St Pius X Catholic Church Biography, Pope Saint Pius 10 Life Facts

St Pius X Catholic Church Biography, Pope Saint Pius 10 Life, Facts and History. Patron St of the Catholic Church

Pope Pius X

(Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto).

Born 2 June, 1835, at Riese, Province of Treviso, in Venice. His parents were Giovanni Battista Sarto and Margarita (née Sanson); the former, a postman, died in 1852, but Margarita lived to see her son a cardinal. After finishing his elements, Giuseppe at first received private lessons in Latin from the arch-priest of his town, Don Tito Fusaroni, after which he studied for four years at the gymnasium of Castelfranco Veneto, walking to and fro every day. In 1850 he received the tonsure from the Bishop of Treviso, and was given a scholarship of the Diocese of Treviso in the seminary of Padua, where he finished his classical, philosophical, and theological studies with distinction. He was ordained in 1858, and for nine years was chaplain at Tombolo, having to assume most of the functions of parish priest, as the pastor was old and an invalid. He sought to perfect his knowledge of theology by assiduously studying Saint Thomas and canon law; at the same time he established a night school for adult students, and devoted himself of the ministry of preaching in other towns to which he was called. In 1867 he was named arch-priest of Salzano, a large borough of the Diocese of Treviso, where he restored the church, and provided for the enlargement and maintenance of the hospital by his own means, consistently with his habitual generosity to the poor; he especially distinguished himself by his abnegation during the cholera. He showed great solicitude for the religious instruction of adults. In 1875 he was made a canon of the cathedral of Treviso, and filled several offices, among them those of spiritual director and rector of the seminary, examiner of the clergy, and vicar-general; moreover, he made it possible for the students of the public schools to receive religious instruction. In 1878, on the death of Bishop Zanelli, he was elected vicar-capitular. On 10 November, 1884, he was named Bishop of Mantua, then a very troublesome see, and consecrated on 20 November. His chief care in his new position was for the formation of the clergy at the seminary, where, for several years, he himself taught dogmatic theology, and for another year moral theology. He wished the doctrine and method of St. Thomas to be followed, and to many of the poorer students he gave copies of the "Summa theologica"; at the same time he cultivated the Gregorian Chant in company with the seminarians. The temporal administration of his see imposed great sacrifices upon him. In 1887 he held a diocesan synod. By his attendance at the confessional, he gave the example of pastoral zeal. The Catholic organization of Italy, then known as the "Opera dei Congressi", found in him a zealous propagandist from the time of his ministry at Salzano.

At the secret consistory of June, 1893, Leo XIII created him a cardinal under the title of San Bernardo alle Terme; and in the public consistory, three days later, he was preconized Patriarch of Venice, retaining meanwhile the title of Apostolic Administrator of Mantua. Cardinal Sarto was obliged to wait eighteen months before he was able to take possession of his new diocese, because the Italian government refused its exequatur, claiming the right of nomination as it had been exercised by the Emperor of Austria. This matter was discussed with bitterness in the newspapers and in pamphlets; the Government, by way of reprisal, refused its exequatur to the other bishops who were appointed in the meantime, so that the number of vacant sees grew to thirty. Finally, the minister Crispi having returned to power, and the Holy See having raised the mission of Eritrea to the rank of an Apostolic Prefecture in favour of the Italian Capuchins, the Government withdrew from its position. Its opposition had not been caused by any objection to Sarto personally. At Venice the cardinal found a much better condition of things than he had found at Mantua. There, also, he paid great attention to the seminary, where he obtained the establishment of the faculty of canon law. In 1898 he held the diocesan synod. He promoted the use of the Gregorian Chant, and was a great patron of Lorenzo Perosi; he favoured social works, especially the rural parochial banks; he discerned and energetically opposed the dangers of certain doctrines and the conduct of certain Christian-Democrats. The international Eucharistic Congress of 1897, the centenary of St. Gerard Sagredo (1900), and the blessing of the corner-stone of the new belfry of St. Mark's, also of the commemorative chapel of Mt. Grappa (1901), were events that left a deep impression on him and his people. Meanwhile, Leo XIII having died, the cardinals entered into conclave and after several ballots Giuseppe Sarto was elected on 4 August by a vote of 55 out of a possible 60 votes. His coronation took place on the following Sunday, 9 August, 1903.

