Pope John Paul II was a mystic. His poetry reveals to us some glimpse of his mystical personality. He composed poetry when he was a young man and even when he was already a priest. Many of these poems are fruits of his contemplation about the stormy events in his life, of his nation, and of humanity. Nevertheless, what separates him from the pessimists of his time was that he sees things, good or bad; in the light of God’s love for him. With that background, we now explore the poem that concerns us in this work, and take a glimpse of the young John Paul II who wrote it while in the midst of an explosive event in church history. The newly ordained priest, “Lolek”, assigned as students’ chaplain in St. Florian’s Parish in Krakow (March 17, 1949) composed a poem-cycle entitled “Song of the Brightness of Water” Piesn o blasku wody (May 7, 1950) using the pen name Andrzej Jawien. The late Pope’s mysticism can be perceived in a part of this poem-cycle entitled “Later Recollection of the Meeting” (Pozniejsze rozpamietywanie spotkania). When this poem was written, his native Poland was in the transition stage from Nazi occupation into a communist government. This transition was not easy, since both powers claiming the land were threatening to decimate Poland’s national identity, imposing an entirely new ideology. The people of Poland struggled and risked their lives to combat their worst nightmare. Hosts of human lives were wasted. The Polish people shed their blood to preserve their nation’s identity and their freedom. John Paul II lived this world in his youth. The strength inside his people is the same strength that was in him. And this hidden fountain of vigor manifests in his poetry. (LATER RECOLLECTION OF THE MEETING) He saw me in himself, possessed me in himself
He suffused me with ease,
Burst my shame in me and the thoughts
I’d suppressed for so long.
As if he—touching a rhythm in my temples
All of a sudden
Carried the great exhaustion
In me, with such care.
Words were simple. They walked beside me
Like charmed sheep.
But within me they take off:
Dozing birds from their nests.
He was whole in my sin and my secret.
Too late. Every pain today
Returning from You,
Changes to love on its way.
In order to make a sequential presentation of John Paul II’s mysticism, I decided to present the chosen text in an inverted way in able to express more in logical order how his mysticism became a central part of his ministry and life. Too late. Every Pain today
Returning from You
Changes to love on it way.
Pope John Paul II’s history is far from smooth and rosy. On the contrary it was laden with extreme hardship, and personal tragedies. All throughout his life, suffering and sorrow were at his side. These three lines express the pain Lolek went through in his life, which at the same time became God’s tools for his salvation and mission. “Too late” means he understood later in life that his suffering is a path that leads him to the Cross where the pain is transformed into an expression of God’s love. Later in his life he wrote:
“At twenty, I had already lost all the people I loved and even the ones that I might have loved, such as the big sister who had died, so I was told, six years before my birth. I was not old enough to make my first communion when I lost my mother, who did not have the happiness of seeing the day to which she looked forward as a great day. She wanted two sons, one a doctor and the other priest; my brother was a doctor and in spite of everything, I have become a priest.” “The many encounters between John Paul II and the sick, and his personal experience of suffering found expression in the apostolic letter Salvifici Doloris.” In this apostolic letter, the then older Lolek manifested in clear explanation the meaning of suffering in Christian faith. It is not a situation of total absence of...