June 03, 2020
Religion and Spirituality
What is the meaning of life? Where and how can a person obtain it? Filipinos are renowned for their great love for Pope John Paul II, who was canonized as a Saint last April 27, 2014. Many have been inspired and were given hope because of his divine presence. This existential-phenomenological study aims to understand how selected Filipinos were able to find meaning in life through the inspiration brought by Saint John Paul II. Specifically, the objectives of this research are as follows: to identify the direct and indirect experiences of the participants with the late pontiff, to know how these experiences affected their way of finding meaning in life, and to determine the meaning in life that they have ascribed from these encounters. The researcher interviewed three Filipino Roman Catholics who experienced a spiritual rebirth, a transition from meaninglessness to finding meaning in life through Saint John Paul II. A detailed account of each case is provided. The thematic analysis yielded nine themes common among the participants’ lived experiences: Personal Connection, Fatherly Relationship, Selflessness, Mission and Service, Christ-like Image, Call to Holiness, Suffering, Courage, and Christian Joy. Based on the results of this study, the phenomenon of finding meaning in life through Saint John Paul II can be summarized into four statements, (1) existential meaning is personally constructed; (2) it can be achieved by establishing relationships with the Divine and with others; (3) religion and spirituality play an important role in the meaning-making process; and (4) meaning can be obtained by performing one’s vocation in life (creative source), experiencing a sense of awe, wonder, and transcendence (experiential source), and accepting suffering (attitudinal). The researcher concludes that an inspirational figure like Saint John Paul II can be a great source of meaning in life. Implications and recommendations are discussed.
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