As we celebrate the Feast of Pope John Paul II on October 22, we reflect on his timeless wisdom – from his encouragements about persevering through suffering, to his passionate declarations on the sanctity of life. Though he has passed on, his words continue to inspire the faithful around the world to live boldly for Christ, embody His love, and protect the weak and the vulnerable.
We hope that your own faith is strengthened through reflection on these exhortations from Pope John Paul II.
On Holiness and Christian Life
“True holiness does not mean a flight from the world; rather, it lies in the effort to incarnate the Gospel in everyday life, in the family, at school and at work, and in social and political involvement.” – From his Message to participants in the Seventh International Meeting of the Catholic Fraternity of Covenant Communities and Fellowships, (November, 1996).
“The most beautiful and stirring adventure that can happen to you is the personal meeting with Jesus, who is the only one who gives real meaning to our lives.” – from the Address to the Representative of the Italian Military (March 1, 1979).
“It is Jesus in fact that you seek when you dream of happiness; he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; he is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is he who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is he who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.” – from the Address on the 15th World Youth Day, (August 19, 2000).
On the Sanctity of Life
“The first and most fundamental of all human rights is the right to life, and when this right is denied all other rights are threatened … 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.” – From the Address to the New Ambassador of New Zealand to the Holy See, (May, 2000).
“Man’s life comes from God; it is his gift, his image and imprint, a sharing in his breath of life. God therefore is the sole Lord of this life: man cannot do with it as he wills.” – From Evangelium Vitae (March, 1995).
On the Love of Christ
“Only in Christ do we find real love, and the fullness of life. And so I invite you today to look to Christ. When you wonder about the mystery of yourself, look to Christ who gives you the meaning of life.” – From the Address to High School Students, (October, 1979).
“Remember that you are never alone, Christ is with you on your journey every day of your lives! He has called you and chosen you to live in the freedom of the children of God. Turn to him in prayer and in love. Ask him to grant you the courage and strength to live in this freedom always. Walk with him who is ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life’!” – From the 12th World Youth Day Address, (August 23, 1997)
“For it is above all a call. It is a vocation … as the individual takes up his cross, spiritually uniting himself to the Cross of Christ, the salvific meaning of suffering is revealed before him. He does not discover this meaning at his own human level, but at the level of the suffering of Christ. At the same time, however, from this level of Christ the salvific meaning of suffering descends to man’s level and becomes, in a sense, the individual’s personal response. It is then that man finds in his suffering interior peace and even spiritual joy.” – From Salvifici Doloris, (February, 1984).
“There is no evil to be faced that Christ does not face with us. There is no enemy that Christ has not already conquered. There is no cross to bear that Christ has not already borne for us, and does not now bear with us.
The distinctive mark of the Christian, today more than ever, must be love for the poor, the weak, the suffering.” – From the Eucharistic Celebration Homily, (October 8, 1995)
“Prayer can truly change your life, for it turns your attention away from yourself and directs your mind and your heart towards the Lord. If we look only at ourselves, with our own limitations and sins, we quickly give way to sadness and discouragement. But if we keep our eyes fixed on the Lord, then our hearts are filled with hope, our minds are washed in the light of truth, and we come to know the fullness of the Gospel with all its promise and life.” – From his Address to the Young People of New Orleans, (September 12, 1987).
Pope John Paul II was the first reigning pope to visit the National Shrine and is portrayed in the Our Lady of Czestochowa Chapel; the Universal Call to Holiness relief; the lower sacristy of the Crypt Church; Memorial Hall; and the Trinity Dome mosaic.