Rorate Caeli

Sexagesima
Infirmities, weakness, and the glory of the Apostolic See

From the Epistle for the Sunday in Sexagesima: "For though I should have a mind to glory, I shall not be foolish: for I will say the truth: but I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth in me, or anything he heareth from me. And lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me, there was given me a sting of my flesh, and angel of Satan, to buffet me. For which thing, thrice I besought the Lord that it might depart from me. And He said to me: my grace is sufficient for thee: for power is made perfect in infirmity. Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me." (II Cor. xii, 6-9)
When [St. Anselm] was torn from the solitude of the studious life of the cloister, to be raised to a lofty dignity in most difficult times, he found himself a prey to the most tormenting solicitude and anxiety, and chief of all the fear that he might not do enough for the salvation of his own soul and the souls of his people, for the honor of God and of His Church. But amid all these anxieties and in the grief he felt at seeing himself abandoned culpably by many, even including his brethren in the episcopate, his one great comfort was his trust in God and in the Apostolic See. Threatened with shipwreck, and while the storm raged round him, he took refuge in the bosom of the Church, his Mother, invoking from the Roman Pontiff pitiful and prompt aid and comfort; God, perhaps, permitted that this great man, full of wisdom and sanctity as he was, should suffer such heavy tribulation, in order that he might be a comfort and an example to us in the greatest difficulties and trials of the pastoral ministry, and that the sentence of Paul might be realized in each one of us: "Gladly will I glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may dwell in me. For which cause I please myself in my infirmities . . . for when I am weak then am I powerful" (2 Cor. xii. 9, 10).

Such indeed are the sentiments which Anselm expressed to Urban II.: "Holy Father, I am grieved that I am not what I was, grieved to be a bishop, because by reason of my sins I do not perform the office of a bishop. While I was in a lowly position, I seemed to be doing something; set in a lofty place, burdened by an immense weight, I gain no fruit for myself, and am of no use to anybody. I give way beneath the burden because I am incredibly poor in the strength, virtue, zeal, and knowledge necessary for so great an office. I would fain flee from the insupportable anxiety and leave the burden behind me, but, on the other hand, I fear to offend God. The fear of God obliged me to accept it, the same fear of God constrains me to retain the same burden. Now, since God's will is hidden from me, and I know not what to do, I wander about in sighs, and know not how to put an end to it all".

Thus does God bring home even to saintly men their natural weakness, in order the better to make manifest in them the power of strength from above, and, by a humble and real sense of their individual insufficiency, to preserve with greater force their obedience to the authority of the Church. We see it in the case of Anselm and of other contemporaries of his who fought for the liberty and doctrine of the Church under the guidance of the Apostolic See. The fruit of their obedience was victory in the strife, and their example confirmed the Divine sentence that "the obedient man will sing victory" (Prov. xxi. 28). The hope of the same reward shines out for all those who obey Christ in His Vicar in all that concerns the guidance of souls, or the government of the Church, or that is in any way connected with these objects: since "upon the authority of the Holy See depend the directions and the counsels of the sons of the Church". ...

But in his letters to the Pontiff he does not content himself with imploring pitiful aid and comfort; he also promises assiduous prayers, in most tender words of filial affection and unswerving faith, as when, while still Abbot of Bec, he wrote to Urban II: "For your tribulation and that of the Roman Church, which is our tribulation and that of all the true faithful, we never cease praying God assiduously to mitigate your evil days, till the pit be dug for the sinner. And although He seems to delay, we are certain that the Lord will not leave the scepter of sinners over the heritage of the just, that He will never abandon His heritage and that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it".
Pope Saint Pius X
April 21, 1909

28 comments:

Tom the Milkman said...

Communium rerum is one of Pius X's most beautiful encyclicals. It positively burns with holy teaching and loving solicitude.

"...and if you cannot do everything all at once, you must not on that account cease your efforts to advance from better to better, because God in His goodness is wont to bring to perfection good intentions and good effort, and to reward them with blessed plenitude..."

