Sunday, August 30, 2009

September 3rd: Pope St. Pius X

One of the shining beacons of modern times, Pope St. Pius X, left a legacy and a warning particularly important for the modern world. Born Giuseppe Sarto, the second of ten children in Riese, Italy in 1835, Pope Pius X was a pastoral pope, with a father's concern for the spiritual lives of his flock throughout the world, but he was also a militant pope, fighting early and long against the seeds of theological error sprouting in his day. He foresaw the dangers of our day, and defended the Church against the evils of modernism, and its twin progeny, indifferentism and relativism. He codified Catholic doctrine, promoted the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas as the basis for all Catholic education, and developed the idea of a universally used Catechism for the Faithful.

A practical man, this first new pope of the twentieth century, kept a keen watch over the theological and political interests of the Church, but he was also a pious Catholic of the highest order. He had a tender devotion to the Blessed Mother and his favorite ambition, "to restore all things in Christ," he directed through the hands of the Mother of God. Pope St. Pius X also had a particular dedication to the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and is in fact known by the title: Pope of the Blessed Sacrament. It was through his intervention that children were permitted to receive Holy Communion at the age of reason, instead of waiting until the customary age of thirteen or fourteen. He also encouraged the reception of frequent Communion, a practice discouraged in former times, saying, "Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to Heaven." Also known for his charity, Pope St. Pius X permitted the Vatican to be crowded with the poor that he fed, yet he lived in the greatest humility, himself. He said, "I was born poor, I have lived poor, and I wish to die poor."

Before he died of a heart attack on August 20th, 1914, Pope St. Pius X had beatified ten holy souls and canonized four. He also left with us sixteen encyclicals, among which were:

Pascendi Dominici Gregism, On the Doctrine of the Modernists, September 8, 1907

Preaestantia Scripturae, the Biblical argument against modernism, November 18th, 1907

Tra le Sollecitudini, on sacred music, November 22, 1903

Acerbi Nimis, on teaching Christian doctrine, April 15, 1905

E Supremi, on the "restoration of all things in Christ," October 4, 1903

Une Fois Encore, on the separation of Church and state, January 6, 1907

The Oath Against Modernism, an encyclical given to the Church on September 1, 1910, was to be sworn by "all clergy, pastors, confessors, preachers, religious superiors, and professors in philosophical-theological seminaries" and was a mandatory requirement of Pope St. Pius X. This oath continued to be required by all popes until, 1967, when it was rescinded by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Pope St. Pius X is the patron of:

First Communicants;
Archdiocese of Atlanta, Georgia;
Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa;
Diocese of Great Falls-Billings, Montana;
Archdiocese of Kottayam, India;
Santa Luċija, Malta;
Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Missouri;
Achdiocese of Zamboanga, Philippines

Teacher's Helps:

For the feast day, you can find a wonderful coloring page here.

Ideas for celebrating the day gastronomically, can be found at Catholic Cuisine, under their First Holy Communion recipes and dinner plans, since Pope St. Pius X is the Pope of the Blessed Sacrament.

The children might enjoy drawing the coat of arms of this saint of the day, shown here (click to enlarge, and copy).

Topics to discuss -- Older students: 1) What is modernism? How did Pope St. Pius X try to stem the tide of modernism? Was he successful? 2) Why was the Blessed Sacrament so important to Pope St. Pius X, and what did he do to increase devotion to it? 3)Research and discuss the origins and history of the formalized Catechism of the Church, and Pope St. Pius X's role in it.

Younger students: 1) At what age do children usually receive Holy Communion today? 3) Before the time of Pope St. Pius X, children had to wait until they were teenagers to receive Holy Communion. How would it make you feel if you had to wait that long? 4) Why do you think Pope St. Pius lowered the age? 5) Do you think this was a good idea? 6) Make sure to say a prayer today to thank Pope St. Pius for allowing young children to approach Our Lord at the altar.

Litany of Pope Saint Pius X

For private use only.

Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us.

Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.

God the Holy Spirit, Have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us.

Saint Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, Pray for us.

Saint Pius X, model for priests, etc.

Saint Pius X, wise bishop,

Saint Pius X, humble cardinal and patriarch,

Saint Pius X, zealous Pope for his flock,

Saint Pius X, pious teacher,

Saint Pius X, devoted to the poor,

Saint Pius X, consoler of the sick,

Saint Pius X, lover of poverty,

Saint Pius X, humble of heart,

Saint Pius X, faithful to duty,

Saint Pius X, heroic in the practice of all virtues,

Saint Pius X, filled with the spirit of self-sacrifice,

Saint Pius X, who didst aim to restore all things in Christ,

Saint Pius X, who didst bring little children to the the Altar rail,

Saint Pius X, who didst counsel daily and frequent Communion for all,

Saint Pius X, who didst urge us to know and to love the Holy Mass,

Saint Pius X, who didst seek everywhere the diffusion of Christian teaching,

Saint Pius X, who didst withstand and reprove all heresies,

Saint Pius X, who didst teach us righteous Catholic Action,

Saint Pius X, who didst consecrate the faithful to the lay apostolate,

Saint Pius X, who didst wish to be known as a poor pastor of souls,

Saint Pius X, who answereth the prayers of those who cry to thee,

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.

V. Pray for us, Saint Pius X,

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let Us Pray.

O God, who didst fill the soul of Saint Pius X with a burning charity andcalled him to be the Vicar of Christ, grant that through his intercessionwe may follow in the footsteps of Jesus, Our Divine Master; and mayour prayers to this saintly Pope be fruitful for life both here and hereafter,through the same Christ Our Lord.

R. Amen.