Sunday, 8 January 2012

On Preaching

Benedict XV's encyclical On Preaching is compulsory reading for all those who want to be able to effectively preach the word of God, that is to to pierce hearts of stone and bring them back to the loving embrace of their father, to raise the fervent to the heights of sanctity and the lukewarm to fervor. It explains why despite the fact that there are more people preaching than ever, dare we say more people blogging, more people tweeting and so on, the state of morals in the world does not improve. I give the encyclical in full below:


Humani Generis Redemptionem

On Preaching the Word of God

To the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, and Other Ordinaries in Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See.

Venerable Brethren, Health and the Apostolic Benediction.

It was the desire of Jesus Christ once He had wrought the Redemption of the human race by His death on the altar of the Cross, to lead men to obey His commands and thus win eternal life. To attain this end He used no other means than the voice of His heralds whose work it was to announce to all mankind what they had to believe and do in order to be saved. "It pleased God, by the foolishness of our preaching, to save them that believed." [Cor. i:21] He chose therefore His Apostles, and after infusing into their minds by the power of the Holy Ghost, the gifts in harmony with their high calling, "Go ye into the world," He told them, "and preach the Gospel." [Mark xvi, 15] Their preaching renewed the face of the earth. For if the religion of Christ has withdrawn the minds of men from errors of every kind to the truth, and won their hearts from the degradation of vice to the excellence and beauty of every virtue, assuredly it has done so by means of that very preaching. "Faith then cometh by hearing; and hearing by the word of Christ." [Rom. x:17] Wherefore since by God's good pleasure, things are preserved through the same causes by which they were brought into being, it is evident that the preaching of the wisdom taught us by the Christian religion is the means Divinely employed to continue the work of eternal salvation, and that it must with just reason be looked upon as a matter of the greatest and most momentous concern. That preaching, therefore, must form the object of Our special care and attention, particularly so, if in any way, it may have lost perhaps some of its original perfection or its efficacy may have been impaired.

Here then, Venerable Brethren, is a burden added to the other misfortunes of these times, with which, more than any one else, We are tried. For if We look around us and count those who are engaged in preaching the Word of God, We shall find them more numerous perhaps than they have ever been before. If on the other hand We examine the state of public and private morals, the constitutions and laws of nations, We shall find that there is a general disregard and forgetfulness of the supernatural, a gradual falling away from the strict standard of Christian virtue, and that men are slipping back more and more into the shameful practices of paganism.

The causes of these evils are varied and manifold: no one, however, will gainsay the deplorable fact that the ministers of the Word do not apply thereto an adequate remedy. Has the Word of God then ceased to be what it was described by the Apostle, living and effectual and more piercing than any two-edged sword? Has long-continued use blunted the edge of that sword? If that weapon does not everywhere produce its effect, the blame certainly must be laid on those ministers of the Gospel who do not handle it as they should. For no one can maintain that the Apostles were living in better times than ours, that they found minds more readily disposed towards the Gospel or that they met with less opposition to the law of God.

In view, therefore, of the gravity of the subject, alive to the responsibilities of the apostolic office and warned by them, animated, moreover, by the example of Our two immediate Predecessors, We realize that it must be Our earnest endeavor everywhere to bring back the preaching of the Word of God to the norm and ideal to which it must be directed according to the command of Christ Our Lord, and the laws of the Church.

In the first place, Venerable Brethren, We must look for the causes of our deviations from the right path in this matter. They may be reduced to three: for either the one chosen to preach is not the right person, or his office is not performed with the right intention, or in the right way.

For the duty of preaching, as the Council of Trent teaches, "is the paramount duty of Bishops." [Sess., xxiv, De. Ref., c.iv] And the Apostles, whose successors the bishops are, looked upon it as something peculiarly theirs. St. Paul writes: "For Christ sent us not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel. [I Cor. i:17] And the other Apostles were of the opinion that: "It is not reason that we should leave the Word of God and serve tables." [Acts vi:2] But although preaching is properly the duty of Bishops, nevertheless, since it is impossible that they should always or everywhere be able to discharge it in person, distracted as they are by the many cares which they meet in the government of their churches, they must of necessity comply with this obligation through others. Wherefore it cannot be doubted 154 that all those who in addition to the Bishops are thus engaged, are employed in the performance of an episcopal duty. Let this then be the first law laid down: that no one on his own responsibility undertake the office of preaching.

In order to fulfill that duty everyone must have a lawful mission, and that mission can be conferred by the Bishop alone. "How shall they preach, unless they be sent?" [Rom. x:15] Now the Apostles were sent and sent by Him who is the supreme pastor and Bishop of our souls [I Pet. ii:25]; so too, were the seventy-two first disciples; nay, St. Paul himself, although constituted by Christ a vessel of election to carry His name, before Gentiles and kings, [Acts ix:15] entered upon his apostolate only after the elders in obedience to the command of the Holy Ghost, "Separate me Saul for the work" [Acts xiii:2], had imposed hands upon him and sent him forth. The same practice was constantly followed in the early days of the Church. For all without exception, both those who distinguished themselves in the priestly order like Origen, and those later on were raised to the dignity of the episcopate, like Cyril of Jerusalem, John Chrysostom, Augustine and the other more ancient Doctors of the Church, undertook the office of preaching with the sanction and authority of their Bishops.

But now, Venerable Brethren, the custom seems to be far different. Among our sacred orators, there are too many to whom might well be applied that complaint which the Lord makes through the Prophet Jeremias: "I did not send prophets, yet they ran." (Jer. xxiii:21] For the man who owing to his peculiar bent of mind, or any other cause, should choose to undertake the ministry of the Word, finds easy access to the pulpits of our churches as to a drill-ground where any one may practice at will. Therefore, Venerable Brethren, it is your duty to see that such a grave abuse should disappear, and since you will have to render to God and to His Church an account of the manner in which you feed your flock, allow no one to creep unbidden into the sheepfold and to feed the sheep of Christ according to his fancy. Therefore let no one henceforth preach in your dioceses except on your summons and with your approval.

