E Supremi Apostolatus
On the Restoration of All Things in Christ
Pope St. Pius X
This encyclical was the first of Pius the Tenth’s pontificate. It is a very strong and powerful one. The message can be best summed up in the phrase “Instaurare Omnia In Christo,” i.e. “to restore all things in Christ.” Indeed the Pope says, “The interests of God shall be Our interest, and for these We are resolved to spend all Our strength and Our very life. Hence, should anyone ask Us for a symbol as the expression of Our will, We will give this and no other: 'To renew all things in Christ'” (#4).
The pope begins the encyclical by admitting that he had reservations about assuming the pontificate, because as a bishop he was already gravely aware of his obligations. However, he realized that God’s Will had guided him to such a pass, and he accepted the task.
He quickly moves on to outline his program for restoring the Faith. He has no illusions about the state of society. He says, “Who can fail to see that society is at the present time, more than in any past age, suffering from a terrible and deep-rooted malady which, developing every day and eating into its inmost being, is dragging it to destruction?” (#3) He further stresses that true peace can only be found in Christ:
There are many…who, in their yearning for peace…band themselves
into societies and parties, which they style parties of order. Hope and
labor lost. For there is but one party of order capable of restoring peace
in the midst of all this turmoil, and that is the party of God.
The pope then logically moves to the visible arm of God in the world, the Church. Once again the Pope is ambitious:
…to restore to their ancient place of honor the most holy laws and
counsels of the gospel; to proclaim aloud the truths taught by the
Church, and her teachings on the sanctity of marriage, on the
education and discipline of youth, on the possession and use of
property, the duties that men owe to those who rule the State; and
lastly to restore equilibrium between the different classes of society
according to Christian precept and custom.
Through the Church the Holy Father plans on a three-pronged attack: proper formation of priests, proper catechism, and proper work for the laity. In regards to the forming of souls, the Holy Father says, “We proclaim in the most open manner possible, that Our preference is, and ever will be, for those…who dedicate themselves more closely to the welfare of souls through the exercise of those ministries proper to a priest zealous of the divine glory” (#11).
His call to the laity is strong as well: “The times we live in demand action…which consists entirely in observing with fidelity and zeal the divine laws and the precepts of the Church, in the frank and open profession of religion, in the exercise of every kind of charitable works, without regard to self-interest or worldly advantage” (#14).
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