This evening we launched our first St. Philip Neri Reading Circle dedicated to the thought of John Paul II. We are reading Crossing the Threshold of Hope (we have two circles, one Tuesday evening and Wednesday at noon, contact the Forum for more information, firstname.lastname@example.org)
In the opening chapter (The Pope - A Scandal and Mystery) John Paul II takes up his great cry, Be not afraid! It is interesting that he first talks about religious fears we may have -- here are the series of the counsels against fear and the source of that fear:
We should not be afraid of the truth about ourselves (we are weak)
Do not be afraid of men (for what is in their hearts?)
We should not be afraid of God (he is absolute and transcendent)
Do not be afraid to say Father (he is perfect)
Do not be afraid of God who became man (he has introduced a division into monotheism, and the son is feared because a son -- JP2 points out one religion writes in bold "God has no son" )
Do not be afraid of the mystery of God (reason cannot master the splendor of Truth)
Do not be afraid of his love (it will be a transformation)
Do not be afraid of human weakness or grandeur (we want the safe and middle class existence)
Do not be afraid of being witnesses to the dignity of every human being, from the moment of conception until death (liberal and technocratic society presses down on human dignity relentlessly)
John Paul is uncanny here; what we fear is not others so much as we fear to be who we are and what we are called to be. The failure of courage is a failure to be Christian.
Each one of those fears signals a failure to understand faith or embrace the truth of the faith. John Paul II was sent as supreme pastor, as Peter, to strengthen those in faith. The mission of the forum is to provide educational opportunities to study the thought of Pope John Paul II.