The world is once again watching aghast as a dictator prepares to invade a neighboring country. Russia has massed its armies on the border of Ukraine.
Ukraine has been the bread basket of Russia for centuries. It was a primary goal of the German invasion of 1941. The Germans wanted to re-settle it in their quest for lebensraum. Prior to this, the kulaks of Ukraine were slaughtered by Stalin for their resistance to collectivization. It is the prize of Eastern Europe. And the same kind of oppression is once again stalking the land.
40 years ago the world was riven by the Cold War and the threat of a nuclear winter. A communist dictatorship oppressed all of Eastern Europe. It was unthinkable in 1978 that the Soviet Empire would fall. Communism was on the move through proxies in Central America and Angola. The communists were supporting the ANC in South Africa. Vietnam and Cambodia had fallen. The Fulda Gap in Germany was to be the new Armageddon.The West was dismayed and confused.
There is an old saying that we Catholics get the Pope that we need in times of trouble.
By the late 1970’s a unique man had fought against the oppression and tyranny of the human soul by communism in Poland for over 30 years. He preached non-violent resistance. He stood for God and for human dignity above all else. He preached the word of God in a country that imprisoned those who did so. He preached the community of faith, not just Catholic Christianity. His actions in defending Jews from the Nazi genocide and his transformation of relations with the Jewish faith are well-known. He met with the Dalai Lama eight times and stressed the bonds of faith between Christianity and Buddhism. He did the same with many faiths.
Karol Wojtila was elected Pope on October 16, 1978 and took the name John Paul II. For the next 10 years he worked tirelessly for the causes of faith, freedom and human rights around the world. This was done through prayer, diplomacy, and fostering the same principles used by Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
He was God’s warrior in Eastern Europe, Nicaragua, Chile, Rwanda, Haiti, and anywhere there was oppression.
He worked with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher to create the circumstances for change. And in 1979 when he visited Poland he inspired the Solidarity Movement, which led to peaceful change in Poland. In 1989 the Berlin Wall, the greatest symbol of communist oppression, fell. Then the communists fell, peacefully.
A world which had been in conflict for over 70 years had a chance at real peace. This was foretold by the revelations of Fatima. These are not religious mutterings but well documented predictions long in advance of any scientific or historical evidence to support them. What else can one think but that they are true? The facts speak for themselves.
And today we are once again faced with fear and repression. The world is deeply corrupt. The powerful have become more powerful and injustice reigns.
John Paul II stood against that same injustice and oppression and won a great victory for man and God. Religious freedom was restored and flourished in the East.
John Paul II was beatified and placed on the road to sainthood almost immediately after his death.
We Catholics do not worship our saints, as some people suppose. We venerate them for their holiness and pray for their intercession with God to help us endure the unendurable, heal the ill, and for God’s help with our own personal travails and problems. We believe in God’s infinite mercy and direct intercession in human life.
In 1979 no one in their right mind believed that the Soviet Empire, which was in total conflict with religion, would fall. Ten years later it did. Is that not miraculous?
And today, for different reasons, another dictator is on the move. Who more appropriate than John Paul II to pray to for his intercession with Our Lord? When presidents and kings stand helpless or worse, it can only be through prayer that we find another miracle to avert a disaster of the human soul.
Reach out to John Paul the Great as we now call him. The power of prayer is real and is awe inspiring.Together, perhaps we can make a difference.