I remember perfectly that I was on Twitter when I saw the tweet that went something like this: "Benedict XVI to beatify John Paul II on 1 May". And... I jumped for joy! (Luckily I was alone in my office, or else people might have thought that I was mad!)
But of course, to make sure that it was not another "prediction" of his beatification / canonization news, I clicked the link to read the full news report.
Indeed, it is true! Pope Benedict XVI approved the miracle -- healing of the nun from Parkinson's disease, and announced the beatification! It's a tripple joy ... John Paul II is also the official patron of World Youth Day Madrid 2011!
My Editor, knowing that I’m a huge fan of John Paul II, gave me the honour to be the first person to share my love for this great pope with Today’s Catholic readers, which will be published and on sale the second weekend of February. It took me almost two weeks to think of what and how to write. But then I think I've been wasting these two weeks because when I finally sat down in front of the computer, I was at a total lost again.
Anyway, I’m giving you the privilege to read my sharing first, unedited. (By the time this reaches the Editor, she would have cut it short already.) I'm not sure how many litres of tears I've shed when I was writing this. Sigh. I really miss him, you know. Sob.
So here's the short sharing:
As far as I remember, I got to know Pope John Paul II through the media. Back then, there was only the television, newspapers and church magazines.
While my parents told me “children should be seen and not heard,” John Paul II called the young people “my dear friends”. His appearances always drew crowds of young people to himself. I saw them cheering when he spoke to them. I saw them in tears of joy when he went around to greet his young audience. He showed great affection and care for the youths. I even read about how he forgave his would-be assassin.
But my first and deepest impression was him kissing a baby so lovingly. It reminded me of the story of Jesus welcoming children told by Luke (Lk 18:15-16). It must have been then that I started to be “in love” with him. Although too young to understand his messages, I learned about who Jesus is through his works and example. His passion for the people he met, especially the youths, the sick and the suffering proved his tremendous love for Christ. After the internet has become a necessity at home, I started to learn more about this Pope and his messages. I simply “clicked” with this Pope and he was a figure I always looked up to.
About seven years ago, I told myself that the World Youth Day would be the first international gathering I would go to meet John Paul II in person once I have a steady income. Unfortunately, that day never came.
On 2 April 2005, I woke up next to my computer at 3 am to check the internet for any updates on John Paul II who was very sick then. Finding none since midnight, I went to bed. The next morning during the Easter Mass, the Parish Priest announced the death of John Paul II. Upon hearing this news I was absent-minded throughout the Mass. When I reached home after Mass, tears started to pour. His last words to those who kept vigil in St Peter’s Square seemed to be also for me: “I have searched for you, and now you have come to me, and I thank you.” It took me more than one year to get over the pain and sorrow of losing him, my teacher and my friend.
Even though I never had the chance to meet him, I finally made it to World Youth Day Sydney 2008. I thanked the Lord for John Paul II and for this life-changing event which he initiated.
The news of his beatification is music to the ears of those who love him. As we count down to John Paul II’s beatification on 1 May, I also patiently but eagerly looking forward to his canonisation.
Dear Pope John Paul II, I will be there in Vatican to witness your canonisation!
P.S I just realised that my command of English has gone down the drain. But thank you for bearing with me! Oh by the way, is anyone planning to go to Pope John Paul II's canonization in the future? Let me know, maybe we could meet and say hello! ;)