This saint truly bequeathed to us a golden age of the papacy ... until the tragedy.

After the tragedy, sons of the Church again turned to St Pius X to repair and restore all things in Christ.

Mr. Ortiz said...

Pray for St. Anselm College, in Manchester, NH...run by Benedictines, it now gives shelter to sin under the false guise of "minority rights" falling to homosexuals. There are good and holy priests there, but they are outnumbered...the rupture of the sixties has now borne its terrible fruit beyond the liturgy to the clear misguiding of young souls.

St. Anselm, ora pro nobis!

wheat4paradise said...

The hope of the same reward shines out for all those who obey Christ in His Vicar in all that concerns the guidance of souls, or the government of the Church, or that is in any way connected with these objects: since "upon the authority of the Holy See depend the directions and the counsels of the sons of the Church". ...

Unless, of course, one deems, in one's own wisdom, that the Holy See has lost the Faith.

Yet this is not possible. We must heed these strong words of St. Pius X concerning the obedience that is due to the Holy See, as the principle admits no exception, and we cannot use the "crisis" or the perceived weakness of the present Pontiff as an excuse to think and act otherwise.

Anonymous said...

It behooves us to accept this teaching and to apply it to our own days:

the hope of the same reward shines out for all those who obey Christ in His Vicar in all that concerns the guidance of souls, or the government of the Church, or that is in any way connected with these objects: since "upon the authority of the Holy See depend the directions and the counsels of the sons of the Church". ...

To disobey the Vicar of Christ in things that pertain the government of the Church is not a real solution to any problem, great or small, but a trap.

Joe B said...

Seems the statement of Pope Saint Pius X is being taken as an absolute. I'm not so sure, having lived through the internal revolt. Did anyone back then see what a mess such government, or lack thereof, would cause?

Do you think, as a cardinal, he would have abandoned the ancient mass for the Novus Ordo? Do you think he would in 1988 have punished him who gave priests and seminarians their only means of a traditional formation and life in the face of such changes as we've seen, or would he have been on SSPX's side?

I don't think he would have let these changes occur, and I don't think he would have objected to traditional bishops, and I don't think he would have censured those who fought for the exact same things he did so heroically. I say hold your fire in charity until Heaven clears this up.

wheat4paradise said...

Joe B,

It is pointless to engage in speculative fantasies about what St. Pius X would have done in 1988. The question is whether we in the here and now should be rigorous or selective in the application of the principle. If we want to justify ourselves and our heroes, selective application is the easier course. The harder and more Traditional way is to apply the principle with rigor where it hurts the most.

Tradmeister said...

The question, W4P, is what exactly was Pope Pius X proposing here as principle? What would he have made of popes who have abandoned certain principles that he clearly stood for?

Was he saying that popes should be followed no matter what? Or was he speaking about following popes with the presumption that we're dealing with popes who have maintained a thorough grounding in the teachings and mind of tradition?

I have little doubt Pius X would be horrified at what we face today in the Church. And I highly doubt he would be commanding us to maintain an unthinking knee-jerk assent in all matters papal when faced with the crisis and aberrations that we have been confronted with, a crisis that clearly involves the complicity of the most recent popes.

wheat4paradise said...

Tradmeister,

Pope St. Pius X would be horrified at the state of the Church today.

He would also be horrified that an Archbishop would defy the Pope and ordain four bishops without papal mandate.

The principle is that the ends do not justify the means. Traditionalists should be the last people in the world to "flex" that principle.

wheat4paradise said...

... unthinking knee-jerk assent in all matters papal ...

That turn of phrase just doesn't smell Catholic. I understand the point and agree to some extent. It's the spirit and tone that gives me pause. I rather doubt that Pope St. Pius X would approve of it.

Tradmeister said...

Wheat4Paradise,

I don't know that it's a given that Pope Pius X would have been horrified by Archbishop Lefebvre's actions and attitude in 1988, given the circumstances.

