by My Wife
For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings;
- William Shakespeare (1564-1616) King Richard II, (Act
III, scene ii)
April 10th, 2005
The passing of Pope John
Paul II has left me with a heavy heart.
I am not Catholic, or even
Christian for that matter, and I have not been for a long time.
The dogmatic intolerance of the Catholic Church left me cold
and bitter, but I had many other reasons for leaving as well.
That being said, I must say that I truly admire anyone of enough
spiritual mettle to walk the walk and talk the talk in an increasingly
True, I disagreed with John Pauls stance
on many things, especially abortion and birth control. On women
or celibacy in the priesthood, I have no right to say anything
since, as previously stated, I am not of the same faith. His
dogmatic approach to the Catholic faith was, I feel, primarily
a product of the times. He grew up pre-Vatican II. Old habits
die hard. He probably did not handle the sexual scandals in
the priesthood in the most efficient way, though I wonder how
much of it he knew about in the last years, and how much of
it was kept from him by the ever vigilant College of Cardinals.
There are no rose coloured glasses here he made mistakes
and was not perfect. He was, (gasp) Human.
John Paul was truly, however, a man of peace.
His message was one of love and compassion, which should be
the core principle of any religious practice. Evidence of this
deep compassion is in his forgiveness of the man who shot and
severely wounded him. How many of us could do the same? If someone
merely speaks to us the wrong way, most of us take offence.
My charming husband has stated that on a self
defense basis, we monitor TBN*. One thing that has struck
us both is the constant preaching about how to attract monetary
wealth. Sow your seed of $1000 and you will be blessed
with thousands is not uncommon preaching fodder. What
I seldom hear from any of these people is Love thy neighbour
or teachings about compassion. Wasnt love and compassion
Jesus chief message? Maybe I missed something, but I dont
recall Jesus saying anything about becoming rich by giving to
the church or adding to our own stock portfolio.
But, I digress
Pope John Paul II worked toward interfaith dialogue
(he even met with the Dalai Lama on several occasions) and apologized
for the Catholic Churchs indifference during the Holocaust
as well as the atrocities committed over the last 2,000 years**.
He was instrumental in bringing down communism in his native
land. He criticized President Bush for the war in Iraq. He championed
the poor. And, ironically, he is credited with the rise in devotion
to Mary, the Catholic Churchs very own Goddess***.
Apart from all of this, one only needed to look
at him to see the inner peace that living in the Spiritual Light
can bring; the kindly eyes, the serenity of being. This is the
same type of serenity you see in the Dalai Lama and the late
Mother Theresa. That inner peace alone is enough to inspire
someone to seek a path in which that same tranquility can be
In the later years, I think we were taught one
of the most important lessons Pope John Paul II had to teach.
Despite age, despite infirmity, he was out there every day,
often traveling great distances to get his message across. In
a society where we hide our elderly, and disregard the lifetime
of wisdom they can impart, Pope John Paul was a highly visible
presence in everyday life. He showed us that the elderly can
contribute and should be given a chance to be heard. Many people
said he should have stepped down, retired, or let someone
younger take over. I applaud His Holiness for not listening.
Aging is a natural process and should not be swept under the
carpet. Yes, he was frustrated at times, but he was never ashamed
of being old. His dignity in that respect was beautiful
Yes, I am a Pagan, but I lit my candles and shed
my tears when John Paul died. I may not have agreed with many
of his beliefs, but I respect someone who can live their faith
every day. I respect someone who can speak up when it may not
be popular to do so. I also respect someone who inspires us
to be better people, to embrace our paths to the Divine whole
heartedly and to work toward love and compassion.
The world has lost a bright light. As one candle
is lit from another and continues to burn, may his message of
peace and love continue to burn brightly and inspire us all.
* - I am NOT saying that Christians are the enemy here. Certain
Fundamentalists, however, are making moves to take away rights
from those that do not believe the way they do. Check out D.
James Kennedys website sometime. Not only are these people
anti-Pagan, but they have some strange ideas about Catholics
as well, not to mention Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus. They
have every right to believe as they do but not to shove
their beliefs down other peoples throats. And that is
exactly what they want to do.
** - A good start. There is still the matter of the whole
mess stated by Pope Innocent VIII. If youve never heard
of The Malleus Maleficarum, do yourself a favour and look it
up. Charges of Witchcraft were tossed about right
and left. Many villages were left without their midwives, healers
and Wise Ones, but many of these people were not Witches. Women,
and some men for that matter, were tortured and killed for simply
having a freckle in the wrong place.
*** - Yes, I know, she is not technically a Goddess. I got
corrected on that point numerous times during my 13 years of
Catholic School. I had an overwhelming devotion to Mary, which
continues to this day. I also now see her in images of Isis,
Tara, Lakshimi and countless other incarnations of the Divine