A reflection on the anniversary of the death of St Pope Paul VI
On 6 August, we remembered the anniversary of the death St Pope Paul VI – who passed into eternal life in 1978.
One of St Paul VI’s many remarkable legacies was his Last Will and Testament, which reveals this saintly much misunderstood pastor’s heart and deep spirituality.
Extracts from his Will can be found below:
“I fix my gaze on the mystery of death, and on what follows it, in the light of Christ which alone can brighten it, and for this reason with simple and serene trust. I recognise the truth, which for me has always reflected on present life regarding this mystery, and I bless the victor over death for having escaped its shadows and unveiled the light. Thus before death, in total and definitive separation from the present life, I feel the duty to celebrate the gift, the good fortune, the beauty, the destiny of this very fleeting existence. Lord, I thank you that you have called me to life, and still more that, by making me a Christian, you have regenerated and destined me for the fullness of life.
“Likewise I feel the duty to thank and to bless those who were mediators for me of the gifts of life bestowed on me by you, O Lord: those who brought me to life (Oh! May my most worthy parents be blessed!), those who educated me, wished me well, were kind to me, helped me and surrounded me with good example, attention, affection, trust, kindness, courtesy, friendship, faithfulness, respect. I am thinking with thanks about the natural and spiritual relationships which have given origin, aid, comfort and significance to my humble existence. How many gifts, how many beautiful and noble things, how much hope have I received in this world!
“Now that the day is setting, and all is finishing and this stupendous, dramatic temporal and earthly scene is disappearing, how again can I thank you, O Lord, for the gift of faith and of grace, higher than the gift of natural life, in which at the end my being takes refuge?
“And concerning what counts most, my departure from this world’s scene and my journey to meet the judgment and mercy of God: I would have so many, many things to say.
“On the state of the Church: May she listen to a few of our words, uttered with seriousness and love for her.
“Concerning the Council: May it be brought to a good climax and be executed faithfully. Regarding ecumenism: May the work of bringing together separated brothers proceed with much understanding, patience and great love, but without defecting from true Catholic doctrine.
“Concerning the world: Do not think the Church can help it by assuming its thoughts, customs, tastes, but rather by studying it, loving it, serving it.
“I close my eyes upon this sad, dramatic and magnificent earth calling once again still on divine kindness. I again bless everyone. Especially Rome, Milan, Brescia. A special blessing and greeting to the Holy Land, the land of Jesus, where I was a pilgrim of faith and peace.
“And to the Church, to the most beloved Catholic Church, and to the whole of humanity, my apostolic blessing.
“Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.”
With thanks to Papal Encyclicals Online.