In his first Encyclical, wishing to develop his programme to some extent, he said that the motto of his pontificate would be "instaurare omnia in Christo" (Ephesians 1:10). Accordingly, his greatest care always turned to the direct interests of the Church. Before all else his efforts were directed to the promotion of piety among the faithful, and he advised all (Decr. S. Congr. Concil., 20 Dec., 1905) to receive Holy Communion frequently and, if possible, daily, dispensing the sick from the obligation of fasting to the extent of enabling them to receive Holy Communion twice each month, and even oftener (Decr. S. Congr. Rit., 7 Dec., 1906). Finally, by the Decree "Quam Singulari" (15 Aug., 1910), he recommended that the first Communion of children should not be deferred too long after they had reached the age of discretion. It was by his desire that the Eucharistic Congress of 1905 was held at Rome, while he enhanced the solemnity of subsequent Eucharistic congresses by sending to them cardinal legates. The fiftieth anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was an occasion of which he took advantage to enjoin devotion to Mary (Encyclical "Ad illum diem", 2 February, 1904); and the Marian Congress, together with the coronation of the image of the Immaculate Conception in the choir of St. Peter's, was a worthy culmination of the solemnity. As a simple chaplain, a bishop, and a patriarch, Giuseppe Sarto was a promoter of sacred music; as pope, he published, 22 November, 1903, a Motu Proprio on sacred music in churches, and at the same time ordered the authentic Gregorian Chant to be used everywhere, while he caused the choir books to be printed with the Vatican font of type under the supervision of a special commission. In the Encyclical "Acerbo nimis" (15 April, 1905) he treated of the necessity of catechismal instruction, not only for children, but also for adults, giving detailed rules, especially in relation to suitable schools for the religious instruction of students of the public schools, and even of the universities. He caused a new catechism to be published for the Diocese of Rome.

As bishop, his chief care had been for the formation of the clergy, and in harmony with this purpose, an Encyclical to the Italian episcopate (28 July, 1906) enjoined the greatest caution in the ordination of priests, calling the attention of the bishops to the fact that there was frequently manifested among the younger clergy a spirit of independence that was a menace to ecclesiastical discipline. In the interest of Italian seminaries, he order them to be visited by the bishops, and promulgated a new order of studies, which had been in use for several years at the Roman Seminary. On the other hand, as the dioceses of Central and of Southern Italy were so small that their respective seminaries could not prosper, Pius X established the regional seminary which is common to the sees of a given region; and, as a consequence, many small, deficient seminaries were closed. For the more efficient guidance of souls, by a Decree of the Sacred Congregation of the Consistory (20 August, 1910), instructions were given concerning the removal of parish priests, as administrative acts, when such procedure was required by grave circumstances that might not constitute a canonical cause for the removal. At the time of the jubilee in honour of his ordination as a priest, he addressed a letter full of affection and wise council to all the clergy. By a recent Decree (18 Nov., 1910), the clergy have been barred from the temporal administration of social organizations, which was often a cause of grave difficulties.

The pope has at heart above all things the purity of the faith. On various occasions, as in the Encyclical regarding the centenary of Saint Gregory the Great, Pius X had pointed out the dangers of certain new theological methods, which, based upon Agnosticism and upon Immanentism, necessarily divest the doctrine of the faith of its teachings of objective, absolute, and immutable truth, and all the more, when those methods are associated with subversive criticism of the Holy Scripture and of the origins of Christianity. Wherefore, in 1907, he caused the publication of the Decree "Lamentabili" (called also the Syllabus of Pius X), in which sixty-five propositions are condemned. The greater number of these propositions concern the Holy Scripture, their inspiration, and the doctrine of Jesus and of the Apostles, while others relate to dogma, the sacraments, and the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. Soon after that, on 8 Sept., 1907, there appeared the famous Encyclical "Pascendi", which expounds and condemns the system of Modernism. It points out the danger of Modernism in relation to philosophy, apologetics, exegesis, history, liturgy, and discipline, and shows the contradiction between that innovation and the ancient faith; and, finally, it establishes rules by which to combat efficiently the pernicious doctrines in question. Among the means suggested mention should be made of the establishment of an official body of "censors" of books and thecreation of a "Committee of Vigilance".

