The apparition of the Mother of God at La Salette in France was succeeded by two more great mariophanies. At Lourdes in 1858 she identified herself to little St. Bernadette Soubirous as the Immaculate Conception and requested the recitation of the Holy Rosary. At Fatima in 1917, while World War I was still raging on the European continent, she announced that she wished to establish devotion to her Immaculate Heart, insisting once more on the recitation of the Rosary, to which she promised to attach “a new efficacy” for the salvation of souls. She also told little Lucy dos Santos that at some future date, “I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia.” That day turned out to be Thursday June 13, 1929.
The Passion really begins at the Nativity, since Jesus, in His Divine Omniscience, always knew, saw and willed the sufferings which awaited His Humanity. The first blood shed for us was on the occasion of the Circumcision, eight days after Christmas. One can readily imagine what it must be for a man to be able to foresee his martyrdom.
The holocaust was to begin at Gethsemane. Jesus, having given His own body to eat and His blood to drink, leads His apostles by night to that grove of olives where they were in the habit of going. He allows them to rest at the entrance, taking with Him a little further Peter, James and John, from whom He separates Himself about a stone’s throw, to prepare Himself in prayer. He knows His hour has come. He has sent out the traitor Judas (“That which thou dost, do quickly”). He is eager to be finished with it and it is His will.
If all religions can lead to God and there may not be any souls in hell, couldn't it be argued that all departed men and women are, in fact, already enjoying eternal beatitude? And if that were the case, then obviously it would render canonization quite redundant. What exactly does the post-conciliar Vatican mean by salvation, sanctity and canonization? Devil's advocates everywhere would like to know.
As the days go by, we are getting closer to the scheduled canonizations of Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II. Most Catholics, unaware of the true significance of this event, are looking forward to a worldwide celebration of these two popular popes. John XXIII is remembered by older generations as “Good Pope John”, a moniker given due to both his affectionate demeanor and media praise for opening the Church to the world.
Similarly, John Paul II was, and is still, very popular due to his personal charisma, globetrotting travels, and fantastical World Youth Days. Thus, a certain cult of personality has developed around both men. In the case of Blessed John Paul, the fervor for his canonization has not subsided from the time of his death in 2005.