It seems Pope John Paul II is in his final hours on earth.
Of all the great things John Paul II achieved in his lifetime, and there are many as we will all hear and read about over the next few weeks, I believe his greatness was firmly established when he commissioned and authorized the new edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
I was born and baptized into the Roman Catholic religion. I had my first communion and my first confession. When I was eight years old, after my mother re-married a non-Catholic, I suddenly and inexplicably stopped being taken to church. As an eight-year-old, my overwhelming reaction was: "Cool!" You see, now I could spend my Sunday Mornings doing more important things like watching cartoons, or sleeping.
Twenty years later, after living a God-free existence (at least my conscious awareness of God was lacking), I was craving a spiritual anchor in my life. To a person, everyone in my life that I admired had deep religious convictions. This told me that there was something I was missing. I decided to re-visit the Catholic Church as this was where my life began. If it did not provide me what I was looking for, I would move on.
I began to attend Mass and there was something warm and familiar to me about it. I still had barely any idea of what and why we were doing the rituals we were performing, so I decided to research the Mass and the Catholic Tradition. I discovered the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The Catechism was revelatory. It so clearly and coherently and logically explained why we believe what we believe. It is something that EVERY religion should have. What a gift from this great man. It guided me and countless others to the Truth of Christ's Church and fulfilled my life. If it were not for this, I would not have met and married Sabrina and we would not have had our children.
Thank you, Holy Father.
POSTSCRIPT: Do not be persuaded by the media's descriptions of the Pope as "hard-line", "ultra-conservative" or "inflexible" toward proposed modifications of church doctrine. These comments come from gross ignorance of the church. The Pope's role and duty is not to make the Church more accessible or main-stream by relaxing it's doctrine or standards in matters of faith or morals. In matters of faith and morals his job is to MAINTAIN the Church's teachings. These teachings on faith and morals have remained consistent for 2000 years.
The Pope does have leverage and freedom in matters of worship, magesterium and organization. In this arena, he was quite progressive in instituting the worship based reforms of the second Vatican council and in re-structuring certain aspects of the church's organization.
Because he did not waiver on issues such as birth-control, pre-marital sex, abortion or homosexual lifestyles, he will be labeled an arch conservative. What these people are misunderstanding is that NO pope can, or will, modify the Church's teachings on these matters. They can't.
The man was a revolutionary figure and we were honored to live in his time.