Subsequently, by the Motu Proprio "Sacrorum Antistitum", Pius X called attention to the injunctions of the Encyclical and also to the provisions that had already been established under Leo XIII on preaching, and proscribed that all those who exercised the holy ministry or who taught in ecclesiastical institutions, as well as canons, the superiors of the regular clergy, and those serving in ecclesiastical bureaux should take an oath, binding themselves to reject the errors that are denounced in the Encyclical or in the Decree "Lamentabili". Pius X reverted to this vital subject on other occasions, especially in those Encyclicals that were written in commemoration of St. Anselm (21 April, 1909) and of St. Charles Borromeo (23 June, 1910), in the latter of which Reformist Modernism was especially condemned. As the study of the Bible is both the most important and the most dangerous study in theology, Pius X wished to found at Rome a centre for these studies, to give assurance at once of unquestioned orthodoxy and scientific worth; and so, with the assistance of the whole Catholic world, there was established at Rome the Biblical Institute, under the direction of the Jesuits.

A need that had been felt for a long time was that of the codification of the Canon Law, and with a view to effecting it, Pius X, on 19 March, 1904, created a special congregation of cardinals, of which Mgr Gasparri, now a cardinal, became the secretary. The most eminent authorities on canon law, throughout the world, are collaborating in the formation of the new code, some of the provisions of which have already been published, as, for example, that modifying the law of the Council of Trent on secret marriages, the new rules for diocesan relations and for episcopal visits ad limina, and the new organization of the Roman Curia (Constitution "Sapienti Consilio", 29 June, 1908). Prior to that time, the Congregations for Relics and Indulgences and of Discipline had been suppressed, while the Secretariate of Briefs had been united to the Secretariate of State. The characteristic of the new rule is the complete separation of the judicial from the administrative; while the functions of the various bureaux have been more precisely determined, and their work more equalized. The offices of the Curia are divided into Tribunals (3), Congregations (11), and Offices (5). With regard to the first, the Tribunal of the Signature (consisting of cardinals only) and that of the Rota were revived; to the Tribunal of the Penitentiary were left only the cases of the internal forum (conscience). The Congregations remained almost as they were at first, with the exceptions that a special section was added to that of the Holy Office of the Inquisition, for indulgences; the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars received the name of Congregation of the Religious, and has to deal only with the affairs of religious congregations, while the affairs of the secular clergy are to be referred to the Congregation of the Consistory or of that of the Council; from the latter were taken the matrimonial cases, which are now sent to the tribunals or to the newly-created Congregation of the Sacraments. The Congregation of the Consistory has increased greatly in importance, since it has to decide questions of competence between the various otherCongregations. The Congregation of Propaganda lost much of its territory in Europe and in America, where religious conditions have become regular. At the same time were published the rules and regulations for employees and those for the various bureaux. Another recent Constitution relates to the suburbicarian sees.

The Catholic hierarchy has greatly increased in numbers during these first years of the pontificate of Pius X, in which twenty-eight new dioceses have been created, mostly in the United States Brazil, and the Philippine Islands; also one abbey nullius, 16 vicariates Apostolic, and 15 prefectures Apostolic.

