Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Wise and Fools

More than a hundred years ago (1904), Pope Pius X was lamenting about the world that has grown tired of the light of the Christian faith and has engaged in an outright rejection of the supernatural order which is falsely regarded as knowledge. The rejection of the existence of God, of the Divinity of Jesus, his Incarnation and his Resurrection, the supernatural origin of the Church, and the other dogmas of holy religion is deemed intellectually fashionable and those who are swayed by such modern erudition find themselves losing their faith or at least, feel that their faith is shaken. So many so–called “enlightened” people “now shout around Us proclaiming that the Church has gone beyond her time, that her doctrines are passed away for ever, that the day is at hand when she will be condemned either to accept the tenets of a godless science and civilization or to disappear from human society.” (Pius X, Iucunda Sane, 9.) To those men who arrogantly bask in their new-found “intelligence” Pope Pius applied the words of St. Paul: “it is painful to have to apply to men not lacking in acumen and application the rebuke addressed by St. Paul to those who fail to rise from earthly things to the things that are invisible: ‘They became vain in their thoughts and their foolish heart was darkened; for professing themselves to be wise they became fools’ (Rom. i. 21, 22). And surely foolish is the only name for him who consumes all his intellectual forces in building upon sand.” (Pius X, Iucunda Sane, 18.)

The wise and the learned in the ways of the world turn out to be the real fools, deprived of the wisdom of Christ. For all their arrogance and erudite arguments, they have not received the secrets which the Lord reveals only to the little ones: “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you have revealed them to little children.” What the world-wise people regard as valuable information turn out to be trivialities for the Lord – knowledge that does not save nor gives eternal life. And they are going to oblivion where their predecessor are now: “Kingdoms and empires have passed away; peoples once renowned for their history and civilization have disappeared; time and again the nations, as though overwhelmed by the weight of years, have fallen asunder; while the Church, indefectible in her essence, united by ties indissoluble with her heavenly Spouse, is here today radiant with eternal youth, strong with the same primitive vigor with which she came from the Heart of Christ dead upon the Cross. Men powerful in the world have risen up against her. They have disappeared, and she remains. Philosophical systems without number, of every form and every kind, rose up against her, arrogantly vaunting themselves her masters, as though they had at last destroyed the doctrine of the Church, refuted the dogmas of her faith, proved the absurdity of her teachings. But those systems, one after another, have passed into books of history, forgotten, bankrupt; while from the Rock of Peter the light of truth shines forth as brilliantly as on the day when Jesus first kindled it on His appearance in the world, and fed it with His Divine words: ‘Heaven and earth shall pass, but my words shall not pass’ (Matth. xxiv. 35).” (Iucunda Sane, 8.)

Anyone who wishes to receive the wisdom that counts must turn to Jesus who said: “Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” “No one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” And to whom did the Son reveal the Father? He revealed the Father to the Church – to his disciples whom he called his friends “for I have revealed to you everything I received from the Father.” Mankind can learn from Christ only by turning to the Church. We need to be reminded of “the absolute necessity of having recourse to this Church in order to have eternal salvation, to follow the right road of reason, to feed on the truth, to obtain peace and even happiness in this life.” (Iucunda Sane, 9.) “Wherefore, to use the words of the Holy Pontiff (Gregory the Great), ‘Turn your steps towards this unshaken rock upon which Our Savior founded the Universal Church, so that the path of him who is sincere of heart may not be lost in devious windings’ (Reg. viii. 24, ad Sabin. episcop.). It is only the charity of the Church and union with her which ‘unite what is divided, restore order where there is confusion, temper inequalities, fill up imperfections’ (Registr. v. 58 (53) ad Virgil. episcop.). It is to be firmly held ‘that nobody can rightly govern in earthly things, unless he knows how to treat divine things, and that the peace of States depends upon the universal peace of the Church’ (Registr. v. 37 (20) ad Mauric. Aug.).” (Iucunda Sane, 10.)

As for ourselves, it would do us well to keep in mind what St. Paul said to the Romans: “You are not in the flesh; on the contrary you are in the Spirit…We are not debtors to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Let us learn not from the world but from the Lord who is meek and humble of heart. In him let us find our rest for his yoke is easy and his burden is light.

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