George P. Matysek Jr. is the assistant managing editor of The Catholic Review in Baltimore.

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Thanks, Gwyneth! We all miss him at the Catholic Review.

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The Narthex

VIDEO REPORT: Pope John Paul II's home parish shows love for native son

It's an understatement to say that the people of Poland - and especially the people of Blessed Pope John Paul II's hometown of Wadowice - love their Polish pope.  Check out this video report on how the late pope's home parish expresses that love.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MadNhgq1D30]

June 07, 2011 11:33
By George Matysek


Pope John Paul II: ‘Ho, ho, ho, Secret Service’

Retired Secret Service Agent James Le Gette displays a photo of him with Pope John Paul II while he was assigned to protect the pope during his 1979 visit to the United States. (Owen Sweeney III/Catholic Review File)

The recent announcement that Pope John Paul II will be beatified May 1 brought renewed attention to the late Polish pontiff’s intense prayer life and his almost mystic spirituality.

But the pope also had a playful side.

James Le Gette, a Secret Service agent assigned to help protect the pope during the Holy Father’s first visit to the United States in 1979, caught a glimpse of that playfulness firsthand. The parishioner of St. John in Severna Park was with the pope at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in downtown Washington, Oct. 7.

Joseph Kirk Ryan, former managing editor of The Catholic Review, recounted the story in this snip from a 2005 CR article:

Mr. Le Gette had positioned himself on the landing of a stairway leading down from the floor where the meal for the pope was held.

When he saw the papal party approaching the stairs, Mr. Le Gette looked down the stairs and got on his radio to say, “We’re coming for sure.”

“I turned back to see where he (the pope) was, because I was concerned about a tumble,” Mr. Le Gette said.

That was when the agent saw the pope “hind-saddle coming down the banister.”

“I turned around, grabbed him and he grabbed me.”

“Ho, ho, ho, Secret Service,” Pope John Paul said.

Mr. Le Gette looked at the rest of the papal party coming down the steps the old-fashioned way.

“Everybody is standing there: ‘What is he doing?” he recalled. “It was totally impromptu.”

January 18, 2011 11:52
By George Matysek


Blessed John Paul II: 'God's man'

It's been eagerly anticipated for years.  Now it's a reality. Pope John Paul II will be beatified May 1.  Here's a small snip from the official decree issued today in Rome:

Pope John Paul II waves to an estimated 60,000 people in Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore Oct. 8, 1995. The liturgy was held during the pope's 1995 pastoral visit to America. (CNS file photo by Nancy Wiechec)

John Paul II’s pontificate was an eloquent and clear sign, not only for Catholics, but also for world public opinion, for people of all colour and creed. The world’s reaction to his lifestyle, to the development of his apostolic mission, to the way he bore his suffering, to the decision to continue his Petrine mission to the end as willed by divine Providence, and finally, the reaction to his death, the popularity of the acclamation “Saint right now!” which someone made on the day of his funerals, all this has its solid foundation in the experience of having met with the person who was the Pope. The faithful have felt, have experienced that he is “God’s man”, who really sees the concrete steps and the mechanisms of contemporary world “in God”, in God’s perspective, with the eyes of a mystic who looks up to God only. He was clearly a man of prayer: so much so that it is from the dynamism of his personal union with God, from the permanent listening to what God wants to say in a concrete situation, that the whole of “Pope John Paul II’s activity” flowed.

Click here for a full report on the beatification from Catholic News Service.

January 14, 2011 07:31
By George Matysek


VIDEO REPORT: Jewish museum hosts John Paul II exhibit

The Jewish Museum of Maryland is hosting a fantastic exhibit that highlights Pope John Paul II's many efforts to foster better understanding between Catholics and Jews.  Check out this video report.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsTuTk6EiVU]

December 16, 2010 06:52
By George Matysek