Here therefore we would have you pay the greatest heed to whom you commit so sacred a duty. By the decree of the Council of Trent Bishops are permitted to select for this office those only who are "fit," i.e. those who "can exercise the ministry of preaching with profit to souls.""With profit to souls," well note that the word which expresses the rule does not mean eloquently or with popular applause, but with spiritual fruit. This is the end for which the ministry of the Divine Word is instituted. If now you would have Us define more exactly the qualifications of those who are really to be considered fit, We answer: those in whom you find the signs of a Divine vocation. Whatever is required for admission to the priesthood, is likewise needed if one is to be considered eligible and fit for the office of preaching. "Neither doth any man take this honor to himself, but he that is called by God." [Heb. v:4] Such a vocation is easily determined. For Christ Our Lord and Master, when about to ascend into heaven, did not by any means bid His Apostles forthwith go into diverse places and begin their preaching: "But stay you in the city," He said, "till you be indued with power from on high." [Luke xxiv:49] This, therefore, is the sign by which you may know whether any one is Divinely called to this task: if he "is indued" with power from on high. What this means, Venerable Brethren, may be gathered from what took place in the case of the Apostles as soon as they had received power from on high. For when the Holy Spirit had descended upon them, not to mention here the wonderful gifts with which they were endowed, they were transformed from frail unlettered disciples into learned and perfect men. If a priest therefore has the required knowledge and virtue together with those natural qualifications necessary, without which he would be tempting God, he may be considered as having a true vocation for the office of preaching and there is no reason why he may not be admitted by the Bishop to this ministry. Such is the meaning of the Council of Trent when it decrees that the Bishop is not to permit any to preach unless they are "of approved virtue and learning." (Loc cit.)

Wherefore it is the duty of the Bishop long and thoroughly to examine those who are to be entrusted by him with the function of preaching that he may find out the nature and extent of their learning. If any one acts carelessly and negligently in this duty, he clearly offends in a grievous matter, and on him will fall the responsibility of the errors which the untrained preacher may spread or of the scandal and the bad example which the unworthy one may give.To make your task easier in this matter, Venerable Brethren, We desire that hereafter severe judgment be passed on these two points: on the character, namely, and learning of those who seek to obtain authority to preach, just as is done on the character and learning of those priests, who would hear confessions.

Whoever, therefore, is found defective in either regard must without any consideration whatever be debarred from a function for which he is not qualified. Your dignity demands this, since, as We have said, the preachers are your substitutes. The good of Holy Church demands it, for surely if any one should be the "salt of the earth and the light of the world," [Matt. v: 13, 14], it is the man who is engaged in the ministry of the Word. With these rules duly laid down it may seem superfluous to proceed further and explain what should be the purpose and method of the sacred function of preaching. For if we select our sacred orators in accordance with the norm given by Us, they cannot fail to be endowed with the requisite virtues, or set before themselves a worthy purpose or follow the right method in their preaching. Nevertheless it will be serviceable to throw some light on these two points, that thus the reason may become clearer why some fall short of the ideal of a good preacher.

The purpose which sacred orators should keep before their mind in performing their duty may be understood from the fact that they may and ought to say of themselves, as did St. Paul "For Christ therefore we are ambassadors." [II Cor. v:20] If then they are ambassadors of Christ they ought to have the same purpose in discharging their office that Christ had in conferring it on them, nay, the very one that Christ Himself had while living upon earth. For neither the Apostles, nor the preachers who followed the Apostles had a different mission from Christ's: "As the Father hath sent me, I also send you." (John xx:21] Now we know why Christ descended from heaven, for He says expressly: "For this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth." (John xviii:37] "I am come that they may have life." (John x:10]

Both these purposes therefore must be carried out by the men who devote themselves to the sacred ministry of preaching. They must diffuse the light of truth made known by God, and in those who hear them they must quicken and nourish the supernatural life. In a word, by seeking the salvation of souls they are to promote the glory of God. As it would, therefore, be wrong to call anyone a doctor who does not practice medicine, or to style anyone a professor of some art who does not teach that art, he who in his preaching neglects to lead men to a fuller knowledge of God and on the way of eternal salvation may be called an idle declaimer, but not a preacher of the Gospel. And would there were no such declaimers! What motive is it that sways them mostly. Some are moved by the desire of vain-glory and to satisfy it: "They ponder how they can express high rather than practical thoughts, causing weak minds to admire them, instead of working out the salvation of their hearers. They are ashamed of what is simple and plain, lest they be thought to know nothing else. They are ashamed to give milk to the little ones. [Gillebertus Abb. In Cant. Canticor. Serm xxvii, 2.]

