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Pope of the Eucharist

Rev. D. G. Byrne

The car swished up to the kerb and came to a halt. The rain was falling more heavily, thought Father Lawrence, as he turned off the ignition. Of all the nights a man chooses to go out he picks this one! Still, he had promised the Mortons so often in the past that he would be over, and something had always happened to prevent him. There was the time when he was all set to come and a non-Catholic enquirer had called in unexpectedly just as he was on the point of leaving. Again, the curate had come home witha bout of 'flu, and he had to stay on duty. Another time old Mrs. Murphy had a stroke- her last, poor soul- and he had to ring up and. . . . . No, he had slipped them up too often in the past, and now a mere drop of rain wasn't going to keep him away. Besides, he always enjoyed himself when he went to Mortons. Perhaps the world was falling to pieces, but people like the Mortons gave one hope for the future. Mary and Frank had been married only eight years; soon after the war it was; and the first years had not been easy for them. They had four sturdy children now, and were a real credit to their religion and their Catholic way of life. Pity there weren't more like them!

He slammed the door of the car and made up the path towards the verandah.

Br . . . rr.'r.

The door was opened by a young woman in her late twenties. Nobody would believe that Mary Morton was the

mother of four children, thought the priest.

'Oh, it's you, Father, I'm so glad you were able to come. What a night you chose, though, she laughed, 'here, let

me take your coat and hat; you must be frozen.

The priest unbuttoned his overcoat. He was not a young man by any means and his thirty years as a priest had aged

him in many ways. 'It is rather cold, he agreed, 'that's a nice fire burning away in there! He nodded towards the

living room.

'Yes, come on in, Frank will be here in a minute; he is just getting some more wood. . . .By the way, she added

confidentially, 'Mother has just dropped in. We were having a few words just before you arrived. It started over

young Tony of all people, perhaps you could persuade her.

The back door shut to and Frank Morton appeared, carrying an armful of wood. 'Good night, Father, he called

airily, 'It's good to see you.

'I was just talking about Mother, Frank.

Frank smiled ruefully. 'You know, Father, some people can never be convinced. But what are we standing out here

for? Come on inside. The baby is in bed, but the rest of the children are up; we told them they could stay up and see


'Now, said the priest, 'what's all the trouble?'

Mrs. O'Shaughnessy, Mary's mother, immediately assumed command. 'It's young Tony, Father. As you know, he

is to receive his First Communion next month, and. ., well, I think he is too young. Why, when I was girl, no one

would . . . . .

Father Lawrence stroked his chin, a characteristic action of his. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy had the best intentions in the

world, of course, but why, oh why did she try to bring up her own daughter's children.

'Yes, Mrs. O'Shaughnessy, he interrupted good humouredly, 'when you were a girl'when we both were young

for that matter- children didn't receive Holy Communion until they were ten or eleven. But, honestly, looking back,

do you really think it was a good thing? You forget that it was Christ Himself who said 'Suffer the little ones to come

unto Me, and prevent them not.' Why weren't they allowed to receive Our Lord into their hearts when, in fact, they

had been ready years previously?

'You see, he continued, 'it all arose from a wrong idea of what Communion is. When Christ instituted the

Eucharist, He was not so much seeking His own glory; what He wanted was to make man holier. Holy Communion is

not meant to be a reward for virtue; it is a spiritual nourishment- in plain English, food for the soul. That has always been the mind of the Church, who advises all, young and old, to receive Communion provided they have the right intention. However, a bad custom grew up in Europe, and especially in France, of making children wait for many

years, until early this century. somebody changed all that.

Margaret, aged six, and Vin, aged four, had been quiet all this time.

'Who was that, Father? they suddenly asked in chorus.

'Aw, crowed Tony importantly. 'everyone knows that; Sister Clare was talking about him at Communion class

this morning.

'Tell us about him,Father, piped in Margaret and Vin,please!

'Careful, Father, grinned Frank Morton,you know what these kids of mine are like.

Father Lawrence gazed into the fire. 'Well, his name is in the news these days, he said feeling for his pipe, 'and

besides, his life may have interest for you older children too!


