Kiss me, I'm Catholic.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

The Gift of Tears

...Is a gift that I do not possess. I wanted to cry when I heard that John Paul II had died, but I couldn't. I couldn't cry for Terri Schiavo either, even though I had been so close to her. But St. Ignatius of Loyola says that it's all right.

So many people on St. Blog's have seen the Holy Father, met him, made themselves students of his thought. I read all the stories in wonder. And I feel a terrible regret that I never really appreciated him like the others did. For me, he was always the Pope - I suppose that my naive, teenage heart thought he would be there forever.

I do have one concrete link to him, though. At the end of my orchestra's Italy tour, I gave my rosary to my friend Tobias, who was staying behind with his family. He was going to attend a papal audience, and he offered to take my rosary to be blessed by the Pope. Several weeks later I got it back in the mail. I hold it close to me these days.

Now I am going back and reading more of his writings. I can't believe that I had never studied his Letter to Artists before. (Of course, in 1999 I was 13 years old, and had barely started writing poetry. Still...)

And there are still so many stories about him that I have never heard. I loved this story that I read on hilary's blog:

The Young Man Saved My Life

Hitler's Nazi regime was finally defeated. Edith Zirer, a 13 year-old Jewish girl was among the starving people held at Hassak concentration camp in Poland, liberated by the Russian army at the end of the Second World War. Like the others, she was still wearing her dirty striped prisoner's uniform when she arrived by train and was carried inside the station, near the city of Krakow, where the future pope was a 25 year-old studying to be a priest.
On this day, the young girl huddled near a wall. Too weak to eat, she began to fall asleep, certain that she was about to die.
A young man came up to her with a cup of hot tea, the first hot drink she had been given in weeks. He left her and returned with a cheese sandwich on Polish black bread. She didn't want to eat. She wanted to sleep. But the young man forced her to eat for strength. He then told her she needed to walk for several kilometres to get on another train. She stood up but fell with exhaustion. The young man picked her up in his arms and carried her the entire way. She told him that all her family members were dead. As he carried her he told of his own loss of his mother, father and brother and that now he too was alone in the world. He told her that he also suffered but that one must not give in to despair through suffering but must figtht to live with hope.
Edith Zirer is now an elderly woman living in Israel. But she remembers the young man, his brown jacket and his soft voice. His name is Karol Wojtyla. She recounted her story and it was circulated by the newspapers around the world.
"His name remains engraved in my heart forever," she told one newspaper. "I would like to thank him form the bottom of my heart. He saved my life. I will never forget him."

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