Whereas Jesus Christ proved by the lowliness of his hearers that He was the One whom men were awaiting: "The poor have the Gospel preached to them." [Matt. xi:5] What efforts do such men make to acquire reputation by their sermons from the size and wealth of the cities and splendor of the great churches in which they preach? But since among the truths revealed by God there are some which frighten the weakness of our corrupt nature, and which therefore are not calculated to attract the multitude, they carefully avoid them, and treat themes, in which, the place accepted, there is nothing sacred. Not seldom it happens that in the very midst of a discourse upon the things of eternity, they turn to politics, particularly if any questions of this kind just then deeply engross the minds of their hearers. They seem to have only one aim, to please their hearers and curry favor with those whom St. Paul describes as "having itching ears." [II Tim. vi:3]

Hence that unrestrained and undignified gesture such as may be seen on the stage or on the hustings, that effeminate lowering of the voice or those tragic outbursts; that diction peculiar to journalism; those frequent allusions to profane and non-Catholic literature, but not to the Sacred Scriptures or the Holy Fathers; finally that volubility of utterance often affected by them, wherewith they strike the ears and gain their hearers' admiration, but give them no lesson to carry home. How sadly are those preachers deceived! Granted that they receive the applause of the uneducated, which they seek with such great favor, and not without sacrilege, is it really worth while when we consider that they are condemned by every prudent man, and, what is worse, have reason to fear the stern judgment of Christ?

Not all however who depart from the right rule and norm, Venerable Brethren, are seeking for nothing but popular applause in their preaching. Frequently the preachers who avail themselves of these devices do so to attain some other and even less honorable object. Forgetting the saying of Gregory: "The priest does not preach that he may eat, but should eat that he may preach," [In I Regum, lib. iii], there are not a few who, because they think that they are unsuited for other labors by which they might be decently supported, take to preaching, not that they may worthily exercise the sacred ministry, but to make money. We therefore see them devoting all their attention not indeed to finding where greater fruit for souls may be hoped for, but where preaching reaps a more lucrative return.

Now since nothing except harm and discredit can be expected for the Church from such as these, Venerable Brethren, you must exercise the greatest care, so that, if you detect any one for his own glory or for gain, abusing the office of preaching, you should at once remove him from that function. For the man who does not scruple to defile so holy an office by such an unworthy perversion of its end, surely will not hesitate to descend to any indignity, and will bring the stain of ignominy not merely upon himself, but upon the sacred office also which he so unworthily administers.

The same severity is to be shown towards those who fail to preach properly because they have neglected the acquisition of whatever is necessary for performing this function becomingly. What these conditions are We may learn from the example of him whom the Church has called "the Preacher of truth," the Apostle St. Paul. Would that by God's mercy We might have many more preachers like him!

The first lesson, therefore, that We learn from St. Paul is how well prepared and equipped he was for preaching. But We do not refer now to the learned studies he had assiduously pursued under Gamaliel. For the knowledge poured into his soul by revelation dimmed and nearly eclipsed the knowledge he had acquired by his own efforts, though that the latter knowledge was of no little value to him is clear from his Epistles.

Learning, as We have said, is absolutely necessary for the preacher, for if he is without the light of learning he easily falls into error, since "Ignorance is the mother of all errors," as the Fourth Lateran Council so truthfully observes. We would not be understood, however, to mean every sort of knowledge, but only that which it becomes a priest to possess, that is to say, the knowledge, to phrase it briefly, which consists of a knowledge of self, of God and his duties. For self-knowledge, We maintain, will lead a priest to renounce his own advantage. The knowledge of God will lead him to make everyone else know and love God, and the knowledge of his office will lead him to discharge his own duties and to teach others to do theirs. If he lacks these three kinds of knowledge, whatever other learning he has, will only puff him up, and will be useless.

Let us now consider what the Apostle's spiritual preparation for preaching was. The three qualities of his equipment most worthy of note are these: First of all he was a man who always fully conformed himself to God's will. No sooner was he smitten, when on the road to Damascus, by the power of the Lord Jesus than he uttered that cry so worthy of an apostle: "Lord what will thou have me to do?" [Acts ix:6] For then and there as ever afterwards, for Christ's sake he was indifferent to toil or rest, to poverty or wealth, to praise or contempt, to life or death.

There can be no doubt that he made such progress in the apostolate because he conformed with such perfect submission to the will of God. Wherefore like St. Paul, every preacher devoted to the salvation of souls should be first of all so zealous for God's service as to feel no concern about who his hearers are to be, what success he will have, or what fruits he is to reap. He should have an eye not to his own advantage but to God's glory.

But such zeal for God's service as that demands a soul so prepared for hardships that it will not avoid labor or trouble of any kind, and that is the second quality that was conspicuous in St. Paul. For when the Lord had said to him: "I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake," [Acts ix:16] he so eagerly embraced suffering that he could write: "I exceedingly abound with joy in all our tribulations." [II Cor. vii:4] Indeed if this patient endurance of hardships is conspicuous in a preacher, it effaces whatever human weakness there is in him and wins from God the grace to produce fruit and gains for his apostolate, to a degree beyond belief, the favor of Christian people. On the other hand but little success in moving hearts is attained by those who, wherever they go, immoderately desire the comforts of life, and provided they deliver their sermons, put their hand to scarcely any other work of the sacred ministry, and the result is that they appear to be seeking their own ease rather than the good of souls.

In the third place the "spirit of prayer," as it is called, is necessary, the Apostle tells us, for the preacher. No sooner was he himself called to the apostolate than he began his supplications to God. "For behold he prayeth." [Acts ix:11] For it is not by pouring forth a copious stream of words, not by using subtle arguments, not by delivering violent harangues, that the salvation of souls is effected. The preacher who is content with those means is nothing but "sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal." [I Cor. xiii:1] What gives a man's words life and vigor and makes them promote wonderfully the salvation of souls is Divine grace: "God gave the increase." [I Cor. iii:6] But the grace of God is not gained by study and practice: it is won by prayer. Therefore he who is little given to prayer or neglects it altogether, vainly spends his time and labor in preaching, for in God's sight his sermons profit neither himself nor those who hear him.

