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Meeting a saint

posted Apr 26, 2014, 3:40 PM by Pastor SPX
This weekend the Church canonized two new saints, both saints who lived in my lifetime. John XXIII became pope the year I was born. I never met him (obviously), but the changes he introduced to the Church and the world in calling the Second Vatican Council had a profound impact on my life and the life of every Catholic....every believer.
John Paul II became pope shortly after I entered college seminary. I can vividly recall the year of three popes.
Just a short time later his first visit to the U.S. was announced and would include several days in Washington. Every seminarian was assigned a role for one of the Masses scheduled. I was to be crozier bearer for his Mass with priests and religious at St. Matthew's Cathedral. I stood beside him....no more than three feet away... after handing off the crozier to his master of ceremonies. I never met him that day. I'm sure he never even noticed me. But the front page of the next day's Washington Post had a large full color photo of the Mass and there in the background I stood. My father got copies of the picture and still shows them to anyone (and everyone). Fast forward to April 1997. I was on a three month study program at the North American College in Rome. The highlight was scheduled to be a private audience with the Holy Father. Unfortunately he ha fallen and broken his hip a few months earlier, his hip operation was botched and we were told our audience may not happen. But sure enough, with just one week to go until our program was to end we were told the meeting was on. One hundred priests gathered in a palatial hall awaiting the Holy Father's arrival. We were seated on either side of a large red carpet, rope lines holding us back. The doors opened and he entered, looking frail, bent over but walking (shuffling really) on his own. I was right against the rope line. Most of the priests were applauding, but as he got close to where I wad standing I reached out my hand which he took and gently grasped. The Holy Father had a personal photographer who accompanied him everywhere, snapping a picture just about every second. I got a print of the photo of Pope John Paul II, now Saint John Paul, holding my hand.  The frame photo sits on the bookshelf of my office and which I show to anyone (and everyone).
I suspect this weekend lots of bishops, priests, and regular folks will be sharing their own stories of meeting a saint.
Let us be inspired to imitate the holiness, dedication, and commitment to discipleship of these two great men!