'Well, to begin with, his name was Giuseppe Sarto'in English that would be Joseph Taylor- Sarto being the Italian for Tailor- but you wouldn't know him by that name, though you all have heard of him, for it was this little lad Giuseppe who later became the famous Pius X. Anyway, young Giuseppe was born in the village of Riese in Northern Italy- Venetia it was'on 2nd June, 1835 . . . His father was the local postman, and he had to struggle pretty hard to feed and clothe his family of ten- four boys and six girls. The Sartos were what you might call a model Christian family and like good Catholic parents the world over they brought up their children with a great love of God and His holy Mother- and just as they co-operated with God in bringing their eldest son into the world and training him, I am sure they are now sharing his glory in heaven.

'You know, Father, Frank Morton reflected, 'occasionally I do get the urge to read the lives of saints and other holy people, but, oh, I don't know! All that praying, and those fasts and the rest. Well, I couldn't imagine myself doing all that sort of thing.

'I know what you mean, smiled Father sympathetically, 'some saints did lead extraordinary lives and they are to be admired, but not imitated! God, you know, raises up all the saints, and the more austere ones seem to have been placed in those times when the majority of the people were leading very loose lives. Perhaps God wanted to shock these people into a holier way of life by putting in their midst one whose life was a direct contrast to theirs. But not all saints were of that sort. Look at St. John Bosco, or the Little Flower- saints who did the ordinary things that we have to do, but with this difference- they did the ordinary things extraordinarily well. We can both admire and imitate them. Giuseppe Sarto was, thank God, one of these- he was like many young Venetian boys; he worked hard, always enjoyed a joke and, it seems, was not above raiding a neighbour's cherry orchard now and again.

Tony's eyes opened wide. 'He's no different from the kids around here, then?'

'He improved later, though, Tony, winked the priest. 'When he was old enough he became an Altar boy, like many a young Australians today. Even at this age he liked to drop in and talk to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament; perhaps this was the beginning of. His lifelong devotion to the Blessed Eucharist.

Father Lawrence lit his pipe and blew the smoke out slowly- deliberately. 'Yes, the Sartos were poor people, and young Joseph had to tramp over four miles to school every day, his lunch stuffed inside his shirt and his shoes strung around his neck to save the leather. Later on, things got a little better, and he and his brother were given a donkey and cart.


'That briefly sums up the childhood of the future Pope. By now, Joseph was a youth of seventeen, and it was high time he decided on a career. He had done well at school, really well we are told, and had topped his class at the secondary school at Castelfranco. During his last years at school, the thought of the Priesthood had presented itself. But the Priesthood involves long years of training and training involves expense, and in a family such as the Sartos, every penny had to be considered. It seemed as though he would have to put the thought of becoming a priest, out of his head.

Frank butted his cigarette: 'But Father, surely, if God gave a man a vocation, the man would be bound to follow it up,- and God would somehow find the means.

'A good point, Frank; but are you sure you have the correct idea on vocations?

'Yes, Father, I think so. God gives the call to certain men to become priests, and they answer that call. That is what 'Vocation' means, isn't it'A calling?

Father Lawrence paused before answering. 'If you mean that a man will hear an interior voice: 'Come, follow Me,''you are wrong. There is only one audible vocation given by God, and the priest hears it on his Ordination morning, when the young Deacon hears the words: 'Accedant qui ordinandi sunt'''Let those to be ordained, come forward.' Now the bishop is bound to make enquiries about the men he is going to ordain. He must be sure that the candidate has certain qualities, and if these are present, he may lawfully ordain him.

'What are those qualities, Father? asked Mrs. Morton.

'Well, the Code of Canon Law- that is, the book of laws that govern the Church says that the candidate must have sufficient learning, sound morals, good health, no impediments and what is called a supernatural motive- that is just an involved way of saying that the motive must be concerned with God in some way. For instance, if I wanted to be a priest in order to win esteem from my fellow men, then that obviously would not be a supernatural motive! This is what the Church requires when she talks of a vocation.

'Yes, Father, I can see that, said Frank, 'it seems that I did have the wrong slant on vocations. I thought there would be some sort of supernatural attraction or an invitation from God to become a priest.