To express briefly, therefore, what We have just said, let Us quote these words of St. Peter Damian: "For the preacher two things are especially necessary: namely that his words should be rich in ghostly wisdom, and that his life should be conspicuous for the luster of its piety. But if a priest is unequal to being both holy in life and rich in learning, holiness of life is, without question, to be preferred to mere learning. For the example of a saintly life is more powerful than eloquence and a studied delivery.... The priest who discharges the office of preaching should cause showers of heavenly wisdom to fall from his lips, and from his life rays of piety to shine out, just as the angel in telling the shepherds of Our Lord's birth, both shone with great splendor and expressed in words the tidings he had come to announce." [Epp. Lib. i, Ep. i ad Cinthium Urbis Praef.]

However, to return to St. Paul, if we ask on what subjects he was wont to discourse when he preached, he condenses them all in these words: "For I judged not myself to know anything among you but Jesus Christ and Him crucified." [I Cor. ii:2] To make men know Jesus Christ better and better, and to make that knowledge have a bearing, moreover, not only on their faith, but on their lives as well, was the object of that apostolic man's every endeavor. This was the object of every throb of his apostolic heart. Therefore all Christ's doctrines and commands, even the sterner ones, were so proclaimed by St. Paul that he did not restrict, gloss over or tone down what Christ taught regarding humility, self-denial, chastity, contempt of the world, obedience, forgiveness of enemies, and the like, nor was he afraid to tell his hearers that they had to make a choice between the service of God and the service of Belial, for they could not serve both, that when they leave this world, a dread judgment awaits them; that they cannot bargain with God; they may hope for life everlasting if they keep His entire law, but if they neglect their duty and indulge their passions, they will have nothing to expect but eternal fire.

For our "Preacher of truth" never imagined that he should avoid such subjects, because, owing to the corruption of the age, they appeared too stern to his hearers. Therefore it is clear how unworthy of commendation are those preachers who are afraid to touch upon certain points of Christian doctrine lest they should give their hearers offense. Does a physician prescribe useless remedies to his patient, merely because the sick man rejects effective ones? The test of the orator's power and skill is his success in making his hearers accept the stern truth he is preaching. How did the Apostle unfold the subjects of which he treated? "Not in the persuasive words of human wisdom." [I Cor. ii:4] It is perfectly plain, Venerable Brethren, how important for everybody it is that they should thoroughly realize this, since we see that not a few of our sacred preachers overlook in their sermons the Sacred Scriptures, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church," and the arguments based on sacred theology, and for the most part, make their appeals only to reason.

Unquestionably that is wrong, for in the supernatural order, merely human resources are of no help whatever. But the objection may be urged: The people have no confidence in the preacher who insists on Divinely revealed truths. Is that true? With non-Catholics, granted. However, when the Greeks sought the Wisdom, forsooth, of this world, the Apostle, nevertheless, preached to them Christ crucified. If we direct our attention, however, to Catholic people, even those men among them who are unfriendly to us, generally keep in their hearts the roots of faith. Their intellects are blinded because their souls are corrupted.

Lastly, what end did St. Paul have in his preaching? Not to please men, but Christ. "If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ." [Gal. i: 10] As his heart was on fire with the love of Christ, he sought for nothing save the glory of Christ. O that all are engaged in the ministry of the Word were true lovers of Jesus Christ. Would that all could repeat these words of St. Paul: "For whom Jesus Christ] I have suffered the loss of all things," [Phil. iii:8] and "To me to live is Christ." [Phil.i:21] Only those who glow with love themselves know how to set on fire the hearts of others. Wherefore St. Bernard gave a preacher this counsel: "If you are wise, be a reservoir, not a conduit, be full yourself of what you preach and do not think it enough to pour it out for others." [In Cant. Serm. 18] The Doctor then adds: "Today we have in the Church a profusion of conduits, but how few are the reservoirs!"

We must strive with all our might and main, Venerable Brethren, to prevent such a state of things from occurring in the future. For it is your duty, by rejecting the unfit and by encouraging, training and guiding the fit, to bring it to pass that there should now be no lack of preachers who are men after God's own heart.Through the intercession, therefore, of the most Holy Virgin, the August Mother of the Incarnate Word Himself, and the Queen of the Apostles, may Jesus Christ the merciful and everlasting Shepherd of souls vouchsafe to look down with favor on His flock, fill the clergy with the apostolic spirit, and grant that there may be many who will strive eagerly "to present themselves approved unto God workmen that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." [II Tim. ii:15] "

Thursday, 5 January 2012

On the Restoration of All Things In Christ

Pope St Pius X's landmark encyclical unsurprisingly contains a large section dedicated to priests and seminarians, I have pasted the relevant section:



