Wojtyla as Mystic (chap 3)
This chapter is simply superb in opening up the character of Pope John Paul II. The second paragraph provides a very good summary:
"The existential path of Karol Wojtyla takes its light and its first principles from his full adherence to Christ, from his certainty of being in his hands and never being deprived of his love. It was a spirituality expressed with extraordinary intensity by the words of St Paul: "it is no longer I who live but it is Christ who lives in me" (Galatians 2:20) and in it took root not only John Paul II's exercise of virtues to a heroic degree but also his ability to establish real relationships with others in keeping with Jesus' statement: 'I have called you friends' (John 15:15."
Msgr. Oder comments that Wojtyla was "completely willing to accept the gift that God was offering him." (135) His life was the "progressive discovery of the power and beauty of the word of God and its superiority to the words of men." I thought of his description in Fides et ratio of the project for philosophers as developing a philosophy "consonant with the word of God." How could a philosopher who has received the gift of faith aspire to anything less?
As mentioned in a previous post, Wojtyla's commitment to poverty was extraordinary. He gave away his coats, sweaters, shoes, cars, money, rings -- he was always willing to sacrifice for those in need. Msgr. Oder explains how this attitude was rooted in an inner liberty emblematic of his relationship to all of creation; a decisive sign of this liberty, I think, is found in this comment by Oder: poverty "was authentically experienced at an inner level, free of the slightest ambition to make a personal impression." (141) People blessed with gifts often succumb to the desire or ambition to make an impression, to receive validation from others, but Wojtyla rooted himself so deeply in Christ through prayer he was truly among "the poor in spirit."
Msgr. Oder says that his book A Sign of Contradition (1976) is the "symbolic apex of his ascetic progression." See Luke 2:35 on the prophetic statement about the Christ child as a sign of contradiction At the center of this retreat given to Pope Paul VI and the curia, Wojtyla says that we must return to Christ the hour in the garden when he was abandoned by his disciples:"The Church is incessantly summoned by its Lord to 'recover' in a certain sense that lost hour, by a vigil of prayer that joins it in the most profound way with the Savior who is on the verge of acheiving his mission of redemption." (144-145)
Msgr. Oder then summarizes the mounds of testimony to outline a spiritual profile of Wojtyla's life. It is as follows in an abbreviated form:
1. A constant awareness of the presence of God and a wholehearted love of God.
2. A fascination with the mystery of the human person and a solicitude for its salvation.
3. A strong sense of justice and devotion to those hurt or marginalized
4. Openness to dialogue and commitment to truth
5. Respect for diversity of vocations and collaboration with the laity
6. Authentic piety -- Trinitarian, Marian, veneration of saints
7. Love of the Church, committed to study of her doctrine (and documents of Vatican II)
9. Intellectual honesty
10. Refinement of culture