Posted by: fvbcdm | August 21, 2013

Feast of Pope Saint Pius X (21 August 2013)

At the end of May, 1954, I was leaving Moffatt Field Naval Air Station south of San Francisco to go to the Naval Station on Treasure Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay to be discharged from the navy. It was a bittersweet time for me, because I was happy to be getting out of the military so that I could enter religious life, but it also meant leaving San Francisco, a city that I had totally fallen in love with and deeply hated to leave.  And during that time—on May 29, to be exact—Pope Pius XII canonized Saint Pius X, the Pope who had died in 1914, just at the outbreak of World War I.

Pius X was one of the gentlest, humblest, most lovable of all our Popes. The son of a mailman, he was a simple man but a man of great courage who had to deal with many problems facing the Church during his pontificate. To those who agreed with him, he was the champion who pitted himself against what is called Modernism; to those who disagreed with him, he was the witch-hunter who moved the Church backward into the Middle Ages. But he proved to be right. The whole gamut of mistakes that goes by the name of “modernism” includes the idea that the Bible is not to be taken either literally or seriously; that the Church can and does make many mistakes that have to be corrected in time; that morality changes with the cultural life of the world, etc. He denounced and condemned many of these propositions, and pointed out their dangers. Unfortunately, they surfaced again at the time of Vatican II, and we must deal with them all over.

The liberal mentality will always push for change, for novelty, for a criticism of the past and tradition in favor of a free-wheeling sort of mentality that permits just about anything. The old Cole Porter song “Anything Goes” is a fair statement of modernism. One day, shortly after Vatican II, a lady approached me and asked if divorce and remarriage is now permitted in the Church. I told her “No! Of course not.” And she said, “Well, everything else has changed; I thought that would have changed, too.” Of course, everything had NOT changed, nor will it. We still have the “modernists” with us who are in favor of doing away with the entire moral law so that they can divorce and remarry, or simply live together without marrying at all; they want unrestricted intercommunion with other churches, regardless of their faith; they want contraception and abortion and homosexual behavior; they want a married clergy and female priests and bishops. In religious life, we find many who want to be called religious (priests, sisters, and brothers) but who also want to live like laypeople. And they deny that their secularistic lifestyles have anything to do with why very few, if any, young people want to join their communities.

Saint Pius X was battling these notions during his pontificate, and we are still battling them a century later. At the other end of the spectrum, we find a schismatic group of Catholic bishops and priests who call themselves “the priestly society of Saint Pius X” and who use his desire for a dignified and worthy liturgy as a pretext for refusing to celebrate Mass and the sacraments according to the prescriptions of later popes.

But moving ahead between the extreme right and the extreme left, the example of Saint Pius X leads us into this 21st century of ours, devoted to Our Lord Jesus Christ and to his vicars on earth, the Popes he gives us as our shepherds and leaders. Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago.


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