I am quite certain that even assuming Pius X was not approving of what Lefebvre did, that the august pope's horror regarding popes like John XXIII, Paul VI, and John Paul II, their presiding over a shipwreck of a council, the decimation of Latin rite worship, and the insipid quasi-anthropomorphisms that seeped into all too many cracks in the Church from 1960 thru 1988 would all rank far higher on Pius X's list of horrors of 1988 than any horror he might have had toward Archbishop Lefebvre.

wheat4paradise said...

Tradmeister,

Again we're in the realm of speculation, but I have no doubt that St. Pius X looking down from heaven would have had the most keen and heartfelt sympathy for Archbishop Lefebvre. Nevertheless, his heart would have been grieved by the Archbishop's "solution" to the problem.

We cannot pick and choose to construct an image of St. Pius X that suits our liking. We must take him whole and entire. The saint speaks of the victory that awaits those who obey the lawful commands of the Holy See. There was nothing unlawful in John Paul II's command to Archbishop Lefebvre in the matter of ordaining bishops. I submit that the Archbishop did not attain the victory.

Joe B said...

W4P, if not for those who stood with Catholic tradition against the orders of Rome, you wouldn't have the TLM here and now, because Rome's decision was to shut it down everywhere. End of TLM.

Good to know just for the record, then, that you're happy with what the Novus Ordo was and is because that's all you would have here and now. Unless you want to speculate on what someone else might have done or not done, of course.

M. A. said...

Wheat says: "We cannot pick and choose to construct an image of St. Pius X that suits our liking."

But yet, Wheat KNOWS: "Nevertheless, his heart would have been grieved by the Archbishop's "solution" to the problem."

O.K. got that?

Long-Skirts said...

wheat4paradise said:

"I submit that the Archbishop did not attain the victory."

And any true Saint or saintly Catholic would agree...it was CHRIST!!

Just in the U.S. Archbishop Lefebvre's psychological martyrdom for Christ and His Church has and still is producing great fruits with daily Mass, SCHOOLS (and MANY) with daily Mass,Retreat Houses, Convents, Monasteries and one of Our Lord's most holy Seminaries in the U.S. burgeoning with Soldiers of Christ!

Viva Christo Rey and Merci Marcel!


WINONA’S WOMB

Up the raging Mississip
And at the St. Paul’s source
South, below the ragged cliffs
There is a fiercer force.

A force which surges
Human blood between her banks each June
Then tears and rents herself for all
She is…Winona’s womb!

And like the raging Mississip
Her channels open wide
And birth the men who are the priests
The source of Mother’s pride.

And from that raging Mississip
And at that St. Paul’s source
South below the ragged cliffs
Push priests from land of Norse.

Who ride the river far and wide
For souls from shore to shore
And bring them home to Mother’s side
To leave Her never more.

And up where current’s all the rage
And sin is sorrow’s source
Still south below the ragged cliffs
Winona stays the course!

wheat4paradise said...

Unless you want to speculate on what someone else might have done or not done, of course.

Well, Joe B, we'll never know, will we, because Archbishop Lefebvre thought that he and his hand-picked heirs were the sole saviors of Catholic Tradition. We'll never know whom God might have raised up to carry on Lefebvre's work if Lefebvre had elected to obey Rome and trust God.

Oh, and for the record, I don't like what the Novus Ordo was and is. Nice strawman.

M.A., yes, just like many here seem to KNOW that St. Pius X would approve of the ordinations of 1988, right? This whole discussion started with the proposition that St. Pius X's words on holy obedience should be heeded by all without exception. It didn't take long for a certain faction to let it be KNOWN that St. Pius X would NEVER have intended for his teaching to apply to THEM.

Long-Skirts, you are a talented poet, yet I find more truth in the words of Dom Prosper Guéranger:

We, then, both priests and people, have a right to know whence our pastors have received their power. From whose hand have they received the keys? If their mission come from the apostolic see, let us honour and obey them, for they are sent to us by Jesus Christ, who has invested them, through Peter, with His own authority. If they claim our obedience without having been sent by the bishop of Rome, we must refuse to receive them, for they are not acknowledged by Christ as His ministers. The holy anointing may have conferred on them the sacred character of the episcopate: it matters not; they must be as aliens to us, for they have not been sent, they are not pastors.

