by Sister Mary Lucy Astuto

A Gift for the Holy Father

      Before writing an article, I always ask God to let me know what it is about which He wants me to write. On this occasion after praying, what came to my mind clearly was to write about the Holy Father and what each of us can do in the way of a Christmas gift for Him.

      Our Lady of Medjugorje said that Jesus let her pick this Pope for our times and that she had been preparing him for the Papacy all of his life. I believe that! I believe that our present Holy Father, John Paul II, is the greatest Pope of this century and perhaps the greatest ever (after St. Peter maybe). Not only is he a man of great Faith and prayer, he is a tireless worker in the defense and protection of the authentic Catholic Faith, yet he is under great duress and suffering. Not only does he suffer physical ailments, Parkinsonís disease as well as the results of his being shot many years ago, but he also endures the psychological duress of being hated and rejected by his very own. Just like Jesus.

      Still he remains faithful and provides the Christ-like leadership this age needs; and still he labors with strong will and Faith, though so many oppose him and are angry because he wonít bend Godís Word and Law to suit the worldís desire to sin.

      Our Holy Father is a living martyr. Living FAITHFULLY day after day in spite of opposition, in spite of great suffering from various sources is a TRUE martyrdom. It may be bloodless, but it requires the courage and fortitude of the greatest of saints to persevere faithfully.

      Faithful Catholic leadership is more difficult than ever because the news media has taken up Catholic-bashing. Our Holy Father often gets the full brunt of this, which source has to be the diabolic seeking to destroy him and the Church. The gates of hell want to prevail against the Church , striking at the "Shepherd" in hopes that the sheep will be scattered.

      All Catholics during this Advent Season should prepare a gift to give our Holy Father for Christmas. That gift should be conscientious and daily prayerful support for him. Oh, I know! Most of us may pray for him every day, but I mean a more intense and earnest gift of prayer.

      Decide now what that might be. It should be something extra, over and above what you usually do. Maybe a daily rosary just for him or at least a decade just for him. Maybe five Our Father's, Hail Mary's and Glory Beís, daily, just for him.

      He works and suffers for the Church (thatís us) every day. He is human, also. We must support him better with our prayers. He may never know us personally; he may never know our particular names on this earth, but God does.

      What better gift to give Our Holy Father than love expressed through earnest prayer from our hearts. Thatís the kind of present that scores with God and merits for us in the way it really counts. Please decide and persevere. God bless you!

November 1997