Monday, December 17, 2012

This week Paul VI to be declared Venerable

This is welcome news for me.

I was in Rome in my early twenties, a pilgrim who frequented St. Peter's.  While there, I was blessed to attend Masses with the Holy Father, Pope Paul VI.  At the time he was 'my pope' - I expect not unlike young people considered Blessed John Paul II to be 'their pope' while he was alive.  Truth be told, the pope is the pope - the one who occupies the chair of Peter, he is the Vicar of Christ.  Each pope has his own personality - each pope I love and cherish with a special devotion.  However, the reigning pontiff radiates a particular attraction, in a charismatic sense, especially to the young and the faithful.

In those days, I wore a crucifix, a copy of the gnarled crosier Paul VI initiated, the same one used by John Paul II, and for a short time by Benedict XVI.  My devotion for the Holy Father was intense, and for that reason I wanted to be identified with him by wearing a small replica of his crucifix.  I recall two priests mocking me one day, in a little cafe near the train station, for speaking of him as the "Holy Father' - they were certain that since I was an American, it was an affectation.  As I attempted to convince them otherwise, they made fun of me even more.  I was used to stuff like that.

Years later, a friend of another priest friend of mine, a somewhat pompous, if not arrogant professor at the local university, once corrected me in a conversation involving Pope Paul VI.  I mentioned I thought that Pope Paul was 'great' - not at all in the sense people like to attribute to Blessed John Paul II however - I was simply trying to express my enthusiasm for the late pope.  I believed him to be holy, a 'suffering servant' and a prophet - due in part to Humane Vitae of course.  The priest interrupted me, saying, "I wouldn't call him great... not at all!"  And then he proceeded to denigrate the late pope, pointing out his weaknesses and faults.  My enthusiasm for Paul VI wasn't at all diminished, although my respect for the foul-mouthed professor certainly was.

In my opinion, the declaration of venerable is a much greater honor than being titled 'great'...

For some reason the arrogant things priests say make a deep impression upon others.  Much more so than the things lay people can say - often in their ignorance.

The arrogant are sent away empty.


  1. Truely, the Holy Spirit gives us the best possible Pope for each time in which he serves. Looking back, we can always see that, in case at the moment we lack the insight. I too loved this Pope. I am blessed to have an old micro-mosaic cross from Ireland with a tiny picture of him in the center: my Grandmother bought it there during his reign. What a deep soul he was.

  2. btw: thank you for the wonderful photo at top - the black black trees against the sky - an eye feast.

  3. Just some food for thought...

  4. Pope Paul VI is the Pontiff of my youth as wel. I doubt if I ever apriciated him at the time. For me he was old and vunerable and I was relieved for him and the Mother Church when he passed away in 1978, an end to his long suffering I thought. Only in recent years I have realised that he has been more to the Church. Without him Blessed Pope John-Paul II could not have had the succesfull Pontificate. I am pleased Paul VI will be placed in another perspective. He too is the Pope of the Second Vatican Council.

  5. Thanks, Terry, for a great post. I've read so many other blogs where they are ranting and raving about this. It reminds me of the rebellion against Venerable Pope Paul VI when he released Humanae Vitae. We either believe that the Holy Father is guided by the Holy Spirit in these decisions or we don't. And if he isn't guided by the Holy Spirit, then nothing is true.

    BTW, I love your quotes from Father Delp. I'm reading his Advent reflections right now, and I'm just blown away by him.

    1. Thanks C in B - You have the right attitude.

      Fr. Delp is very good isn't he! A priest for our times.

      God bless you!

  6. Terry, have you read Fr. Luigi Villa's Paul VI Beatified?


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