In Just Think I wrote, "I am grateful when people mark their paths...so that someone wishing or needing to follow a similar path can better find the way." Watching Pope John Paul II in his final years, months, and days, I'm grateful for the marked path he left behind. He lived out his calling with all his being, despite physical limitations. His limitations became part of his path but never defined his path. He didn't seek personal entertainment or pampering, but rather he sought always to be about his work.
Even as he died he was about his work. The Pope had asked for the Stations of the Cross to be read to him in his final hours. In a television interview, a Catholic Bishop commented that the Pope knew that part of his work was modeling how to live and that even here he was modeling for us how to live with suffering, how to find meaning in suffering by joining with Christ's suffering, and how to die. This Bishop added that because of how the Pope lived his final years and days, he had greater courage to face his own aging, suffering, and death. I agree.
Thank you Pope John Paul II for the path of courage, calling, and faith you marked for all of us, Catholic or not.
Public radio's Speaking of Faith has produced a radio program about the Pope, "The Religious Legacy of Pope John Paul II." You can listen to it at the program's home page.