Last Will and Testament

It reads like a letter — to me, a sad letter. Pope John Paul II's (search) final will and testament, crafted over a quarter-century.

This most recognized of earthly figures admitting to no real earthly possessions of his own.

Kind words for a loyal aide, but nothing of family members he has long out-lived.

He talks of that last passage, "my Easter," as he put it, seemingly knowing that he wouldn't survive much past that day.

An ailing pontiff on the eve of the millennium, pondering the Earth's future and his own fragile body.

John Paul II was already very sick. Parkinson's disease (search) had ravaged his body, but not his mind.

He was in great pain and wondered aloud whether he could fulfill his maker's mission.

But, he adds, "I express the most profound confidence, that despite my weakness, the Father will provide me with every necessary grace to face according to his will, any assignment, trial and suffering that he will require of his servant."

He talks about wanting a burial in the ground, not in a sarcophagus and that he will leave much up to the cardinals, but virtually all up to God.

He notes that, "everyone has to keep a perspective on death" and "must be ready to present himself before the father and the judge."

He seems like a man with the worries of the world on his increasingly hunched shoulders. But a man who firmly believes someone's helping him, guiding him and now, I suspect, welcoming him. No doubt with the words, "good work, my loyal servant. Good work, indeed."

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