Through the Lens of St. John Paul II

On 22 October we celebrated the feast of Pope St. John Paul II, this is a very special feast for all of us, and in a special way to those of us in Carmel. As we have spoken about in the past, John Paul II had a very strong devotion to Carmel and its Saints. He did his graduate dissertation in Rome on the role of Faith in the writings of St. John of the Cross, and he was very devoted to St. Teresa of Avila, St. Therese of Lisieux and Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity. In a recent presentation offered as the Key Note for the Annual Carmelite Congress, George Weigel presented a wonderful explanation of the Carmelite soul of St. John Paul II. In this particular conversation, Mark and Frances launch off this presentation to explore new ideas about St. John Paul II’s use of Carmelite Spirituality to present his own theology of the human experience and our search for God. Most significant among these ideas are the impact Karol Wojtlya’s own personal life and early trials would have on his desire to find meaning in the midst of all the apparent futility of life. Building on this idea, Mark and Frances explore a deeper meaning for the story of the Wedding at Cana, and how the events of this story reveal four different levels of the understanding of Love. Finally, and most significantly, Mark and Frances discuss what is arguably the central theme in all of St. John Paul II’s writing and ministry, and this is the reality that man is never fully himself until he gives himself away in an act of self-giving love.