Thought for the Day – 21 August – the Memorial of St Pope Pius X (1835-1914) – The Pope of the Blessed Sacrament
“Restoring all things in Christ”
As always, it was long hours and wholehearted dedication that made it possible for this outstanding priest to meet so many great responsibilities. A cleric whose room adjoining the canon’s would call out, on hearing Giuseppe moving about late in the night: “Go to bed, Monsignor. He works ill who works too long.” “Quite true, Don Francesco,” would come the response. “Put that into practice; go to bed and sleep well.”
As if he were not already doing far more than enough, Monsignor Sarto chose to give up his evening walk — his only recreation — so that he personally could prepare young boys at the school for their First Holy Communion. The vice-rector, concerned that the holy man was overworking himself, begged him to leave the task for staff workers who had more time. “It is my duty,” countered the Monsignor. “Am I not their spiritual father?” So loving a father was he that, fearing the cold Treviso winters, he had warm cloaks made for the poorer students, paying for them out of his own pocket and enjoining the merchant to keep the matter a secret.
Whether resolving intricate administrative matters or helping a seminarian with a personal problem, Monsignor Sarto’s demeanour was ever that of a humble priest, obediently meeting the obligations charged to him. What is more, he refrained from wearing the customary purple cassock and pectoral cross of the canon, preferring instead to wear — as he did all his life — the simple garb of a priest. For that office by itself was to Giuseppe Sarto a supreme dignity.
His humble background was no obstacle in relating to a personal God and to people whom he loved genuinely. He gained his strength, his gentleness and warmth for people from the source of all gifts, the Spirit of Jesus, the most Holy Eucharist and his ever increasing devotion to the Mother of God and of us all.
In contrast, we often feel embarrassed by our backgrounds. Shame makes us prefer to remain aloof from people whom we perceive as superior. If we are in a superior position, on the other hand, we often ignore simpler people. Yet we, too, have to help “restore all things in Christ,” especially the wounded people of God.