Sunday, March 10, 2013

Our Favorite Popes: Pope Clement XI

In dealing with the 18th century, a bunch of you probably guessed that our favorite would have been Clement XIV, given that he suppressed the Jesuits. The difference is that the Jesuits were actually Jesuits, unlike now, when so many of them would be utterly unrecognizable as Sons of Ignatius.

Our favorite is actually Pope Clement XI, who was elected to the See of Peter at the relatively young age of 51. In a lot of ways, His Holiness was a failure. Politics weren't kind to him, and he reigned during a period where the Spanish monarchy was up for grabs, Poland was in an uproar, Church properties were being divvied up among the worldly powers, and the Muslims were invading (again). Only in this latter affair did the Pope really prevail, as his financial and spiritual support made the Christian victory possible. Almost all of his other dealings with the temporal authorities went bad.

On the more ecclesiastical side of the equation, he suffered the continuing rebellion of the Jansenists, which he utterly condemned in the bull Unigenitus. He also established the Church in the Philippines, so when you see all the Filipino priests that we have now, remember to give a prayer of thanks for Clement XI. He's also remembered for the Chinese rites controversy, which involved him judging that certain practices being used in the mission field of China basically amounted to paganism. Whether or not he was fully informed of what was actually being done, I don't know. The fact that he had the guts to make the call and protect the Church against syncretism is something that I greatly appreciate, though. Pius XII later repealed some of these prohibitions, but I think Clement gets a bad rap for really just stepping up and trying to deal with the problem.

The bigger reasons that we bring up Pope Clement XI right now is that he was very reform-minded and pretty much shut down nepotism in the Vatican. We could use a heavy does of this kind of idea now. Moreover, the aforementioned political struggles meant a lot of secular pressure that was applied to the Holy See back then. Nothing new under the sun there either. Overall, when we look at Pope Clement, we see a guy who was dealt a lot of bad hands and played them to the best of his ability and with trust in Providence.

If you've ever heard of the Universal Prayer for All Things Related to Salvation, it is attributed to him. It's one of my favorite prayers.

My God, I believe in You; strengthen my faith. All my hopes are in You; secure them. I love You; teach me to love you daily more and more. I am sorry that I have offended You; increase my sorrow.

I adore you as the Author of my first beginning. I aspire after you as my last end. I give you thanks as my constant Benefactor, I call upon you as my sovereign Protector.

My God, be pleased to conduct me by your wisdom; to restrain me by the thought of Your justice; to comfort me by Your mercy; to defend me by Your power.

To You I desire to consecrate all my thoughts, words, deeds, and suffering, that henceforth I may think of you, speak of you, refer all my actions to You greater glory, and suffer willingly whatever You shall appoint.

Lord, I desire that in all things Your Will be done, because it is Your Will, and I desire that all things be done in the manner that You will them.

Grant that I may always esteem whatsoever is pleasing to You, despise what You abhor, avoid what You forbid, and do what you command.

I beg You to enlighten my understanding, to inflame my will, to purify my body, and to sanctify my soul.

My God, give me strength to atone for my sins, to overcome my temptations, to subdue my passions, and to acquire the virtues proper to my state of life.

Fill my heart with tender affection for Your goodness, hatred of my faults, love of my neighbor, and contempt of the world.May Your grace help me to be obedient to my superiors, kind and courteous to my inferiors, faithful to my friends, and charitable to my enemies.

Assist me to overcome sensuality by self-sacrifice, avarice by alms-giving, anger by meekness, and carelessness by devotion.My God, make me prudent in my undertakings, courageous in danger, patient in trials, and humble in success.

Grant that I may be ever attentive at my prayers, temperate at my meals, diligent in my work, and faithful in my good resolutions.

Let my conscience be ever upright and pure, my behavior modest, my conversation kind, and my actions edifying.

Assist me that I may continually strive to overcome the evil inclinations of my nature, to cooperate with Your grace, to keep Your commandments, and to work out my salvation.

My God, make me realize the nothingness of this world, the greatness of heaven, the shortness of time, and the length of eternity.

Grant that I may prepare for death; that I may fear Your judgment; that I may escape hell and in the end obtain heaven. Through Christ our Lord. 


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really like "Our Favorite Popes". They are interesting,enjoyable and edifying.