Happiness of the Hidden Pope

Paul VI has now been acknowledged as Blessed Paul VI. We became so accustomed to his successor’s way of reaching people in vast crowds, while providing inspiring images for media use, that the Pope he regarded as a ‘ true spiritual father’ was long eclipsed, frequently derided, or even used as a foil in the Pope vs. Pope polemics of demi – catholic pundits.

Mostly he had become affiliated solely with Humane Vitae, and praised as prophetic, but only in relation to matters of procreative ethics. But his quietly prophetic charism was manifest in other ways not so extensively documented.

The media world of spectacle in which we all live thrives on images of suffering. St. John Paul II was always transparent in his suffering as he was in his joy; but Paul VI was of a generation that was not yet friendly with cameras. There is wry bemusement on the pontiff ‘ s countenance in his official portrait. Whereas people felt embraced by John Paul ‘ s glance, there is a thoughtful perceptivity in his, a warmth in which strength is not immediately evident. There is a veil- as if he were already half on the other side but was detained by sharp duties and burdens to remain here in this world for a time.

I am more than delighted to have made his acquaintance a third of a century after his death; there is joy and freshness in touching the undisturbed gems of the treasurers left us by this suffering, sublimely hidden pontiff, whom we can now address as Blessed Paul VI. Before long may he be known as St. Paul VI

Blessed Paul VI, pray for us.