'There is no mention of it in Canon Law, Frank. At the same time, there may have been especially chosen souls who got some sort of divine message, but for the general run of us, positively no! And if the average young man expects to hear an angelic voice in his ear, he is going to be disappointed. The only signs of a vocation are the five things I mentioned earlier, and all the desires in the world will make no difference if any of these are missing. That is the Church's teaching on the subject and, as we shall see later, it was the view on vocations formally approved by Pius X.

'To return to Giuseppe Sarto; he had the five essential requirements but, unfortunately, no money. He had offered himself to God for a life of service and God wasn't going to be put out by a small consideration like expense. Besides, he had special designs on this youth.

'As often happens, God works through human agents to bring about His plans and that's what happened in the case of young Sarto. Joseph's parish priest, Don Tito Fusarina, was a great friend of the Prefect of Studies at the Seminary of Treviso, so he asked the Prefect to put Joseph's case to the Patriarch of Venice. The Cardinal himself was a peasant's son from Joseph's own village. This, combined with the fact that Joseph had passed with honours in every subject in his examinations, was too much for the Cardinal, and Giuseppe Sarto was awarded a free scholarship at the Seminary of Padua.


'Everything was now ready for him to begin his seminary course with its Philosophy, Theology, Canon Law, Ecclesiastical History and all the rest. In all the things he tackled, he set himself to do the job in hand and he mastered them all.

Father Lawrence paused. 'You know the old saying: 'Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration,' and I think there is a lot in it. We often look at the results forget about the work spent in getting them, and so when you hear of brilliant young student, Joseph Sarto, graduating with honours each year at the Seminary don't forget the hard work he had to put in to get these results.

'W e are told he was a model seminarian, but don't get the idea that he was in any way narrow-minded. He was in love with God and he quickly learned that the best way to please God was through obedience. He knew that whatever his superiors told him, that was what God wanted him to do; so he did it! And he did it with a liveliness and naturalness that won him the esteem of all in the Seminary. Later he could say, 'Before one commands, it is necessary first to have learned how to obey.'

'Here in the Seminary he first acquired his taste for Gregorian Chant. At that time Gregorian Chant had almost completely lost its popularity and had been replaced by a more operatic form of music. Oh, good music it certainly was, but not very conducive to prayer. Later on he became choirmaster and perhaps it was the experience he gained in this capacity that was the beginning of the reforms which, later on as Pope, he introduced into Church music.

'Joseph often remarked in later life that his happiest years were those spen t in the Seminary at Padua. However, that happiness was overshadowed by an event which seriously threatened his career as a priest. His father became ill and died, leaving his wife and family in very poor circumstances. His mother would not be able to provide for such a large family and he being the eldest, would have to help out. His mother would not hear of it. The younger boys were growing up, and would soon be able to do their share. Meanwhile she would see that the family would not go without.

The priest tapped his pipe gently against the ashtray. 'You know, he said, 'it is the Margherita Sartos' who are the backbone of the Church! The valiant women that one reads about in the Book of Wisdom! One day someone should write a book on these women'Blanche of Castile; Margherita Bosco; Margherita Sarto . . . for it is they who pointed out the way their saintly sons were to follow. Our Divine Lord placed his own Mother over the angels in heaven, and these mothers, too, I am sure, will have places in paradise comparable with their sons; they certainly deserve it!

'But where are we? Oh yes, well by now it was 1858 and Ordination time was approaching. But Joseph was only twenty-three and because the age for Ordination is twenty-four, he had to get a dispensation to be ordained that year. On September 18th, 1858 he was ordained priest at the Cathedral of Castelfranco. Here he received from the Bishop the power to perform the greatest act possible for man- the power of offering God the Son to His Eternal Father; of uttering the words 'I absolve you''and the next day he returned to Riese, along the road where as a boy he walked with shoes strung around his neck, along the street he knew so well, to the Church he had loved so much- and there he offered his first Holy Mass.

Father Lawrence paused. 'You know, not even a wedding day can be as happy as the day on which a priest says his first Mass. Few engagements have lasted so long; no preparation is so intense; and then the great day arrives when he holds a piece of bread in his hands and perhaps for the first time realizes the tremendous power behind the words 'For This Is My Body'.

There was a silence . . .

'I have become rather eloquent, I'm afraid, grinned the priest, 'but the joy of Ordination time is unforgettable. And so it was with Joseph Sarto- even forty years later, as Pope, he would speak with feeling of the rough, hardworking peasant folk who knelt at the feet of the young 'Ordinatus' to receive his benediction . . . .


