When darkness falls, God always sends a shaft of light to ease the gloom which has descended on the hearts of his faithful. As we in Ireland struggle to protect the lives of children now endangered by an abortion regime, a sign of hope has been given to us: or at least that is how I see the elevation of the Servant of God, Pope Paul VI to the status of Venerable. Yes, yesterday the Holy Father signed the Decree of Heroic Virtue thus granting the late Pontiff the title Venerable and bringing him closer to beatification. A miracle is making its way through the Congregation of Causes of Saints and seems it may be approved by the Pope in the coming months and Pope Paul will probably be beatified during the Year of Faith.
I know some people have issues and problems with this: they may ask - why is there a rush to beatify recent popes? Well, I come from a position of an openness to the will of God and leaving the glorification of his servants up to him. In accordance with the process established, the will of God is made known by verifiable miracles. In faith I accept that when God grants a miracle through the intercession of a Servant of God or Blessed, then that is the time that God wants the beatification or canonisation to take place. Sometimes that may take a long time - as in the case of St Martin de Porres whose Cause took a number of centuries; and sometimes it happens quickly, as in the Cause of Blessed John Paul II, where miracles were occurring soon after his death. The administration work on a Cause should be done as efficiently as possible, however long it takes, but if that work is done and a miracle is granted, then why delay? If God has seen fit to grant the miracle quickly, then why say, "Well, we'll leave that for a few hundred years so as not to rush it": is that not, in some way saying, "Well, maybe God is rushing this, we'll have to slow Him down"? Or is it a case of "We didn't like him, we should leave off beatification as long as possible and hopefully he'll fall between the cracks and be forgotten"?
I believe the beatification of the Venerable Paul VI will be timely - this is the kairos. Yes, as I said in a previous post, there are issues in his life and pontificate which present many people with difficulties and problems. But there are other issues which reveal a truly heroic and holy man who emerged, even as a broken and sensitive man, as a prophet for our times: a prophet for the cause of life. In the midst of the culture of death, God has raised up a suffering servant to challenge the distorted thinking of many today: a thinking that is convinced that the murder of innocent children is permissible, good and necessary; a distorted thinking that sees the killing of the unborn as somehow creating a "culture of life".
This is what we must draw from his glorification, and I see in this God's saying to us who work for the cause of life that he is with us; that he blesses our efforts; that he will grant us the graces we need, and he will do what he can to turn the hearts of those who seek to enshrine the culture of death in our countries. I see in this God giving us a new patron for the cause of life - the Pope of Humanae Vitae, the Prophet of the cause of life, a Champion of human life, who, from heaven, will support our efforts with his prayers and be present with us in our struggle. What hope that gives me today! How providential that this should happen in these days.
Let us pray that the Venerable Paul's beatification will be celebrated very soon, and then, soon after, his canonisation. In the meantime I commend the pro-life movement in Ireland to his care and intercession, may he watch over us, guide us and help us. Let us call on him now:
O Venerable Pope Paul, help us in Ireland to win the battle against abortion. Obtain from the Lord the graces we need to help turn the hearts of our politicians to the cause of life, that the Holy Spirit may guide our actions and our words, to restrain our passions and increase our charity. Help us to endure whatever suffering may come in our struggle so it may be offered in the cause of life and, united with the sufferings of Christ, be of service for the salvation of souls.Venerable Pope Paul VI, pray for us.
UPDATE: It seems there is a lot of negative reaction to the Holy Father's declaring Pope Paul Venerable - to be expected, I suppose. More information though. It seems the miracle being considered for his beatification was one performed for an unborn child sixteen years ago in the US. The baby had serious problems and mother was advised to have an abortion. She refused and they prayed to Pope Paul. Despite all the medical evidence of the problem, the baby was born perfectly healthy, and now at fifteen, the child is in perfect health, showing no signs of any impairment. How appropriate is that! It seems there is also a second miracle for the Venerable Pope Paul - a nun who is said to have been miraculously healed of a tumour. Andrea Tornelli has some details.