Friday, 4 September 2009

The Voice of... Blessed Pius IX (Part IV)

On 2nd February, 1854, Blessed Pius IX issued an Encyclical on the persecution of the Armenians entitled Neminem Vestrum, which was addressed to the the Archbishop Primate, Bishops, Priests and Religious, and to all the Faithful of the Catholic Nation of Armenia in the Province of Constantinople.

"8. We also address all of you, beloved sons, both secular and religious priests. You have given yourselves to the Lord in ministry, as a part of your inheritance. Be subject to each of your bishops, as is fitting. Mindful of your vocation and dignity, strive to maintain them and protect them in seriousness of character and holiness of life, so that you might lead the people to a greater love and veneration of your order and bring about each day an increased growth for the Church. Therefore, you should carefully avoid everything which is prohibited to the clergy, everything which does not befit them. Never allow anything which could present a scandal to others. Take care to show yourselves more and more as a good example in word and unfeigned love, in learning, faith, and chastity. When you are busy in the homes of the people, either from necessity or the compulsion of your sacred ministry, strive to sustain the dignity and greatness of churchmen in all your deeds, so that you might be the good fragrance of Christ, shining with every virtue."

"9. Also keep in mind the decree of Our congregation of August 20 of last year and published by Our order; take care to obey it religiously. All clergymen, both secular and religious, should pray unceasingly. Pray to God without fail that he might always more favorably bestow the abundant gifts of his heavenly grace upon you and the Christian people. Do not cease to refine the study of the religious literature and sacred disciplines with which you might respond to those who seek the law from you and with which you can teach the commandments of God to those who are ignorant and in error."

"10. Beloved sons, seek with a special effort and diligence not what is yours but what is Jesus Christ's. Fulfill piously all the duties of your sacred ministry. Never cease to work together with your bishops in everything in order to obtain the eternal salvation of the faithful. In this way you will promote our holy religion and its teaching, and you will also remove the seeds of discord and bring about a love of Christian harmony and peace for everyone. As all wisdom comes from God, those among you who are wise should never exalt themselves, but rather give humble thanks to the most gracious God, the giver of all good things. They should use learning for their own edification and that of others, for they should seriously consider that God resists the proud but gives His grace to the humble. He will judge more severely whoever has received more than others, for, as St. Gregory the Great wisely warns: "As the gifts increase, the account of those gifts increases. Therefore, everybody should be more humble and quick to serve God as he sees himself more obliged to give account. None of you should ever covet those gifts of others in your ecclesiastical order, gifts from which the spiritual welfare of your neighbor might flow."

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