Francis during Paul VI Beatification: Thank you for your humble and prophetic witness

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Below you will find the full text of Pope Francis’ homily during the closing mass of the Synod and the beatification of Pope Paul VI.

We have just heard one of the most famous phrases in the entire Gospel: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mt 22:21).

Goaded by the Pharisees who wanted, as it were, to give him an exam in religion and catch him in error, Jesus gives this ironic and brilliant reply. It is a striking phrase which the Lord has bequeathed to all those who experience qualms of conscience, particularly when their comfort, their wealth, their prestige, their power and their reputation are in question. This happens all the time; it always has.

Certainly Jesus puts the stress on the second part of the phrase: “and [render] to God the things that are God’s”. This calls for acknowledging and professing ‘in the face of any sort of power’ that God alone is the Lord of mankind, that there is no other. This is the perennial newness to be discovered each day, and it requires mastering the fear which we often feel at God’s surprises.

God is not afraid of new things! That is why he is continually surprising us, opening our hearts and guiding us in unexpected ways. He renews us: he constantly makes us “new”. A Christian who lives the Gospel is “God’s newness” in the Church and in the world. How much God loves this “newness!”

“Rendering to God the things that are God’s” means being docile to his will, devoting our lives to him and working for his kingdom of mercy, love and peace.

Here is where our true strength is found; here is the leaven which makes it grow and the salt which gives flavour to all our efforts to combat the prevalent pessimism which the world proposes to us. Here too is where our hope is found, for when we put our hope in God we are neither fleeing from reality nor seeking an alibi: instead, we are striving to render to God what is God’s. That is why we Christians look to the future, God’s future. It is so that we can live this life to the fullest ‘with our feet firmly planted on the ground’ and respond courageously to whatever new challenges come our way.

In these days, during the extraordinary Synod of Bishops, we have seen how true this is. “Synod” means “journeying together.” And indeed pastors and lay people from every part of the world have come to Rome, bringing the voice of their particular Churches in order to help today’s families walk the path the Gospel with their gaze fixed on Jesus. It has been a great experience, in which we have lived synodality and collegiality, and felt the power of the Holy Spirit who constantly guides and renews the Church. For the Church is called to waste no time in seeking to bind up open wounds and to rekindle hope in so many people who have lost hope.

For the gift of this Synod and for the constructive spirit which everyone has shown, in union with the Apostle Paul “we give thanks to God always for you all, constantly mentioning you in our prayers” (1 Th 1:2). May the Holy Spirit, who during these busy days has enabled us to work generously, in true freedom and humble creativity, continue to guide the journey which, in the Churches throughout the world, is bringing us to the Ordinary Synod of Bishops in October 2015. We have sown and we continued to sow, patiently and perseveringly, in the certainty that it is the Lord who gives growth to what we have sown (cf. 1 Cor 3:6).

On this day of the Beatification of Pope Paul VI, I think of the words with which he established the Synod of Bishops: “by carefully surveying the signs of the times, we are making every effort to adapt ways and methods to the growing needs of our time and the changing conditions of society” (Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Apostolica Sollicitudo).

When we look to this great Pope, this courageous Christian, this tireless apostle, we cannot but say in the sight of God a word as simple as it is heartfelt and important: thanks! Thank you, our dear and beloved Pope Paul VI! Thank you for your humble and prophetic witness of love for Christ and his Church!

In his personal journal, the great helmsman of the Council wrote, at the conclusion of its final session: “Perhaps the Lord has called me and preserved me for this service not because I am particularly fit for it, or so that I can govern and rescue the Church from her present difficulties, but so that I can suffer something for the Church, and in that way it will be clear that he, and no other, is her guide and saviour” (P. Macchi, Paolo VI nella sua parola, Brescia, 2001, pp. 120-121). In this humility the grandeur of Blessed Paul VI shines forth: before the advent of a secularized and hostile society, he could hold fast, with farsightedness and wisdom ‘and at times alone’ to the helm of the barque of Peter, while never losing his joy and his trust in the Lord.

Paul VI truly “rendered to God what is God’s” by devoting his whole life to the “sacred, solemn and grave task of continuing in history and extending on earth the mission of Christ” (Homily for the Rite of Coronation: Insegnamenti I, 1963, p. 26), loving the Church and leading her so that she might be “a loving mother of the whole human family and at the same time the minister of its salvation” (Encyclical Letter Ecclesiam Suam, Prologue).

Photo Credit: CNS

Thanksgiving: Ours and Theirs

FMP blog

Photo Credit: CNS

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Fr. Mike Pace

Home for the holiday. Doors flung open as family gathers from near and far. A moment to thank God for the blessings of the past year.

