Pope Paul VI was beatified today.
As you may know, a person is proclaimed “Blessed” (beatified) after a lengthy process which includes a thorough examination of his life and of a scientifically unexplained miracle attributed to his intercessory prayers. With another such miracle, Blessed Paul VI would be canonized as a saint.
I have a story that may not get him canonized, but has testified to his recent intercession in my life.
First, you have to know: I have never had a strong devotion to the Virgin Mary. She has always been a lovely figure, a distant figure, a mystery, in my life. Too pure, too good, too unlike myself. Sure, I’ve prayed the Rosary. I sometimes wear a Miraculous Medal. I appreciate the approved Marian apparitions from around the world – at Fatima, Guadalupe, Lourdes, Kibeho, etc.
But for whatever reason, Mary has never seemed close to me.
For the past few months, I’ve complained about this to my Spiritual Director. (Poor guy.) My spiritual director suggested the book 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley. 33 Days is a modernized version of the original Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary by St. Louis de Montfort.
- On my spiritual director’s initial suggestion, I resisted.
- He suggested again…this time more of a recommendation than a suggestion. My excuse was our strictly-segmented family budget. It would have to wait for another paycheck.
- Had to use the paycheck for other things.
- Next paycheck. Ordered the book online.
In mid-September, the book arrived. I psyched myself up, sat down, and read the Introduction. It was all sounding good. I was thinking, “Yeah…I can do this.” Then, Fr. Gaitley includes a chart to determine when one should begin the Preparation process, so as to make one’s Consecration on a Marian feast day.
“WHAT?!” I exclaimed, reading by a nightlight while my husband slept soundly. “I HAVE TO WAIT A WHOLE MONTH??”
Yeah, I had gotten psyched up for – apparently – nothing. I complained, “Lord, I’ve waited all this time, and now you’re making me wait a whole month for this??”
Well, I soon regretted my complaint.
At a staff retreat a couple Thursdays ago, my colleagues and I were reading through Rosarium Virginis Mariae by Pope St. John Paul II. I was not exactly excited about this.
As we read the Introduction, John Paul II says,
Among the more recent Popes who, from the time of the Second Vatican Council, have distinguished themselves in promoting the Rosary I would mention Blessed John XXIII and above all Pope Paul VI, who in his Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus emphasized, in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, the Rosary’s evangelical character and its Christocentric inspiration.
My boss took this opportunity to mention that Paul VI would be beatified soon. She couldn’t remember the date of the beatification, so I jumped in, “…on October 19.”
We continued reading. Suddenly, two and two came together:
October 19 would be the first day of my 33 days. I would begin my preparation for Marian Consecration on the same day that Paul VI, an exemplary son of Mary, was to be beatified.
Stunned, I shared this with my fellow staff.
“Wow! You’re going to begin with Paul VI!” they exclaimed. We laughed.
I asked the Lord to forgive me. All this time, He had a plan. (Clearly, I have issues trusting in that divine promise.)
So, today I begin walking a Marian road with Blessed Pope Paul VI – a man who was already instrumental in my study and promotion of evangelization & media. I already loved him. Now, he reciprocates that affection from Heaven.
P.S. Did you all catch this special moment? Right at the conclusion of today’s Beatification Mass, Pope Francis looked up at the image of Paul VI and made the Sign of the Cross. As camera pulled away from the image of our newly-beatified Holy Father, a single white dove flew right across the shot. Watch it here.