John Paul Tied To Scapular Promise And To St. Gregory -- Another 'Great' Pope Who Shortened A Great Chastisement
By Michael H. Brown
There is the fact that John Paul II died on the vigil of the annual Feast of Mercy -- which he instituted, and which came from a private revelation in his native Poland, one that seemed to indicate him as a heaven-sent "spark" of monumental importance. There is the fact that the novena of mourning for him ended on the eve for the feast day of St. Stanislaus of Krakow -- the Pope's predecessor in Poland and his personal hero.
But for those who wonder if devotion and an adherence to sacramentals work, there is also the fact that the Pope, by his own admission, wore the brown Scapular.
Among the promises of the Scapular is that those who wear it will avoid hell and be delivered to Heaven on the first Saturday of the month following their deaths.
The Pope died on the First Saturday itself -- April 2 -- and so, according to the devotion, went directly to Heaven.
Moreover, John Paul II, who was shot on May 13, 1981, the anniversary of Our Lady's first appearance at Fatima, had a special affection for that particular site of apparitions -- where the Blessed Mother appeared during her last apparition on October 13, 1917, holding a Scapular.
His death was accompanied by signs, as was his entire life. On March 25, 2001, in acknowledging that he wore a Scapular, the late great Pope pointed out the "happy coincidence" that his declaration of a special Marian Year fell on the 750th anniversary of the bestowal of the Scapular.
"John Paul II wore the brown Scapular," noted one of our viewers in Australia. "According to its Sabatine privilege (the only sacramental which has it) a person who dies clothed with one is taken to Heaven by Our Blessed Mother on the First Saturday of the month. Well, John Paul II died on the first Saturday! The 'bird'-like cloud over St. Peter's was like his soul telling us to not to be afraid, he will not leave us orphans, he will pray for us, the Church on Peter, against which the gates of hell cannot prevail. But also, it is the sign of the Holy Spirit hovering over the Church. I recall his visit to Sydney in 1995. His departure was marked with rain on the tarmac. The evening news showed the satellite photo over Sydney. Lo and behold, the only cloud over the east coast of Australia was over Sydney and it was in a shape of a cross leaning as though representing John Paul II's Sydney station of his Cross on the way to Calvary. Even the announcer said: how interesting, a cloud in the shape of a Cross!"
Interesting too were the revelations that John Paul II was immolating himself as a sacrifice to conjoin Divine Mercy with Divine Justice -- in effect, to stave off and even possibly lessen a looming chastisement. According to an Italian locutionist priest, on May 13, 1995, the Blessed Mother allegedly spoke words to him imploring the faithful to "remain ever with me beneath the cross upon which my Pope, fashioned, led and so loved by me, is as of now consummating his great offering of love and sorrow. It is precisely through the sacrifice of this, the first of my beloved sons, that Divine justice will be espoused to a great mercy."
Such is fascinating in light of all the talk about labeling the late Pope "John Paul the Great." There have only been three other popes (St. Leo the Great, St. Gregory the Great, and St. Nicholas I the Great) who have won that designation -- and they too served during times of great Church trial, societal upheaval, and chastisement.
One of them was St. Gregory the Great -- who likewise had a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother, and who in January of 590 led a three-day procession through Rome as a desperate attempt to call down heavenly intervention after years of floods, fires, plague, and barbarian attacks had all but destroyed Rome. Like John Paul II, St. Gregory invoked Heaven with the assistance of the Mother of God -- carrying a statue of her from Mary Major Basilica that was believed to possess miraculous powers.
"Lord have mercy! Kyrie eleison!" the Pope intoned -- proclaiming mercy as John Paul did. As the procession crossed an old stone-arched bridge over the Tiber and arrived at the mouth of Via Concilizazione near St. Peter's, the faithful caught sight of an angel (identified as Michael) putting away his sword and marking the end of God's justice.
It was an apparition atop what is now known as Castel Sant-Angelo [top left], and while no one claims John Paul II has ended a period of purification -- of which he was well aware -- his wedding of mercy to justice may well mean that in at least some way, at least while he was alive, a chastisement was averted, postponed, or lessened.
"I too have worn the Scapular of Carmel over my heart for a long time!" he said in 2001. "Out of my love for our common heavenly Mother, whose protection I constantly experience, I hope that this Marian year will help all the men and women religious of Carmel and the devout faithful who venerate her with filial affection to grow in her love and to radiate to the world the presence of this woman of silence and prayer, invoked as Mother of Mercy, Mother of Hope and Grace."
[Book store resources: The Last Secret and Pope's last book, Memory and Identity, as a pre-order]
[see also: 'The Pope of the secret' and Whoever next pope is, he must realize this is secret of John Paul's 'charisma']
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