'Well, after ordination a priest receives his first appointment, and in due course, Father Giuseppe Sarto was sent as curate to the village of Tombolo, a pretty little place it was in hilly, well-timbered country and the people were mainly dairy farmers. They were hard working and they had a vice not altogether unknown in our own country'they were inveterate swearers Not that they meant anything by it, I am sure, but they had grown up amid it. Father Sarto set out to check the habit and his method was simple. He opened a school for his people- the adults as well as the children'and all could be enrolled provided each 'pupil' gave up his habit of swearing. That was his condition, and the people accepted him on his terms. Thus he was able to achieve in a comparatively short time what could only be effected after many years of preaching and persuading.


'After a while he was moved to another village where he was made Parish Priest. Salzano was the name of it and here, as at Tombolo, he gave himself heart and soul to his flock. Soon after he arrived, there was a serious outbreak of cholera. A nineteenth century Italian village did not boast social service facilities, and the new parish priest became its doctor, nurse and sanitary inspector.

'I like this part of his life best. He worked by day attending the sick and dying, and by night burying the dead- and even digging their graves. No wonder he had such power over his people. Gifted orator he certainly was, but it was the kindness of Father Sartothat spoke far more forcefully.


The pastor leaned back. 'If you were to ask me what was the most outstanding quality of Joseph Sarto, I would say it was his generosity; a generosity that sprang from a genuine and great love. He loved Christ; he saw all men in Christ'members of His Body- and because he gave Himself heart and soul to Christ, he gave himself to men-Christ's members! At Treviso, where in 1875 he was moved as Canon, his generosity was still a by-word, especially at the Seminary where he was appointed Spiritual Director. Many of the poorer students were helped financially, with the result that the Canon himself was nearly always penniless. At the Seminary he corrected many abuses that had unfortunately crept in and in this he was motivated by a burning zeal for good and holy priests. He was greatly respected here at the Seminary of Treviso; so much so that when his time came to leave he felt that a general farewell would be too painful. Instead he gave a letter to the Rector of the Seminary:

'Tell them I keep them all in my heart, and that they must pray for me', he said. Then, slipping unnoticed out of the house, he went to meet the carriage ordered for him and left for Mantua.


'We shall see later that Pius X took as his motto. 'Instaurare Omnia In Christo'-'To restore all things in Christ.' Really, it was something he carried with him through life. As Bishop of Mantua, he had ample opportunity to practise it. The clergy and people were divided; the recently founded Seminary was almost empty of students; many parishes were without priests, and parish priests were often neglecting their duties. Immediately he set about his work of restoration. He was able to increase the Seminarians to one hundred and forty-seven; he reformed the clergy; he started Sodalities; he set up charitable institutions; he re-introduced Gregorian Chant into Church music; he taught the catechism.

'But not only that. The Government was for a large part anti -clerical, a not uncommon state of affairs in nineteenth century Italy, and he did his best to establish friendly relations with the State. His letter to the Mayor was typical of him: 'Your new bishop,' he wrote, 'poor in everything else, but rich in his love for his flock has no other object than to work for the salvation of souls, and from among you one family of friends and brothers.' Even though the Government was Masonic and often bitterly antagonistic, he saw it as the lawfully constituted authority, to be followed in all things not contrary to faith and morals. But when they overstepped that authority- as later happened in the case of France- he was emphatic in his denunciation, and decisive in his action.


'Still greater honours were destined for Bishop Sarto. He had been renowned throughout Mantua for his piety and zeal, and on the death of Cardinal Agostino, Patriarch of Venice, in 1893, he was chosen as his successor. But it was sixteen months before he was able to take possession of his See. The reason for this was that the Italian Government claimed the right to nominate the new Patriarch-a right which of course they in no way possessed-and they refused to recognize Cardinal Sarto's appointment. The Municipality of Venicebacked up the Government's action since they too were bitterly anti-clerical, and only too glad to show their hostility to the Church. By September, 1894, the growing indignation of the Venetians made the Government relent, and in due course, the appointment was confirmed, and Cardinal Sarto arrived in Venice to receive a tremendous welcome from the people. The guns of the arsenal boomed out in salute; then as he stepped into the magnificent launch which carried him to St. Mark's, all the bells of the city rang out. Every balcony was thronged with cheering crowds; every building bedecked with flags and streamers-with the exception, that is, of the governmental buildings-for the Government was determined to show its opposition to the new Patriarch.