Leo XIII brought the social question within the range of ecclesiastical activity, Pius X, also, wishes the Church to co-operate, or rather to play a leading part in the solution of the social question; his views on this subject were formulated in a syllabus of nineteen propositions, taken from different Encyclicals and other Acts of Leo XIII, and published in a Motu Proprio (18 Dec., 1903), especially for the guidance of Italy, where the social question was a thorny one at the beginning of his pontificate. He sought especially to repress certain tendencies leaning towards Socialism and promoting a spirit of insubordination to ecclesiastical authority. As a result of ever increasing divergences, the "Opera die Congressi", the great association of the Catholics of Italy, was dissolved. At once, however, the Encyclical "Il fermo proposito" (11 June, 1905) brought about the formation of a new organization consisting of three great unions, the Popolare, the Economica, and the Elettorale. The firmness ofPius X obtained the elimination of, at least, the most quarrelsome elements, making it possible now for Catholic social action to prosper, although some friction still remains. The desire of Pius X is for the economical work to be avowedly Catholic, as he expressed it in a memorable letter to Count Medolago-Albani. In France, also, the Sillon, after promising well, had taken a turn that was little reassuring to orthodoxy; and dangers in this connection were made manifest in the Encyclical "Notre charge apostolique" (15 Aug., 1910), in which the Sillonists were ordered to place their organizations under the authority of the bishops.

In its relations with Governments, the pontificate of Pius X has had to carry on painful struggles. In France the pope had inherited quarrels and menaces. The "Nobis nominavit" question was settled through the condescension of the pope; but the matter of the appointment of bishops proposed by the Government, the visit of the president to the King of Italy, with the subsequent note of protestation, and the resignation of two French bishops, which was desired by the Holy See, became pretexts for the Government at Paris to break off diplomatic relations with the Court of Rome. Meanwhile the law of Separation had been already prepared, despoiling the Church of France, and also prescribing for the Church a constitution which, if not openly contrary to her nature, was at least full of danger to her. Pius X, paying no attention to the counsels of short-sighted opportunism, firmly refused his consent to the formation of the associations cultuelles. The separation brought some freedom to the French Church, especially in the matter of the selection of its pastors. Pius X, not looking for reprisals, still recognizes the French right of protectorate over Catholics in the East. Some phrases of the Encyclical "Editæ Sæpe", written on the occasion of the centenary of St. Charles, were misinterpreted by Protestants, especially in Germany, and Pius X made a declaration in refutation of them, without belittling the authority of his high office. At present (Dec., 1910) complications are feared in Spain, as, also, separation and persecution in Portugal; Pius X has already taken opportune measures. The new Government of Turkey has sent an ambassador to the Pope. The relations of the Holy See with the republics of Latin America are good. The delegations to Chile and to the Argentine Republic were raised to the rank of internuntiatures, and an Apostolic Delegate was sent to Central America.

Naturally, the solicitude of Pius X extends to his own habitation, and he has done a great deal of work of restoration in the Vatican, for example, in the quarters of the cardinal-secretary of State, the new palace for employees, the new picture-gallery, the Specola, etc. Finally, we must not forget his generous charity in public misfortunes: during the great earthquakes of Calabria, he asked for the assistance of Catholics throughout the world, with the result that they contributed, at the time of the last earthquake, nearly 7,000,000 francs, which served to supply the wants of those in need, and to buildchurches, schools, etc. His charity was proportionately no less on the occasion of the eruption of Vesuvius, and of other disasters outside of Italy (Portugal and Ireland). In few years Pius X has secured great, practical, and lasting results in the interest of Catholic doctrine and discipline, and that in the face of great difficulties of all kinds. Even non-Catholics recognize his apostolic spirit, his strength of character, the precision of his decisions, and his pursuit of a clear and explicit programme.





POPE ST. PIUS X (1835-1914) Feast: August 21 Perhaps nowhere in the history of the Church is there a better example of a man possessed of so many of the saintly virtues—piety, charity, deep humility, pastoral zeal, and simplicity—than in one of the newest of God's elect, St. Pius X. Yet the parish priest of Tombolo, who remained a country priest at heart throughout his life, faced the problems and evils of a strife-torn world with the spiritual fervor of a crusader. The inscription on his tomb in the crypt of the basilica of St. Peter's gives the most eloquent testimony to a life spent in the service of God:

"Born poor and humble of heart, Undaunted champion of the Catholic faith, Zealous to restore all things in Christ, Crowned a holy life with a holy death."

