St. John Paul II is loved by people worldwide, and his feast day — October 22 — is the perfect occasion to celebrate the life, legacy, and holiness of this great man. We may not be able to pray before St. John Paul’s tomb in the Vatican or make a pilgrimage to his hometown of Wadowice, but there are many activities we can participate in, either alone or with a group of our friends and family.
Make Pope Cake
On a visit to his hometown of Wadowice, Pope John Paul II once mentioned his childhood fondness for cream cake, kremowka. Known as “Pope Cake” by many people, this delicious treat is a splendid way to celebrate St. John Paul’s feast day.
Read the Theology of the Body
From 1979-1984, Pope John Paul II delivered a series of audiences where he discussed God’s plan for the human person as reflected in our bodies. These audiences comprise the catechesis of the Theology of the Body. There are many books and commentaries on the Theology of the Body, and these can be great resources for introducing people to John Paul II’s work. However, sometimes if we never move beyond these materials, we can have a limited view of what is included in the Theology of the Body catechesis. Why not celebrate the feast of St. John Paul II by reading an audience or two? They can be read online at EWTN. and For those who prefer a physical copy of the audiences, an excellent volume is Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, translated by Michael Waldstein (Pauline Books and Media).
Watch The Jeweler’s Shop
Several years before he became Pope John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla wrote a three-act play about marriage. The Jeweler’s Shop is available both as a book and as a full-length movie, and it would be fantastic and enriching entertainment when celebrating the feast of this great saint.
Recite the poetry of Pope John Paul II
Over the course of many years, then-Karol Wojtyla wrote many poems, some of which were collected and released in the volume The Place Within: The Poetry of Pope John Paul II. The feast of Pope St. John Paul II is a perfect opportunity to host a “poetry tea” and read or recite his poems with friends.
Enjoy a Polish-inspired feast
Honor the Polish heritage of Pope St. John Paul II with a tasty lunch or dinner. For those with enough time on their hands (and perhaps some helpers to assist with assembly), pierogies are a delicious dish. People who, like myself, are perhaps not motivated enough to make potato dumplings can instead opt to make a golumpki-inspired casserole or a pot of borscht.
Pray the Rosary
Pope John Paul II encouraged devotion to Mary, so what better way to celebrate his feast than by praying a Rosary? In fact, Pope John Paul II added a set of mysteries-the Luminous mysteries, or “mysteries of light” to the Rosary in 2002. He describes these in his apostolic letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae:
“Certainly the whole mystery of Christ is a mystery of light. He is the “light of the world” (Jn 8:12). Yet this truth emerges in a special way during the years of his public life, when he proclaims the Gospel of the Kingdom. In proposing to the Christian community five significant moments – “luminous” mysteries – during this phase of Christ’s life, I think that the following can be fittingly singled out: (1) his Baptism in the Jordan, (2) his self-manifestation at the wedding of Cana, (3) his proclamation of the Kingdom of God, with his call to conversion, (4) his Transfiguration, and finally, (5) his institution of the Eucharist, as the sacramental expression of the Paschal Mystery” (#22).
Discuss one of the Pope’s many encyclicals
During his pontificate, Pope John Paul II penned more than a dozen encyclicals, and these are excellent material for reading, discussion, and spiritual growth. In my own life, reading Ecclesia de Eucharistia as a young teenager was extremely beneficial as I grew in my devotion to our Eucharistic Lord. Dives in Misericordia which focuses on God’s abundant mercy, is another excellent encyclical.
The saints are powerful intercessors and examples to look towards as we seek to grow closer to God. Furthermore, marking the feast days of saints with celebrations help to strengthen the Catholic culture in our families and communities. We may not all be able to throw grandiose celebrations, but even in small ways we can focus our days on God and on the Communion of Saints that surrounds us.
What are some other ways that we can celebrate the feast of St. John Paul II?
Copyright 2018 AnneMarie Miller