Last month the pause was finally broken. On May 29, at Saint Peter’s in Rome, Pope Pius XII proclaimed, urbi et orbi, that his predecessor, Pope Pius X, had been raised to the altars of the Church.
For anyone, anywhere in the Church to be a saint is a great and edifying thing; but when the Supreme Pontiff is a saint — he who holds the keys of the kingdom, who feeds Christ’s flock, who has the power to build up and cast down — the whole Church shines in his light. And, just as inevitably, when a Pope fails to be holy, he casts a shadow over all his people.
The four hundred years between the death of Saint Pius V and the coming of Saint Pius X — an interval of non-saint Popes — caused a decline in the Church. It was four hundred years during which many Catholics, high and low, grew apologetic for the Faith which had made and been the glory of Europe, and sought to accommodate it to the scientific, cultural and social vagaries of the times.
It was a period when the Church was reduced to making repeated concordats with strutting little tyrants who were puffed up for a day, then burst like balloons; and when Catholics throughout the western world tried, by every concession and cordiality, to get along smoothly in a society dominated by Protestants and Jews. It was four hundred years during which, in many areas, the well of Catholic devotion dried up into Jansenistic scrupulosity; when theology became an esoteric affair relegated to a small clique of experts, and the clear, blazing teachings of Christ and the Apostles were reduced to a dull, dreary welter of cautious qualifications that sapped much of the apostolic zeal from seminarians and sent congregations to sleep in their pews.
Such was the state of the Catholic world when, in August, 1903, Giuseppe Sarto, Archbishop of Venice, became the Vicar of Christ and took the name Pope Pius X. Such was the mire out of which he arose, against which he struggled, above which he shone. And the thing that distinguished his pontificate and made him a saint was this: Pius X was thoroughly, dedicatedly, and undistractedly, a priest. Everything he said during the eleven years that he reigned was grounded in and motivated by his priesthood. Not diplomacy, nor social betterment, nor philanthropy, but the salvation and sanctification of his people were his perpetual concerns. He ruled the Church as though he were a simple pastor and Christendom were his parish.
Nowhere did Pius X exhibit his priestliness so abundantly and perfectly as in his desire to feed his people with the Bread of Life. With sure, decisive measures he cleared away the dead wood of Jansenism and decreed that everyone in the state of grace should be allowed and encouraged to receive Holy Communion daily. He further decreed that children, who previously had had to wait until they were thirteen or fourteen years old, should be allowed to make their First Communions as soon as they were able to have “some knowledge” of Whom they were receiving.
And having given the Holy Eucharist to his people, he told them: “Holy Communion is the shortest way to Heaven. There are others, innocence for instance, but that is for little children; penance, but we are afraid of it; generous endurance of the trials of life, but when they approach us, we weep and pray to be delivered. Once for all, beloved children, the surest, easiest, shortest way is by the Holy Eucharist.”
And yet, though we have all that Pope Pius X bequeathed to us — the Holy Eucharist as our daily Bread and the Bread of our children, all his words and pontifical acts — still it is plain to see that the state of the Church is even worse today than it was fifty years ago. Nothing shows this so conclusively as the survival of the heresy of Modernism, against which Pius X waged his greatest combat, and which has reappeared in the form of religious Liberalism.
As Modernism was a heresy which tried to conform the doctrines of the Church to the dictates of modern science, so Liberalism tries to conform her doctrines to the prescripts and taboos of modern society. As Modernism particularly attacked such scientifically unacceptable dogmas as the Creation, the inspiration of Holy Scripture, the nature of faith, etc., so Liberalism attacks the socially unacceptable dogma that it does matter what a man’s religion is, that there is only one true Church, ruled by Our Holy Father the Pope, and all those remaining outside it are reprobate.
One of the most important things that the canonization of Pope Pius X will compel us to remember is the firm, determined way in which he dealt with the heresy of Modernism. He not only condemned it and forbade further speculation as to its merits, be also required every priest thenceforth to take an oath against Modernism. And anyone who does not know that, were he ruling the Church today, Pius X would deal in the same swift, strong, fearless way with the heresy of Liberalism, knows neither Modernism, Liberalism, nor Pope Saint Pius X.
“Because outside the unity of faith and love which makes us sons and members of the Church, no one can be saved, hence if the Sacraments are received outside the Church, they are not effective for salvation, although they are true Sacraments. However, they can become useful if one returns to Holy Mother the Church, the only Spouse of Christ, whose sons alone Christ deems worthy of eternal inheritance.”
