CCN PHOTO | DEBORAH GYAPONG
Fr. Tom Rosica says the world needs ordinary people who are heros.
OTTAWA - Pope John Paul II canonized or beatified many saints because he knew "the world needed heroes," Basilian Father Thomas Rosica told priests and lay people gathered for a pastoral day May 19.
What Pope John Paul did was present "a lot of people who look like us," Rosica said. "They became an invitation to others to be like them."
Not all were mother abbesses, priests or members of religious orders, he said, but "real ordinary folks."
These ordinary people show that now everyone is called to holiness. Laity no longer have the excuse: "Oh, she's a nun, she never had a husband, that's why she's a saint," Rosica joked.
Saints are not grown in perfect conditions, he said. "We are invited to holiness in the places where we are." That can often be in a "backdrop of darkness and conflict."
Rosica was the CEO of the 2002 World Youth Day in Toronto and now serves as head of the Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation.
Our call is to take our Baptism seriously and live the Beatitudes, Rosica said.
"We never respond to works of evil with more of the same.
"We continue to do many hidden, quiet sacrifices each day of our lives with love, peace and joy."
We must "pray incessantly" and never give up living and preaching God's word, he said. Becoming a saint is "the task of every Christian."
The late pope was onto something in shifting the focus to ordinary people who had led extraordinary lives for God.
Rosica recalled how in the 90s, when he was in charge of the University of Toronto's Newman Centre, Michael Jackson and Madonna were the centre of attention. Young people looked to rock stars, athletes and other celebrities.
Pope John Paul, he said, recognized the challenges and burdens facing those who try to lead a life of holiness.
Jonah ran from God's call to preach to the people of Nineveh, he said. But don't we do the same thing when we run to a speedboat or cruise ship to "take us to a quiet, peaceful place that is much less complicated and less hostile to our message?"
Yet, our call is like that of Jonah. It is to bring Jesus' Good News and call to holiness "to our cities today - cities that are often so enormous, impersonal, busy and filled with noise."
Rosica reflected on the meaning of Pope John Paul's beatification.
"He taught us not to be afraid. He showed us how to live, how to love, how to forgive and how to die," he said.
"He taught us how to embrace the cross in the most excruciating moments of life, knowing that the cross was not God's final answer."