~ Dom Prosper Guéranger, The Liturgical Year, Volume 4, 22 February — St. Peter’s Chair at Antioch

Brian said...

The hope of the same reward shines out for all those who obey Christ in His Vicar in all that concerns the guidance of souls, or the government of the Church, or that is in any way connected with these objects: since "upon the authority of the Holy See depend the directions and the counsels of the sons of the Church".

wheat4paradise,

The periti who shaped the documents of Vatican II insisted that there was a fundamental conflict of attitude of mind between their positive, progressive, open theology and what they called the negativistic, rigid, cramped, frigid, offensive, anti-modernistic one-sided zeal of Pope Pius X. The periti sharply criticized and consciously abandoned what they considered to be the narrow, exclusive thinking of Pius X in favor of their new, positive, progressive, pastoral, and ecumenical approach to theological thinking. The council opted for the positive position and made up its mind to abandon what they considered to be an outmoded, negative defensiveness which they believed reached its zenith in Pope Pius X.

Did these periti and Council Fathers “obey Christ in His Vicar in all that concerns the guidance of souls, or the government of the Church”?

Did they follow honor the teaching that "upon the authority of the Holy See depend the directions and the counsels of the sons of the Church"?

Can we believe that Pope Pius X would have accepted a basic overhaul of his teaching in order to accept the current open, ecumenical teaching expressed in the Council?

wheat4paradise said...

Brian,

It is neither your call nor mine to make. We can debate the issue and on many points I agree with you. But it just isn't our call. The call belongs to Rome. Wait for it. That's what St. Pius X is talking about. If you wait and persevere in a spirit of true Catholic obedience, the palm of victory shall be yours.

Joe B said...

"We'll never know whom God might have raised up to carry on Lefebvre's work if Lefebvre had elected to obey Rome and trust God."

Your speculating. You said we couldn't do that.

"Oh, and for the record, I don't like what the Novus Ordo was and is. Nice strawman."

If we can't speculate, the Novus Ordo is all YOU would have. It's not my strawman, but yours. Your options are to speculate or to thank SSPX for their role in defending the TLM. Kindly choose.

Since SSPX is and always has been inside the Catholic church, I speculate that they were the instrument raised up by God to lead the fight for tradition in our time, and God will vindicate them in His own time. Meanwhile, have patience with all until those sleeping Apostles wake up.

Brian said...

wheat4paradise,

I asked you a series of questions. You responded by saying that "It is neither your call nor mine to make."

I do not know what you mean by it is not our call to make. What, specifically, is not our "call" to make?

You write that "The call belongs to Rome. Wait for it." What "call" belongs to Rome?

Clearly, the periti that shaped Vatican II reported having a fundamental conflict of attitude of mind with Rome and made up their mind to abandon what they considered to be an outmoded, negative defensiveness of Papal teaching. Was that their "call to make?"

Tom the Milkman said...

Honestly, a thinking Catholic able to see, live, taste and touch the unholy revolution that swept through the Church by way of and forever after VC2, and continue on his fortunate way in sincere belief that the Church in its practice and its clergy, its authenticity, its ceremonies and its authentic saving mission in the world remains what it was before the revolutionary cataclysm of VC2, is a stronger man than I am. Does not the Devastation bring that Catholic to sight, and clear thinking, and faithful action? Do we not all look at that Devastation and bemoan its provenance? These are the things Piux X preached about. He called out the devil and struck him. This is what he teaches us. He stood in the holiness of the age before the revolution, but he smelled the birthing. Would he recognise the Church today in the rags of Her dark night? He would know Her for Her truth, but Her apparel, and the tarnishing she parries would be a menace to as supernaturally gifted mind and heart as Papa Sarto. A saint of prophecy. And these the straits we're in at present.

wheat4paradise said...