Subordinate versions of the above, somewhat more loosely organized, are found in the various sections of the country. The one here in Boston is known as “The Massachusetts Committee of Catholics, Protestants, and Jews.” Though it was not organized by, it has the approval of, our ailing Archbishop. Its publicity agent and local promoter is Boston’s leading racial and social sycophant, Mr. Michael T. Kelleher.
The Kelleher group of Catholics, Protestants, and Jews recently held a Brotherhood banquet at Boston’s largest hotel. Rabbis and Monsignors, Christian Scientists and Jesuits, Unitarians and Catholic Seminary Professors, Anglicans and Franciscans, were judiciously intermingled and photographed. They wined and dined and listened to uninterrupted and impassioned orations on the religious theme of “Brotherhood.”
There were strong attacks made on dissenters and on dividers of religious unity. There were strong scorings of intolerance and bigotry, of the kind, for instance, that would be judged to have occurred should one of the Monsignors, Jesuits, Seminary Professors or Friars Minor have stood up at the Hotel Statler and declared dogmatically, “There is no salvation outside the Catholic Church, or without personal submission to our Holy Father the Pope.”
I forgot to mention that there was also present a Greek Schismatic priest. He was one of Mr. Michael Kelleher’s special guests. He dressed like a Catholic, talked like a Protestant, and looked like a Jew.
Lady Abrahams’ evaluation of the adorable Word-made-flesh is, we cannot deny, arresting. We wonder just how such a judgment was arrived at, and we are tempted to envision her Ladyship lining up the contenders for her title of “greatest Jew.” One by one, with much deliberation, Philo Judaeus, Rabbi Hillel, Benjamin Disraeli, and Bernard Baruch, all get eliminated — and Jesus of Nazareth wins the contest.
In justice to our Catholic reader, in England, we must make it clear that by no means does The Point find Lady Abrahams guilty of originality in this matter; we do not accuse English Catholics of harboring a new Judaeo-heresiarch in their midst. Her Ladyship is but following the fashion, so tragically unprotested of late, by which converts from Judaism try to give the impression that their previous attendance at the synagogue is an enhancement to their current Christianity, since, after all, Christ was a Jew, too.
Christ, indeed, was a Jew. But anyone who is making an appeal to Christians to go all out for the Jews, would do well to leave Christ out of the argument. Christ was a Jew Who claimed to be God, and thereby so outraged His fellow-Jews that they had Him put to death. Christ was the rightful King of the Jews, Who dared to defy the religious tyrannies of the Jewish Pharisees. Christ was the Divine Jew Who got spat upon by His own people, and was labeled a “blasphemer” by the Jewish high priest.
In introducing the fact that Christ was a Jew, Lady Abrahams’ chief purpose was, clearly, to imply that Christ was the kind of Jew she knew, a fact which would bear with it such religious consequences as: going to Sabbath services and reading, not from the Old Testament, but from the Talmud; scoffing at the idea of a Jewish virgin being the Mother of God; believing that the Messias-to-come was not a Divine Person, but an era of Jewish prosperity.
Without further illustration, we may conclude that, in the matter of belief, Christ was a Jew of the kind that ceased to exist nineteen hundred years ago.
The unanswered question in all of the foregoing is, of course, how about Lady Abrahams’ indisputably Jewish blood? Doesn’t that give her, through race and ancestry, a privileged relationship to Our Lord?
The sacredness of Jewish blood throughout the Old Testament, and its jealous preservation, was for the one sublime purpose of keeping clear the human route by which the Word of God was to “become flesh and dwell amongst us.” That is why the Gospel writers take such care to present to us the genealogical blood-line of Our Lord — Saint Matthew recording it from Abraham down to Joseph, and Saint Luke retracing it from Bethlehem back to Eden. Once Good Friday has occurred, however, and Our Lord’s Precious Blood has been shed to its redemptive purpose, Jewish blood, as a Divine interest, is finished.
All that was promised to the House of David, all that was awaited from the tribe of Juda, is gathered in the Precious Eucharistic Blood on our Catholic altars. It is not Lady Abrahams’ ancestral connection with the Temple of Jerusalem that counts now with God. It is her Ladyship’s proximity to an altar rail in London, where she, and the gentiles kneeling beside her, become, through Holy Communion, the true fulfillment of Our Blessed Lady’s Magnificat prophecy, “To Abraham and to his seed forever.”