A couple of weekends ago I had the pleasure to read Pope John Paul II's Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way. My wonderful sister gave me this book for Christmas. It was just a pleasure to share this intimate moment with this great man and saint. It doesn't appear that he co-wrote this book with anyone, you can truly feel his presence. As you read this book, you feel like he is sitting right there with you reminiscing about his years as Bishop of Krakow. Although His Holiness wrote this book to instruct his bishops, there is plenty of inspiration for all of us.
The book basically covers his years as a Bishop in Poland, from the time he was asked to serve as Bishop to the time he was elected Pope. If there is one word that was left in my heart after reading this book is "shepherd." "The shepherd knows his sheep, and they know him" (John 10:14). Two weeks later, I think of the Pope's words when I think of my role as a Servant-Leader and shepherd at work, at home, and at church. I want to live my life as a leader with the love for my staff that he had for his flock. I loved to hear how he wanted to personally and deeply know all the priests under his care: their strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and aspirations. He made an effort to visit most of his parishes at least once. Not just to do Confirmation, but he would spend several days there. He would meet one on one with his priests, he would give a talk to the parish to emphasize his vision, he would give a talk to married couples, and then do a mass for marriage.
In reading his book, you get a sense of how important Scripture was for him. He applied it to every aspect of his life, and he included many meaningful passages throughout. Another aspect that came through loud and clear was his love for our mother Mary. He recalls with glee his first pilgrimage out of Rome to Mexico and the shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe. She was his companion and spiritual guide. In reading his words, it is also evident how much he loved saying and praying mass. It is as if he couldn't wait to say mass every day.
I could say so much more, but I won't so you read the book. I was inspired as a Catholic, a shepherd, and a son of God to follow Jesus when he said "raise. let us be on our way..."
Thanks Karol Wojtyla, dearest Pope, for a life of love and service.