Bernardo M. Villegas
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Praying to St. John Paul

           One fact that stands out very clearly in the biography about St. John Paul II by Jason Evert entitled "Saint John Paul the Great:  His Five Loves" is that the late Pope was praying the whole day and was constantly in the presence of God. He prayed to adore God, especially in the Most Blessed Sacrament.  He was constantly giving thanks to God.  Like all the saints, he was always atoning for the smallest faults.  But most of all, he was always asking favors from God, not for himself, but for numerous others who when he was still alive already sought his intercession.  As Evert wrote:  "At the chapel (in the Vatican), he would kneel before the Blessed Sacrament at his prie-dieu.  The top of his wooden kneeler could be opened, and it was brimming with notes people had given to him, seeking his prayers for all kinds of petitions, including healings, the conversion of family members, or successful pregnancies.  Perhaps thirty to forty new petitions were given to him each day, and he would pray specifically over every one.  He said that they were kept there and were always present "in my consciousness, even if they cannot be literally repeated every day.'"

          He once confided to one of his biographers that, like many of us, he was afraid he was asking too much of God:  "There was a time when I thought that one had to limit the 'prayer of petition.'  That time has passed.  The further I advance along the road mapped out for me by Providence, the more I feel the need to have recourse to this kind of prayer."  Many of those who sent the petitions wrote back to thank him for answered prayers.  It is interesting to note that, as his Secretary reported, most of them expressed gratitude for the gift of parenthood.  This should suggest to couples today who are encountering difficulty having children to make St. John Paul II another patron saint for fertility and a safe motherhood.   Not only did he intercede before the tabernacle for these individuals as if they were his closest friends, he would follow up by seeking information about the progress of the cases he prayed for.  The liturgy would not begin until he had before him the petitions people had asked him to offer on their behalf.

          These episodes in the life of St. John Paul II should remind us of the utility and necessity of the prayer of petition.  It is easy to dismiss the objection that the prayer of petition is not necessary because God knows our needs better than we do.  Therefore, there is no need to inform him. Some also say that since God knows from the beginning what He will grant us and what he will not grant us, there is no way we can change the immutable will of God.  Therefore, it is useless to pray.  The answers to this objection are found in the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas.  In a book on Spiritual Theology by Rev. Jordan Auman, O.P., the Angelic doctor's response to the objection is given "First, that we need to pray to God, not to make known to him our needs, but that we may be reminded of the necessity of having recourse to God; secondly, that our motive in praying is not to change the divine will in our regard but, by our prayers, to obtain what God has decreed.  Scripture explicitly commands us to pray always (Luke 1:1); the theological reason is that divine providence decrees what effects are to take place, by what causes, and in what order.  Human actions, and among them prayer, are causes of certain effects under God's dispensation, and hence when we achieve something by our prayers, we are receiving what God has decreed we shall receive through our prayers."

          When he was still living, God already used St. John Paul II as a most effective instrument in granting the favors asked by those who sought his intercession. What more now that he is enjoying the Beatific Vision and is also very close to the Blessed Virgin Mary to whom he had the most tender devotion.  We should not hesitate to ask him to intercede for us in many of our necessities, both material and spiritual.  Above all, he will continue to favor parents who ask the gift of children,  Through the teachings contained in his "Theology of the Body," he made it very clear that  marital intercourse should always be open to life.  He would be more than willing to intercede for those married couples who want this openness to life to have the results of more children for the kingdom of heaven.  For comments, my email address is