A person’s rightful due is to be treated as an object of love, not as an object of use – John Paul II
When our work began delving into healthy friendships and dating relationships there was one person’s work that held us captivated, John Paul II. There was so much he intuited about human nature and he was able to draw such beautiful lessons when it came to complementarity of men and women.
The young Karol Wojtyla who lost his family young and watched his country be torn apart by war, was no stranger to suffering. Instead of hardening his heart, he opened it wide to God who then called him to the priesthood. The Karol who wrote plays, who later became priest, bishop, cardinal and pope, was a man who really lived out his God given gifts and talents. Young people were drawn to him for his ability to clearly teach the faith, tap into their virtue of courage and share in their joys on their many outdoor trips. Later when the Cardinal who used to love being outdoors was questioned about his office and appropriateness of going skiing, he promptly responded ‘It’s only unbecoming for a cardinal to ski badly’. His intellect, humour, and heart captivated millions around the world, and we were no exception.
His work on Love and Responsibility became a pillar for the way we view the dignity of the human person and the kind of relationships we all deserve – one filled with love and not use. In a culture that has blinders on and thinks using one another, and allowing ourselves to be used physically, emotionally, and psychologically is part and parcel of ‘falling in love’, has yet to truly understand what ‘Love’ really is AND that what we’re truly yearning for can be found, but not by the methods taught by our culture. In the face of a culture that says ‘swipe right, meet up, hook up, move in, and get fur babies’, John Paul II’s work challenges us with modelling the Gospel truth of a love that dares to become vulnerable, then be crucified on a cross, and then rise from the dead. He reminds us that the God of the universe has called us to a love that is greater than our fleeting passions of the moment, or feelings of wounds that have been simmering for years under the surface.
When we, like many, become tempted to give up on our culture and pull away completely to live a life of ignorance or at least one of apathy and despondence from ‘we tried our bit’, he reminds us- ‘The gospel lives in conversation with the culture, and if the Church holds back from the culture, the Gospel falls silent. Therefore, we must be fearless in crossing the threshold of hope…’ – Crossing the threshold of hope – John Paul II
The man who knows both sorrows and joys, who reminded Christians everywhere of the virtue of hope, and brought people together across the globe is a hero to us not only because of the intellectual connections he was able to make, the works he left behind, bringing young people together in World Youth Day celebrations, but because above all else – He loved Jesus whole heartedly, and both loved and admired his mother, Mary. It was clear that John Paul II was a man of love, because that love shone through his entire life of ministry and continues to shine through his works to this day.
By Stina Constantine
Founder of Virtue Ministry