Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Yesterday was the first Sunday after Pope John Paul II's death. I am in Pennsylvania with the Red Cross to help with the flooding here and have been able to attend church in Great Bend. There was no mention of John Paul II in the mass or homily, but on my way back to the pew after receiving the Eucharist, I see a photograph of him resting in a prayer nook on the right side of the church, a page, apparently torn out of a Polish publication, paperclipped to a red book spread slightly at the bottom so it would hold it upright. This was not a portrait of the vigorous healthy man at the peak of his power, but one taken in the last years when his expression was undeniably childlike. At first it seemed strange that someone would chose to memorialize him at that time in his pontificate, but after a few moments I begin to experience the power of this witness to his faith - that unwavering assertion of the value of all human life from conception through the final hours.