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05 Feb Why a Cultural Centre?

Over the past year while we have been working to establish the John Paul II Cultural Centre many people have asked us why we are calling our organization a cultural centre.

What usually comes to mind when someone says “Cultural Centre” is a national or ethic group that has come together to create a space where they can showcase unique cultural traits such as food, music, dance, sports, language, etc. that set their nation or ethic group apart from others.

With this in mind how does it make sense to start a cultural centre focused on one man and his teachings?

The reason we decided to call the organization the John Paul II Cultural Centre is because we want to build up the culture which John Paul II worked tirelessly to create. Like other cultural centres our goal is to showcase the unique traits that make up the culture of John Paul II. These traits are not things like food, music, dance, etc. but rather a new way of living our lives in accordance with the teachings of Jesus Christ. The culture which John Paul II called for was a culture of life. Countless times throughout his life he lamented the fact that the modern world embraced a culture of death where abortion, contraception, euthanasia, and divorce are the hallmarks and values which society enshrines. He rightly said that these actions can only lead to death and not only the death of the individual but the death of our culture. Thus, he called for a culture of life founded upon the sanctity of all human life from conception until natural death. He wanted to build a culture where the family was the “fundamental cell of society” and the foundation upon which we built our culture. The culture he envisioned was one where every person took time to discover their identity as a beloved child of God created for a specific role in society. He saw a world where every person was loved, respected and cherished for who they are not simply what they do or what productive value society bestows upon them. He taught us that our dignity is inside of us and comes from God, not from society or the world.

The reason we called this organization a cultural centre is because we want to share the vision that John Paul II had for a culture of life with all men and women. We want to strive every day through our events and programs to build that culture of life by providing individuals and families with the opportunities they need to slow down, reflect, pray and learn. So that they can grow in their faith, discover their identity, discern what they are called to through the desires of their hearts and form a personal relationship with God.

The fathers at the Second Vatican Council taught us that “Chris fully reveals man to himself and makes his supreme calling clear” (Gaudium et Spes, 22) and that we can only find ourselves through a sincere gift of ourselves (Gaudium et Spes, 24). Within these two statements we can find the true meaning of human life. We only find our identity and vocation in life through a sincere gift of ourselves and Jesus, through his life, death, and resurrection, shows us the fullest expression of self-giving love. Thus, we can say that the only way to find ourselves is to lose ourselves in giving to others.

Basing a culture on self-giving love is the antithesis of the modern world. We are told that we need to live empowered lives by “looking out for number one.” The world says we need to be productive and successful in order to be happy and the measure of success is how high we have climbed on the corporate ladder. We are encouraged to find a stable, high paying job because that will give us security, happiness and peace. There is nothing inherently wrong with these messages we receive from society but unless we see these messages through the lens of self-giving love they will ring hollow and the pursuit of wealth, power, and prestige will leave us feeling empty inside. The only way to find the happiness we all long for is to follow God’s will for our lives and trust that He will look after all our material needs.

Throughout our lives we need to take time to think, reflect and pray about what God is calling us to do. God rarely shows us His whole plan for our lives all at once. More often He reveals one step at a time. This forces us to take time out of our lives to go on retreat so that we can unplug from the demands of life and tune into the voice of God which speaks in the silence of our hearts.

The goal of the John Paul II Cultural Centre is to share the life and teachings of John Paul II and build a culture of life and love by providing opportunities for prayer and reflection through our camps, conferences and retreats.