Encyclical of Pope St Pius X On The Restoration of All Things In Christ

As to the means to be employed in attaining this great end, it seems superfluous to name them, for they are obvious of themselves. Let your first care be to form Christ in those who are destined from the duty of their vocation to form Him in others. We speak of the priests, Venerable Brethren. For all who bear the seal of the priesthood must know that they have the same mission to the people in the midst of whom they live as that which Paul proclaimed that he received in these tender words: "My little children, of whom I am in labor again until Christ be formed in you" (Gal. iv., 19). But how will they be able to perform this duty if they be not first clothed with Christ themselves? and so clothed with Christ as to be able to say with the Apostle: "I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me" (Ibid. ii., 20). "For me to live is Christ" (Phlipp. i., 21). Hence although all are included in the exhortation "to advance towards the perfect man, in the measure of the age of the fullness of Christ" (Ephes. iv., 3), it is addressed before all others to those who exercise the sacerdotal ministry; thus these are called another Christ, not merely by the communication of power but by reason of the imitation of His works, and they should therefore bear stamped upon themselves the image of Christ.
This being so, Venerable Brethren, of what nature and magnitude is the care that must be taken by you in forming the clergy to holiness! All other tasks must yield to this one. Wherefore the chief part of your diligence will be directed to governing and ordering your seminaries aright so that they may flourish equally in the soundness of their teaching and in the spotlessness of their morals. Regard your seminary as the delight of your hearts, and neglect on its behalf none of those provisions which the Council of Trent has with admirable forethought prescribed. And when the time comes for promoting the youthful candidates to holy orders, ah! do not forget what Paul wrote to Timothy: "Impose not hands lightly upon any man" (I. Tim. v., 22), bearing carefully in mind that as a general rule the faithful will be such as are those whom you call to the priesthood. Do not then pay heed to private interests of any kind, but have at heart only God and the Church and the eternal welfare of souls so that, as the Apostle admonishes, "you may not be partakers of the sins of others" (Ibid.). Then again be not lacking in solicitude for young priests who have just left the seminary. From the bottom of Our heart, We urge you to bring them often close to your breast, which should burn with celestial fire -- kindle them, inflame them, so that they may aspire solely after God and the salvation of souls. Rest assured, Venerable Brethren, that We on Our side will use the greatest diligence to prevent the members of the clergy from being drawn to the snares of a certain new and fallacious science, which savoureth not of Christ, but with masked and cunning arguments strives to open the door to the errors of rationalism and semi-rationalism; against which the Apostle warned Timothy to be on his guard, when he wrote: "Keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding the profane novelties of words, and oppositions of knowledge falsely so called which some promising have erred concerning the faith" (I. Tim. vi., 20 s.). This does not prevent Us from esteeming worthy of praise those young priests who dedicated themselves to useful studies in every branch of learning the better to prepare themselves to defend the truth and to refute the calumnies of the enemies of the faith. Yet We cannot conceal, nay, We proclaim in the most open manner possible that Our preference is, and ever will be, for those who, while cultivating ecclesiastical and literary erudition, dedicate themselves more closely to the welfare of souls through the exercise of those ministries proper to a priest jealous of the divine glory. "It is a great grief and a continual sorrow to our heart" (Rom. ix., 2) to find Jeremiah's lamentation applicable to our times: "The little ones asked for bread, and there was none to break it to them" (Lam. iv., 4). For there are not lacking among the clergy those who adapt themselves according to their bent to works of more apparent than real solidity -- but not so numerous perhaps are those who, after the example of Christ, take to themselves the words of the Prophet: "The Spirit of the Lord hath anointed me, hath sent me to evangelize the poor, to heal the contrite of heart, to announce freedom to the captive, and sight to the blind" (Luke iv., 18-19).
Yet who can fail to see, Venerable Brethren, that while men are led by reason and liberty, the principal way to restore the empire of God in their souls is religious instruction? How many there are who mimic Christ and abhor the Church and the Gospel more through ignorance than through badness of mind, of whom it may well be said: "They blaspheme whatever things they know not" (Jude ii., 10). This is found to be the case not only among the people at large and among the lowest classes, who are thus easily led astray, but even among the more cultivated and among those endowed moreover with uncommon education. The result is for a great many the loss of the faith. For it is not true that the progress of knowledge extinguishes the faith; rather is it ignorance, and the more ignorance prevails the greater is the havoc wrought by incredulity. And this is why Christ commanded the Apostles: "Going forth teach all nations" (Matth. xxviii., 19).