If we can't speculate, the Novus Ordo is all YOU would have.

That doesn't make any logical sense at all.

Your options are to speculate or to thank SSPX for their role in defending the TLM. Kindly choose.

I dispute that those are my only options.

Brian,

I don't care what the periti thought or didn't think. I care what Rome thinks. The final call on how to interpret the Council lies with Rome, not with the FSSPX, you, or me.

Brian said...

wheat4paradise,

My question regards the extent to which Catholics are allowed to disagree with Papal teaching. Either I am not stating the question clearly, or you seem to be avoiding my question.

Clearly, the periti that shaped Vatican II reported having a fundamental conflict of attitude of mind with Rome and made up their mind to abandon what they considered to be an outmoded, negative defensiveness of Papal teaching. Using your term, was that their "call to make?"

wheat4paradise said...

Brian,

The periti were entitled to their theological opinions, and those opinions shaped the Conciliar documents for better or worse (and not always necessarily worse -- our Holy Father, after all, was a periti). As a result of the influence of the periti, certain aspects of the Conciliar documents are difficult to reconcile with past papal teaching.

Two points:

1) The Holy Spirit, guiding the authoritative decisions of the bishops and the Pope at the Council, prevented the aberrant opinions of certain periti from making the Council documents "disagree" with past papal teachings (in the sense of contradicting those teachings) on points of doctrine that could not and cannot ever change by one iota.

2) Where there are difficulties in reconciling Conciliar texts with past papal teachings, Rome has the final call in resolving those issues.

I hope that I have answered your question.

wheat4paradise said...

My question regards the extent to which Catholics are allowed to disagree with Papal teaching.

Brian, you tell me. Do you have the "right to disagree" with Papal teaching (albeit pastoral, not dogmatic) as it is presented in the declarations, decrees, and constitutions of a valid ecumenical council?

I would point out, by the way, that the Syllabus of Errors is in many respects a pastoral, not dogmatic, teaching. Something to bear in mind as we dismiss out of hand the pastoral teachings of Vatican II. I would point out further that Vatican II is in 100% agreement with the dogmatic aspects of the Syllabus.

Tradster said...

Wheat4Paradise,

I don't think what you state regarding Vatican II is true. It seems clear that there is official Vatican II teaching that clearly clashes with official, authoritiatve teaching from the past, assuming we're taking traditional teaching clearly and seriously. Unitatis Redintegratio alone demonstrates this.

wheat4paradise said...

Tradster,

You haven't the authority to make any definitive declaration in the matter. You have the prerogative to ask questions and express concern. You have the right to beg and plead that Rome offers a clarification. You have the solace of prayer. Most importantly, you have the duty to live a Catholic life according to the teachings of the Church. Is there anything in Unitatis Redintegratio that prevents you from fulfilling that duty?

wheat4paradise said...

Tradster, show me one example from Unitatis Redintegratio that "clearly demonstrates" that Vatican II contradicts a received dogma of the Church. Show me one example where following Vatican II puts our soul in clear and mortal danger of abandoning a precept of the Faith.

Mar said...

wheat4paradise,

If you at this late stage cannot see that thousands upon thousands of catholics have not only put their souls in clear and mortal danger of abandoning precepts of the Faith in the name of Vatican II teachings, but have in fact already abandoned the Faith wholesale by following the path laid down for them by these teachings, then there is really nothing much more to say, because all the examples in the world won't convince you.

And don't give me the line that what they followed wasn't the 'real thing'. Theory! Mere theory from your ivory tower, where you conveniently ignore the reality of what has happened/is happening in practice. In practice the disastrous falling away from
the Faith continued apace - and continues at this very moment - with the inevitability of high tragedy.

But I suspect that perhaps you already know all that in your heart. You protest vigorously and unceasingly. Perhaps your protestations are more attempts to convince yourself rather than to convince others.

P.S. After I had finished writing most of this post I came across this article which could serve as your one example.

http://www.christianorder.com/features.html