On April 27, 2014, Pope Francis presided over an unprecedented event in Christian history, the canonization of two popes in one ceremony: John XXIII and John Paul II.
While much has been written about these two popes leading up to the canonization (with, I am sure, much more to come), I would like to share some powerful and yet little known quotes from these saints. I have read much of what has been written by and about these two popes, so I have chosen a handful of quotes from them that I find to be particularly powerful and edifying.
From Pope St. John XXIII
First, here are a few quotes from St. John XXIII, who reigned from 1958 to 1963:
The human soul is of infinite worth, because it cost the Blood of God. Hence the soul of a savage is more precious than all the world’s wealthy (Journal of a Soul).
Either we are with the Church and follow her directives and merit the name of Catholic, or we prefer to follow our own ideas—promoting and favoring divisions—and have to take the responsibility. Then the name Catholic is no longer appropriate (the official biography).
How can I allow my soul to be reduced by sin to the state of a beast of burden, made a slave of the body—the soul that should command the body? Yet this is just what I have done. What a humbling thought for me! (Journal of a Soul)
It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father.
Anybody can become pope; the proof of this is that I have become one.
From Pope St. John Paul II
Here are some great quotes from St. John Paul II, who reigned from 1978 to 2005:
To have hope is to live in the conviction that God loves me despite my weakness (retreat for students 1954).
When the contemporary man ceases to pray, he ceases to react correctly to the world (retreat for Ursuline nuns 1958).
No person is ever useless; each of us is always needed for something (to single Catholics, 1969).
If there is a lack of vocations to the priesthood in a Christian community, if they are not born, if they do not come to the seminaries, if they do not reach the priesthood, then the community bears a negative witness of itself as a Christian community, revealing its inner weakness, proving to be a poor soil (at 500th anniversary of Krakow Seminary, 1965).
The person who can best build the Kingdom of God is the priest; he is also the most capable of destroying it (conference for physicians, 1957).
To love means to wish for the other person’s good, to offer oneself for the good of the other (student Lenten retreat, 1954).
In the case of Blessed John Paul the Great, we have a man who wrote prolifically, so there is a whole lot of material made available to us. In the case of Blessed John XXIII, there is not as much. However, one work I would certainly recommend is his personal notes, entitled Journal of a Soul. In the spirit of a true confession, I will say that I did not have great esteem for John XXIII until I read this book while I was still in seminary, a true spiritual classic!
St. John XXIII, pray for us!
St. John Paul II, pray for us!