The priest reached for a poker to retrieve a log, which was on the point of falling on to the hearth. He prodded it, and they watched the sparks as they raced upwards and disappeared.

'What shall I tell you about him during this time? Of the magnificent Eucharistic Congress, the equal of which Venice has never since seen? Of his attempts to come to peaceful terms with the Government for the most part masonic, and at length succeeding, by the sheer weight of his personality. Of the rebuilding of the Bell Tower of St. Mark's?'you'll get that in any life of Pius X-and he no doubt deserves to live on for those great achievements. But I like to think of him as the man who visited the slums of Venice, the hospitals and prisons. I like to think of him spending long hours in prayer, of leading the humble life of a peasant, insofar as he could; of pawning his watch, yes, and even his episcopal ring to obtain money for the needy. You see, it was in doing this that he imitated his Master, and it was this that endeared him to the hearts of his people-and helped to make him what he is today, one of the Blessed in Heaven.


There was a silence, but his audience did not press him. It was good to hear Father telling a story. 'I'm getting oratorical again, Father Lawrence confessed. 'But as you can probably guess, Pius X is a favourite of

mine, and one of the great lessons he teaches me is that the way to sanctity lies in doing all our daily duties, and doing them well. The Little flower called this round of daily tasks her 'Little Way.' That I think is a very happy expression. because in our daily lives, there are only the little common humdrum tasks. Not much splash; not much success. Yet it is through these things you and I are going to get holier.

Frank's eyes sparkled. 'Do you mean, Father, that I'm going to get to heaven by my office work, and digging my garden and shopping wood?

'By those and your religious duties as well; your Sunday Mass and your prayers. You see, the ordinary things of our lives are very, very important.

Father let this point sink in, before stirring himself to continue.

'But stop interrupting me, he cut in playfully, 'its rude. By now, we have come to the year 1903,'July 20th, to be exact- and the world was saddened by news of the death of Leo XIII. He it was who awakened the world to its duties towards the working classes, and had he written 'Rerum Novarum and nothing else, he would still be remem- bered and loved. His activity on behalf of the working class was only a part of those untiring labours which eventually wore out even his lion heart until on July 20th, God called His faithful servant home.

He knocked the ashes out of his pipe. 'As you know, when a Pope dies, his successor is chosen by the College of Cardinals. The Cardinals are called to Rome for the election; they go, each accompanied by his secretary. Meanwhile, a large part of the Vatican is set aside, and divided into apartments or cells. Access to it is had by one door only, which is barred from the outside by the Marshal of the Conclave, and from the inside by the Cardinal Camerlengo; and so all communication with the outside world is at an end until the result of the election is announced.

'Well, that's what happened in 1903, when Cardinal Sarto was summoned to Rome for the election. Always with an eye to business, he bought a return ticket- to save money. But that return ticket was destined not to be used.


'Before you go on, Frank interrupted, 'I remember reading somewhere that at this election it seemed certain that another Cardinal was going to be elected, but Austria vetoed him;- and then when he was out of the running, Pius X was elected. Was that a fact?

The priest knitted his brows; 'No, Frank. That has commonly been said, but it is far from the truth. Austria did attempt a veto, but it was ignored. You see, when a Pope is elected; this is what happens: 'After Mass, the Cardinals assemble in the Sistine Chapel where the voting takes place. Each Cardinal takes an oath that he will elect the man whom he considers most fitted for the task, and places the name of his candidate in a gold chalice on the altar. The Cardinal finally elected must have a two-thirds majority; if this is not attained at the first sitting, the nominations are placed in a stove with a handful of damp straw-to make the smoke black. The chimney extends through a window of the Chapel, so the crowd outside can see clearly that the conclave has not reached a decision. The Conclave meets twice a day until the required two-thirds majority has been reached. When this is done; the ballots are again burnt in the stove, but this time the straw is not dampened. The smoke given off is white, as a sign to the people waiting outside that they have a new Pope.

