Pope Battles Storm And 'Prince Of The Power Of The Air' -- And In The End Wins
By Michael H. Brown
It was like something out of a Hollywood script, or like a prophet out of the Old Testament. There was John Paul II, speaking to the throngs of youth amid gusts of wind and claps of thunder. As dark clouds roiled over Lake Ontario, he spoke about the voice of the good drowning out the voices of evil, about the Spirit of God versus the spirit of this world, about light breaking through darkness.
As he spoke in Toronto during his Sunday homily it was his voice against that storm. I heard the very same thunder from where I sat 30 miles across the lake during a visit with relatives in Niagara.
"In today's Reading from the Letter to the Ephesians, Saint Paul tells us that Jesus leads us from darkness into light (cf. Eph 5:8)," intoned the Pope. "The 'spirit of the world' offers many false illusions and parodies of happiness. There is perhaps no darkness deeper than the darkness that enters young people's souls when false prophets extinguish in them the light of faith and hope and love. The greatest deception, and the deepest source of unhappiness, is the illusion of finding life by excluding God, of finding freedom by excluding moral truths and personal responsibility."
I had obtained press credentials to attend the event and wanted to see him for what might be a last time. I had been at the Pope's Mass at St. Peter's and had seen him in St. Peter's Square -- during our honeymoon -- and now family obligations prevented me from attending the great event in Toronto but we shared the same weather and it was dramatic listening to his words on TV as the sun battled to break through a summer storm -- and soon did!
We watched it out our window.
"The Lord is calling you to choose between these two voices competing for your souls," he said as the wind had continued to gust along Ontario. Truly, it was as if the Pope was battling "the prince of the power of the air." But in the end, John Paul II predominated and a great pope became greater.
It was really something to see: the most important man in a generation -- in several generations -- battling the prince of this world at the age of 82 and at the same time coming to the rescue of priests -- the "vast majority" of whom he said are "good."
"The harm done by some priests and religious to the young and vulnerable fills us all with a deep sense of sadness and shame," he said. "But think of the vast majority of dedicated and generous priests and religious whose only wish is to serve and do good! There are many priests, seminarians and consecrated persons here today; be close to them and support them! And if, in the depths of your
hearts, you feel the same call to the priesthood or consecrated life, do not be afraid to follow Christ on the royal road of the Cross! At difficult moments in the Church's life, the pursuit of holiness becomes even more urgent. And holiness is not a question of age; it is a matter of living in the Holy Spirit, just as Kateri Tekakwitha and so many other young people have done."
During his homily, John Paul II seemed keenly aware of the weather. He looked upward and hesitated a time or two when the weather volume was high. But he also won. This day, he was not going to be drowned out by the thunder. This day, darkness would not predominate.
No, it was during this homily about and to the youth of the world that the cloud parted -- fled -- and the sun came strongly through.
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