Eucharistic Encounter 2: His first words as Pope were “Do not be afraid.” That’s why he said, “I’ll come.”

His first words as Pope were “Do not be afraid.” That’s why he said, “I’ll come.”

John Paul II did something that hadn’t been done for over 100 years. That’s absolutely right, and I was a witness of it. Do you know what it is? 

John Paul II, in 1982, did an outdoor Corpus Christi Procession from St. John Lateran’s Basilica and Cathedral in Rome to Santa Maria Maggiore. When he became pope, he told an advisor that he had an idea to do a Corpus Christi procession the following year on the feast through the streets of Rome. They shook their heads and said, “you know, that hasn’t been done in a hundred years.” He said, “I know, but it’ll be good for the people.” 

They kept shaking their heads. “The streets are a mess, the traffic is a problem… it’s going to be chaotic.” 

“I know,” he said, “but let’s do it anyway.” 

In one last try to convince the new pope otherwise, they said, “Father, this is 1982. Nobody’s gonna come.” 

He said, “I’ll come.” And he did. A few others came with him that first year, and he launched the revival of reverence for the holy Eucharist in Rome. And from Rome, it spread throughout the world, all because St. John Paul II said, “I’ll come.”

When I participated in 1992, it rained at the beginning of the outdoor Mass. But when the time for the offertory and Consecration came, it stopped raining. At the end of Mass, St. John Paul II took the Eucharist under the humeral veil and led the procession down the Via Merulana, about one mile from St. John Lateran to Santa Maria Maggiore. Right in front of them were a group of children who had just received their First Communion and probably about 150,000 people followed along. When they reached the church, he lifted up the Eucharist and blessed the people – and the second a priest took Him inside, lightning flashed, thunder roared, and it started raining cats and dogs!

God the Father made sure it didn’t rain on Jesus – all because St. John Paul II said, “I’ll come.”

I hope to see you at the Eucharistic Congress next year. Let’s all show up for Jesus!

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Rev. Francis J. Hoffman, "Fr. Rocky" is the Executive Director/CEO of Relevant Radio and a priest of Opus Dei.