August 20, 2017
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost
Saint of the Month - St. Pius X
Tomorrow will mark the 104th anniversary of the coronation of Pope St. Pius X. Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto was born in 1835 in Riese, Venetia, (northern Italy) to Giovanni Sarto, a municipal messenger and postman, and Margarita Sansone. He was the second of ten children in a poor, yet devout family. His family was so poor that he would walk to school shoes in hand, wearing them only at school as to preserve them for future use.
As a boy Giuseppe Sarto walked five miles back and forth to the local elementary school; and after heeding a call to the Priesthood, he travelled to the seminary in Padua. He was ordained a priest by dispensation at the age of twenty-three, and gave of himself tirelessly for 17 years in the pastoral ministry. At the age of 40 he was appointed a canon (cathedral-priest) of Treviso, where his hard work and generous charity made a great mark. In 1884 he was consecrated bishop for the Diocese of Mantua, which was in a low state and marked by many difficulties. Bishop Sarto was so brilliantly successful in correcting the abuses in his diocese, that Pope Leo XIII created him cardinal and appointed him as Patriarch of Venice
Ever mindful of his humble origin, he stated, “I was born poor, I lived poor, I will die poor,” and his motto was “To Restore All Things in Christ.” He was embarrassed by some of the pomp of the papal court and how he was obliged to wear very elaborate and cumbersome State Vesture. “Look how they have dressed me up!” he said in tears to an old friend. To another, “It is a penance to be forced to accept all these practices. They lead me around surrounded by soldiers like Jesus when he was seized in Gethsemane.” If one looks at some of the official formal photographs of the saint in these “royal” papal outfits, replete with ermine cape and the triple tiara, one can clearly see a hint of annoyance on his face. Yet he accepted it nonetheless as all part of the weight of the office of Supreme Pontiff, offering it up to the good God in penance. Such is true humility.
Interested in politics especially in the wake of the 19th Century socio-political upheaval which saw the dissolution of the Papal States and the unification of Italy, he encouraged Italian Catholics to become more politically involved. One of his first papal acts was to end the supposed right of governments to interfere by veto in papal elections (something never conceded but nevertheless practiced). In fact this practice had occurred at the 1903 conclave which had elected him. The Austrian Emperor. Franz Josef, had asked the Cardinal Archbishop of Cracow (then in the Austrian Empire) to carry into the conclave the imperial exclusion of Cardinal Rampolla. In all likelihood, Rampolla would not have been elected anyway. Instead a saint was elected Pope. There has always been great speculation as to why the Emperor did not want Rampolla to be elected. Some historians claim that the Emperor had a personal grudge against Raampolla because as Secretary of State he refused Christian burial to the Emperor’s son the Crown Prince Rudolf who had died a suicide at Mayerling in 1887 (Pope Leo XIII personally overrule the Cardinal).
In 1905, when France renounced its agreement with the Holy See and threatened confiscation of Church property if government control of Church affairs were not granted, Pius X courageously rejected the demand and the French government eventually backed down. Although he was a lion of the Catholic Faith, famously attacking that “synthesis of all heresies” – Modernism – he was never lacking in true charity for anyone. At Mantua, infamous false charges were made against him in print. He refused to take any action; and when the writer went bankrupt, the bishop privately sent him money: “So unfortunate a man needs prayers more than punishment.”
While he did not author a famous social encyclical as his predecessor Leo XIII had done (Rerum Novarum), he denounced the ill treatment of indigenous peoples on the plantations of Peru, sent a relief commission to Messina after an earthquake and sheltered refugees at his own expense. His love for the little ones of God – especially the sick and the poor – was always evident. He himself taught catechism weekly to the poor children of Rome in the Cortile San Damaso. It is this example that has always animated me in my 36 years as a priest to teach religion to the little ones. If the pope is not too busy to teach the catechism, neither is the pastor of St. Paul the Apostle.
Already during his lifetime, almighty God used Pope Pius as an instrument of miracles, and these occurrences are stamped with the perfection of modest simplicity. A man at a public audience pointed to his paralyzed arm, saying, “Cure me, Holy Father!” The pope smiled, stroking the arm gently, “Yes, yes, yes,” he said. And the man was healed. A paralyzed child, 11 years old, at a private audience suddenly and unprompted asked the same thing. “May God grant your wish,” said Pius. She got up and walked. A nun, in an advanced stage of tuberculosis, made the same request. “Yes,” was all the pope replied, laying his hands on her head. That evening the doctor verified her recovery. Some orphans in Argentina telegraphed the Pope begging him to heal their Mother Superior of cancer. Cardinal Merry del Val, the Secretary of State, simply telegraphed back to the orphans, The Holy Father is pleased to grant the petitioned request. The nun was cured immediately.
When some of his former parishioners from Bergamo came to visit Rome he received them with great cordiality. In their simplicity and lack of formal diplomatic training they said to the Pope: “Don Beppo,” (Father Joe) as they had always affectionately called him, “we understand that since you have come to Rome you are working many miracles." The saint smiled and replied, "Yes, indeed. You know, things are so expensive here in Rome that one must do a little bit of everything just to get by." He did not deny that miracles were wrought through him, yet he diverted their focus away from himself with the fine sense of humor for which he was also well known.
