Semper Fidelis - Always Faithful

I have been trying to determine what to say about Pope John Paul II following his death on Saturday.

I remember his selection, following the brief tenure of Pope John Paul I, which lasted only about a month. It was so unique that a Cardinal from Poland was selected.

I also remember my Uncle Bob got to see him during one of his first visits to the United States. It was before the assasination attempt, and he said he could have reached out and touched the Holy Father, but he didn't for fear that it would result in a clap of thunder.

It strikes me that Pope John Paul II was ultimately a man of faith, who put his faith into action.

He helped bring about reconciliation with other faiths. He apologized sincerely for previous transgressions of the Catholic Church and Christians in general for not doing more to stop the Holocaust and for the brutality of the Crusades.

He will be missed. Even in his last days and in his passing, he is bringing people into the kingdom. He was a faithful servant, and we would all be wise to follow that example.

The following is the text of his Final Letter to the Faithful. It was read aloud by Archibishop Leonardo Sandri at the conclusion of the requiem mass in St. Peter's Square. It was the Pope's final letter to the world and was to be read by the Pope himself at yesterday's mass of the Divine Mercy, had he been able.

The Final Letter of Pope John Paul II to the Faithful

Dearest Brothers and Sisters!

1. Resonate also today the joyful Alleluia of Easter. Today's reading from the Gospel of John emphasizes that the Resurrected one, the evening of this day, appeared to the Apostles and "showed them his hands and side" (Jn 20,20), that is the signs of the painful passion impressed in permanent way on his body even after the resurrection. Those glorious wounds, which eight days later made to touch to the doubting Thomas, reveal the mercy of God, that "he so loved the world that he gave his only Son" (Jn 3,16).

This mystery of love is at the center of today's liturgy of Sunday in Albis, dedicated to the belief of the Divine Mercy.

2. To all humanity, which at times seems so lost and dominated by the power of evil, selfishness and fear, our resurrected Lord offers in gift his love that pardons, reconciles and reopens the soul to hope. The love that converts the hearts and bestows the peace. How much need the world has to understand and to receive the Divine Mercy!

Lord, whose death and resurrection reveals the love of the Father, we believe in You and with confidence we say again to you this today: Jesus, trust in You, have mercy on us and the entire world.

3. The liturgical feast of the Annunciation, that we will celebrate tomorrow, pushes us to contemplate with the eyes of Mary the immense mystery to us of this merciful love that gushes from the Heart of Christ. She helps us so that we can comprehend the true sense of the paschal joy, which I found myself on this certainty: He whom the Virgin has carried in her womb, that has suffered and died for us, is truly risen. Alleluia!