This weekend, we celebrate the canonization of Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Oscar Romero. Both had great influence on the Church towards the end of the 20th century. The first to be discussed is Pope Paul VI.
Bl. Paul VI, born Giovanni Battista Montini was a witness to transformative moments in the history of the church. His father was a member of Catholic Action, a movement of Catholic lay people which sought to have a positive influence on modern society. As a young priest, Fr. Montini was named to various diplomatic positions within the papal state. In the mid-1920’s, he collaborated with other young Catholics to form a publishing company dedicated to promoting Christian inspired culture in an international context. A few decades later, he played a vital role in the Vatican’s efforts to resist Nazi persecution of Jewish people who lived in Rome during World War II.
He was named a cardinal in the 1958, and after the death of Pope John XXIII in 1963, Montini was elected pope. He chose the name Paul, after the apostle. During his papacy, he renounced the opulency and material trappings of his position. The Archdiocese of Milan gave him a beautiful headpiece, known as a papal tiara which he wore once at the beginning of his papacy. Later, he sold the tiara and gave the proceeds to charity. He also eliminated many other ceremonial customs that were connected with the papal office.
Bl. Paul VI sought to improve dialogue between the church and contemporary human civilization. At the beginning of his papacy, he chose to continue the Second Vatican Council, which closed with the death of his predecessor. The Second Vatican Council was a meeting of all the Cardinals of the world, along with other advisors, which engendered many positive developments within the Catholic Church. During his papacy, he allowed for the celebration of the mass in the vernacular, or language of the people. The reforms of the Second Vatican Council also allowed for more variety in the style of music that could be sung at mass. He also made notable commentary on issues that are still significant today, such as the dignity of human life, the right to religious freedom for all, and the need for improvements across the whole of human society.
When you gather for parish activities this week, you might also consider praying the prayer below, which is part of Praying With Youth and Young Adults: Real Life Prayers for Today’s Parish.
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A PRAYER UPON THE CANONIZATION OF POPE PAUL VI
Let us take the words of Pope Paul VI to prayer.
Gracious God, through the intercession of St. Paul VI
help us to discern your call to be holy like you.
Inspire us to see the world through the eyes of Christ,
and may everything we do
be at the service of the human family.
When we have more than enough of what we need,
help us to share with those who do not have so much.
When we feel like we deserve something more than someone else does,
help us to see each and every person as a child of God,
equal before your sight.
When we feel like we have no other choice
but to follow the way of the world,
free us from slavery to riches, power and pride.
Fill us with the fire of your love
so that we may bring your light
even to the darkest corners of civilization.
May we always remember
that you Lord, are the reason for being,
and the source of every good thing.
We ask this in the name of Jesus your son,
Who lives and reigns with you
In the Unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, forever and ever, Amen.