Husband & Wife Articles


 

Holy Week with Blessed John Paul II

A daily program designed to deepen your faith

By Ken Davison

We’re coming to the end of Lent, and in our house that means the close of another “Adventure.” You see, my wife, eight kids and I have a family business called “Holy Heroes” and through our free online “Adventures” during the year, through our Glory Stories radio dramas, and with our other products, we aim to bring the joy of the faith to your family as you learn the inspiring stories of those who have preceded us all in holiness.

Now it’s Holy Week, the end of our “Lenten Adventure.” This year, a highlight was introducing our newest Glory Story in serialized fashion over these 40 days: “Be Not Afraid: The Life of Blessed John Paul II.”

From his earliest years up to the day he died, Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II, built his personal holiness and cultivated it in others with several simple yet effective practices which are easy to fit into even our hectic lives!

This Holy Week, why not try some things we learned from investigating the life of Blessed John Paul II? You may have thought you knew him, but we suspect you’ll learn something new!

Here are a dozen suggestions for the rest of Holy Week, day-by-day:

Tuesday

1.Kneel down and pray. Don’t just pray, but kneel down when you talk to God. It will open you up in a way that any other posture doesn’t. Even during his time of forced labor during the Nazi occupation of Poland, Karol Wojtyla would openly kneel down to pray during work breaks. He also said his father would kneel down to pray, even when he was seriously ill – an example the pope remembered all his life.

2. Forgive someone. In December 1983, Pope John Paul II forgave Mehmet Ali Agca, the man who had tried to assassinate him just two years earlier.Following his 21-minute private conversation with the convicted assailant in an Italian prison in December 1983, the Holy Father said, “I spoke to him as a brother whom I have pardoned.”

3. Lead your family in the Stations of the Cross. Blessed John Paul II would pray the Stations of the Cross every day during Lent and every Friday during the rest of the year, up to the last Friday of his life. He would do it in the church or alone on the plane, anywhere he could, every Friday. Try it.

Wednesday

4. Pray carefully just one decade of the rosary. During the Nazi occupation, the priests in Karol’s parish were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. All spiritual development of youth had to occur in secret, so Karol was recruited to be a lay leader of the “Living Rosary.” Teams of boys, secretly managed by one of the older boys, were created, and each young man was assigned just one decade a day of the rosary to pray as part of a team of 15 so that each team thereby prayed an entire rosary, every day. Today pray the Fifth Joyful Mystery, to remind us to “be not afraid” to find Jesus in the Church.

5. Ask forgiveness. On March 12, 2000, Pope John Paul II publicly lead a liturgy asking Our Father in heaven to forgive all the sins of us in the Church over the past 2,000 years. He said, “We humbly ask for forgiveness for the part that each of us with his or her behaviors has played in such evils thus contributing to disrupting the face of the Church.” Go to Confession and ask Our Father for forgiveness for your sins.

Holy Thursday

6. Read the Gospel of John, Chapter 15. When Father Wojtyla first came to Rome as a newly ordained priest, he began the habit of reading a chapter every day from the Gospel of John. On the night he died, he slipped into a coma while listening to a priest read to him from this Gospel.

7. Pray a decade of the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. In October 2002, John Paul introduced five new mysteries to pray in the rosary. Pray the Fifth Luminous Mystery today to recall the Last Supper.

Good Friday

8. Begin the Divine Mercy Novena. Jesus Himself revealed the Divine Mercy prayers to a young Polish nun, St. Faustina. In April 2000, a Polish pope canonized her as the first saint of the new millennium, declaring the First Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday, just as Our Lord had requested. (You can find the prayers for each day at LentenAdventure.com).

9. Pray the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary while walking. Pope John Paul II loved the outdoors and frequently walked as he prayed the rosary. Enjoy God’s creation while you meditate on how he redeemed it.

Holy Saturday

10. Give something away. Throughout his life, Blessed John Paul’s friends recounted that he gave everything away almost as soon as he received it: sweaters, coats, money, everything! His housekeeper used to try to make new clothes look old so that he wouldn’t realize they were recent gifts, or he would give them to the poor!

11. Go to the Easter Vigil Mass. The most exciting and glorious Mass of the year! It’s tough with little kids (we know!) but they will never forget the wonder of being up late at night, the candles, the ringing of the bells, the lights coming on, the baptisms, the joyful spectacle! (And if they sleep through it on the pew…well, tell them what they missed.)

Easter Morning

12. Pray the First Glorious Mystery. He is risen! Alleluia!

Blessed John Paul II – pray for us!

Ken Davison is the founder of Holy Heroes, a Catholic family apostolate that offers resources and inspiration. He and his wife live in North Carolina with their eight children.