'And so it was in 1903. At the first sitting a certain Cardinal Rampolla had 29 votes, while Cardinal Sarto had 5. Then a Cardinal, at the instigation of Austria, pronounced a veto on Cardinal Rampolla. This veto supposed that the Austrian Emperor had the right to disagree with a nominee, and even to exclude him from election.

'You can imagine what a stir went up at the pronouncing of the veto. Of course, it was disregarded, and as a matter of fact it increased Cardinal Rampolla's chances, since sympathy had now been gained in his favour. 'At the next scrutiny, his votes had increased, but, at the same time, the Patriarch's had doubled and at the next session had doubled again.

'With his increasing favour, Cardinal Sarto's anguish was apparent to all. Again and again he begged them to forget him as he was utterly incapable of the responsibility. Finally, on the fourth day, the ballots were taken and Joseph Sarto had polled fifty out of the possible sixty-two, eight more than the number required for a valid election. And so, Giuseppe Sarto, son of a peasant, had been elected 259th successor to Peter, the Fisherman.

The priest glanced over towards the window. The rain was coming down steadily, now.

'Tell me, what was he like to look at, Father? It was Mrs. O'Shaughnessy who was speaking. 'Well, were you to look at his photo, you would be immediately struck by his expression of great sadness. You

would not have called him good looking, but yet, there was something extremely attractive about him, His face was full, his hair white and somewhat unruly, his nose broad, and his mouth generous. But perhaps the most striking feature about him was his eyes'large, solemn, soulful, such as you only see in the very young or the very wise.

'So much for his appearance, now for the man himself. He was o ne of those people who have a natural charm and make friends easily. He had a great sense of humour, and a quick tongue; the sort of tongue that could sting, but rarely did so. But getting right at the heart of the man, he was an ardent lover of Our Lord, and then he loved all men for His sake. His reputation for holiness spread far and wide: 'I hear you are a 'Santo,' (Saint),' an enthusiastic lady exclaimed during an audience. 'You almost have it; but you are wrong on one consonant.'It is a Sarto that I am, not a Santo; laughed the Pope.


The Pastor moved his chair nearer the fire. 'Well, what shall I tell you about Pius X ? It is difficult to pick, because there was so much. For instance, there was his fight against Modernism; the 'Motu Proprio,' as his famous encyclical letter on church music is called; his clash with the French Government; his decree on Holy Communion, and much more besides.

'Well, Father, said Frank. 'I'll give you the lead. What's all this talk about his reform of Church music? I mean to say, there is a lot of talk these days of 'Back to Gregorian Chant,''cant see much in it myself. You can't compare it with a full choir. Besides, when you . . .

'Just a second, Frank, continued the priest, 'we can't let this deve lop into a discussion on sacred music, or else we'll be here till midnight. At the time Pius X wrote, there was little to distinguish a full-blooded Credo from an operatic aria. Singers were paid; there was often a full orchestra- including drums'perched up in the choir loft. You have never experienced it. I have unfortunately, and believe me, it is something to shock the sensibilities. In his 'Motu Proprio,' Pius X set down hard and fast rules to govern ecclesiastical music. Operatic effects were relegated to their proper place which was the theatre. On the other hand, while he did say that Gregorian Chant was the most suitable one, he did not exclude other forms of music, provided they were kept within certain defined limits. Pius X had set as his motto 'To restore all things in Christ,' and this was one of the first of his works of restoration.


'However, his greatest, or to be more accurate, his most famous reform was the restoration of the Eucharist to its proper place.

Fr. Lawrence leaned down towards young Tony who had long since ceased to take interest in proceedings.

'You see, it was like this, Tony. When Our Lord was alive, He promised that He would come to people in Holy Communion, and for many centuries they used to receive Him often. But then, some wicked men, Jansenists, they called them, said we ought not receive Our Lord, unless we had shown we were good enough. They also said little boys like you could not receive Our Lord at all and made them wait till they were older because they didn't know whom they were receiving.

'But Father, that's silly! We receive Jesus. And He's alive as He was on earth, and He stays in us just as He is in the Tabernacle.- All the kids in our class know that! There was no mistaking Tony's sincerity.

