Rorate Caeli

Borromeo, God, and Caesar

"...licet censum dare Cæsari, an non?" Cognita autem Jesus nequitia eorum, ait: "Quid me tentatis, hypocritæ? Ostendite mihi numisma census." At illi obtulerunt ei denarium. Et ait illis Jesus: "Cujus est imago hæc, et superscriptio?" Dicunt ei: "Cæsaris." Tunc ait illis: "Reddite ergo quæ sunt Cæsaris, Cæsari: et quæ sunt Dei, Deo." (From the Gospel for the Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost - Matthew, xxii, 17-21: " it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?" But Jesus, knowing their wickedness, said: "Why do you tempt me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the coin of the tribute." And they offered him a penny. And Jesus saith to them: "Whose image and inscription is this?" They say to him: "Caesar's." Then he saith to them: "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God, the things that are God's.")

[Saint Charles Borromeo] yielded no ground on any matter that would endanger faith and morals. He admitted no claim (even if it was made by a powerful monarch who was always a Catholic) that was either contrary to discipline or burdensome to the faithful. He was always mindful of Christ's words: " Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." He never forgot the Apostles's declaration: "We must obey God rather than men." Thus he was religion's and society's chief benefactor. In his time civil society was paying the price of almost certain destruction because of its worldly prudence. It was practically shipwrecked in the seditious storms it had stirred up.

The Catholics of our days, together with their leaders, the Bishops, will deserve the same praise and gratitude as Charles as long as they are faithful to their duties of good citizenship. They must be as faithful in their loyalty and respect to wicked rulers when their commands are just, as they are adamant in resisting their commands when unjust. They must remain as far from the impious rebellion of those who advocate sedition and revolt as they are from the subservience of those who accept as sacred the obviously wicked laws of perverse men. These last mentioned wicked men uproot everything in the name of a deceitful liberty, and then oppress their subjects with the most abject tyranny.

This is precisely what is happening today in the sight of the whole world and in the broad light of modern civilization. Especially is this the case in some countries where the powers of darkness seem to have made their headquarters. ... It is obvious that everything quickly lapses back into the ancient barbarism of license whenever God and the Church are hated. It would be more correct to say that everything falls under that most cruel yoke from which only the family of Christ and the education it introduced has freed us.

Borromeo expressed the same thought in the following words: "It is a certain, well-established fact that no other crime so seriously offends God and provokes His greatest wrath as the vice of heresy. Nothing contributes more to the down fall of provinces and kingdoms than this frightful pest."Although the enemies of the Church completely disagree among themselves in thought and action (which is a sure indication of error), they are nevertheless united in their obstinate attacks against truth and justice.

Since the Church is the guardian and defender of both these virtues, they close their ranks in a unified attack against her. Of course, they loudly proclaim (as is the custom) their impartiality and firmly maintain they are only promoting the cause of peace. In reality, however, their soft words and avowed intentions are only the traps they are laying, thus adding insult to injury, treason to violence. From this it should be evident that a new kind of warfare is now being waged against Christianity. Without a doubt it is far more dangerous than those former conflicts which crowned Borromeo with such glory.

His example and teaching will do much to help us wage a valiant battle on behalf of the noble cause which will save the individual and society, faith, religion, and the inviolability of public order. Our combat, it is true, will be spurred on by bitter necessity. At the same time, however, we will be encouraged by the hope that the omnipotent God will hasten the victory for the sake of those who wage so glorious a contest.
Pope Saint Pius X
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