Marcel Caron, ispx, CCSI president
On October 14th, Pope Francis canonized Pope Paul VI who guided the Church from (1963-1978). He shepherded us during the turbulent years of the Vatican II Council, the social changes of 1968, the time of a spiritual renewal, the sexual revolution and the answer of Humanae Vitae and so many other changes...
During his homily during the canonization Mass, Pope Francis said: “Paul VI spent his life for Christ’s Gospel, crossing new boundaries and becoming its witness in proclamation and in dialogue, a prophet of a Church turned outwards, looking to those far away and taking care of the poor. Even in the midst of tiredness and misunderstanding, Paul VI bore witness in a passionate way to the beauty and the joy of following Christ totally. Today he still urges us, together with the Council whose wise helmsman he was, to live our common vocation: the universal call to holiness. Not to half measures, but to holiness.”
But Paul VI was also the pope who best understood secular institutes. On different occasions, he addressed messages to secular institute members during various international meetings. On September 26 1970 – almost 50 years ago! – Paul VI spoke to secular institute members describing them as “spiritual mountaineers”. These words have lost nothing of their meaning after all these years: “You are walking on an inclined plane. It would be easy to go down, it is hard work to go up, but a challenge. You are spiritual mountaineers with a stiff climb before you. (…) Your consecration is not only a commitment, it is also a help, a support; love it, it is a blessing and gives joy to your heart, you can turn to it always: it fills up the voids which you self-denial scoops out of your human life, it is compensation, it makes you able to realize the paradox of charity: giving, giving to others means receiving, in Christ.”
The Spanish Conference of Secular Institutes has suggested that Paul VI be named the patron saint of secular institutes. Many national conferences, among them the Canadian Conference of Secular Institutes, support this initiative. That may take some time for this recognition to be officialized… But nothing impedes secular institute members to invoke this new saint so that all secular institutes may be blessed with new vocations.