St. Pius X was born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto on June 2, 1835 in the little Italian town of Riese, in the province of Treviso near Venice. His father was Giovanni Sarto, a cobbler by trade, who was also caretaker of the city hall and the town's postmaster; his mother was Margherita Sanson, a seamstress. The family had few worldly goods and the early life of young Giuseppe, eldest of eight surviving children, was a difficult one. He attended the parish school and while there, his intelligence and high moral character attracted the notice of the pastor, who arranged a scholarship for the lad at the high school in Castelfranco, a larger town two miles from Riese. After completing the course of instruction at Castelfranco, he made known that he had felt the call to the priesthood for some time, but had considered the means of attaining this end beyond his grasp. However, his parents saw that the will of God was in their son's calling, and they did all in their power to encourage him, while the pastor again came to the rescue by arranging another scholarship to the seminary at Padua. In November of 1850, young Sarto arrived at Padua and was immediately taken up with the life and studies of the seminary. The same high qualifications of intellect and spirit, later to blossom forth in his work as bishop and Pope, were much in evidence as a seminarian. Giuseppe worked hard and finally on September 18, 1858, Father Sarto was ordained at the cathedral in Castelfranco.

The young priest's first assignment was as curate at Tombolo, a parish of 1500 souls in the Trentino district of Italy. Here, for eight years, Father Sarto labored among his favorite parishioners, the poor. He also organized a night school for the general education of adults, and trained the parish choir to a high degree of skill in Gregorian Chant. His pastor at Tombolo, Father Constantini, recognizing the worth of the young priest, wrote a prophetic summary of his assistant. "They have sent me as curate a young priest, with orders to mould him to the duties of pastor; in fact, however, the contrary is true. He is so zealous, so full of good sense, and other precious gifts that it is I who can learn much from him. Some day or other he will wear the mitre, of that I am sure. After that—who knows?"

In July of 1867, Father Sarto, then 32 years of age, was appointed pastor of Salzano, one of the most favored parishes in the diocese of Treviso. Soon his concern and help toward the poor became well known throughout the parish, and his two sisters, who acted as his housekeepers, were often at wit's end as their brother gave away much of his own clothing and food to the needy. The new pastor arranged for the instruction of young and old in the fundamentals of Christian Doctrine. The firm conviction that devotion meant little if its meaning was not understood was later to be embodied in the encyclical Acerbo nimis>, "On the Teaching of Christian Doctrine." After nine years at Salzano, Father Sarto was rewarded for his labors by the appointment as Canon of the Cathedral at Treviso and as Chancellor of that diocese. In addition, he became Spiritual Director of the seminary. Canon Sarto took a deep interest in this work of forming Christ in the hearts of young priests. However, in spite of these many duties, he remained ever the teacher; he often journeyed from the seminary into the city to teach catechism to the children, and he organized Sunday classes for those children who attended public schools, where religion was banned. When the diocese of Mantua fell vacant in 1884, Pope Leo XIII named Canon Sarto as bishop of that diocese.

Bishop Sarto found a troubled diocese in which to begin his labors. There was a general opposition of the government to religion manifested in many ways—monasteries had been suppressed, many religious institutions were government-managed, and Church property was heavily taxed. All these political disturbances had a far-reaching effect on both the clergy and the laiety. The seminaries of Mantua were depleted and a general laxity among the younger priests was evident; dangerous errors of thought had crept into the clergy, and the faults of the shepherds had spread to the flock. In general, a pall of religious indifference and secularism had spread over the diocese. With characteristic energy and spiritual strength, Bishop Sarto set to work to put his see in order. He gave first attention to the seminary, where by his own example of zeal and teaching, he won back the clergy to full and faithful service. The laxity of the people was attributed to neglect of parish priests in the instruction of the catechism; Bishop Sarto often taught such classes himself, and in his pastoral visits and letters, he urged the establishment of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine in all parishes. God blessed this work on behalf of all classes of His flock, and in 1893, His Holiness, Leo XIII, elevated Bishop Sarto to Cardinal and appointed him Patriarch of Venice.

