The 11 a.m. Mass at Mary Queen of the World Cathedral on Sunday was celebrated with much solemnity, as, for one day only, a relic of Saint John Paul II (JPII) was brought to be presented for the veneration of the faithful.
A Columbian family, member of the association of the faithful Totus tuus - a missionary community that does good work just about everywhere in the world, including Canada -, brought the small reliquary in the shape of the tau cross. "It is a visible and modest sign of a saint who was faithful to God, and who has come to help us on our journey," explained Archbishop Christian Lépine when asked about the meaning of the veneration of relics in the Catholic Church. "Welcoming the relics of Saint John Paul II, is simply asking the Lord that he welcomes us on our journey of faith."
During the veneration that followed the Mass, we met with Denise, who shared her view on the veneration of relics. "To be in close proximity to a relic like John Paul II's brings much inner peace," she explained, "The Lord heals through the relics. John Paul II was a great prophet, and he represented Jesus well." Denise was in Rome for his canonisation in 2014.
A Contemporary Saint
The presence of this relic is also special because many of the people in the assembly knew John Paul II during his entire pontificate. "I was struck by his inauguration homily, by his words 'Do not be afraid,'"explained Flore Kouadio. "His openness towards different cultures and the impact he had concerning the crises that the world was experiencing at that time also made an impression on me. I would therefore say that all his good work made an impression on me, even his death, his illness, and the fact that he continued his ministry through to the end. These were, in my opinion, remarkable acts of faith."
Other participants of the celebration had had the opportunity to meet him. A Senegalese tourist passing through Montreal said that she was "thrilled" to learn that the relics were here. "I had the opportunity to say hello to Pope John Paul II in 1984, during the first youth conference in Rome, which led to the establishment of World Youth Days," explained Hélène Maritine. "I was a delegate of my country and had the chance to shake his hand, and he blessed my forehead. I came to this Mass to thank God and to pray to him again." For the occasion, she wore an African dress with the saint's colours.
The relic is presently being taken around the world. In Québec, it was entrusted to the Totus Tuus Association, which had been taking care of it since the weekend of June 12. "Our association was blessed to receive the relic from Stanislas Cardinal Dziwisz [former private secretary to JPII] to bring it to America," explained one of the members. The relic was first presented on the occasion of the Feast of the Sacred Heart, in Longueuil, in Saint-Jérôme, and then at the Oratory. After Montreal on Sunday, the relic was taken to the United States.
The association draws its inspiration directly from this holy pope's spirituality and from his apostolic motto, Totus tuus, which is also a word of consecration to Mary of Saint-Louis-Marie Grignon de Montfort. This member, who is also a mother, concluded by saying, "John Paul II is the saint of the new evangelization. We would like for all Quebec families to still be filled with the joy of being Catholic. Not of being classified as Catholic, but of living their faith. Because by living our Catholic faith, we are equipped with many graces for overcoming life's obstacles."