The spirituality of the Saint John Paul II and therefore of the MGs is Christocentric, Trinitarian (‘spirituality of communion’), Marian, Eucharistic, has a strong focus on Redemption and Mercy, and an emphasis on developing our interior life- becoming contemplative, even if we are active.
Spirituality has been described as a convergence of gifts from the Holy Spirit toward a common focus. People who have the same spirituality have a common vision and similar inner orientations push them to realize this vision through collaborative and supportive activities. John Paul II’s vision was that every person experience communion by realizing their dignity and Christ who reveals it to them. In other words, he wanted to help people encounter Christ and within this personal relationship come to recognize who they are and who they are called to be.
Some of the gifts that seem to manifest in John Paul II’s spiritual life that help us to live out this vision (which is an expression of the MG’s mission) include his emphasis on developing the following areas. We are not able to cover these areas properly here, so we simply offer some food for thought under each heading.
1) Christocentric, Eucharistic and Trinitarian Spirituality:
“A spirituality of communion indicates above all the heart’s contemplation of the mystery of the Trinity dwelling in us… Let us have no illusions: unless we follow this spiritual path, external structures of communion will serve very little purpose” (JPII, Novo Millennio Ineunte para. 43). In relation to the formation of priests, JPII says, “of special importance is the capacity to relate to others. This is truly fundamental for a person who is called to be responsible for a community and to be a “man of communion”…People today are often trapped in situations of standardization and loneliness, especially in large urban centers, and they become ever more appreciative of the value of communion. Today this is one of the most eloquent signs and one of the most effective ways of transmitting the Gospel message” Pastores Dabo Vobis, 25 March 1992, para. 43.
2) Developing our interior life/ Contemplation in activity. “The missionary must be a “contemplative in action.” He finds answers to problems in the light of God’s word and in personal and community prayer… the future of mission depends to a great extent on contemplation. Unless the missionary is a contemplative he cannot proclaim Christ in a credible way.” (Redemptoris Missio 91)
3) Missionary Spirituality:
“No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty to proclaim Christ to all peoples’ (Redemptoris Missio, para. 3). We need to do ‘this with a ‘missionary spirituality’… this spirituality is expressed first of all by a life of complete docility to the Spirit…’ (Redemptoris Missio, para. 87-91).
4) Marian “Totus tuus ergo sum!”
Much has been written about the Holy Father’s love and devotion for our Blessed Mother Mary. A good starting place would be his encyclical- Redemptoris Mater (25 March 1989).
5) Emphasis on the Redemption and Divine Mercy
The subject of Redemption flows through JPII’s work regardless of the topic or theme, because he believed that the transformation of the world would take place when our hearts had been transformed and redeemed. See for example, Redemptionis Donum, 25 March 1984, 9.
- Emphasis on Scripture: “Read the Scriptures daily, if possible. Meditate on them. Give the word of God a convincing and winning form in your lives. You will experience the living presence of Christ in yourselves through his word’ JPII, Homily, 3 May 1987. See also: Vita Consecrata 94 and Pastores Dabo Vobis, 47.
- Devotion to the Sacraments. “The essential commitment and, above all, the visible grace and source of supernatural strength for the Church as the People of God is to persevere and advance constantly in Eucharistic life and Eucharistic piety and to develop spiritually in the climate of the Eucharist.” (Redemptor Hominis 20)
- Rosary: “The Rosary of the Virgin Mary, which gradually took form in the second millennium under the guidance of the Spirit of God, is a prayer loved by countless Saints and encouraged by the Magisterium. Simple yet profound, it still remains, at the dawn of this third millennium, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness…the Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium. It is an echo of the prayer of Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive Incarnation which began in her virginal womb. With the Rosary, the Christian people sit at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer” Rosarium Virginis Mariae 1.
- Divine Mercy Devotion: ‘The message of Divine Mercy has always been near and dear to me. It is as if history had inscribed it in the tragic experience of the Second World War. In those difficult years it was a particular support and an inexhaustible source of hope, not only for the people of Krakow but for the entire nation. This was also my personal experience, which I took with me to the See of Peter and which in a sense forms the image of this pontificate’ (JPII, Homily, 7 June 1997).
- Constant reference to the example of the saints: ‘He fostered a particular veneration for the saints. Every morning, when he emerged from the refectory after breakfast, he would walk through the sacristy and kiss all the relics kept on the table next to the altar… with the intention of offering the faithful a variegated mosaic of models to imitate, John Paul II proclaimed 483 saints and 1,345 blessed during his pontificate’ (Slawomir Oder & Saverio Gaeta, Why He is a Saint, 2010).