Blessed Pope Paul VI will be proclaimed a saint later this year, according to our current Pope. Which means I’m jumping the gun a little here. But I have to share something I ran across today—Pope Paul’s knock-your-socks-off manifesto on how each of us and the Church will love:
“We will love those who are near and those far from us. We will love our own country and we will love that of others. We will love our friends, we will love our enemies. We will love Catholics, we will love the dissidents, the Protestants, the Anglicans, the indifferent, the Mohammedans, the pagans, the atheists. We will love all social classes, but especially those most in need of help, of assistance, of advancement. We will love children and we will love the old, the poor, and the sick. We will love those who mock us, who scorn us, who oppose us, who persecute us. We will love those who merit and those who do not merit to be loved. We will love our opponents: we will want no man to be our enemy. We will love the time in which we live: our culture, our science, our art, our sport, our world. We will love, striving to understand, to have sympathy, to admire, to serve, and to suffer. We will love with the heart of Christ: ‘Come to me, all of you….'”
Whew. How many of us can make that statement with our whole heart? And if not, why not? I’m on retreat this weekend, pondering that question for myself.
The statement begins a 1963 biography of Paul by John G. Clancy called Apostle for Our Time. Written soon after the Pontiff’s election, it traces the influences in the upbringing of young Giovanni Battista Montini that shaped his ability to guide the Second Vatican Council after the death of Pope John XXIII.
Pope Paul’s father was a journalist and political activist who wrote and lobbied relentlessly for freedom and especially the rights of Catholics, even more so as he saw the dictator Mussolini tightening his political grip on the Italian Republic. The Montini home was a gathering place for artists, writers, priests, and statesmen, so the future Pope Paul witnessed first-hand the development of fresh ways to live out eternal truths and the planning that would bring it to fruition in the real world.
Let’s pray for each other that we find the courage, with soon-to-be Pope Saint Paul VI, to admire, to serve, and to suffer with the heart of Christ.