The words of John Paul II have long inspired Christians throughout the world. People of faith often turn to his wisdom in trying or difficult times.
In his gentle yet unflinching manner, the pope offered wisdom on such topics as the importance of forgiveness, how to respond to suffering in a Christian way, the necessity of unity in the Christian family, and the responsibilities of living as a Christian in this world. Below is a small sampling of inspirational lessons that encourage us to draw closer to God, helping us to live as faithful Christians in a sometimes challenging world.
The Gift of Peace
Become friends to those who have no friends. Become family to those who have no family. Become community to those who have no community. If we want peace, we must reach out to the poor. May the rich and poor of the world recognize that we are all brothers and sisters. May we all share what we have with one another as children of the one God, who loves everyone and who offers to everyone the gift of peace.
Suffering as Offering
A basic principle of our Christian faith is the fruitfulness of suffering and, hence, the call of all those who suffer to unite themselves with Christ's redemptive sacrifice. Suffering thus becomes an offering, an oblation; this has happened and still does in so many holy souls…In [Jesus] they find the strength to accept pain with holy abandon and trusting obedience to the Father's will. And they feel, rising from within their hearts, the prayer of Gethsemane: “But let it be as you would have it, Father, not as I.”
Every Life Is a Gift
Stand up for the life of the aged and the handicapped; stand up against attempts to promote assisted suicide and euthanasia. Stand up for marriage and family life. Stand up for purity. Resist the pressures and temptations of a world that too often tries to ignore a more fundamental truth: that every life is a gift from God our Creator and that we must give an account to God of how we use it, either for good or evil.
Faith Is Demanding
How can we profess faith in God's Word, and then refuse to let it inspire and direct our thinking, our activity, our decisions, and our responsibilities toward one another? Faith is always demanding because faith leads us beyond ourselves. Faith imparts a vision of life's purpose and stimulates us to action.
Prayer is not one occupation among many, but is at the center of our life in Christ. It turns our attention away from ourselves and directs it to the Lord. Prayer fills the mind with truth and gives hope to the heart.
Life Is a Talent
Life is a talent entrusted to us so that we can transform it and increase it, making it a gift to others. No person is an iceberg drifting on the ocean of history. Each one of us belongs to a great family, in which we can have our own place and our own role to play.
The True Face of Jesus Christ
Jesus says to us: “I am sending you to your families, to your parishes, to your movements and associations, to your countries, to ancient cultures and modern civilization, so that you will proclaim the dignity of every human being, as revealed by me, the Son of Man.” If you defend the inalienable dignity of every human being, you will be revealing to the world the true face of Jesus Christ, who is one with every man, every woman, and every child, no matter how poor, no matter how weak or handicapped.
May Our Faith Be Strong
May our faith be strong; may it not hesitate, not waver, before the doubts, the uncertainties that philosophical systems or fashionable movements would like to suggest to us. May our faith be certain. May it be founded on the Word of God; on deep knowledge of the Gospel message, and especially of the life, person, and work of Christ; and also on the interior witness of the Holy Spirit.
Every Area of Our Lives
There cannot be two parallel lives in the existence of the faithful: on the one hand, our so-called spiritual life, with its values and demands; and on the other, our so-called secular life, that is, life in a family, at work, in social relationships, in the responsibilities of public life, and in culture. Every area of our lives, as different as they are, enters into the plan of God, who desires that these very areas be the places where the love of Christ is revealed and realized for both the glory of the Father and service of others.
Born Karol Wojtyla on May 18, 1920 in Wadowice, Poland, John Paul II lived through Nazi occupation during World War II, was ordained to the priesthood in 1946, and was appointed Archbishop of Krakow by Pope Paul VI.