Friday, 26 November 2010

The Voice of... Pope Benedict XV (Part IV)

On 23rd May, 1920, Pope Benedict XV issued his Encyclical Pacem, Dei Munus Pulcherrimum to the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, and Ordinaries in Peace and Communion with the Holy See on Peace and Christian Reconciliation:

"13. Therefore, Venerable Brethren, We pray you and exhort you in the mercy and charity of Jesus Christ, strive with all zeal and diligence not only to urge the faithful entrusted to your care to abandon hatred and to pardon offences; but, and what is more immediately practical, to promote all those works of Christian benevolence which bring aid to the needy, comfort to the afflicted and protection to the weak, and to give opportune and appropriate assistance of every kind to all who have suffered from the war. It is Our especial wish that you should exhort your priests, as the ministers of peace, to be assiduous in urging this love of one's neighbour and even of enemies which is the essence of the Christian life, and by "being all things to all men" [I Cor. ix 22.] and giving an example to others, wage war everywhere on enmity and hatred, thus doing a thing most agreeable to the loving Heart of Jesus and to him who, however unworthy, holds His place on earth. In this connection Catholic writers and journalists should be invited to clothe themselves "as elect of God, holy and beloved, with pity and kindness." [Col. iii, i2] Let them show this charity in their writings by abstaining not only from false and groundless accusations but also from all intemperance and bitterness of language, all of which is contrary to the law of Christ and does but reopen sores as yet unhealed, seeing that the slightest touch is a serious irritant to a heart whose wounds are recent."

Friday, 19 November 2010

The Voice of... Pope Benedict XV (Part III)

On 15th September, 1920, Pope Benedict XV published his Encyclical Spiritus Paraclitus the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, and Ordinaries in Union with the Apostolic See on St. Jerome:

"45. If, then, St. Jerome begs for assiduous reading of the Bible by the faithful in general, he insists on it for those who are called to "bear the yoke of Christ" and preach His word. His words to Rusticus the monk apply to all clerics:

"So long as you are in your own country regard you cell as your orchard; there you can gather Scripture's various fruits and enjoy the pleasures it affords you. Always have a book in your hands and read it; learn the Psalter by heart; pray unceasingly; watch over your senses lest idle thoughts creep in.[76] Similarly to Nepotian:

"Constantly read the Bible; in fact, have it always in your hands. Learn what you have got to teach. Get firm hold of that "faithful word that is according to doctrine, that you may be able to exhort in sound doctrine and convince the gainsayers."[S. Jerome, Epist. ad Nepotianum, 52, 7, 1; cf. Tit. 1:9.]

"When reminding Paulinus of the lessons St. Paul gave to Timothy and Titus, and which he himself had derived from the Bible, Jerome says:

"A mere holy rusticity only avails the man himself; but however much a life so meritorious may serve to build up the Church of God, it does as much harm to the Church if it fails to "resist the gainsayer." Malachias the Prophet says, or rather the Lord says it by Malachias: "Ask for the Law from the priests." For it is the priest's duty to give an answer when asked about the Law. In Deuteronomy we read: "Ask thy father and he will tell thee; ask the priests and they will tell thee. . ." Daniel, too, at the close of his glorious vision, declares that "the just shall shine like stars and they that are learned as the brightness of the firmament." What a vast difference, then, between a righteous rusticity and a learned righteousness! The former likened to the stars; the latter to the heavens themselves![Id. Epist. ad Paulinum, 53, 3 3.]

"He writes ironically to Marcella about the "self-righteous lack of education" noticeable in some clerics, who "think that to be without culture and to be holy are the same thing, and who dub themselves 'disciples of the fisherman'; as though they were holy simply because ignorant!"[Id. Epsit. as Marcellam, 27, i, 2.]

"Nor is it only the "uncultured" whom Jerome condemns. Learned clerics sin through ignorance of the Bible; therefore he demands of them an assiduous reading of the text.

"46. Strive, then, Venerable Brethren, to bring home to your clerics and priests these teachings of the Sainted Commentator. You have to remind them constantly of the demands made by their divine vocation if they would be worthy of it: "The lips of the priest shall keep knowledge, and men shall ask the Law at his mouth, for he is the Angel of the Lord of hosts" (Mal. 2:7). They must realize, then, that they cannot neglect study of the Bible, and that this can only be undertaken along the lines laid down by Leo XIII in his Encyclical Providentissimus Deus.[Leo Xlll, Providentissimus Deus; cf. Ench. Bibl., n. 100-132.] They cannot do this better than by frequenting the Biblical Institute established by our predecessor, Pius X, in accordance with the wishes of Leo XIII. As the experience of the past ten years has shown, it has proved a great gain to the Church. Not all, however, can avail themselves of this. It will be well, then, Venerable Brethren, that picked men, both of the secular and regular clergy, should come to Rome for Biblical study. All will not come with the same object. Some, in accordance with the real purpose of the Institute, will so devote themselves to Biblical study that "afterwards, both in private and in public, whether by writing or by teaching, whether as professors in Catholic schools or by writing in defense of Catholic truth, they may be able worthily to uphold the cause of Biblical study." Others, however, already priests, will obtain here a wider knowledge of the Bible than they were able to acquire during their theological course; they will gain, too, an acquaintance with the great commentators and with Biblical history and geography. Such knowledge will avail them much in their ministry; they will be "instructed to every good work."[Pius X, Vinea electa, May 7, 1909; cf. A.A.S., I (1909) 447-451; Ench. Bibl., n. 300.]"

Friday, 12 November 2010

The Voice of... Pope Benedict XV (Part II)

On 15th June, 1917, Pope Benedict XV promulgated his Encyclical Humani Generis Redemptionem to the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, and Other Ordinaries in Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See on Preaching the Word of God:

"21. 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]"

Friday, 5 November 2010

The Voice of... Pope Benedict XV (Part I)

On 1st November, 1914, Pope Benedict XV wrote his Encyclical Letter Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum to the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, and Other Local Ordinaries in Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See appealing for Peace:

"27. Now, in order that all these recommendations should have the results We hope for, you know, Venerable Brethren, how necessary is the prudent and assiduous work of those whom Christ our Lord sends as "labourers into His harvest," that is to say the clergy. Remember, therefore, that your chief care must be to foster in the holiness which becomes them the clergy you already possess, and worthily to form your ecclesiastical students for so sacred an office by the very best available education and training. And although your carefulness in this respect calls for no stimulus, nevertheless We exhort and even implore you to give the matter your most careful attention. Nothing can be of greater importance for the good of the Church; but as Our Predecessors of happy memory, Leo XIII and Pius X, have definitely written on this subject, there is no need of further counsels from Us. We only beg of you that the writings of those wise pontiffs, and especially Pius X's "Exhortation to the Clergy," should, thanks to your insistent admonitions, not be forgotten, but ever attended to carefully.

"28. There remains one matter which must not be passed over in silence, and that is, to remind the priests of the whole world, as Our most dear sons, how absolutely necessary it is, for their own salvation, and for the fruitfulness of their sacred ministry, that they should be most closely united with their Bishop and most loyal to him. The spirit of insubordination and independence, so characteristic of our times, has, as We deplored above, not entirely spared the ministers of the Sanctuary. It is not rare for pastors of the Church to find sorrow and contradiction where they had a right to look for comfort and help. Let those who have so unfortunately failed in their duty, recall to their minds again and again, that the authority of those whom "the Holy Spirit hath placed as Bishops to rule the Church of God" (Acts xx. 28) is a divine authority. Let them remember that if, as we have seen, those who resist any legitimate authority, resist God, much more impiously do they act who refuse to obey the Bishop, whom God has consecrated with a special character by the exercise of His power. "Since charity," wrote St. Ignatius Martyr, "doth not suffer me to be silent concerning you, therefore was I forward to exhort you, that you run in harmony with the mind of God: for Jesus Christ also, our inseparable life, is the mind of the Father, even as the bishops that are settled in the farthest parts of the earth are in the mind of Jesus Christ. So then it becometh you to run in harmony with the mind of the bishop" (Ep. ad Ephes. iii.). These words of the illustrious Martyr are re-echoed throughout the ages by the Fathers and Doctors of the Church."