Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves by Jason Evert

Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves by Jason Evert is a fantastic summary of the life of a truly extraordinary saint, JP2. The following are some points I drew from the reading:

On the intense manual labour he underwent: “I was a labourer for 4 years, and for me those 4 years of work are worth more than two doctorate degrees.”

On adoration & the Eucharist: “The young priest often spent the night before the Blessed Sacrament, and his parishioners sometimes spied on him, watching him in prayer, lying prostrate on the cold floor.” His 60-90 minutes of prayer before Mass was the best part of his day. The Eucharist was the principal reason for his priesthood. He would spend hours writing before the Eucharist.

On devotions: Rosary first thing in the morning, divine mercy chaplets throughout day too, confession every week, each Friday and every day of lent stations of the cross, one complete meal a day during Lent, fasted on eve of our Lady’s feasts, immersed in prayer during meetings and walks. He prayed for everyone he met before & after he met them. He made short visits to the Chapel before and after every meal.

On the priest’s importance of prayer: “In the absence of a deep inner life, a priest will imperceptibly turn into an office clerk, and his apostolate will turn into a parish office routine, just solving daily problems.”

On Mary: JP2 reread True Devotion to Mary several times in order to finally understand it. Mary was truly a mother to him. He always considered his rosary a divine appointment that neither himself nor his mother missed.

On suffering: All things can be offered up as a prayer, and the intensity of suffering is not as important as the degree of love with which one embraces each cross. Suffering is a privileged vocation in the mystery of Christ and His Church.

On the devil: Father Gabriele Amorth, the chief exorcist in Rome, asked the demons more than once ‘Why are you so scared of JP2?’ One response he has received is “because he pulled so many young people from my hands.”

On death: The man who taught the world how to live was now teaching the world how to die.

On intercession: Every morning, he would take in 30-40 new petitions and pray specifically for each one.

On the Mass: He lingered lovingly over every syllable that recalled the Last Supper as if the words were new to him.

On silence and prayer: The more deeply people develop within themselves in their interior life, the more prone they are to silence… Every great work, all holiness, is born in silence and recollection… Only falsehood wraps itself in a flood of words. Truth is brief.” He found television and radio to be a waste of time. If he wasn’t praying or studying, he had the feeling he was wasting his time. Prayer is when you will rest the most, because man must rest with his whole being, both physical and spiritual, so that he may rest in truth and return having found himself.

On poverty: he practiced the virtue of poverty to a heroic degree — he gave away his income to help students go to school, he would sleep on a bare bed or on the floor, even as a Bishop he wore the same pair of shoes until the soles had fallen off, he refused to wear new clothing, he owned almost nothing but books, constantly gave away his wealth.

On sacrifice: the more ready you are to give yourselves to God and to others, the more you will discover the authentic meaning to life. “Prayer joined to sacrifice constitutes the most powerful force in human history.”

On listening well & being with others: He was considered such a good listener that you even begin to get the impression you are saying something truly interesting. When he is with someone he exists only for that person.  JP2 viewed each encounter as a divine appointment.

On young people: “Remember: Christ is calling you; the Church needs you; the Pope believes in you and he expects great things of you!” “We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son.”

On Jesus Christ: “Without the Gospel, man remains a dramatic question with no adequate answer.”

On Theology of the Body: The ultimate purpose of purity is to liberate a person to rediscover the spousal meaning of the body. Lust robs sex of its depth.

On avoiding contraception: What if the woman’s body is already perfectly made? What is she doesn’t need drugs, chemicals, and barriers? What if she simply needs to be understood?

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