“Is it not one of the “signs of the times” that in today’s world, despite widespread secularization, there is a widespread demand for spirituality,a demand which expresses itself in large part as a renewed need for prayer? Other religions, which are now widely present in ancient Christian lands, offer their own responses to this need, and sometimes they do so in appealing ways. But we who have received the grace of believing in Christ, the revealer of the Father and the Saviour of the world, have a duty to show to what depths the relationship with Christ can lead.
The great mystical tradition of the Church of both East and West has much to say in this regard. It shows how prayer can progress, as a genuine dialogue of love, to the point of rendering the person wholly possessed by the divine Beloved, vibrating at the Spirit’s touch, resting filially within the Father’s heart. This is the lived experience of Christ’s promise: “He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (Jn 14:21).”
– John Paul II
January 6, 2001
Solemnity of the Epiphany
It was the new millennium and John Paul was listening. He knew and read the true “signs of the times”. The popular culture thinkers were moving in one direction, but he knew. They were insisting on the secular, but he knew. John Paul knew the nature of man as created by God. He knew where the answers lay.
The “signs of the times” often are associated with change. The experts are quoted as saying “Read the ‘signs of the times’”. The people are demanding this thing or that thing. Whatever is the latest idea is often construed as the “signs of the times”. John Paul knew.
He had encountered the tenor of the so-called experts. A taste can be found in the first question asked by the interviewer in John Paul’s 1994 book Crossing the Threshold of Hope:
“In front of me is a man dressed in the white of ancient custom, with a cross over his chest. This man who is called the Pope (from “father,” in Greek) is a mystery in and of himself, a sign of contradiction. He is even considered a challenge or a “scandal” to logic or good sense by many of our contemporaries.”
The clear-eyed polish Pontiff understood. He had been down that path. He had travelled the journey. He was in his sunset years, but wanted to lead us on the first step of the new millennium – a step on the path to God.
He knew that it was not something “new” that people desired but the great mystical tradition of the Church. They yearned for the dialogue of love as expressed in prayer. This yearning is for a divine intimacy with God; for God’s loving call to meet Him in prayer.
May you, created in the image of God and beloved by God, be touch by God in prayer.
Peace and Grace
John Paul II. Crossing the Threshold of Hope. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994, pge 3.