But in order that the desired fruit may be derived from this apostolate and this zeal for teaching, and that Christ may be formed in all, be it remembered, Venerable Brethren, that no means is more efficacious than charity. "For the Lord is not in the earthquake" (III Kings xix., II) -- it is vain to hope to attract souls to God by a bitter zeal. On the contrary, harm is done more often than good by taunting men harshly with their faults, and reproving their vices with asperity. True the Apostle exhorted Timothy: "Accuse, beseech, rebuke," but he took care to add: "with all patience" (11. Tim. iv., 2). Jesus has certainly left us examples of this. "Come to me," we find Him saying, "come to me all ye that labor and are burdened and I will refresh you" (Matth. xi., 28). And by those that labor and are burdened he meant only those who are slaves of sin and error. What gentleness was that shown by the Divine Master! What tenderness, what compassion towards all kinds of misery! Isaias has marvelously described His heart in the words: "I will set my spirit upon him; he shall not contend, nor cry out; the bruised reed he will not break, he will not extinguish the smoking flax" (Is. xlii., 1, s.). This charity, "patient and kind" (1. Cor. xiii., 4.), will extend itself also to those who are hostile to us and persecute us. "We are reviled," thus did St. Paul protest, "and we bless; we are persecuted and we suffer it; we are blasphemed and we entreat" (1. Cor., iv., 12, s.). They perhaps seem to be worse than they really are. Their associations with others, prejudice, the counsel, advice and example of others, and finally an ill-advised shame have dragged them to the side of the impious; but their wills are not so depraved as they themselves would seek to make people believe. Who will prevent us from hoping that the flame of Christian charity may dispel the darkness from their minds and bring to them light and the peace of God? It may be that the fruit of our labors may be slow in coming, but charity wearies not with waiting, knowing that God prepares His rewards not for the results of toil but for the good will shown in it.
It is true, Venerable Brethren, that in this arduous task of the restoration of the human race in Christ neither you nor your clergy should exclude all assistance. We know that God recommended every one to have a care for his neighbor (Eccli. xvii., 12). For it is not priests alone, but all the faithful without exception, who must concern themselves with the interests of God and souls -- not, of course, according to their own views, but always under the direction and orders of the bishops; for to no one in the Church except you is it given to preside over, to teach, to "govern the Church of God which the Holy Ghost has placed you to rule" (Acts xx., 28). Our predecessors have long since approved and blessed those Catholics who have banded together in societies of various kinds, but always religious in their aim. We, too, have no hesitation in awarding Our praise to this great idea, and We earnestly desire to see it propagated and flourish in town and country. But We wish that all such associations aim first and chiefly at the constant maintenance of Christian life, among those who belong to them. For truly it is of little avail to discuss questions with nice subtlety, or to discourse eloquently of rights and duties, when all this is unconnected with practice. The times we live in demand action -- but action which consists entirely in observing with fidelity and zeal the divine laws and the precepts of the Church, in the frank and open profession of religion, in the exercise of every kind of charitable works, without regard to selfinterest or worldly advantage. Such luminous examples given by the great army of soldiers of Christ will be of much greater avail in moving and drawing men than words and sublime dissertations; and it will easily come about that when human respect has been driven out, and prejudices and doubting laid aside, large numbers will be won to Christ, becoming in their turn promoters of His knowledge and love which are the road to true and solid happiness. Oh! when in every city and village the law of the Lord is faithfully observed, when respect is shown for sacred things, when the Sacraments are frequented, and the ordinances of Christian life fulfilled, there will certainly be no more need for us to labor further to see all things restored in Christ. Nor is it for the attainment of eternal welfare alone that this will be of service -- it will also contribute largely to temporal welfare and the advantage of human society. For when these conditions have been secured, the upper and wealthy classes will learn to be just and charitable to the lowly, and these will be able to bear with tranquillity and patience the trials of a very hard lot; the citizens will obey not lust but law, reverence and love will be deemed a duty towards those that govern, "whose power comes only from God" (Rom. xiii., 1). And then? Then, at last, it will be clear to all that the Church, such as it was instituted by Christ, must enjoy full and entire liberty and independence from all foreign dominion; and We, in demanding that same liberty, are defending not only the sacred rights of religion, but are also consulting the common weal and the safety of nations. For it continues to be true that "piety is useful for all things" (I. Tim. iv., 8) -- when this is strong and flourishing "the people will" truly "sit in the fullness of peace" (Is. xxxii., 18).
May God, "who is rich in mercy" (Ephes. ii., 4), benignly speed this restoration of the human race in Jesus Christ for "it is not of him that willeth, or of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy" (Rom. ix., 16). And let us, Venerable Brethren, "in the spirit of humility" (Dan. iii., 39), with continuous and urgent prayer ask this of Him through the merits of Jesus Christ. Let us turn, too, to the most powerful intercession of the Divine Mother -- to obtain which We, addressing to you this Letter of Ours on the day appointed especially for commemorating the Holy Rosary, ordain and confirm all Our Predecessor's prescriptions with regard to the dedication of the present month to the august Virgin, by the public recitation of the Rosary in all churches; with the further exhortation that as intercessors with God appeal be also made to the most pure Spouse of Mary, the Patron of the Catholic Church, and the holy Princes of the Apostles, Peter and Paul.
And that all this may be realized in fulfillment of Our ardent desire, and that everything may be prosperous with you, We invoke upon you the most bountiful gifts of divine grace. And now in testimony of that most tender charity wherewith We embrace you and all the faithful whom Divine Providence has entrusted to Us, We impart with all affection in the Lord, the Apostolic Blessing to you, Venerable Brethren, to the clergy and to your people."

