has much to say in this regard" Novo Millennio Enuente, 33. The contemporary magisterium, before and after Saint John Paul II, has also invited us to bring "the great mystical tradition of the Church" into our contemporary situation. That is why, starting in the early 1970s, Popes have proposed seven new Doctors of the Church. After Saint Paul VI added St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Siena and St. John of the Cross, John Paul II advanced St. Therese of Lisieux to this status. Since then, St. Gregory of Narek, St. Hildegard of Bingen, and St. John of Avila have also been named.

This mystical tradition offers a pathway to human maturity and to the greatness that God fashioned us to realize. It challenges conventional thinking and causes us to look beyond what is comfortable or convenient. Indeed, this wisdom is about God raising us above ourselves and leading us our of those routine ruts that lead no where. By directing us to this mystical wisdom, John Paul II invites us into this same undertaking, the holiness that lives in this tradition, the adventure into which a relationship with Christ leads. The recently declared Doctors of the Church open us up this wisdom and we need to revisit their writings -- to allow their ideas to shape our own and to impact how we live. This is what John Paul II meant when he encouraged us to draw from these sources. As their insights purify our own judgments, we become capable of a more intense engagement with our human vocation. In their works we discover the wonders of the Lord and find ways to make all our relationships and our entire way of life into something beautiful for God.

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