St Pius X, Warrior for the Faith
Tomorrow (Monday), we celebrate the feast of the great Pope and saint, Pius X, who reigned from 1903 until 1914. St Padre Pio said of him that he was the holiest and noblest Pope after St Peter. Quite an accolade! Even the look in his eyes was enough to convert people, and towards the end of his papacy he worked many miracles. What a gift the Church had in him.
He was born to a poor family in the Italian village of Riese near Venice in 1835 and was baptised Giuseppe (Joseph) Sarto. He was given a dispensation to be ordained priest at the very young age of 23. He was successively curate, parish priest, Bishop of Mantua and Patriarch of Venice. He was well known for helping the poor and was strong on Catholic Social Action. And then much against his wishes, he was elected Pope on 4th August 1903, and took the name of Pius, and his papal motto was “To restore all things in Christ”.
As Pope he would often sneak out to visit the sick in local hospitals. He improved priestly formation, and promoted sacred music, particularly Gregorian Chant. In 1910, he issued his famous decree which lowered the age for First Holy Communion for children. He is probably best known for the heroic steps he took to combat the heresy which he called “modernism” which is to try and change the Faith into something different, destroy what has been handed down to us, and then redesign it to suit the mood of the times. He called it the “synthesis of all heresies” which means we have all the heresies and errors of Christian history lumped together into one. Among the chief errors of the modernists are that the Church cannot determine the genuine sense of the Scriptures and neither is God really the author of them. The Gospels do not prove the divinity of JESUS, and He never intended to found a Church. The dogmas held by the Church are not revealed truths but mere opinions, and therefore they can change in the future. (Many today are seeking to change the moral teaching of the Church). Christ did not always know He was the Messiah, and the Sacraments originated in the Apostles from some ideas Christ expressed, and not from Christ Himself. And since the dogmas of the Church cannot be reconciled with science, in order to have progress, dogma must be abandoned. These errors and many others were condemned by St Pius X, and I give the main ones here so as you may identify them as errors should you hear them voiced, as they are gaining in frequency.
So we see that St Pius X was a Catholic through and through, and he could see over a hundred years ago that an anti-Catholic way of thinking was entering the Church. So he obliged all teachers and clerics before ordination to take an oath against modernism in the hope of suppressing it. It had the desired effect for several decades, but now it has reared its ugly head once again. St Pius X warned that the heresy of modernism contaminating the minds and hearts of the faithful would extinguish the light of faith in them. So it has to be fought against because these ideas are poisonous. Therefore we have to know and study our faith and remain faithful to what the Church has always taught. As I’ve said before, beware of novelties! The Church is going through a Passion at the moment as did her Divine Founder. But Good Friday is always followed by Easter Sunday. Christ and His Church will be victorious in the end. Our Lady of Fatima promised over a hundred years ago, “In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph”, meaning that the Church and the Faith will be exalted and glorified as never before in her history. So never despair.
It is said that St Pius X died of a broken heart at the outbreak of the First World War. How heartbreaking it is to see that we are now experiencing conflict within the very heart of the Church, and that the light of faith is under attack, particularly in Europe. But however hard they try, the gates of Hell will not prevail (Matthew 16:18). Let us invoke St Pius X, and St Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church after whom St Pius X was named, that we become models of uncompromising faith.
Fr Paul Gillham, IC