REQUIEM FOR A LIBERATOR. The passing of Pope John Paul II got me thinking about one of the anthems at President Eisenhower's funeral. (We're talking about two different kinds of liberators, thus the connection.) I was unable to find a setting of The Palms online, although I did find this sermon on the meaning of Palm Sunday that provides many of the words to that hymn, as well as an apt comment.

And yet, here is Jesus, at the very end of his life, with every human joy stripped away, going to the cross for the sake of the joy that was set before him.

Dear friends, in the midst of a world which gradually squeezes the future out of our lives, there is a God who plants joy before you! In fact, right now, in this very moment, there is divine joy set in the future of each and every person here. You may be so caught up in the pursuit of your own joys that you don't see it. You may be so overwhelmed by your losses that you're unable to lift your eyes high enough to perceive it.

In departing this life, the Pope preached this sermon without words. The Anchoress has an impressive post of the events leading to his departure, with occasional sermonettes. Jay at Accidental Verbosity has the secular tribute.

But, when he took on the role of Pope…


Go. Read. Both. In Their Entirety.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editors offer a balanced assessment of his papacy, concluding with the Easter message.

The church and the world are poorer now that heaven has reclaimed its gift.

But those who mourn the pope's passing and fear for the future of the church should take heart in words he once wrote: "Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song."

This Pope has been an inspiration to people with Polish roots, whether Catholic or not. Jeff at Quid nomen illius? has a recollection.
I hope someone pauses to memorialize what the man meant to Polish Americans, including those of us who are great-grandchildren of the Polish diaspora.

I was seven years old when Karol Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II. I don't remember the announcement, but I will never forget the reaction among the old ladies in our family: amazement, disbelief, and tearful, joyful phone calls in which those second-generation Americans, born to Polish immigrants and raised in Polish slums, proclaimed the event as nothing short of a miracle. One member of my family not known for showy religiosity began to keep a discreet photograph of John Paul II in his briefcase.
For those stories, look for articles reporting visits to St. Ladislaus in Hamtramck, Michigan, or Five Holy Martyrs in Chicago. I can think of no better venue for such a story, however, than St. Josaphat's in Milwaukee.

Dominus vobiscum.

RUNNING EXTRA: Faithful flock to local churches to mourn death.
On the south side, Father Bill Callahan welcomed grieving parishioners at the Basilica of St. Josaphat, which was built by Polish Americans. Some had come with a need to share their sense of loss of a great religious leader and fellow Pole.
Reporters also visit Milwaukee's St. John Cathedral and Gesu Church, an impressive gateway to the Marquette campus.

As church bells tolled at 4:30 p.m., young people flocked to church in jeans, hooded jackets and T-shirts to honor him.

Young Catholics have only known one pope, said Kyle Krombach, 20, and they looked to John Paul II as an example because the pope taught youth how to be good Catholics and good humans.

The flock has lost its shepherd, he said.

Marquette Warrior notes that the shape of the Roman Church to come remains open for discussion.

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