Quote of the day, 28 April: François-Marie Léthel, OCD

Jesus’ cry on the Cross, dear Brothers and Sisters, is not the cry of anguish of a man without hope, but the prayer of the Son who offers his life to the Father in love, for the salvation of all. […] Faced with this mystery, we are greatly helped not only by theological investigation but also by that great heritage which is the “lived theology” of the saints.

Saint John Paul II
Novo Millennio Ineunte, nn. 26–27

The long pontificate of John Paul II now shines under the sign of holiness, in deepest fidelity to the Second Vatican Council, which shed new light on the universal vocation to holiness and the place of Mary in the Mystery of Christ and the Church (Lumen Gentium, chapters V and VIII).

This can be seen in the countless beatifications and canonizations, as well as in his personal path to holiness, guided and animated by a strong Christocentric and Marian spirituality (summarized in his emblematic Totus Tuus).

John Paul II, “the Great”, was inseparably a pastor, missionary, mystic, thinker, and poet. Formed in the school of the saints (especially St. Louis Marie de Montfort, St. John of the Cross, and St. Thomas), in his pontificate he gave a new place to the saints, considered not only as examples of Christian perfection but also as the best theologians, that is to say, “knowers of God,” even if they had not studied theology in a university.

We see this in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and especially in the proclamation of St. Thérèse of Lisieux as a Doctor of the Church, “an expert in the scientia amoris”  (Novo Millennio Ineunte, no. 42).

In the same Pontifical Letter, little Thérèse is presented, along with St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church, as an eminent representative of “the “lived theology” of the saints.” (ibid., no. 27), considered “by theological investigation,” that is, with the thoughtful theology of which the encyclical Fides et Ratio cites the example of two other great Doctors of the Church: St. Anselm and St. Thomas, masters of the scientia fidei and of the fides quaerens intellectum.

François-Marie Léthel, O.C.D.

Meditation 1: Introduction

Note: Father François-Marie Léthel is an emeritus professor of the theology of the saints at the Pontifical Institute of Spirituality and Pontifical Faculty of Theology (Teresianum) in Rome and is the chargé for the doctorate of St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, whose feast day the Church observes on 28 April. Of St. John Paul II’s Marian spirituality and esteem for St. Louis de Montfort, Father Léthel writes:

Further, I can add my own personal testimony, having been invited to lunch with John Paul II along with Cardinal Ratzinger and a small group of theologians, in 1987. We had spoken about the Treatise of Louis-Marie with the Holy Father. I was seated at the table next to Bishop Stanisław Dziwisz, who told me: “The Holy Father opens this book every day!” (Meditation 3).

Lethel, F 2011, La lumière du Christ dans le coeur de l’Église : Jean-Paul II et la théologie des saints : retraite de carême avec Benoît XVI, 13-19 mars 2011, Parole et Silence, Paris.

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

Featured image: This autograph of the motto and signature of St. John Paul II appears in a large bible that was signed on 19 March 1991 by the Saint. Totus Tuus was the guideline of the life of John Paul II. Image credit: Screenshot of the gift to Camerino, 3 March 1991

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