the pope didn't do much.
all he did was work on the things he already had - a chance at education, and he did that well. a chance at a hobby, and he played and acted in theatre well. a chance to change the lives of his fellow poles, and he did that well.

he didn't reach very far, either. by working on his own country, he was able to hasten the formidable communist movement's demise from poland, starting a chain of events that eventually led to the fall of communism from eastern europe. he forgot about the millions applauding him when someone came to kiss his ring or offer him an embrace. pictures show him a human being relating to another, he just happens to dress formidably.

he took stock of his own person when he made his visits. he is aware of being the first nonitalian pope in over four centuries; he made several visits to his home country. he used this fact of his life and his stamina to reach out to catholics worldwide, going to neighborhing european countries to remind them of their nearness to each other, visiting far-off continents to remind them they aren't cut off and so different from the church at all.

he used his gift for words and languages to address his audiences in spanish when in latin america, french and german when in europe, english everywhere else. he used his gift for eloquence and delivery in his numerous letters, addresses, meetings and homilies.

he used his faith to acknowledge his humanity and to pray and to keep believing. at holy name cathedral saturday night, i picked up this prayer card printing one of the pope's prayers:

prayer for vocations

holy spirit, eternal spring of joy and peace,
    it is you who open the heart and the mind to the divine call;
    it is you who make effective every impetus
    towards good, towards truth, towards charity.

your 'inexpressible groans'
    rise up to the father from the heart of the church,
    which suffers and struggles for the gospel.

open the hearts and minds of young men
    so that a new flowering of holy vocations to the priesthood
    may show forth the fidelity of your love,
    and all may know christ,
    the true light of the world
    to offer to every human being
    the sure hope of eternal life. amen.

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