As Patriarch of Venice, it was Tombolo, Salzano, and Mantua all over again, but on a widening scale—the same care for his clergy and for the seminaries, the ever-willing hand and heart given to the poor, the long hours spent in teaching young and old—only the red of his new office had replaced the purple and black of former days. Social and economic problems were of prime concern to the new cardinal, and any worthy social action organization was assured of his help. When the Workingmen's Society was founded in Venice, the name of Cardinal Sarto was at the top of the list and he paid regular dues as a member! Once it seemed that an important diocesan newspaper would go into bankruptcy, and the cardinal declared, "I would rather sell my crozier and my robes of office than let that paper go under."

On July 20, 1903, the reign of Leo XIII came to a close, and the world mourned the death of a great Pontiff. Cardinals from all over the world came to Rome for the conclave which would elect the new Pope, and it is again typical of Cardinal Sarto that, due to his many charities, he was short of funds necessary to make the trip; so sure was he that he would never be elected that the problem was solved by the purchase of a return ticket to Venice! With the conclave in solemn session, the voting began, and with each successive ballot, Cardinal Sarto gained more votes. As his cause continued to gain strength, he all the more strongly pleaded that he was neither worthy nor capable enough for the office. When it was finally announced that he had gained sufficient votes to be elected, he bent his head, broke into tears, and whispered, "Fiat voluntas tua" (Thy will be done). He accepted, took the name of Pius X, and on August 9, 1903, was crowned as Vicar of Christ on earth.

The world was now the parish of the new Pontiff, and in his first encyclical he announced the aim of his reign. It was his desire, in the words of St. Paul, "to restore all things in Christ." (Eph 1:10). The prime means of accomplishing this restoration was dearly seen by Pius to be through the clergy, and throughout his reign, the Pope exhorted bishops to reorganize the seminaries and to obtain the best possible training for these men who would instill in others the knowledge of God. The Pontiff published an encyclical, "Exhortation to the Catholic Clergy," in which he pointed out that only through a trained and disciplined clergy could a program of return to Christ be realized.

The religious instruction of young and old became the second most important means toward the Christian restoration, and in his encyclical Acerbo nimis>, "On the Teaching of Christian Doctrine," Pius X firmly stated his position. The evils of the world were traceable to an ignorance of God, he said, and it was necessary for priests to make the eternal truths available to all and in a language that all could understand. Ever an example, he himself gave Sunday instruction to the people in one of the Vatican courtyards. However, no reform of Pius' was more widely acclaimed than the Decrees on Holy Communion, and Pius X is often called "the Pope of the Eucharist." These decrees, issued from 1905 through 1910, allowed the reception of first Holy Communion at an earlier age than had formerly been required, encouraged the frequent reception of the Holy Eucharist by all Catholics, and relaxed the fast for the sick.

In the field of Christian social action the Pope had always been an ardent champion, and in 1905, he published Il fermo proposito, "On Catholic Social Action." In this work, the Pontiff listed practical recommendations for the solution of the social problem; he reaffirmed the need and power of prayer, but said that society would not be Christianized by prayer alone. Action is needed, he pointed out, as had been shown in the lives of the Apostles and of saints like Francis Xavier. The Pope likewise vigorously promoted reforms within the liturgy of the Church, since he felt that these were long overdue. In his Motu proprio on the Restoration of Church Music>, he listed the aims of such music to be sanctity, beauty of form, and universality. Gregorian Chant, the Pope felt, was the music best suited to attain those aims. However, he felt that an attempt to make all Church music Gregorian was an exaggerated fad, and modern compositions were always welcomed by the Pontiff as long as they fulfilled the prescribed norms. Pius also reformed the Breviary, and was founder of the Biblical Institute for the advancement of scholarship in the study of the Scriptures. Even more important for the internal structure of the Church, he initiated and closely supervised the construction of the Code of Canon Law.

The familiar notion of Pius X as the Teacher of Christian Truth and the firm guide and staunch foe of error was forceably illustrated in 1907 when he issued more than fourteen pronouncements against the growth of Modernism. This subtle philosophy, in which Pius saw the poison of all heresies, pretended to "modernize" the Church and to make it keep pace with the changing times. In reality, its end would have been the destructions of the foundation of faith. The crowning achievement of the Pontiff's writings and pronouncements against this philosophy came in the encyclical, Pascendi dominici gregis>, "On the Doctrines of the Modernists." In this work, which was a death blow to Modernism, he gave a systematic exposition of the errors involved, their causes, and provisions for combatting the errors by definite preventive measures.

