Friday, 21 August 2015

Pope Saint Pius X

Piux X (born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto at Riese, near Venice, on 2 June 1835) condemned the error of Modernism in the encyclical Pascendi and the decree Lamentabili. Modernism and relativism were trends that wanted to assimilate modern philosophers into theological research in the way Aristotelianism had been used by thinkers like Thomas Aquinas in the past. Modernists claimed that Church beliefs were in a continuous process of evolvement. Following these encyclicals, Pius ordered that all clerics take the Sacrorum antistitum, an oath against Modernism. He also encouraged the formation and efforts of Sodalitium Pianum (or League of Pius V), an anti-Modernist network of informants. In 1908 the papal decree Ne Temere came into effect. Marriages not performed by a Catholic priest were declared legal but religiously invalid, a move which worried many about the status of "mixed marriages" outside a Catholic church. Priests were given discretion to refuse to perform mixed marriages or lay conditions upon them, commonly including a requirement that the children be raised Roman Catholic. Also in 1908 the Catechism of Christian Doctrine was first issued. In less than fifty pages it deals with questions of faith and morals in simple language, one reason for its continuing popularity. Later Joseph Ratzinger (later to become Benedict XVl) would say that Pius’ characteristics were “simplicity of exposition and depth of content.”

In 1913 Pius suffered a heart attack from which he never fully recovered. In 1914, the Pope fell ill on the Feast of the Assumption (August 15th). The outbreak of the First World War only worsened his condition and the 79-year-old pope became deeply depressed. He died on 20 August 1914, just a few hours after the death of the Jesuit superior general, Franz Xavier Wernz. 

In his will he wrote: “I was born poor, I have lived poor, and I wish to die poor.” Much of the pomp and ceremony of the Vatican he found profoundly distasteful.

Pius X was buried in a simple tomb in the crypt below St Peter’s Basilica. He had forbidden the removal of organs for the embalming process, a custom followed by his successors. 

He was being acclaimed a saint immediately after his death and the crypt could not hold all those wanting to venerate his tomb. Masses were held near his tomb until 1930.

On 19 August 1939, Pope Pius XII delivered a tribute to Pius X at Castel Gandolfo and on 12 February 1943, he was given the title “Venerable.” In 1944 his coffin was opened and, although he had not been embalmed, his body was found after thirty years to be in an excellent state of conservation. Following the confirmation of two miracles, he was beatified on 3 June 1951. 

On 29 May 1954, less than three years after his beatification, he was canonised, following the recognition of two more miracles. Pius X thus became the first pope to be canonised since Pope Pius V in the 17th century.

Pius X’s feast day, initially assigned to September 3rd, was moved in 1969 to August 21st, closer to the day of his death.

Although not present upon his arms, the only motto attributed to Pope Pius X is the one for which he is best remembered: Instaurare omnia in Christo("To restore all things in Christ"). These words were the last he spoke before he died.

Founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the Society of St Pius X is a priestly society of common life without vows. Its main objective is to provide training for the Catholic priesthood without any trace of Modernism in doctrine, morals or worship. The Society was originally erected in Fribourg, Switzerland by Bishop Francois Charriere, of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg on 1 November, 1970.

Today the Society is working in some sixty countries, everywhere providing the unchanging Catholic doctrine, the Mass of All Time, the liturgy, as well as the sacraments in their traditional form, the true channels of grace and of salvation.  It has six international priestly seminaries established on four continents. Its ministry is a parish-model ministry exercised through its priories where the member priests live in common, an important aspect of the priestly life in the SSPX. It also devotes itself to many other forms of apostolate and works of charity: third orders, chaplaincies, houses for spiritual retreats, primary and secondary schools, colleges, retirement homes, clinics, missions, as well as various works of charity. In Great Britain and Ireland, the Society's Priests regularly offer the traditional Latin Mass in some thirty churches, chapels and Mass centres. Saint Michael's School provides a Catholic education for junior and senior boys and junior girls. There is a Retreat House at Bristol. Publications include a regular newsletter and a quarterly magazine, Mater Dei.

The District also has an apostolate in Scandinavia, covering Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

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