October 22nd marks the feast day of Saint John Paul II. Born in 1920 in Wadowice, Poland, Saint John Paul II was known as Karol Karol Józef Wojtyla or “Lolek” growing up. The soon-to-be-pope was no stranger to loss - His mother, father and older brother all died before his 21st birthday. Although he grew up with dreams of becoming an actor, he later discerned a vocation to the priesthood right when World War II was underway. He organized many secret faith meetings, disguised as outdoor trips, with young Christians hungry to grow in their faith. Pope John Paul II was elected as the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. He successfully promoted interfaith initiatives, encouraged peace between nations and created World Youth Day. He died in 2005 in the Vatican, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014.
Saint Pope John Paul II is the patron saint of World Youth Day.
Image courtesy of The Catholic World Report
As we reflect on Saint John Paul II, we wanted to share 10 quotes, which reflect his wisdom, compassion, and deep commitment to faith and humanity.
"Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."
"The future starts today, not tomorrow."
"Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought."
"The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort, and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish."
"A society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members; and among the most vulnerable are surely the unborn and the dying."
"War is a defeat for humanity."
"The cemetery of the victims of human cruelty in our century is extended to include yet another vast cemetery, that of the unborn."
"It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you."
"Stupidity is also a gift of God, but one mustn't misuse it."
"The Gospel lives in conversation with culture, and if the Church holds back from the culture, the Gospel itself falls silent."
4 Simple ways to celebrate Saint John Paul II
Image courtesy of Jake Melara on Unsplash
Go on a hike or go swim today!
Pope John Paul II loved sports and especially enjoyed hiking and swimming. Go on a hike, or go swimming if it’s warm enough. Connect with God while moving your body.
When a man shot the pope in an assassination attempt, John Paul II visited him in his jail cell and forgave him. He often spoke of forgiveness: “We all need to be forgiven by others, so we must all be ready to forgive. Asking and granting forgiveness is something profoundly worthy of every one of us.”
Who might you need to ask for forgiveness from, or who might you need to forgive (even if they haven’t asked you for it)?
Make a "Be Not Afraid" shirt or bag
In his first address as pope, John Paul II proclaimed the words “Be not afraid!” It became a common phrase that he used throughout his papacy. The phrase is written in the Bible 365 times—one for every day of the year.
Make a T-shirt, pencil pouch, or tote bag with this message.
- Download the "Be Not Afraid" lettering (it's free!)
- Iron-on paper
- Items to iron on (T-shirts, canvas pencil pouch, canvas tote bag, etc.)
- Print the template of Saint John Paul II’s script onto iron-on paper.
- Iron it onto a T-shirt, canvas pencil pouch, or canvas tote bag.
- Wear and enjoy!
*This is a gorgeous gift for a loved one, or a cute accessory for yourself!
Reflect on the World Youth Day Homily
Look up Pope John Paul II’s “World Youth Day Homily” online. The text is available in full on the Vatican’s website. Reflect on the role that God, your friends, and your family have in your life. Ask yourself if you are leaning more on people or on God.
"Around you, you hear all kinds of words. But only Christ speaks words that stand the test of time and remain for all eternity. The time of life that you are living calls for decisive choices on your part: decisions about the direction of your studies, about work, about your role in society and in the Church. It is important to realize that among the many questions surfacing in your minds, the decisive ones are not about “what”. The basic question is “who”: “who” am I to go to, “who” am I to follow, “to whom” should I entrust my life?
You are thinking about love and the choices it entails, and I imagine that you agree: what is really important in life is the choice of the person who will share it with you. But be careful! Every human person has inevitable limits: even in the most successful of marriages there is always a certain amount of disappointment. So then, dear friends, does not this confirm what we heard the Apostle Peter say? Every human being finds himself sooner or later saying what he said: “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Only Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and of Mary, the eternal Word of the Father born two thousand years ago at Bethlehem in Judaea, is capable of satisfying the deepest aspirations of the human heart."
Click here to download, print, and display the hand lettered print of the homily.
How are you planning to celebrate Saint John Paul II? Let us know in the comments below!
Looking for more inspiration on how to celebrate the liturgical seasons and feast days?
Living The Seasons: Simple Ways To Celebrate The Beauty Of Your Faith Throughout The Year is a full-color guide to creatively celebrate our faith. Each page is filled with beautiful inspiration with effortless directions to celebrate feast days, holy days and seasons within the Church. This will be your resource for living liturgically! Now available to order on our website.