When John Paul II wanted to become a Carmelite — sanfrancescopatronoditalia.it

The traces of Saint John Paul II’s devotion to the Order of Carmel—and especially to the scapular—are lost in time. One even has to travel further back, much further, to find the first “Carmelite footprints” in his life. A poem testifies to a young Karol Wojtyla, an aspiring Carmelite.

In “Shores of silence“, Wojtyla refers to a “special “threshold”, that of the nearby Carmelite monastery: “The distant shores of silence begin / at the door. You cannot fly there / like a bird. You must stop, look deeper, / still deeper, until nothing deflects the soul”.

A great scholar of the poetry and mystical works of St. John of the Cross, this Wojtyla. And one can feel how much influence the monumental figure of Carmelite spirituality has had in the poetic works of Wojtyla’s youth. Who knows how many times the young Karol must have been lost in meditation on the famous phrase:

To reach satisfaction in all desire satisfaction in nothing. To come to possess all desire the possession of nothing. To arrive at being all desire to be nothing (The Ascent of Mount Carmel, I.13.11).

This was the life journey of the young Pole. And, to testify to all this love for the works of Juan de Yepes Álvarez (the given name of St. John of the Cross), there is his doctoral thesis, entitled “Doctrina de fide apud Sanctum Ioannem a Cruce”.

The doubt whether or not to enter the Discalced Carmelite monastery of the nearby city Czerna was resolved in 1945 by Cardinal Sapieha. Wojtyla, in his fourth and final year of theology, went to Sapieha for advice. The bishop had no hesitation: “First, you must finish what you started”.

Wojtyla continued in the seminary and renounced his aspirations for Carmel….

Antonio Tarallo

Excerpt translated from the Italian article Quando Giovanni Paolo II voleva diventare carmelitano from the website San Francesco, the official website of the Conventual Franciscan Friars’ press office, Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Translation from the Italian text is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission.

Translation from the Spanish text is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission.

One thought on “When John Paul II wanted to become a Carmelite — sanfrancescopatronoditalia.it

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  1. Wow, that’s a privilege to read this, which settles the question I had wondered about. I do feel for the Saint. I was Aspirant for 20 beloved months, then the Community discerned it was not for me. I know how heartbreaking that is, when one loves Carmel. I admire the Pope tremendously for obeying the Bishop, and fulfilling the path God had marked for him, most outstandingly as we know. I am reading him at the moment, and love his works. I remember his death and the square full of banners with, ‘Santo subito’, very deserved.

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