POPE BENEDICT XVI, in his homily during the beatification of Blessed Pope John Paul II last May 1, recalled his personal experience working with his predecessor who was “blessed of his faith, a strong, generous and apostolic faith.”

Benedict, who was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith four years under Pope John Paul II, reminisced the “richness of insight” that he was fortunate to receive.

“After he called me to Rome to be the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I was at his side and came to revere him all the more,” Pope Benedict XVI said. “My own service was sustained by his spiritual depth and richness of his insights.”

On October 16, 1978, the College of Cardinals chose the Archbishop of Krakow Karol Wojtyla as the next Pope, after Pope John Paul I.

Blessed John Paul II participated in the Second Vatican Council in 1962, which modernized the Church.

“He was fully aware that the Council’s decision to devote the last chapter of its Constitution on the Church to Mary meant that the Mother of the Redeemer is held up as an image and model of holiness for every Christian and for the entire Church,” the Pope said. “This was the theological vision which Blessed John Paul II discovered as a young man and subsequently maintained and deepened throughout his life.”

Reading the gospel of the Second Sunday of Easter, Pope Benedict XVI emphasized the beatitude of faith— which reads “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe (John 20:29)”—as the embodiment of Blessed John Paul II’s papacy. The Pope said that the cause of the celebration was not only because a person of faith has been beatified but “because the one proclaimed is a Pope, a successor of Peter, [and] one who was called to confirm his brethren in the faith.”

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With the beatification coinciding with the first day of the month of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer, Pope Benedict XVI said the John Paul II was truly blessed like his predecessors.

“The beatitude of faith has its model in Mary, and all of us rejoice that the beatification of John Paul II takes place on this first day of the month of Mary, beneath the maternal gaze of the one who by her faith sustained the faith of the Apostles and constantly sustains the faith of their successors, especially those called to occupy the Chair of Peter,” the Pope said.

Not only did papacy of Blessed John Paul II bring renewed and strengthened faith that brought deep understanding between Marxism and Christianity, he brought back the true face of Christianity “as a religion of hope,” Benedict said.

“Even then we perceived the fragrance of his sanctity, and in any number of ways God’s people showed their veneration for him,” he said.

But more importantly, for the Supreme Pontiff, Blessed John Paul II is the ideal that any Successor of Peter should follow.

“His example of prayer continually impressed and edified me: He remained deeply united with God even amid the many demands of his ministry,” he said.

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