Thursday, August 21, 2014

Restore All Things in Christ

Today in the liturgy the Church celebrates the Memorial of Pope Saint Pius X. Saint John Chrysostom said: “The Church is your hope, the Church is your salvation, the Church is your refuge.” In the Encyclical, E Supremi, Pope Pius X wrote: “The way to reach Christ is not hard to find; it is the Church. It was for this that Christ founded it, gaining it at the price of His Blood, and made it the depositary of His doctrine and His laws, bestowing upon it at the same time an inexhaustible treasury of graces for the sanctification and salvation of men.” 

This particular Encyclical was addressed to the hierarchy of the Church. Why was it necessary, then, to point this out? The Holy Father felt that society had become “estranged from the wisdom of Christ.” He charged the cardinals, bishops and himself to “use every means and exert all our energy to bring about the utter disappearance of the enormous and detestable wickedness, so characteristic of our time -- the substitution of man for God.” It would seem that the Church of then under Pope Pius X faced similar problems as the Church of now under Pope Francis. His Predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has warned us of the evils of moral relativism, in which man becomes his own god.

Seminary training was also a great concern of Saint Pius X. He wrote in that same Encyclical: “Venerable Brethren, of what nature and magnitude is the care that must be taken by you in forming the clergy to holiness! All other tasks must yield to this one. Wherefore the chief part of your diligence will be directed to governing and ordering your seminaries aright so that they may flourish equally in the soundness of their teaching and in the spotlessness of their morals.”  

Interesting that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said that the new evangelization will be just a slogan if priests are not well-formed. He said: “Today we see a need for each priest to be a witness of the infinite mercy of God with a life completely conquered by Christ and for them to learn this from the very first years of their preparation in the seminary.”

The concerns of teaching by Pope Pius X also extended to the lay faithful. In the Encyclical, Acerbo Nimis, he referred to his day as a “very troublesome and difficult time.” Surely we can relate! The Holy Father wrote that “the chief cause of the present indifference and, as it were, infirmity of soul, and the serious evils that result from it, is to be found above all in ignorance of things divine.” 

Today’s secular cultural influences have emptied souls of things divine and filled them with things temporal and the rewards of the here and now. Saint Pius X turned the attention of the Church towards Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. His efforts in this area were so great that Saint Pius X is often referred to as “the Pope of the Eucharist.” In a five year span he issued Decrees on Holy Communion. He desired all Catholics to receive Holy Communion frequently, and daily, if possible. He dispensed the sick from the discipline of Eucharistic fasting and promoted giving Holy Communion to children once they had reached an age of discretion. This was a change from the previous requirement.

Many popes, saints, holy men and women turn our attention towards our Blessed Lord in the Sacrament of His Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. But if our focus has not been there for some time, then we must first turn towards the Sacrament of our Lord’s mercy. Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is not only Food for the soul that receives Him worthily, but in Adoration, Jesus is also our Companion, Brother, Friend, Love, Savior and God. He waits for us!

After the death of Pope Pius X in 1914, pilgrimages were made to his tomb; and there were many accounts of favors granted through his intercession. May he intercede for the Church now and turn our hearts, minds and souls to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

Sancte Pio X, ora pro nobis!