Friday, August 22, 2008

To Restore All Things In Christ

This was the motto of Giuseppe Sarto, Pope St. Pius X. Yesterday was his feast day. Perhaps the fact most immediately impressive about him is that he is the only pope of the last five hundred years or so to be canonized. This is pretty significant as we've had some outstanding popes during that run. He took over from Leo XIII in 1903, so it's not even that long ago that he was with us.

He had a lot of interests during his reign. For example, in the liturgy, he reformed the breviary and set down new rules for sacred music. In an act for which I am forever grateful, he lowered the age of First Communion from 14 to 7. While I'm one of the few that thinks we should go back to the really old way of doing it and give the Eucharist to infants (a la our Eastern brethren), I can handle seven and am very happy, for myself and my kids, that we don't have to go all the way to the teen years anymore.

Let's get down to the brass tacks, though. The real example of Pius X's awesomeness is his battle with Modernism, which he called "the synthesis of all heresies." What is Modernism? As Pius X acknowledged, defining it is part of the problem. The best way to put it is that it basically denies divine revelation by claiming that the unchangeable truth of dogma is capable itself of evolution. In other words, stuff is always changing, usually based on subjective experience. For example, when you hear someone talk about how the Resurrection was "real" for the Apostles as an "experience," even though it didn't really happen, you can be sure you are listening to a Modernist. Needless to say, the Church these days is chock full of them.

That wasn't always the case. Pius X pretty much wiped out the major strains of Modernism during his reign and the remnants were driven underground. This peace of doctrine would basically hold until the 60s and reached its apex in the now. The hammer and anvil that St. Pius used to break the Modernists were a wonderful encyclical entitled Pascendi Domenici Gregis and the imposition of the Anti-Modernist Oath. They are both rather lengthy, so I won't reproduce their contents here. What I will show is a few parts of a decree called Lamentabili Sane, which St. Pius issued via the Holy Office and which lists the main condemned propositions of the Modernists. See how many you can spot from your typical homily or religious instruction class. Remember, these statements are condemned as false.

From the ecclesiastical judgments and censures passed against free and more scientific exegesis, one can conclude that the Faith the Church proposes contradicts history and that Catholic teaching cannot really be reconciled with the true origins of the Christian religion.

Even by dogmatic definitions the Church's magisterium cannot determine the genuine sense of the Sacred Scriptures.

Since the deposit of Faith contains only revealed truths, the Church has no right to pass judgment on the assertions of the human sciences.

The "Church learning" and the "Church teaching" collaborate in such a way in defining truths that it only remains for the "Church teaching" to sanction the opinions of the "Church learning."

Keep that in mind all you "sensus fidelium" folks.

Until the time the canon was defined and constituted, the Gospels were increased by additions and corrections. Therefore there remained in them only a faint and uncertain trace of the doctrine of Christ.

The narrations of John are not properly history, but a mystical contemplation of the Gospel. The discourses contained in his Gospel are theological meditations, lacking historical truth concerning the mystery of salvation.

The fourth Gospel exaggerated miracles not only in order that the extraordinary might stand out but also in order that it might become more suitable for showing forth the work and glory of the Word lncarnate.

Christ did not always possess the consciousness of His Messianic dignity.

The Sacraments are intended merely to recall to man's mind the ever-beneficent presence of the Creator.

It was far from the mind of Christ to found a Church as a society which would continue on earth for a long course of centuries. On the contrary, in the mind of Christ the kingdom of heaven together with the end of the world was about to come immediately.

The organic constitution of the Church is not immutable. Like human society, Christian society is subject to a perpetual evolution.

The Roman Church became the head of all the churches, not through the ordinance of Divine Providence, but merely through political conditions.

Christ did not teach a determined body of doctrine applicable to all times and all men, but rather inaugurated a religious movement adapted or to be adapted to different times and places.

The chief articles of the Apostles' Creed did not have the same sense for the Christians of the first ages as they have for the Christians of our time.

Modern Catholicism can be reconciled with true science only if it is transformed into a non-dogmatic Christianity; that is to say, into a broad and liberal Protestantism.

This is just a small part of it. Make sure you read the whole thing.

St. Pius X, pray for us.

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