Pius X labored for the Master until the very last days of his life. His 79 years had not set too heavily upon him, but overwork and anxiety over the impending doom of a World War began to take their toll. Pius saw clearly the horrors of the coming conflict and felt helpless that he could not prevent it. A little more than a month after the outbreak of the war, the Pope was seized with an attack of influenza, and his weakened constitution could not combat the illness. The end for the Christ-like Pius came peacefully on August 20, 1914, and the world, though in the throes of a death struggle, paused to mourn the gentle and humble man whose last will and testament gave such an insight into his character. It read, in part, "I was born poor, I lived poor, I die poor." Shortly after his death, the faithful began to make pilgrimages to his tomb, bringing flowers, prayers, and petitions for favors. Accounts of miraculous favors and cures, some even accomplished during his lifetime and granted through his intercession, were announced and given widespread acclaim. In 1923, the Church, always cautious in such matters, began inquiry into the life and virtues of Pius X, and in February of 1943, the first official step in his Cause was taken when the necessary decree was signed by the present Pontiff, Pius XII. In honor of the work which Pius X had accomplished in its behalf, the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine actively contributed in promoting the Cause for his beatification and canonization. On June 3, 1951, Pius X was declared Blessed, and finally on May 29, 1954, amid the traditional pealing of the bells in the great churches of Rome, Giuseppe Sarto, the humble parish priest of the world, was canonized a saint of God.

Excerpts from> the Encyclical Il fermo proposito>, On Catholic Action

. . . Immense is the field of Catholic action>; it excludes absolutely nothing which in any way, directly or indirectly, belongs to the divine mission of the Church.

It is plainly necessary to take part individually in a work so important, not only for the sanctification of our own souls, but also in order to spread and more fully open out the Kingdom of God in individuals, families, and society, each one working according to his strength for his neighbor's good, by the diffusion of revealed truth, the exercise of Christian virtue, and the spiritual and corporal works of charity and mercy. Such is the conduct worthy of God to which St. Paul exhorts us, so as to please Him in all things, bringing forth fruits of all good works, and increasing in the knowledge of God: "That you may walk worthy of God in all things pleasing; being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God."

Besides these benefits, there are many in the natural order which, without being directly the object of the Church's mission, nevertheless flow from it as one of its natural consequences. Such is the light of Catholic revelation that it vividly illuminates all knowledge; so great is the strength of the Gospel maxims that the precepts of the natural law find in them a surer basis and a more energetic vigor; such, in fine, is the power of the truth and morality taught by Jesus Christ that even the material well-being of individuals, of the family, and of human society, receive from them support and protection.

The Church, while preaching Jesus crucified, who was a stumbling-block and folly to the world, has been the first inspirer and promoter of civilization. She had spread it whenever her apostles have preached, preserving and perfecting what was good in ancient pagan civilization, rescuing from barbarism and raising to a form of civilized society the new peoples who took refuge in her maternal bosom, and giving to the whole of human society, little by little, no doubt, but with a sure and ever onward march, that characteristic stamp which it still everywhere preserves. The civilization of the world is Christian civilization; the more frankly Christian it is, so much is it more true, more lasting, and more productive of precious fruit; the more it withdraws from the Christian ideal, so much the feebler is it, to the great detriment of society....

. . . To restore all things in Christ has ever been the Church's motto, and it is specially Ours, in the perilous times in which we live. To restore all things, not in any fashion, but in Christ; "that are in heaven, and on earth, in Him," adds the Apostle; to restore in Christ not only what depends on the divine mission of the Church to conduct souls to God, but also, as We have explained, that which flows spontaneously from this divine mission, namely, Christian civilization in each and every one of the elements which compose it.

