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Pope Pius X, wikipedia, public domain

Pope Pius X, wikipedia, public domain

Saint Pius X: “The Pope of the Catechism”, by card. Beniamino Stella

“Let us not lose heart…”

<ROME>, AUGUST 22, 2017 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal, Beniamino Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy remembered “The Pope of the Catechism” — Saint Pius X (June 2, 1835 – August  20, 1914)  — at Riese (Italy), on August 21, 2017, during mass, on the occasion of the Italian Pope’s liturgical feast.

L’Osservatore Romano publishes extracts of his meditation in its August 23 Italian daily Edition.

“Little Joseph Sarto became a Saint not by doing extraordinary things, but by allowing himself to be forged in his mind and heart by the love of the Lord,” underlined Cardinal Stella.

“Looking at Saint Pius X, let us not lose heart,” he said. “Holiness is not an end for a few, but it is the way to which the Lord invites each one of us, to fill our life with joy, even if we have to measure ourselves every day against our frailties and weaknesses.”

Riese Pio X (regularly shortened Riese) is a municipality in northeast Italy located in the province of Treviso in the Region of Veneto.

The community’s name, much like that of Sotto il Monte Giovanni XXIII, commemorates its most famous son, Giuseppe Sarto, who later became Pope Pius X (Italian: Pio X).

Cardinal Stella brought Pope Francis’ gifts: three letters addressed to Pius X’s brother Angelo, a set of cutlery used when he was a cardinal, various garments, an autographed photo and a photo of his brother that belonged to Pius X.

Mrs. Anna Maria Caratelli, daughter of Ada Marsili, granddaughter of Angelo Sarto, had given them to Pope Francis.  The gifts will be displayed in the parish church, which is also a sanctuary dedicated to Pius X. They will be placed behind the main altar.

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The Pope of the Catechism

When we venerate the Saints and entrust ourselves to their intercession, we live the experience of the closeness of the Lord, who takes care of us through the help of some of his children. I stress the word closeness because – we must admit it – we often think of sanctity as something abstract, a distant perfection, too distant from the frailty of our human flesh. So we end up by seeing the Saints as impeccable figures who, however, have not much to do with our humanity, kneaded with work and daily sweat. Sanctity becomes an unreachable goal and, to justify ourselves somewhat, we often say: “I’m not a saint!”

It’s true; none of us is a saint. Yet sanctity is the great vocation to which God calls each one of us. It doesn’t consist in being perfect or in exhibiting extraordinary works but, primarily, in letting God’s grace act in us, namely, by opening ourselves to Him to enable Him to transform our heart. It’s not a question of never making a mistake or of not experiencing falls – something, moreover, which is impossible – but of remaining always ready, even in the darkest moments, for an encounter with the Lord.

Little Joseph Sarto became a Saint not by doing extraordinary things, but by allowing himself to be forged in his mind and heart by the love of the Lord. Already as a child, here at Riese, in the lively parish community, he learned to “respond” to the Mass and he took part with attention and vivacity in the catechism. At that time, he couldn’t have imagined that the Lord would make him a great Pastor of the universal Church, entrusting him also with the task to proclaim the Christian faith in fact through a catechism.

Taking up this evening’s Liturgy of the Word, I add that to be saints means concretely two things: to give God the primacy, rejecting all idolatry; to sell everything to follow the Lord, remaining His disciples. To allow ourselves to be transformed by the encounter with the Lord, we must face every day a spiritual battle, in which we renounce all idols that want to take their place in our heart. As this evening’s First Reading tells us, the real sin of the people of Israel was idolatry. In moments of weakness or of need, the Israelites forgot the Lord’s benefits and turned to other gods.

Come to think of it, this is the sin that has always characterized the heart of man and of society. Today also, old and new idolatries are substituted for God.

To remain faithful to the Lord and to allow Him to transform our life is possible only if we don’t let ourselves be seduced by idols. Too often, the joy and consolation of the Gospel have no hold on us because we adore other gods in our heart: our ‘I,’ the ideas to which we are attached, the reasons why we don’t want to give up material goods, putting ourselves and our personal interests always at the center. In fine, other idolatries such as the obsessive quest for money and power, or the myth of efficiency, also wound our society and make us unable to live in a just and habitable world.

At bottom, the rich young man of this evening’s Gospel must clash with that obstacle that impedes him from opening his heart feely to Jesus: riches so occupy his heart as to paralyze him and make him sad, when the Lord asks him for a leap forward, one more courageous step to pass from the simple observance of the Law to becoming a disciple. To be disciples, in fact, requires poverty, understood not only as the sharing of material goods, but also as a space of interior freedom to be able to follow the Lord. One is a disciple only when, freely abandoning one’s securities, one opens willingly to an encounter with God and with brothers.

It’s lovely that, in the circumstance of this patronal feast, you are opening here at Riese the House of Charity, which will be a place of hospitality and service for the poor. In fact, of what use would it be to cultivate worship and piety, to pray, to offer supplications and vows to our holy Patron, if then we are not prepared to follow the Lord Jesus with our life and to have His compassionate and supportive heart with one who is in need? Jesus said it to this rich man and also to us: sell what you have and give it to the poor. It means to strip yourself of yourself, of the claim of always having everything and of being at the center, to learn to receive the joy that comes from being able to share time, listening, love and the things of the earth with brothers who are close, especially with one who is alone, abandoned, disheartened, suffering or poor.

Beloved, looking at Saint Pius X let us not lose heart. Holiness is not an end for a few, but it is the way to which the Lord invites each one of us, to fill our life with joy, even if we have to measure ourselves every day agaisnt our frailties and weaknesses, if we are weighed down by many daily problems, if, sometimes, we are also kidnapped by the fascination of idolatry and we yield to the thought that wealth, power, being in the first place are the source of our happiness, even if small and great situations of our personal, family and social life weigh on us and discourage us, we must continue to open ourselves with trust to the Lord, who is the custodian of our life and doesn’t let us waver.

© Translation by ZENIT, Virginia Forrester

About Cardinal Beniamino Stella

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