The encyclical can be read in full here and I urge you to do so.

Encyclical of Pope St Pius X

This encyclical of Pope St Pius X to the Bishops and Archbishops of Italy sheds a light on one of the key motivations behind Pope St Pius X's actions and writings as well pertinent and important observations on the necessity of obedence and the evil of modernism in the Clergy. As the encyclical is fairly short I have presented it in full below:



Encyclical of Pope Pius X promulgated on July 28, 1906.

To the Venerable Brethren, the Archbishops, and Bishops of Italy.
Venerable Brethren, Health and the Apostolic Blessing.
Our soul is fearful of the strict rendering that We shall one day be called upon to make to Jesus Christ, the Prince of Pastors, concerning the flock He entrusted to Our care. We pass each day with great solicitude in preserving as much as possible the faithful from the dangerous evils that afflict society at the present time. Therefore, We consider addressed to Us the words of the Prophet: "Cry, cease not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet."(1) Accordingly, sometimes by speech and sometimes by letter We constantly warn, beseech, and censure, arousing, above all, the zeal of Our Brethren in the Episcopate so that each one of them will exercise the most solicitous vigilance in that portion of the flock over which the Holy Spirit has placed him.
The cause which now moves Us to raise Our voice is of very serious importance. It demands all the attention of your mind and all the energy of your pastoral office to counteract the disorder which has already produced the most destructive effects. If this disorder is not radically removed with a firm hand, even more fatal consequences will be felt in the coming years. In fact, Venerable Brethren, We have letters, full of sadness and tears, from several of you, in which you deplore the spirit of insubordination and independence displayed here and there among the clergy. Most assuredly, a poisonous atmosphere corrupts men's minds to a great extent today, and the deadly effects are those which the Apostolic Saint Jude formerly described: "These men also defile the flesh, disregard authority, deride majesty."(2) That is to say, over and above the most degrading corruption of manners there is also an open contempt for authority and for those who exercise it. What overwhelms Us with grief, however, is the fact that this spirit should creep into the sanctuary even in the least degree, infecting those to whom the words of Ecclesiasticus should most fittingly be applied: "Their generation, obedience and love."(3) This unfortunate spirit is doing the damage especially among young priests, spreading among them new and reprehensible theories concerning the very nature of obedience. In order to recruit new members for this growing troop of rebels, what is even more serious is the fact that such maxims are being more or less secretly propagated among youths preparing for the priesthood within the enclosure of the seminaries.
We therefore consider it Our duty, Venerable Brethren, to appeal to your conscience to see that you do not spare any effort and with a firm hand and constant resolve you do not hesitate to destroy this evil seed which carries with it such destructive consequences. Never forget that the Holy Spirit has placed you to rule. Remember Saint Paul's command to Titus: "Rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise thee."(4) Be firm in demanding that obedience from your priests and clerics which is a matter of absolute obligation for all the faithful, and constitutes the most important part of the sacred duty of priests.
Take the proper means necessary for the diminution of these quarrelsome souls. Bear well in mind, Venerable Brethren, the Apostle's warning to Timothy: "Do not lay hands hastily upon anyone."(5) In fact, haste in admitting men to Sacred Orders naturally opens the way to a multiplication of people in the sanctuary who do not increase joy. We know that there are cities and dioceses where, far from there being any reason to lament the dearth of clergy, the clergy greatly exceed the needs of the faithful. Venerable Brethren, what reason is there for imposing hands so frequently? In those places where the lack of clergy is no sufficient reason for haste in so important a matter and the clergy are more numerous than the requirements demand, nothing excuses from the most delicate caution and the greatest exactitude in selecting those who are to receive the sacerdotal honor. The eagerness of the aspirants is no excuse for haste. The priesthood that Jesus Christ instituted for the salvation of souls is by no means a human profession or office which anyone desiring it for any reason can say he has a right to receive. Therefore, let the Bishops call young men to sacred orders, not according to the desires or pretexts of the aspirants, but, as the Council of Trent prescribes, according to the needs of the dioceses. In this task they can select only those who are really suitable and dismiss those who have inclinations contrary to the priestly vocation. The most dangerous of these inclinations are a disregard for discipline and that pride of mind which fosters it.
In order that young men who display qualities suitable for the sacred ministry may not be lacking, Venerable Brethren, We wish to insist most earnestly on what We have already frequently pointed out. That is to say, you have a very serious obligation before God of guarding and fostering most solicitously the proper conduct of the seminaries. Your priests will be as you have trained them. The letter of December 8, 1902, which Our most prudent Predecessor addressed to you as a testament from his long Pontificate is very important.(6) We desire to add nothing new to it; We shall merely remind you of the rules it lays down. We especially recommend the immediate execution of Our orders, published through the Sacred Congregation of Bishops and Regulars, on the concentration of the seminaries especially for the study of philosophy and theology. In this way the great advantage resulting from the separation of the major and minor seminaries and the no less great advantage of the necessary instruction of the clergy will be secured.
Let the seminaries be jealously guarded in order that a proper atmosphere will be maintained. Let them always be destined exclusively for preparing youths, not for civil careers, but for the noble vocation of being ministers of Christ. Let philosophy, theology, and the related sciences, especially Sacred Scripture, be studied along the lines of pontifical directives: according to the teaching of Saint Thomas which Our venerable Predecessor so often recommended, and We Ourselves recommended in the Apostolic Letter of January 23, 1904.(7) Therefore, let the Bishops exercise the most prudent vigilance towards the professors' teachings. Let them recall those who run after certain dangerous novelties to their sense of duty. If they do not profit from these warnings, let them be removed-cost what it may -- from their teaching position. Young clerics are forbidden to frequent the universities unless the Bishops think there are very good reasons and necessary precautions have been taken. Seminarians are absolutely forbidden to take part in external activities. Accordingly. We forbid them to read newspapers and periodicals, excepting, in the case of the latter, those with solid principles and which the Bishop deems suitable for their study. Let discipline continue to be fostered with renewed vigor and vigilance. Finally, in every seminary there must be a spiritual director. He is to be a man of extraordinary prudence and experienced in the ways of Christian perfection. With untiring zeal he must train the young men in solid piety, the primary foundation of the spiritual life. Venerable Brethren, if these rules are conscientiously and religiously followed they will be your sure guarantee of seeing a clergy growing up around you which will be your joy and your crown.
If these instructions are not observed, the problem of insubordination and independence which We now lament will be even more aggravated by some of the younger clergy and cause even more harm. This is especially so since those who are subject to this reprobate spirit are not lacking, and, abusing the sacred office of preaching, they are its outspoken promoters and apostles, to the detriment and scandal of the faithful.
