Look to Wujek: "Your Gift of Self"

Fr. Wojtyła (St. John Paul II) received the title “Wujek” (-yĕk, which means uncle) from his group of friends in 1952 because it was not safe to call him Father in public. "Look to Wujek" helps us get to know the man who was St. John Paul II, little by little.

by: Theresa Martin 

You have probably heard it said that St. John Paul II defined love as a "gift of self." This value of the gift of self is so precious, because it envelops all of who we are as persons. Your life itself is a gift from God. The only way you become the man or woman God created you to be is by giving away this gift of yourself to others in love. 

We have an incredible opportunity to exemplify this in marriage. When you give of yourself in love, to your spouse, to your children, to your extended family, you become more of who you were meant to be: "man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself." (Guadium et Spes, 24).

In the union between husband and wife, this gift of self can make you a little fearful. Maybe you wouldn't be fully afraid, but there seems to be a natural instinct of self-preservation. Giving a gift of yourself means being vulnerable. It means not controlling whether your spouse receives your gift or offers a gift in response, but just trusting without any guarantee. It is not easy to remain vulnerable; there is a natural defense mechanism that makes us want to protect ourselves from getting hurt.

However, the moment you try to control it; the moment you grasp onto it and demand the gift from the spouse, it vanishes. A gift cannot be demanded or it ceases to exist as gift at all. What should be a loving union becomes slightly tense and one spouse might begin to feel used rather than loved.

We must have courage! To open yourself to offer that loving gift and trust, not demand nor try to control, but merely trust, that your spouse will respond in kind--this takes intentional communication. It takes time to understand one another on a deeper level, and especially if one has been hurt in the past, that desire to self-protect will be very strong.

When the spouses get to a place where they are walking in continual vulnerability with each other, and out-doing each other in acts of self-giving love, the results are incredible! Each one feels truly loved for who they are; not merely what they've done or what they can do, but who they are right then, in all their faults and everything.

It takes heroic virtue to live this on a daily basis, and it was St. John Paul II who reminded us that the only way to sustain this heroic virtue is through the support of an authentically Catholic community - which is why he wrote the Rule for married couple groups! The Rule gives you that community of support so you can work towards this beautiful union of self-giving love ... and in it, find lasting joy!

Pope St. John Paul II, pray for us!