New Encyclical Letter Of Pius XI
Priestly Vocation Defined
The latest encyclical of Pope Pius XI, Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, issued on December 20, the fifty-sixth anniversary of his entry into the priesthood, must be re
garded as the culmination of a lifetime's preoccupation and as a summary of his previous encyclicals, all of which have had reference to the functions of the priesthood.
Divinilius Magistri viewed the priest as the educator of youth, Cast( Connubii as the defender of marriage, Quadragesimo Anna as the peacemaker in industrial strife and Acerba Animi (against the Mexican persecution) as the first sufferer in attach upon the Church.
The Pope first surveys the history of the priesthood. Even the heathen regarded with a special reverence those whom they Set apart for the celebration of the religious mysteries, but a new dignity was added to the Jewish priest in so far as he was chosen by divine revelation. Nevertheless this priesthood was but a foreshadowing of the infinitely greater, eternal, priesthood of Christ.
An Awful Power The priest of the New Law is given, firstly, an awful power over Christ's real body, secondly, over the Mystical Body in that he dispenses, through the sacraments, the graces of Christ in the Church.
The priest is also a teacher of divine truth and • stands as a lighthouse in the ocean of life to prevent men from being shipwrecked on the rocks of error.
History records the wonderful benefits which priests by their teaching, good works and missionary activities have bestowed on the world. Greater than these are the graces bestowed as a result of the constant and daily prayer of priests in the Divine Office which they are bound to recite.
The dignify of the priest arises from his sacred office and is not dependent on personal qualities: but since he has to deal with holy things he ought himself to be holy.
The Pope therefore describes at length the holiness requisite in the priesthood. Piety or devotion is naturally the first quality necessary. but chastity is closely linked with this, for the priest, assiduous about things of the spirit, must be exalted above bodily appetites.
Abstaining from Secular Affairs Priestly continence must be exercised not only with regard to the body but also in all secular affairs. He whose duty is at the altar of God must not be distracted by worldly ambitions and rivalry and the pursuit of material wealth.
Obedience, too, is a quality essential to all ranks of the clergy, and, finally, learning, not only • theological but even profane (in so far as this Is compatible with his office), is an adornment to the priest.
"So great being the dignity of the Catholic priesthood, so outstanding the spiritual qualities demanded in it, it follows that those who aspire to sacred orders must be instructed in a fashion adapted to this end."
The section describing the proper training of the clergy is perhaps the most interesting in the whole letter. And here we find what seems to be the long-desired authoritative definition of the nature of vocation:
"He who seeks that office for that one noble reason, viz., that he may devote himself to the divine service and the salvation of souls, and at the same time has attained or strives to attain both solid piety and chastity of life with adequate doctrine, he indeed, as is clearly manifest, is called by God to the priestly ministry."
Scholastic Philosophy In the course of studies the Pope stresses
6 especially scholastic philosophy, not only as a preparation for theology but as a mental training for answering the errors of our time.
But the greatest care must be taken in choosing those who will take on these studies. Those superiors who neglect their duty of dismissing the unworthy must be regarded as the cause of all the evils which follow from their neglect.
At the same time true vocations are to be encouraged. and it is most pleasing to see how the apostolate of Catholic Action, by bringing young men into contact with the clergy, is fostering vocations.
The best foundations of all are laid down in a good Christian home and those parents will be severely judged who dissuade their children from following out a true vocation.
Finally, the Pontiff speaks directly to his priests, exhorting them to sanctity and recommending the practice of spiritual exercises, especially the monthly day of recollection. He urges students to prepare themselves carefully for the worthy fulfilment of their sacerdotal duties.
in conclusion, he announces that it will be permitted henceforward, for the greater glory of the priesthood and the obtaining of more abundant fruit from the jubilee year, to say a votive Mass of the Priesthood of Christ on any Thursday when the rubrics allow it, and he imparts the apostolic benediction to all those " who seek and demand it from our common Father."
THE RISK OF WAR
The Pope expressed his anxiety about the risk of a European war when he received the cardinals come to present their Christmas greetings.
His Holiness expressed sorrow that Christmas had not brought peace or words
of peace. The moment, he said, was " darkened by threatening black clouds already tinged with human blood."
" We have truly, in our own way and as much as we could with our very limited possibilities, tried to bring a beneficial contribution to the sad complexity of things. Until recently we really hoped to be able, at this most beautiful season, to bring a tranquil and tranquilising word
" Unfortunately, our hope has not been fulfilled. But that does not mean that we have given up hope. We neither give it up nor lose it. Hope is not only a need but a duty, and one of the deepest virtues of Christianity."
A categorical denial that Italy is buying goods in Germany with the Holy Sec's Peter's Pence has been published in the Vatican newspaper, the Osservatore Romano.
[The excellent article on the Pope and the war by the editor of the Catholic Times (October 25) has been reprinted in leaflet form.]
CATHOLIC TEACHERS' FEDERATION
Annual Conference at Liverpool
The twenty-third annual conference of the Catholic Teachers' Federation was held yesterday (January 2) at Mount Pleasant, Liverpool. Among questions that were discussed was the gdvernrnent's proposals for raising the school-age and its effect on non-provided schools. A full account of the conference will appear in the Catholic Herald next week.
DR. BARTH'S APPEAL
Great interest is taken throughout Switzerland in the appeal addressed recently by Karl Barth in the Basler Nachrichten on behalf of the suffering Christians in Germany. The article has been circulated all over the Germanand French-speaking cantons. Dr. Barth makes a strong denunciation of German State methods in dealing with the churches, and reminds his readers that in the spiritual realm there is no such thing as neutrality.