By Chester B Cabalza
The moment I saw him inside his enclosed pope mobile, immediately, I knew he would become a saint; plying the spacious Luneta Park, the largest public park in Southeast Asia, his angelic face and saintly waving gestures, was captivated by cheering multitude and energetic Catholic followers around the country, including neighboring Asian countries and various contingents of youngster worldwide.
Pope John Paul II’s soul is full of purity and hope. By the time I saw him closer, a transforming air would come from nowhere, like tongues of fire, it touched the hearts of many individuals, and like apostles we all chanted his name, believing that God’s ambassador of goodwill had come to spread His message.
In 1995, as one of the delegates to the World Youth Day held in Manila, Philippines, representing St Louis College, now renamed as University of St Louis Tuguegarao (USLT), I felt the blessings of one of the “living saints” at the time.
Pope John Paul and Mother Theresa are two leading Catholic leaders, living saints, and religious greats in the latter part of the 20th century and early 21st century, who sowed goodwill and good name to over a billion followers of the Vatican-based Catholic Church.
This coming May 1, 2011, the late charismatic John Paul II will be beatified at St Peter’s Square, expected are hundreds of thousands of believers to witness this big step closer to Roman Catholic sainthood of the beloved pope, in memoriam to his funeral in 2005, as one of the biggest media events in the 21st century.
His 27-year papacy was one of the most historic and tumultuous of modern times. During his pontificate, communism collapsed across Eastern Europe, starting in his native Poland. The first non-Italian pope in some 450 years, John Paul was almost killed in a 1981 assassination attempt, which some historians believe was ordered by the secret services of the then-Soviet Union to stop his support of freedom in Poland. Known as the globetrotting pope because he visited every corner of the world in more than 100 trips, he died on April 2, 2005, after a long struggle with failing health.
According to news.yahoo.com, the pope’s coffin will be moved beforehand from its present location in the Vatican crypts and placed under an altar in a chapel in St Peter's Basilica so more people can pay homage.
I have no doubt that more miracles will happen attributed to the intercession of John Paul with God. As one of the greatest popes the Catholic Church had ever had, and the only pope I had ever seen in my entire life, I pray and hope that he will indeed become a well-beloved saint.
St John Paul, pray for us.