Whenever I am in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in D.C., I try to stop by the chapel remembering the life of St. Pius X, whose feast day we celebrate August 21.
The prayer above the kneeler is one that reminds us of what we want and need, what the world needs: “heavenly wisdom and apostolic courage.” I pray for friends in high (so to speak, temporally speaking) places there. I pray for us all.
to defend the Catholic faith
and to make all things new in Christ
you filled St. Pius X
with heavenly wisdom and apostolic courage.
May his example and teaching
lead us to the reward of eternal life.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ Your Son
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit
one God forever and ever.
Similarly, a prayer for today’s Mass is:
O God, who to safeguard the Catholic faith
and to restore all things in Christ,
filled Pope Saint Pius the Tenth
with heavenly wisdom and apostolic fortitude,
that, following his teaching and example,
we may gain an eternal prize.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
A friend sums his papacy up in broad overview:
During his eleven-year pontificate, Pius set himself to “renew all things in Christ.” Few aspects of the Church’s life were left untouched by his pastoral hand. He is remembered particularly for lowering the age for First Communion, promoting the wider use of Gregorian Chant at Mass, combating the effects of Modernism, and developing the Holy See’s relations with modern states. Sorrow for the state of the world gripped Pius’ heart as he passed from it. He died on August 20, 1914, during the outbreak of World War I.
To give you an idea of the kind of man Pius X, born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, was — and why sorrow for the state of the world would grip his heart as he labored and ached for the Church’s renewal and man’s union with God — read the reflection a pastor he worked with as a new priest:
They have sent me as curate a young priest, with orders to mould him to the duties of pastor; in fact, however, the contrary is true. He is so zealous, so full of good sense, and other precious gifts that it is I who can learn much from him. Some day or other he will wear the mitre, of that I am sure. After that—who knows?
As pope, his motto was “to restore all things in Christ.” We do this by living sacramentally. And so he promoted the frequent reception of the Eucharist, our daily bread.
May it transform us to work in His vineyard all the days of our lives.
Today’s Gospel tells us that, as the great series In Conversation with God puts it:
God calls each and every person to his service. Some people receive Christ’s invitation at ‘daybreak,’ in their youth. They have been blessed with a special kind of divine predilection. Others receive Christ’s call ‘later in the day’. Everyone hears the call in different circumstances. The denarius we receive at the end of the day is eternal glory, a participation in the life of God. In addition, we are given an incomparable happiness while here on earth, knowing we are working for the Master, spending our lives for Christ.
To work in God’s vineyard, no matter how old we are, is to collaborate with Christ in the Redemption of the world: spreading good doctrine, in season and out of season; encouraging others to go to the sacrament of Confession; inviting others to follow Christ more closely with our life of prayer; teaching catechism; helping raise funds for new apostolic instruments; leading someone away from a situation that could result in an offence against God; suggesting to others the possibility of a vocation …
Fr. Fernandez, in his Conversation meditation, cites St. Gregory the Great:
Whoever feels called to work in the Lord’s vineyard should indeed “take part in the divine plan of redemption. He should make progress personally towards salvation himself and help others reach this end as well. By helping the others, he acts to save himself.”
It will not be possible to follow Christ if at the same time we fail to transmit the joy of our calling to everyone. “He who is totally absorbed in his own interests has not yet entered into the Lord’s vineyard.” The people who work for Christ are those who are ever vigilant to win new souls. “They are in a hurry to bring others to the vineyard.” There is an urgency about it because our time in life is short.
St. Pius X, pray for us.