On July 31, 1894, Our Predecessor, through the Sacred Congregation of Bishops and Regulars, called the Bishops' attention to this very serious problem.(8) The regulations and norms set up in that Pontifical document We now affirm and renew, commanding the Bishops to form their conscience according to it, lest the words of the Prophet Nahum might be applied to any of them: "Thy shepherds have slumbered."(9) No one can have the faculty of preaching "unless he first be approved of in life, knowledge and morals."(10) Priests of other dioceses should not be allowed to preach unless they have testimonial letters from their own Bishop. Let the subject of their sermons be that which the Divine Savior indicated when He said: "Preach the gospel(11) . . . teaching them to observe all that I commanded you."(12) Or, according to the Council of Trent, "announcing to them the vices they should avoid and the virtues they should follow in order to escape eternal punishment and attain heavenly glory."(13) Therefore, let those arguments better suited to journalistic campaigns and lecture halls be completely banished from the holy place. Let moral preaching be preferred to sermons which are, to say the least, fruitless. Let the preacher speak "not in the persuasive words of wisdom, but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power."(14) The principal source, therefore, from which preaching will derive its strength will be the Sacred Scriptures, understood not according to the private judgment of minds very frequently blinded by passions, but according to the traditions of the Church and the interpretations of the holy Fathers and Councils.
According to these rules, Venerable Brethren, you should judge those to whom you will entrust the ministry of the divine word. Whenever you find any of them departing from these rules, being more concerned with their own interests than those of Jesus Christ and more anxious for worldly applause than the welfare of souls, warn and correct them. If that proves insufficient, be firm in removing them from an office for which they have proven themselves unworthy. You should be especially diligent in employing this vigilance and severity since the ministry of preaching belongs in a special way to you, and is one of the chief functions of the Episcopal Office. Whoever outside your rank preaches, he does so only in your name and in your place. It follows, therefore, that you are always responsible before God for the way in which the bread of the divine word is distributed to the faithful. In order to remove all responsibility from Our shoulders, We notice and command all Ordinaries to discontinue or suspend, after charitable warnings, any preacher, be he secular or regular, and even if it be during a course of sermons, who does not completely obey the regulations laid down in the above-mentioned Instruction of the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars. Better by far would it be if the faithful were satisfied with the simple homilies and explanations of the Catechism their parish priests offer them than to attend sermons that do more harm than good.
Another field where the junior clergy find a wide scope and great stimulus for maintaining and advocating exemption from every bond of legitimate authority is the so-called Popular Christian Action. This action, Venerable Brethren, is not in itself reprehensible, nor by its nature does it lead to contempt of authority. Many, however, misunderstanding its nature, have voluntarily abandoned the rules laid down for its promotion by Our Predecessor of immortal memory.
You are aware that We are referring to the Instruction on Popular Christian Action which, by command of Leo XIII, the Sacred Congregation of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs issued on January 27, 1902, and which was sent to each one of you to carry out in your dioceses.(15) For Our part, We maintain and, with the fullness of Our power, We renew these instructions with each and every one of their regulations. Similarly We confirm and renew all the orders We issued in the motu proprio of December 18, 1903, on Popular Christian Action(16) along with the Circular Letter dated July 28, 1904, of Our beloved son, the Cardinal Secretary of State.(17)
Concerning the founding and directing of newspapers and periodicals, the clergy must faithfully follow Article 42 of the Apostolic Constitution "Officiorum," namely, "Clerics are forbidden to direct newspapers or periodicals without the previous consent of the Ordinaries."(18) Similarly, without the previous consent of the Ordinary, no cleric can publish any kind of writing, be it concerned with a religious, moral, or merely technical subject. Before the founding of circles and societies their rules and constitutions must be examined and approved by the Ordinary. No priest or cleric can lecture on Popular Christian Action or any other subject without the permission of the Ordinary of the place. Language which might inspire aversion for the higher classes is, and can only be regarded as, altogether contrary to the true spirit of Christian charity. Likewise, all terms smacking of an unhealthy novelty in Catholic publications are condemnable, such as those deriding the piety of the faithful, or pointing out a new orientation of the Christian life, new directions of the Church, new aspirations of the modern soul, a new social vocation of the clergy, or a new Christian civilization.
While it is a very praiseworthy thing for the clergy, and especially the younger clergy, to go to the people, nevertheless, they must proceed in this matter with due obedience to authority and the commands of their ecclesiastical superiors. In devoting themselves according to this submission to the cause of Popular Christian Action, their noble duty must be "to rescue the children of the people from ignorance of spiritual and eternal things, encouraging them by their kindness to live honestly and virtuously; to strengthen adults in the faith, fortifying them in the practice of the Christian life by removing all contrary influences; to foster among the Catholic laity those institutions which are really instrumental in improving the moral and material welfare of the masses; and above all, to defend the principles of evangelical justice and charity, applying equally to everyone the rights and duties of civil society. . . Let them, moreover, be ever mindful that even among the people the priest should inviolately preserve his novel character as a minister of God, being placed at the head of his brethren for their salvation.(19) In devoting himself to the people should he do anything contrary to the dignity of the priesthood or ecclesiastical duties or discipline, he must be rebuked."(20)
Moreover, Venerable Brethren, in order to erect an effective bulwark against this extravagance of thought and extension of the spirit of independence, by Our authority, We absolutely forbid all clerics and priests to give their names in the future to any society that does not have Episcopal approbation. In a very special manner, under penalty of exclusion from Sacred Orders for clerics and suspension "ipso facto a divinis" for priests, We forbid them to become members of the National Democratic League, whose program was issued from Roma-Torrette on October 20, 1905. Its statutes were published the same year by the Provisional Committee of Bologna without the name of their author.
Being concerned about the present state of the Italian clergy and the importance of the subject, the solicitude of Our Apostolic Office demanded Us to issue these directives. We must now once again arouse your zeal, Venerable Brethren, in order that these arrangements and regulations will be quickly and fully carried out in your dioceses. Prevent the evil where fortunately it has not yet appeared. Suppress it immediately where it is beginning to spring up. Wipe it out with a firm and resolute hand where unfortunately it has already ripened. Making this a matter of conscience for you, We pray that God will fill you with the spirit of prudence and necessary firmness. For that reason, from the bottom of Our heart, We impart to you the Apostolic Blessing.
Given at Saint Peter's, Rome, on July 28, 1906, the third year of Our Pontificate.


1  Is. 58 v 1 
2 Jude 8
3 Ecclus 3 v 1
4 Titus 2 v 15
5 1 Tim 5 v 22
6 ASS 35:257
7 ASS 36:467
8 ASS 27:162
9 Nahum 3 v18
10 Council of Trent, Session 5 
11 Mark 16 v 15 
12 Matthew 28 v 20
13 Loc. Cit.
14 I Cor 2 v 4
15 ASS 34:401
16 ASS 36:339
17 ASS 37:19
18 ASS 30:39
19 St Gregory the Great, Pastoral Care, 2:7
20 Encyclical letter 'Fin dal principio'  of Pope Leo XIII, December 8, 1902. "