To dwell only on this last part of the restoration, you see well what support is given to the Church by those chosen bands of Catholics whose aim is to unite all their forces in order to combat anti-Christian civilization by every just and lawful means, and to repair in every way the grievous disorders which flow from it; to reinstate Jesus Christ in the family, the school, and society; to re-establish the principle that human authority represents that of God; to take intimately to heart the interests of the people, especially those of the working and agricultural classes, not only by the inculcation of religion, the only true source of comfort in the sorrows of life, but also by striving to dry their tears, to soothe their sufferings, and by wise measures to improve their economic condition; to endeavor, consequently, to make public laws conformable to justice, to amend or suppress those which are not so; finally, with a true Catholic spirit, to defend and support the rights of God in everything, and the no less sacred laws of the Church.

All these works, of which Catholic laymen are the principal supporters and promoters, and whose form varies according to the special needs of each nation, and the particular circumstances of each country, constitute what is generally known by a distinctive, and surely a very noble name:

(trans. in Publications of the Catholic Truth Society, vol. 83, London, 1910.)

Excerpts from the Encyclical Letter Acerbo nimis, On the teaching of Christian Doctrine

. . . How many and how grave are the consequences of ignorance in matters of religion! And on the other hand, how necessary and how beneficial is religious instruction! It is indeed vain to expect the fulfillment of the duties of a Christian by one who does not even know them.

We must now consider upon whom rests the obligation to dissipate this most pernicious ignorance and to impart in its stead the knowledge that is wholly indispensable. There can be no doubt, Venerable Brothers, that this most important duty rests upon all those who are pastors of souls. On them, by command of Christ, rest the obligations of knowing and of feeding the flocks committed to their care; and to feed implies, first of all, to teach. "I will give you pastors after my own heart," God promised through Jeremias, "and they shall feed you with knowledge and doctrine." Hence the Apostle Paul said: "Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Gospel," thereby indicating that the first duty of all those who are entrusted in any way with the government of the Church is to instruct the faithful in the things of God....

. . . Here then it is well to emphasize and insist that for a priest there is no duty more grave or obligation more binding than this. Who, indeed, will deny that knowledge should be joined to holiness of life in the priest? "For the lips of the priest shall keep knowledge." The Church demands this knowledge of those who are to be ordained to the priesthood. Why? Because the Christian people expect from them knowledge of the divine law, and it was for that end that they were sent by God. "And they shall seek the law at his mouth; because He is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts." Thus the bishop speaking to the candidates for the priesthood in the ordination ceremony says: "Let your teaching be a spiritual remedy for God's people; may they be worthy fellow workers of our order; and thus meditating day and night on His law, they may believe what they read, and teach what they shall believe.". . .

. . . In order to enkindle the zeal of the ministers of God, We again insist on the need to reach the ever-increasing number of those who know nothing at all of religion, or who possess at most such knowledge of God and Christian truths as befits idolaters. How many there are, alas, not only among the young, but among adults and those advanced in years, who know nothing of the chief mysteries of faith; who on hearing the name of Christ can only ask: "Who is He . . . that I may believe in Him?" In consequence of this ignorance, they do not consider it a crime to excite and nourish hatred against their neighbor, to enter into most unjust contracts, to do business in dishonest fashion, to hold the funds of others at an exhorbitant interest rate, and to commit other iniquities not less reprehensible. They are, moreover, ignorant of the law of Christ which not only condemns immoral actions, but also forbids deliberate immoral thoughts and desires. Even when for some reason or other they avoid sensual pleasures, they nevertheless entertain evil thoughts without the least scruple, thereby multiplying their sins above the number of hairs of the head. These persons are found, we deem it necessary to repeat, not merely among the poorer classes of the people or in sparsely settled districts, but also among those in the higher walks of life, even, indeed, among those puffed up with learning, who, relying upon a vain erudition, feel free to ridicule religion . . .

. . . What We have said so far demonstrates the supreme importance of religious instruction. We ought, therefore, to do all that lies in our power to maintain the teaching of Christian doctrine with full vigor, and where such is neglected, to restore it; for in the words of Our predecessor, Benedict XIV, "There is nothing more effective than catechetical instruction to spread the glory of God and to secure the salvation of souls."
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