The priest looked up past Tony, to where Mrs. O'Shaughnessy was sitting opposite him. 'It reminds me of an English lady who had a private audience with Pius X. She had her little son aged four with her, and during the conversation the little boy ran to the Pope, put his hands on his knees and looked up into his face. 'How old is he? asked Pius X.

'He's four, answered the mother, 'and I hope in a few years he will be old enough to receive his first Com- munion.

The Pope took the boy on his knee. 'Whom do you receive in Holy Communion? he asked. 'Jesus Christ, was the prompt answer.

'And who is Jesus Christ?

'Jesus Christ is God, he replied no less quickly.

'Bring him to me tomorrow, said the Pope, turning to the mother, 'I will give him Holy Communion myself. The priest continued to look at the chair opposite. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy gave no reply, but he knew he had won his point.

'You see, he concluded, 'for children, Communion is the loving embrace of a Father, whereas for us more sophisticated Catholics it is more of a welcome to a loved and much honoured Guest, with, he added dryly, 'the pre- occupations of a hostess.


'Father, about this Modernism you spoke of. You say the Pope condemned it. It seems to line up with all that talk about the Church being the enemy of science! I have always thought that the Church encouraged science and modern thought- and well, if the Pope condemned it . . .

'You're right, too, Frank, and in a sense you're wrong. The Church does, and has always championed the cause of science. Anything we discover in the world that leads to a greater appreciation and knowledge of the creator of these wonders is good and the Church encourages it. But, unfortunately, lies and perversion can hide under the cloak of science and when this happens the Church must, and to her credit does, unmask this deception. She encourages for example, cancer research and physiology as genuine science, but condemns birth control methods and euthanasia which are merely masquerading as such.

'It was that way with the heresy of modernism. I don't want to enter into a detailed discussion on Modernism at this hour of the night; I'll merely say that it was founded on the philosophy of a man named Kant, a German professor and a Rationalist into the bargain. He believed that science had progressed so far as to be irreconcilable with Christian teaching. Of course, this assumption is absurd, as though a scientific truth could possibly conflict with a revelation from the Author of Truth.

'Many people were tricked by this new theory and took it for a fact that there was conflict between religion and science. The conclusion should, of course, have been either there was no conflict at all or else the socalled 'scientific truth' was unsound. But your Rationalist wouldn't have it that way. He said there was conflict'the scientific truth was established; therefore bring your religion into line with these new discoveries.

'It's interesting to note, commented the priest, 'that many of the scientific truths have long since been refuted by science itself, but that is beside the point.

'Rationalism had many offshoots: one of them was, as we have said, Modernism. It made out that religion consisted only in a nice and pious feeling of the heart. If I felt something was good or true then for me it was good or true. This went by the intellectual name of 'Immanentism.' Religion was internal; God revealed Himself to me personally; whatever I felt was right, was right. Therefore, there was no need of a Church to reveal anything to me when God spoke directly to me.

'This heresy, for heresy it was, threatened the whole set-up of Christianity, the supremacy of the supernatural order, the authority of the Church and Sacred Scripture. God was expected to dance to the tune of every crackpot scientific theory that presented itself.

'Believe it or not, Modernism was making great strides in parts of Europe, particularly France, and swift action was called for. It came in the form of the encyclical 'Pascendi,' which is recognized as the clearest and most concise ex- position of Modernism. It was swift and effective; Modernism was incompatible with Catholicism; it was also incompatible with true science, and Pius said so. 'Religion has nothing to fear from science,' he wrote, 'but much to fear from ignorance.' Ignorance, yes, he had put his finger right on the cause of the trouble. He formulated drastic measures to stop this cancer from spreading to the clergy and demanded that all, prior to ordination, and professors in seminaries, take an oath not to teach or adhere to Modernism. So the heresy was crushed in its infancy, thanks to Pope Pius X. This man of God showed once again that he had his two feet planted firmly on the ground.


'Dear me, Father observed, looking at Tony sleeping ever so peacefully. 'The child isn't interested in Modernism

- a tragedy! Can't say I blame him, though.

'Don't stop, Father tell us more, the others begged him.

'Well, said the priest looking at his watch, 'I can't tell you much more, time won't permit. But I will tell you of

his interest in priests, and I hope that you will pray often for them; pray hard f or them.