Imagine the place you call home is Aleppo, Syria. Every family, including yours, has a member who has been raped, or martyred or broken by the psychological, material, and emotional strain of a three-year and seemingly endless war. As we in Toronto bask in the afterglow of the bounty we call Thanksgiving weekend, many of our brothers and sisters in the Middle East and elsewhere hope for at least some of the crumbs that fall from our tables.

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On Thanksgiving weekend, I was disturbed by the testimony of Munir, a Salesian priest from Aleppo who risks his life as the provincial superior of St. John Bosco’s mission in Syria, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq and Turkey. While we at home were asking ourselves whether to indulge in dark meat or white, a slice of baked ham or a second  helping of pumpkin pie, the young people he holds near to his heart were wrestling with questions of a different magnitude. Does God still exist? Does he care about our suffering? Has the rest of the world forgotten about us? Why are the world’s legitimate   powers so ineffective in responding to our plight, while so many unscrupulous forces wreak torturous havoc  on us so effectively?

To our brothers and sisters in Aleppo and elsewhere, the blessings of God seem to lie beyond a door which is open to us but closed to them.  Thanksgiving requires that we who sit at laden tables get up and open these doors and invite them in. How will I do that? How will you?

Written by Father Michael Pace SDB, Pastor, guest blogger. 

Celebrating Pope Paul VI

Pope Paul VI carried on ceremonial throne during closing liturgy of Second Vatican Council in St. Peter's Square at Vatican

Pope Paul VI is carried on the “sedia gestatoria,” a ceremonial throne, during the closing liturgy of the Second Vatican Council in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Dec. 8,1965. Pope Francis will beatify Pope Paul today on Oct. 19 during the closing Mass of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family. The miracle needed for Pope Paul’s beatification involved the birth of a healthy baby to a mother in California after doctors had said both lives were at risk. (CNS photo/Giancarlo Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)

Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras attend prayer service in Jerusalem in January 1964

Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras attend a prayer service in Jerusalem in January 1964. (CNS photo/Giancarlo Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo) 

Pope Paul VI gives blessing before leaving for Istanbul in 1967

Pope Paul VI offers a blessing at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci airport before boarding a flight to Istanbul, Turkey, in 1967. 

To learn more about the Second Vatican Council, religious liberty, and ecumenism watch The Church Alive.

Inside the Synod: Lay members share hope and vision for renewing family life

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The Salt + Light team in Rome spoke with lay couple Jeff and Alice Heinzen from the Office of Marriage and Family Life and Natural Family Planning in the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA. Jeff and Alice share their hope and vision for renewing family life.

Archbishop Dew: Let’s look for language that encourages people

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The Salt + Light team in Rome spoke w/ Archbishop John Dew of Wellington, New Zealand. Archbishop Dew shares the message he brings to #synod14.

Bishop Mendis of Sri Lanka: Marriage and family life are very important

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The Salt + Light team in Rome spoke with Bishop Warnakulasurya V. Mendis of Chilaw, Sri Lanka. Bishop Mendis offers his thoughts on #synod14 and addresses the issue of remarried and divorced Catholics.

Who was Paul VI and what was his legacy?


This weekend we’ll celebrate the conclusion of the 2014 Synod on the Family and the beatification of the Pope Paul VI. The Church that we know today is deeply shaped by the Second Vatican Council and is in many ways a reflection of Paul VI’s pontificate. Watch this short video tribute to the ‘Pilgrim Pope’ to learn about his pontificate.

To learn more about Paul VI and his contribution to the Second Vatican Council, watch The Church Alive.

Archbishop Hardjoatmodjo addresses challenges in Indonesian Church

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The Salt + Light team in Rome spoke with Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta, Indonesia. Archbishop Hardjoatmodjo comments on his thoughts of #synod14 and addresses challenges he faces in his archdiocese.

Archbishop Hung encourages priests to preach more about family in homilies.

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The S+L team in Rome spoke with Archbishop John Hung Shan-Chuan, SVD of Taipei. Archbishop Hung addresses the challenges the church in Taipei faces and comments on married life in Taiwan.

Paul VI during session of Second Vatican Council


Pope Paul VI makes his way past bishops during session of Second Vatican Council
Pope Paul VI makes his way past bishops during a session of the Second Vatican Council in 1964. Pope Paul, who led the church from 1963 until his death in 1978, will be beatified on October 19, 2014. (CNS file photo) 

To find out more about the Second Vatican Council watch The Church Alive.