The great papal historian, Baron Ludwig von Pastor wrote fittingly of Pope Pius X: “He was one of those few chosen men whose personality is irresistible. Everyone was moved by his simplicity and his angelic kindness. Yet it was something more that carried him into all hearts: and that “something” is best defined by saying that all who were ever admitted to his presence had a deep conviction of being face to face with a saint. And the more one knows of him the stronger this conviction becomes.”
Pope Pius X is perhaps best remembered today for his encouragement of the frequent reception of Holy Communion, especially by children. In the Latin Church prior to 1910, it had been the tradition of many centuries for children to be confirmed at the age of 12 or thereabouts, and to receive First Holy Communion at about 14. What many Catholics believe to be an ancient practice – children’s reception of the Eucharist at seven or eight – is only about 100 years old. The saint said: “Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to Heaven. There are others: innocence, but that is for little children; penance, but we are afraid of it; generous endurance of trials of life, but when they come we weep and ask to be spared of them. The surest, easiest, shortest way is the Eucharist.” And by that, he meant for us to live and emulate our blessed Lord’s Sacrifice that we participate in at Holy Mass.
On the 11th anniversary of his election as pope, August 4, 1914, Europe was plunged into World War I. Pius had foreseen and did all he could to avert it, but it was the blow that broke his priestly heart and killed him. “This is the last affliction the Lord will visit on me. I would gladly give my life to save my poor children from this ghastly scourge.” He died on August 20th – a few weeks after the war began. He was canonized in 1954 by Pope Pius XII who said this was the greatest act of his papacy.
St. Pius X, pray for us!
SAVE THE DATES: It is never too early to begin to save the dates especially in parish life. In addition to the Centerstage dates mentioned in the bulletin, please remember our Parish Picnic which will be on Saturday Evening September 9th. Please remember that the Saturday Evening Mass for that Saturday only will be at 4.00PM, not at 5.00PM. I am grateful that Mrs. Louise Shannon and Mrs. Adriana Milana will be the co-chairs of the picnic this year. Since my arrival in June 2013, I am grateful to Mr. James Black who served as chair in 2013 and Mr. Jesse Cromer who served as chair in 2014 and 2015. The new shrine of Our Lady will be blessed immediately after the mass that evening.
On Sunday October 15, 2017, at 4.00PM, we will once again welcome the world renowned Glenn Mohr Chorale who will present a beautiful musical pageant based on the life of Our Blessed Mother. It is entitled Memorare: Mary Remembers. Please join us for an inspiring and uplifting afternoon of music as we celebrate the month of October, the month of the Most Holy Rosary. October 13th will mark the 100th anniversary of the last of Our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima at which occurred the Miracle of the Sun (October 13, 1917).
Our annual Golf and Tennis Outing and Awards Dinner will be on Monday, May 7, 2018. I am grateful to all our parishioners who make these wondrous events possible.
St. Paul Centerstage: I am so grateful to Mrs. Annalisa Sparacino and all the cast and crew of St. Paul’s Centerstage. Our parish Centerstage Production of Willy Wonka was performed on August 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th. Many parishioners worked very hard for this wonderful production and it was a joy for me to see it last Saturday evening the 12th. It was a beautiful evening. So many of our young ones were on stage and did a superb and outstanding job. Several of them had been my students in religion classes and it was a joy for me to see this side of them. God bless Annalisa, the whole cast and crew, Mr. James Black who for many years directed Centerstage, and all our parishioners.
Gala Casino Night: We are now in the midst of planning for our annual parish Gala Dinner Dance. As always, I am most grateful to Mrs. Paula Maturo and her dedicated committee who plan this wonderful event. This event is the major fundraiser for our parish. Please see the bulletin for details. The parish gala will be on Thursday October 26th. It will be a Dinner and Casino Night at the Milleridge Inn Cottage and it will be the official welcome of Deacon Raymond P. D’Alessio to St. Paul the Apostle. Our friends the M&M Twins (Marco and Michael Posillico, whom I have known for 25 years) will present a wonderful evening of entertainment. St. Paul’s depends on this fundraiser. It is my fond hope that many parishioners will come together for this fundraiser so that we may continue to exist as a viable and vibrant parish.
Capital Campaign: Last month I spoke at all the Masses to announce the beginning of our Capital Campaign. I went into great detail (too much perhaps) in explaining our need to upgrade our building and grounds. The projects for which the capital campaign is being conducted will be completed in three phases. First, we will address the needed repairs to the rectory and the replacement of all the windows in Monsignor Costa hall. (This has already begun). The second phase will be the restoration of the interior of the Church. The third phase will be the repaving, restriping of the parking lot and the upgrading of our landscaping. This is an exciting time as we remember-restore and renew our buildings and grounds for the future generations.
The so called quiet phase of the campaign began shortly after Easter and I am happy to report that we are off to a great start in raising the 2.8 million dollars that will be needed for these capital projects. During the quiet phase I met with individuals and small groups to discuss our great project. I was so pleased with the enthusiastic response of so many. After our parish Picnic in September every parishioner will be invited to meetings at which I will explain in further detail what our plans are, with particular emphasis on the Church. Many may recall that I wrote over 15 articles in 2016 about the Church building and its importance and meaning as the gate of Heaven and the Vestibule of Eternity.
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda