In your country, Venerable Brethren, voices are swelling into a chorus urging people to leave the Church, and among the leaders there is more than one whose official position is intended to create the impression that this infidelity to Christ the King constitutes a signal and meritorious act of loyalty to the modern State. Secret and open measures of intimidation, the threat of economic and civic disabilities, bear on the loyalty of certain classes of Catholic functionaries, a pressure which violates every human right and dignity. Our wholehearted paternal sympathy goes out to those who must pay so dearly for their loyalty to Christ and the Church; but directly the highest interests are at stake, with the alternative of spiritual loss, there is but one alternative left, that of heroism. If the oppressor offers one the Judas bargain of apostasy he can only, at the cost of every worldly sacrifice, answer with Our Lord: “Begone, Satan! For it is written: The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and Him only shalt thou serve” (Matt. iv. 10). And turning to the Church, he shall say: “Thou, my mother since my infancy, the solace of my life and advocate at my death, may my tongue cleave to my palate if, yielding to worldly promises or threats, I betray the vows of my baptism.” As to those who imagine that they can reconcile exterior infidelity to one and the same Church, let them hear Our Lord’s warning: – “He that shall deny me before men shall be denied before the angels of God” (Luke xii. 9).
Pius XI, MIT BRENNENDER SORGE
Fathers Z and Hunwicke remind us why courage is never an optional virtue for Catholics:
Fr. John Hunwicke, at his fine blog Mutual Enrichment, reminds us all that on this liturgical day, Monday of Holy Week, in 1937…
… the Gestapo raided diocesan offices and presbyteries all over Germany. The previous day, Palm Sunday, when the churches were packed, priests all over Germany had read publicly the Encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge [=With Burning Sorrow – Anxiety – Concern] of the Holy Father Pope Pius XI…. It had been smuggled into Germany in the Nuncio’s Diplomatic Bag and secretly printed …; secretly distributed by special couriers and proclaimed in every pulpit. And nobody leaked it; at least, not in time for the government to intervene. It burst upon the Fuehrer and his admirers as the most wonderful surprise. Not many people in the state apparatus will have had much sabbath rest that Sunday, as arrangements were frantically made to secure all copies for destruction.
Mit brennender Sorge is amazing. The letter is a masterpiece of rhetoric, aimed at building the resolve and courage of the whole Church which was experiencing ever greater persecution, ever greater restriction of and violation of religious freedom in direct violation of the concordat, the treaty that the State had legally ratified with the Church. Pius describes the problems that people were enduring and seeks to harden their resolve and console them in their suffering.
His word to young people are to be prized especially in our own day.
Indeed, this letter seems as if it could be aimed at our own decade.
And since letters of this kind are lacking today, when we need them, Mit brenneder Sorge is that much more precious a gift from our forebears!
Every once in a while, I read for you old encyclicals, with the hope that they will come alive for you who have never experienced their content and, especially, their style.
They don’t write them like this anymore!
As you listen, I’ll ask you to imagine yourself in a church in Germany on Palm Sunday 1937.
The horrors of the first world war and the poverty of economic devastation are still raw. The German Riech and National Socialist party is in the ascension. People are being rounded up and disappeared. Schools are being hijacked. Young people are being indoctrinated in evil disciplines. A nationalist paganism is being blended into everything the State does as it represses any rival. Huge numbers of your neighbors are caving or are being swept up by the trends. Society is on the ede of a knife. Hitler and his thugs are driving the Catholic presence from the public square. There had been a treaty a concordat signed between the German Reich and the Church, to guarantee the Church’s freedoms, but it is being systematically and blatantly ignored.
You are afraid… for yourselves, your children, your Church, your nation.
And so, Pius XI issued his encyclical, which had material from several contributers including Eugenio Card. Pacelli, former nuncio to German and future Pope Pius XII along with German Cardinal Michael Faulhaber and von Galen.
Imaginging yourself in the church on that Sunday, listen now to Pius XI’s words, read by the priest from the pulpit of your parish church… Continue reading
The feast of Christ the King is a very new one, although the image of Christ as King is as old as Christianity. Pope Pius XI established the feast with his encyclical Quas Primas in 1925 to remind the World after the horrors of World War I and its aftermath that God was in charge.
This kingdom is spiritual and is concerned with spiritual things. That this is so the above quotations from Scripture amply prove, and Christ by his own action confirms it. On many occasions, when the Jews and even the Apostles wrongly supposed that the Messiah would restore the liberties and the kingdom of Israel, he repelled and denied such a suggestion. When the populace thronged around him in admiration and would have acclaimed him King, he shrank from the honor and sought safety in flight. Before the Roman magistrate he declared that his kingdom was not of this world. The gospels present this kingdom as one which men prepare to enter by penance, and cannot actually enter except by faith and by baptism, which, though an external rite, signifies and produces an interior regeneration. This kingdom is opposed to none other than to that of Satan and to the power of darkness. It demands of its subjects a spirit of detachment from riches and earthly things, and a spirit of gentleness. They must hunger and thirst after justice, and more than this, they must deny themselves and carry the cross.
Prior to the American Revolution an English aristocrat related an incident in a letter. He asked a servant who his master was, and the man responded unhesitatingly: My Lord Jesus Christ! The aristocrat found this hilarious, but the servant was reflecting a very old Christian view.
Christ Pantocrator is one of the more popular images by which Christians pictured, after the edict of Milan, Christ, the Lord of all. This representation ties in nicely with the traditional American cry of “We have no King but Jesus!” which became popular during the American Revolution. At the battle of Lexington the phrase “We recognize no Sovereign but God and no King but Jesus!”, was flung back at Major Pitcairn after he had ordered the militia to disperse.
Our wisest statesman have always remembered that behind the trappings of power of this World that God is ultimately the one who has charge of the fate of nations as well as individuals. Abraham Lincoln was utterly convinced of this as he indicated in a letter to Eliza P. Gurney on September 4, 1864 as the Civil War teetered in the balance:
The purposes of the Almighty are perfect, and must prevail, though we erring mortals may fail to accurately perceive them in advance. We hoped for a happy termination of this terrible war long before this; but God knows best, and has ruled otherwise. We shall yet acknowledge His wisdom and our own error therein. Meanwhile we must work earnestly in the best light He gives us, trusting that so working still conduces to the great ends He ordains. Surely He intends some great good to follow this mighty convulsion, which no mortal could make, and no mortal could stay. Continue reading
No one, surely, Venerable Brothers, can hazard a prediction or foresee in imagination the hour when the good God will bring to an end such calamities. We do know this much: The day will come when the Church of Mexico will have respite from this veritable tempest of hatred, for the reason that, according to the words of God “there is no wisdom, there is no prudence, there is no counsel against the Lord” (Prov. xxi, 30) and “the gates of hell shall not prevail” (Matt. xvi, 18) against the Spotless Bride of Christ.
Pius XI, INIQUIS AFFLICTISQUE
I knew that my viewing of For Greater Glory was going to be something special when two Dominican nuns, in habits, came out of the showing before the one my family and I attended and one of them remarked to me that it was a very powerful film. I replied that we were looking forward to seeing it. Well, that wasn’t completely true. My worldly, jaded 17 year old daughter would much have preferred to have been back home killing zombies online with her internet chums. By the end of the film she was weeping over the scene in which 14 year old Blessed José Sánchez del Río, stunningly portrayed by Mauricio Kuri, was martyred. I did not blame her. I have not been so deeply moved by a film since I saw The Passion of the Christ.
Before we go any farther, I should announce the obligatory spoiler alert. I will be mentioning plot elements that people who have not seen the film might not wish to have revealed to them. For those wishing to continue on, if you have not read my initial post here on the historical background of the Cristeros War, you might find it helpful to look at it before reading this review. Continue reading
ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS XI
ON THE FEAST OF CHRIST THE
TO OUR VENERABLE BRETHREN THE PATRIARCHS, PRIMATES,
BISHOPS, AND OTHER ORDINARIES
IN PEACE AND COMMUNION WITH THE APOSTOLIC
Venerable Brethren, Greeting and the Apostolic
In the first Encyclical Letter which We addressed at
the beginning of Our Pontificate to the Bishops of the universal Church, We
referred to the chief causes of the difficulties under which mankind was
laboring. And We remember saying that these manifold evils in the world were due
to the fact that the majority of men had thrust Jesus Christ and his holy law
out of their lives; that these had no place either in private affairs or in
politics: and we said further, that as long as individuals and states refused to
submit to the rule of our Savior, there would be no really hopeful prospect of a
lasting peace among nations. Men must look for the peace of Christ in the
Kingdom of Christ; and that We promised to do as far as lay in Our power.
In the Kingdom of Christ, that is, it seemed to Us that peace could not
be more effectually restored nor fixed upon a firmer basis than through the
restoration of the Empire of Our Lord. We were led in the meantime to indulge
the hope of a brighter future at the sight of a more widespread and keener
interest evinced in Christ and his Church, the one Source of Salvation, a sign
that men who had formerly spurned the rule of our Redeemer and had exiled
themselves from his kingdom were preparing, and even hastening, to return to the
duty of obedience.
2. The many notable and memorable events which have
occurred during this Holy Year have given great honor and glory to Our Lord and
King, the Founder of the Church.
3. At the Missionary Exhibition men have been deeply
impressed in seeing the increasing zeal of the Church for the spread of the
kingdom of her Spouse to the most far distant regions of the earth. They have
seen how many countries have been won to the Catholic name through the
unremitting labor and self-sacrifice of missionaries, and the vastness of the
regions which have yet to be subjected to the sweet and saving yoke of our King.
All those who in the course of the Holy Year have thronged to this city under
the leadership of their Bishops or priests had but one aim – namely, to expiate
their sins – and at the tombs of the Apostles and in Our Presence to promise
loyalty to the rule of Christ.
4. A still further light of glory was shed upon his
kingdom, when after due proof of their heroic virtue, We raised to the honors of
the altar six confessors and virgins. It was a great joy, a great consolation,
that filled Our heart when in the majestic basilica of St. Peter Our decree was
acclaimed by an immense multitude with the hymn of thanksgiving, Tu Rex
gloriae Christe. We saw men and nations cut off from God, stirring up strife
and discord and hurrying along the road to ruin and death, while the Church of
God carries on her work of providing food for the spiritual life of men,
nurturing and fostering generation after generation of men and women dedicated
to Christ, faithful and subject to him in his earthly kingdom, called by him to
eternal bliss in the kingdom of heaven.
5. Moreover, since this jubilee Year marks the
sixteenth centenary of the Council of Nicaea, We commanded that event to be
celebrated, and We have done so in the Vatican basilica. There is a special
reason for this in that the Nicene Synod defined and proposed for Catholic
belief the dogma of the Consubstantiality of the Onlybegotten with the Father,
and added to the Creed the words “of whose kingdom there shall be no end,”
thereby affirming the kingly dignity of Christ.
6. Since this Holy Year therefore has provided more
than one opportunity to enhance the glory of the kingdom of Christ, we deem it
in keeping with our Apostolic office to accede to the desire of many of the
Cardinals, Bishops, and faithful, made known to Us both individually and
collectively, by closing this Holy Year with the insertion into the Sacred
Liturgy of a special feast of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This
matter is so dear to Our heart, Venerable Brethren, that I would wish to address
to you a few words concerning it. It will be for you later to explain in a
manner suited to the understanding of the faithful what We are about to say
concerning the Kingship of Christ, so that the annual feast which We shall
decree may be attended with much fruit and produce beneficial results in the
future. Continue reading
The must see movie of 2011: Cristiada. When this film comes out I will make it my personal mission to see that as many people view this movie as possible. A movie retelling the heroic struggle of the Cristeros deserves all the support it can get, and I hope it is a box office smash.
The story of the Cristeros is the tale of the attempt by the Mexican government to crush the Catholic Church. Mexico had a long history of anti-clerical political movements prior to the revolution of 1910. However, the Mexican Revolution brought to the fore radical elements that pushed through the Constitution of 1917 with its anti-clerical articles 3, 5, 27 and 130. In his encyclical Iniquis Afflictisque, the first of three encyclicals he wrote condemning the persecution of the Church in Mexico, Pius XI decribed the war against the Church waged by the Mexican government:
In the first place, let us examine the law of 1917, known as the “Political Constitution” of the federated republic of Mexico. For our present purposes it is sufficient to point out that after declaring the separation of Church and State the Constitution refuses to recognize in the Church, as if she were an individual devoid of any civil status, all her existing rights and interdicts to her the ac quisition of any rights whatsoever in the future. The civil authority is given the right to interfere in matters of divine worship and in the external discipline of the Church. Priests are put on the level of professional men and of laborers but with this important difference, that they must be not only Mexicans by birth and cannot exceed a certain number specified by law, but are at the same time deprived of all civil and political rights. They are thus placed in the same class with criminals and the insane. Moreover, priests not only must inform the civil authorities but also a commission of ten citizens whenever they take possession of a church or are transferred to another mission. The vows of religious, religious orders, and religious congregations are outlawed in Mexico. Public divine worship is forbidden unless it take place within the confines of a church and is carried on under the watchful eye of the Government. All church buildings have been declared the property of the state. Episcopal residences, diocesan offices, seminaries, religious houses, hospitals, and all charitable institutions have been taken away from the Church and handed over to the state. As a matter of fact, the Church can no longer own property of any kind. Everything that it possessed at the period when this law was passed has now become the property of the state. Every citizen, moreover, has the right to denounce before the law any person whom he thinks is holding in his own name property for the Church. All that is required in order to make such action legal is a mere presumption of guilt. Priests are not allowed by law to inherit property of any kind except it be from persons closely related to them by blood. With reference to marriage, the power of the Church is not recognized. Every marriage between Catholics is considered valid if contracted validly according to the prescriptions of the civil code.
9. Education has been declared free, but with these important restrictions: both priests and religious are forbidden to open or to conduct elementary schools. It is not permitted to teach children their religion even in a private school. Diplomas or degrees conferred by private schools under control of the Church possess no legal value and are not recognized by the state. Certainly, Venerable Brothers, the men who originated, approved, and gave their sanction to such a law either are totally ignorant of what rights pertain jure divino to the Church as a perfect society, established as the ordinary means of salvation for mankind by Jesus Christ, Our Redeemer and King, to which He gave the full liberty of fulfilling her mission on earth (such ignorance seems incredible today after twenty centuries of Christianity and especially in a Catholic nation and among men who have been baptized, unless in their pride and foolishness they believe themselves able to undermine and destroy the “House of the Lord which has been solidly constructed and strongly built on the living rock”) or they have been motivated by an insane hatred to attempt anything within their power in order to harm the Church. How was it possible for the Archbishops and Bishops of Mexico to remain silent in the face of such odious laws? Continue reading