Excerpt from “Keys to the Kingdom”
By Lenora Grimaud
June 13, 2010
Father, this past week, I had the opportunity to view videos on the lives of Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI. I wept with joy and thanksgiving for these two great servants of God. God has been so gracious in giving the Church the last four popes, including Pope Benedict XVI. Their lives reveal the struggle that the Church has been going through—her weaknesses and her strengths.
I have to admit that I know very little or nothing about the popes between St. Peter and John XXIII. I also must admit that before Pope Paul VI arrived on the scene, I did not even know what a pope was, or what his purpose was; where the papacy came from or why. My Catholic formation was gravely lacking. Years ago, when my Protestant friends challenged my beliefs regarding the pope, I defended the Church out of loyalty, not out of knowledge.
During my pilgrimage to Rome (sometime between 1970 and 1972), I had an opportunity to have an audience with Pope Paul VI. This was the same pilgrimage in which I saw the Eucharist multiplied. I had no desire to meet the pope, so I was greatly surprised when my Chaplain chose me to accompany him for an audience with the pope. I was even a little indignant, as I thought of the thousands of people who came to Rome to see the pope, and who would give anything for an audience with him; people much more deserving than me.
As we were preparing to go for the audience, the people in my group said to me, “You must be so nervous and excited.” I thought to myself, “Why should I be nervous, he is only a man.” Then, I heard the Lord say to me, “This man is my servant.” I began to weep, openly, and did not stop weeping until after the audience.
My knees were shaking as I bent to kiss the ring of Pope Paul VI, and I fell to the floor. He helped me up. Not knowing what to say, I addressed him as “Your Majesty.” As he raised his hands to bless me I had, what I think was, an intellectual vision, and I saw Mary and the pope united in the same person. It was as though I was seeing right into his soul. He was one with the Blessed Mother, as Mother of the Church, and I saw them both as one person. It was as though his heart was pierced; he was kneeling in prayer, weeping, and crying out to God, with his hands raised up. He said, “Oh, Lord, why did you choose me? Your people are so vast, and everyone is in a different stage of growth. Whatever I say or do that will help one will hurt another. Come Holy Spirit, give me wisdom, knowledge, and understanding to know how to guide and teach your children.” He appeared to me, like a mother, weeping and interceding for her children. While he was blessing me, I felt this great love and light emanating from him. It was awesome and there are no words to describe it.
When I returned home and shared this experience with my protestant friends—simply witnessing, not preaching—my friends responded by saying, “I think the Lord wants us to pray for the pope.”
In 1972, not long after this pilgrimage, maybe a year, more or less, I returned to the States. I was invited to give a “witness” at a charismatic Episcopalian Church. I prayed and prayed, not knowing what I would say, and somewhat fearful of speaking before such a group. My husband said to me, “Trust in the Lord, he will give you the words to say.” This was strange for him to say, and out of character, because he would never do what he told me to do.
The Lord did give me the words. I shared about my pilgrimage to Rome—about the Eucharist and Pope Paul VI. The response was wonderful. Even the Priest, not Catholic, was edified. There were many former Catholics in the group, who believed they were excommunicated because they were divorced. They came to me, crying, saying, “I want to come home, is there any hope for me?”
Later, as I reflected on this, I thought to myself, it is a shame that Pope Paul VI does not know the impact that he has had on these people. Then, I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to write him and tell him. I struggled against this, thinking, “How can I write a letter to a pope?” I wrote the letter, however. One minute, I was a docile child speaking to her Father, and the next minute, I was a mother, speaking to her son—telling him not to retire but to remain where he was until the Lord came for him. I prayed for discernment, again doubting that this was from the Lord. Then, I thought, “It would be a miracle if he even received it, because he must receive thousands of letters every day, and I don’t even know where to send it.” So, I felt that I had nothing to lose. If God wants him to have this letter, he will receive it, and if it is not God’s will, he will not receive it.
While I was in Europe, I met a priest who was the secretary for a prominent Cardinal in Rome, and he gave me his card and told me that if I ever came to Rome, to let him know. So, I sent the letter I wrote to Pope Paul VI, to this priest and asked him to deliver it. To my surprise, within a couple weeks I heard from the priest, that the letter was on the pope’s desk. Shortly after, on November 29, 1972, I received a letter from the pope’s secretary, thanking me on behalf of Pope Paul, with an Apostolic Blessing, and a gold medal—a dove with an olive branch in its beak.
Father, I was so proud of that medal that I even thought of having it made into a necklace that I could wear. But, the Holy Spirit convicted me of my pride and attachment. There was a woman who came to daily Mass, who was tormented by evil spirits. These spirits would constantly taunt her and blaspheme Jesus and the Church. She could not get anyone to help her or deliver her. I had befriended her. When she saw the medal I received, she was filled with awe and tears. Prompted by the Holy Spirit, I was moved to give her the medal from Pope Paul VI. The woman was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude, and was delivered from the evil spirits that tormented her. As far as I know, she never heard those voices again. Praise God!