By Tim Lilley
Journey of Faith
The headline of this column is based on Ephesians 1:10. It also is the motto of the pontificate of St. Pius X, whose memorial is Aug. 21. I was not familiar with him, so I set about learning what I could with an eye toward sharing some knowledge with you.
One of the most important resources I found is the English text of “E Supremi,” his first encyclical, published in October 1903 – about two months after the College of Cardinal elected him to succeed Pope Leo XIII.
Less than 500 words into “E Supremi,” St. Pius X reports this regarding his apprehension at becoming Pope:
“Then again, to omit other motives, we were terrified beyond all else by the disastrous state of human society today. For who can fail to see that society is at the present time, more than in any past age, suffering from a terrible and deep-rooted malady which, developing every day and eating into its inmost being, is dragging it to destruction? You understand, Venerable Brethren, what this disease is – apostasy from God, than which in truth nothing is more allied with ruin, according to the word of the Prophet: ‘For behold they that go far from Thee shall perish’ (Ps. 1xxii., 17).”
Wait … what?!
St. Pius X published “E Supremi” more than a decade before WWI began and the 1918 flu pandemic; generations before WWII began; more than a century before COVID-19. If he saw apostasy – the refusal to follow or recognize religious faith – then, can anyone imagine what he would see today?!
As I read that paragraph from his encyclical, I thanked St. Pius X for the reminder that the abandonment of God dates to the Garden of Eden. Manifestations of that abandonment have changed over the millennia, but it remains the same terrible obstacle to our eternal salvation.
In “E Supremi,” St. Pius X announced that his pontificate would focus on “restoring all things in Christ.” In that context, one online biography I found called him “one of the 20th century’s greatest popes.”
With all this in mind – his perspective on the world, his pontificate’s focus and his legacy as a great Holy Father, I offer the following prayer for his intercession from the website catholicculture.org:
Glorious Pope of the Eucharist, Saint Pius X, you sought ‘to restore all things in Christ.’ Obtain for me a true love of Jesus so that I may live only for Him. Help me to acquire a lively fervor and a sincere will to strive for sanctity of life, and that I may avail myself of the riches of the Holy Eucharist in sacrifice and sacrament. By your love for Mary, mother and queen of all, inflame my heart with tender devotion to her. Blessed model of the priesthood, obtain for us holy, dedicated priests, and increase vocations to the religious life. Dispel confusion and hatred and anxiety, and incline our hearts to peace and concord, so that all nations will place themselves under the sweet reign of Christ. Amen. Saint Pius X, pray for me.
Saint Pius X, pray for the whole world.