'Oh, Father, laughed Mrs. Morton, pray for priests! it's we poor people that need praying for; priests are living in

the shadow of the Church all the time, and . . . well, I'm afraid I rarely, if ever, say a prayer for them. Father Lawrence looked serious: 'Priests need your prayers far more than you imagine. You must remember that

the priest is a mediator between God and man; he is prize game for the devil, and Satan knows that if he gets a priest

he has other souls as well; for if a priest goes to hell he is bound to drag down many other souls with him. So

remember that, won't you, and pray often for your priests. Three 'Hail Marys' when he comes on the altar is not

asking too much, I am sure and yet, if every one in the church did that, who could even guess the results? 'I must remember to do that, said Mrs. O'Shaughnessy.

'Also, continued the priest, 'the World and the Flesh have a hand in dragging him down too'it's very easy for

the priest to slip, believe me. Pius X thought so, too, and he wrote an encyclical letter to the priests of the world, and

especially to those who were growing cold in God's service. 'Haerent Animo' was the name of it, and in it he outlined

a rule of conduct for his priest;. He gave them rules for discipline, study and prayer and he gave rigid instructions for

the choice of candidates.

'He also appointed a commission of Cardinals to examine the subject of vocations to the priesthood. The

commission came to the following conclusions:

Firstly, nobody has a right to ordination prior to his pre-selection by the Bishop;

Secondly, the priestly vocation does not require a certain interior attraction of the subject or invitation of the Holy

Ghost to enter the priesthood;

Thirdly, all that is required to be lawfully called by the Bishop is the 'right intention, probity of life, sufficient

knowledge and the other requirements which give a well-founded hope that the candidate will fulfil his priestly obligations in a worthy manner.

''These three propositions dealt the deathblow to the old theory about secret promptings and whispered invitations

to become priests. Thanks to Pius X that theory has been buried for all time. His motto was, as we have seen, 'To

restore all things in Christ', and in his work of restoration, he naturally did not forget his priests.


'And so his reforms went on; he ordered the codification of the Canon Law, which was completed and promulgated by his successor, Benedict XV; he reformed the Breviary and the Missal;there was his decree 'Ne Temere' con- cerning Christian Marriage. Many of his reforms brought upon his ageing head criticism and abuse, as for instance his clash with the French Government, but subsequent history has shown how wise his actions were.

'Well, said Father Lawrence, 'you have asked me for an account of the life of Pius X, and that is about all there is'except, that on 20th August, 1914, he died.

'What did he die of, asked Mrs. Morton.

'A broken heart, I should say'towards the end of his life he saw the clouds of war beginning to loom on the horizon. Again and again he appealed to the nations to come to agreement, but to no avail. One of the saddest moments of his life, he is reported to have said, was his farewelling of a band of seminarians of different nationalities who were recalled from Rome to their own countries, soon to blast each other to pieces. He died on 20th August, peacefully and calmly as he had lived, and you may see his tomb in St. Peter's as I have, plain and unostentatious, inscribed with the words:



The priest rose to go'it had stopped raining.

'That briefly, is the life of one of the several great Popes we have had in modern times. Leo XIII, has been known as the 'Pope of the Social Order' Benedict XV, the 'Pope of Peace'; Pius XI, the 'Pope of Catholic Action'; Pius XII . . . who knows? But surely nobody would deny to Pius X the title 'Pope of the Eucharist' . . . surely he deserves a prayer of thanks occasionally from us. for it is he who re-introduced the practice of frequent Communion. And on 29th May, forty years after his death, the world had the opportunity of showing its thanks; when Eugenio Pacelli, another Pius, declared Joseph Sarto to be among the Saints in Heaven.

The Mortons accompanied the priest to his car.

'Good night, Father, said Frank, 'and thanks for coming.

'I'll remember those 'Three Hail Marys, added Mrs. Morton.

'You see that you do, now, smiled Father Lawrence.

The engine purred . . . . . .it'll be your part in the work of the restoration.

The car moved slowly off.

'Mmmm, muttered the priest as he wiped the windscreen, 'to restore all things in Christ'My God, what a life! . . . and it is yours, Opriest of Jesus Christ . . .

Nihil Obstat:


Censor Deputatus.

Imprimatur: @ D. MANNIX,

Archiepiscopus Melbournensis. June 20, 1954


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