Novak (novak) wrote,

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Theological Notebook? Personal?--A Brief Pictorial Biography of John Paul II/Karol Wojtyla

I don't consider myself to be one of those people who makes John Paul II out to be more than he is. Although most people younger than me don't remember any other popes, I can remember prayer for "our pope, Paul, and all the bishops" in Mass, and I know from my historical studies that popes come and go. Yet I still think that we have lived in the times of one of the most historically-significant papacies. When I saw him in Rome in 1998, I had the most peculiar sense of history "swirling" around the man, as though everything was strangely "shifting" in his presence. I know people can be mighty instruments of grace, and grace, I realize the more I study, is clearly the most powerful force in the universe. Perhaps I had some sense of this. Now as the latest news speaks of the poor man suffering "cardiocirculatory collapse and septic shock," I find myself thinking of him through the night, praying for him, meditating on his achievements--particularly helping bring down the Eastern Block peacefully through prayer and dialogue, balancing out Reagan's dangerous economic attack on the Soviet Union--and on what has been a most extra-ordinary life. Again, and while I don't want to make him out as more than he is, I can't but be somewhat overwhelmed at his presence in our piece of history. I notice that Karol Wojtyla's has been a particularly iconographic life, and in thinking about him through this night, I put together a brief sketch of those images.

The child.

The Pole.

The student labourer under Nazi occupation.

The actor and playwright.

The priest.

The grad student.

The outdoorsman and youth pastor.

The kind of professor who takes a book along on a kayak trip.

The Cardinal, learning to resist Communism from within.

The surprise.

This young Pope...

The Polish Pope. John Paul throws his weight behind Lech Walesa and the Solidarity labour movement as a way to undermine Soviet strength from within.

The target.

The Confessor.

The mover and shaker.

The traveler.

The pilgrim.

The writer.

The teacher of prayer. His crozer is modeled after a drawing of Christ by St. John of the Cross (which was also made famous by a later Dali painting), who was the subject of Karol Wojtyla's doctoral dissertation in Philosophy.

The mystic.

Still the priest. I was actually at St. John Lateran on this day in 1998....

The card; with the infamous, Vatican-supressed photo of the Pope stealing Bono's shades.

The penitent and peacemaker.

Tags: catholicism, historical, john paul ii, photography, theological notebook

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