Pope beatifies Paul VI, 'great helmsman' of Vatican II

A tapestry of Bl. Paul VI hangs from the facade of St. Peter's Basilica at his Mass of beatification. Credit: Lauren Cater/CNA.
A tapestry of Bl. Paul VI hangs from the facade of St. Peter's Basilica at his Mass of beatification. Credit: Lauren Cater/CNA.

.- Addressing those gathered in Saint Peter’s Square on Sunday for the beatification of Paul VI, Pope Francis reminded Christians who live out the Gospel message that they are “God’s newness” both “in the Church and in the world.”

In his Oct. 19 homily, the Pope said God is “continually surprising us, opening our hearts and guiding us in unexpected ways.”   In so doing, “he renews us: he constantly makes us ‘new’.   

“A Christian who lives the Gospel is 'God’s newness' in the Church and in the world. How much God loves this ‘newness’!”

An estimated 70,000 people, including Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, were present at the Mass to celebrate not only the closing of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, but also the life of Bl. Paul VI, who first established the Synod of Bishops as an institution of the Church designed to help the Pope with his magisterial office.

“When we look to this great Pope, this courageous Christian, this tireless apostle,” the Holy Father said, in reference to the new Blessed, “we cannot but say in the sight of God a word as simple as it is heartfelt and important: thanks!... “Thank you, our dear and beloved Pope Paul VI!   Thank you for your humble and prophetic witness of love for Christ and his Church!”

Referring to him has “the great helmsman of the Council,” Pope Francis cited Bl. Paul VI’s words at the closing of its final session: “Perhaps the Lord has called me and preserved me for this service not because I am particularly fit for it, or so that I can govern and rescue the Church from her present difficulties, but so that I can suffer something for the Church, and in that way it will be clear that he, and no other, is her guide and saviour.”

“In this humility,” Pope Francis continued, “the grandeur of Blessed Paul VI shines forth: before the advent of a secularized and hostile society, he could hold fast, with farsightedness and wisdom – and at times alone – to the helm of the barque of Peter, while never losing his joy and his trust in the Lord.”

Turning to the day’s Gospel reading, Pope Francis highlighted Christ's “ironic and brilliant” response to the Pharisees who were trying to catch him in error: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

“It is a striking phrase which the Lord has bequeathed to all those who experience qualms of conscience,” the Pope said, “particularly when their comfort, their wealth, their prestige, their power and their reputation are in question.”

The second part of the phrase, “and (render)  to God the things that are God’s”,   Pope Francis said, “calls for acknowledging and professing – in the face of any sort of power – that God alone is the Lord of mankind, that there is no other.” Christians must discover this “perennial newness” every day, and to do so “requires mastering the fear which we often feel at God’s surprises.”

This “rendering to God the things that are God’s”, the Pope continued, “means being docile to his will, devoting our lives to him and working for his kingdom of mercy, love and peace.”

“Here is where our true strength is found… the leaven which makes it grow and the salt which gives flavour to all our efforts to combat the prevalent pessimism which the world proposes to us.”

“Here too is where our hope is found, for when we put our hope in God we are neither fleeing from reality nor seeking an alibi: instead, we are striving to render to God what is God’s.”

For this reason, the Pope said, we should turn our eyes to “the future, God’s future,” in order to “live this life to the fullest – with our feet firmly planted on the ground – and respond courageously to whatever new challenges come our way.”

Turning his attention to the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, which concluded its two-week course with the beatification of Paul VI, Pope Francis described the experience as one of “synodality and collegiality,” in which was felt “the power of the Holy Spirit who constantly guides and renews the Church.” 

“The Church,” he said, “is called to waste no time in seeking to bind up open wounds and to rekindle hope in so many people who have lost hope.”

Citing the words of Saint Paul, Pope Francis gave thanks to God for the gift of the Synod, and the constructive spirit shown by its participants. He called on the Holy Spirit, who, over the course of the synod, “has enabled us to work generously, in true freedom and humble creativity,” to “continue to guide the journey” toward the Ordinary Synod of Bishops, which will take place in October, 2015.

“We have sown and we continued to sow,” he said, “patiently and perseveringly, in the certainty that it is the Lord who gives growth to what we have sown.”

At the conclusion of Mass, and before presiding over the weekly Angelus prayer, Pope Francis welcomed all the pilgrims who had travelled to Rome to take part in the beatification.

The Holy Father also noted that Bl. Paul VI “was a staunch supporter of the mission ad gentes,” adding that “it is the witness above all of the apostolic exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi  with which he intended to reawaken the enthusiasm and the commitment of the Church for the mission.”

Evangelii nuntiandi – 'To proclaim the Gospel' –  “is still relevant,” he said.  “It is significant to consider this aspect of the pontificate of Paul VI, especially today (Oct. 19), which is celebrated as World Missionary Day.”

Pope Francis also made mention of Bl. Paul VI’s “profound Marian devotion.” In particular, he noted the new blessed’s proclamation of Mary as “Mother of the Church” at the “close of the third session of the Second Vatican Council,” as well as his 1974 apostolic exhortation Marialis Cultus, for the right ordering and development of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Before leading the Angelus in Latin, Pope Francis called on “Mary, Queen of Saints and Mother of the Church,” to “help us to faithfully realize the will of the Lord in our life, just as the new blessed did.”
 

Tags: Blessed Pope Paul VI