Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!
One Hundredth Anniversary of Pascendi Dominici gregis—September 8th AD 1907
Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost—9 September AD 2007

TIME Magazine, "The Triumph of Modernism" -  28 July 1967
"Whatever their specific errors—and most of their writings look terribly dated today—the modernists have a fair claim to be regarded as genuine precursors of the Second Vatican Council."


[Ordinary of the Mass]
[English Text]
[Latin Text]

[Oath Against Modernism]

    Yesterday was the observance of the Nativity or Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  It was also the one hundredth anniversary of the issuance of the encyclical Pascendi Dominici gregis by Pope Saint Pius X in 1907.  Saint Pius’ feast fell on Sunday, a year and a week ago, so I am going to be content with reminding you of only a few things in his life, in order to spend most of our time on this all important encyclical, intended to preserve the Catholic Faith without destructive modern alteration.

    In contrast to many of the Popes who have come from the influential families of Europe, Giuseppe Melchior Sarto was born—one of ten children—into modest circumstances, the son of a postman, and of a mother who took in sewing to help with the household expenses.  His life spanned the tumultuous period in history that included the masonic revolutions that deprived the Church of Her extensive lands in central Italy, and ended just as the great powers began the First World War.  His higher education was modest for a man of such great intellectual achievements—he studied Latin with the parish priest, attended the secondary school in his home town of Veneto, and won a scholarship to the seminary at Padua, completing his course work with distinction.

    Ordained at the age of twenty-three, he took over most of the functions of the parish pastor, who was quite ill, and devoted his spare time to the study of scholastic theology and canon law.  Over the years he became well known for his efforts, restoring a church here, expanding a hospital there, tending the sick during epidemics, teaching the faith to the students who were forced to attend public schools, reorganizing the seminaries, and instituting social programs to enable the working people to look after their own economic needs.  He was the author of a catechism intended to serve the needs of lay people, children and adults.  He certainly could be called a man of the people, while equally being a man of God.

    Pope Pius called on the Catholic faithful to receive Holy Communion more frequently, making the Eucharistic Fast more reasonable, and allowing children to receive at a younger age.  Pope Pius is well known for his efforts in “restoring the use of the Gregorian Chant by the people, so that the faithful may again take a more active part in the ecclesiastical offices, as was the case in ancient times”—requiring the liturgical texts to be sung “without alteration or ... undue repetition ... always in a manner intelligible to the faithful who listen.”[1]

    Saint Pius’ papal motto was “Instauráre ómnia in Christo —to restore all things in Christ.”  As he explained in his first encyclical:  “to restore all things in Christ, and to lead men back to submission to God, is one and the same aim....  God's supreme dominion over man and all things is imposed upon us not only as a natural duty, but by our common interest.”[2]  Man is made for God, knowing and doing God’s will is at the root of human peace, prosperity, and well-being.  Again, Pope Saint Pius was a man of the people, while equally being a man of God.

    Now, as I mentioned at the beginning, Pope Pius will always be remembered among the saints who have labored mightily to preserve the authentic Catholic Faith.  Pius X was Pope long enough after the mistaken philosophical ideas of the “Enlightenment” and Freemasonry poisoned the thinking of  Western Civilization, and these false philosophies began even to sneak their way into the intelligentsia of the Church.  It may be Pope Saint Pius’ most memorable deed, that he condemned this collection of contemporary errors under the collective title of “Modernism,” which he called “the synthesis of all heresies.”[3] 

    In the encyclical, Pope Pius uses three terms to describe the Modernists:  “agnostic,” “immanentist,” and “evolutionist.”[4]  By “agnostic,” he means that the Modernist is one who believes in nothing other than the experiences of the senses—if something cannot be seen, touched, tasted, or smelled, it is simply unreal.  There is no spirit, no soul, no supernatural.  There can be no miracles, no divine grace.  “Vice” and “virtue,” “good” and “evil” are nothing but labels to describe human feelings about things.  Indeed, all abstractions—words like “mankind” and “human nature” even the “nature of a cat or a dog”—are merely labels used in speech to group the phenomena observed by the senses.

    Everything is ambiguous.  The Modernist has no qualms about stating both truth and falsity about the same things, in the same document, sermon, or speech.

    Man, the “acting person” defines himself by what he does and whom he influences—there is no “essence,” no “human nature,” and certainly no “soul infused by God.”  Theology, philosophy, biblical criticism, and history must exclude anything and everything not detectable by the senses.  There is no such thing as truth—not just that it is difficult to know the truth, but that there is no such thing, even in the mind of God—for according to Modernism, “God is not real.”

    By “immanentist,” Pope Pius meant that the Modernist refused all transcendent concepts—there is no God, no divine providence, no eternal will of God, no afterlife—no nothing “over and above” the natural world.  Everything that is real is bound up in the material world of the senses.  If man has a concept of spirit, or a belief in God, or a concept of good and evil, these are mere psychological sentiments in the material mind of a material person.  If a society (even the Church) has a set of religious beliefs, these are nothing more than collective psychology or sociology—a “consensus” expressed in symbols that religious people call dogmas or doctrines.

    To the Modernist, the religious sentiments of one man are as good as those of any other;  the beliefs of one society are as good as those of any other;  the dogmas and doctrines of one religion are as good as those of any other.  After all, religious sentiments, beliefs, dogmas and doctrines are merely the psychological products of material minds—there can be no “right,” “wrong,” “better,” or “worse.”

    Finally, Pope Pius described Modernism as “evolutionist.”  The world is constantly changing, and along with it change those abstract concepts and beliefs held in the material minds of persons and societies.  Over time, people view things differently and adopt different sentiments and develop sentiments about new things.  As the population changes over time, the “consensus” changes, and what are called “dogmas” or “doctrines” must also change in order to reflect what society and its people believe at the present moment.  The Modernist speaks of “living tradition,” which means a constantly changing tradition, with no relationship to objective truth.

    The Modernist accepts the idea that in any society there will be people who wish to change more slowly or to change not at all—the so-called “conservatives” or “traditionalists” who tend to identify with institutions like the Church.  As well, there will be “progressives” among those who are more closely in contact with the “real problems” of life.  “Change and advances” in the consensus will come about “by covenant and compromise between these two forces of conservation and progress.”[5]

    Pope Pius doesn’t identify it as such, but this continual “change and advance” brought about by the interaction of the “two forces of conservation and progress” is the “dialectic” of Hegel and Marx.  Indeed, without anything supernatural or transcendent, it corresponds well to the “dialectic materialism” of the latter.  It is at the root of the endless “dialogue” of which the post-Vatican II Modernists are so boastfully proud.

    Rightly, this is “the synthesis of all heresies” in that Modernism denies us the ability to ever know God who is unchanging, or to properly relate to our neighbor through God’s never changing moral law.  Pope Saint Pius’ ideas are even more important today, in our world, for Modernism has spread like wildfire through our political society and even through the Catholic Church.

    Modern critics accuse Saint Pius of seeing conspiracies where none existed—in reality, if anything is missing from the encyclical, it is an even stronger warning that the secret societies of the devil were penetrating more and more deeply into the Church and up to the highest levels of the hierarchy.  He might have quoted the words of his predecessor, the saintly Pope Leo XIII:

    In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered.[6]

    The encyclical Pascendi Dominici gregis is as worth reading today as it was a hundred years ago.  It is in print in that wonderful book from TAN, The Popes Against Modern Errors, which you can get from our bookrack or direct from TAN.[7]  The encyclical, by itself is also on the Internet on a number of websites.[8]  You may find it in pamphlet form as well.

    In celebrating this one-hundredth anniversary, let us call upon the holy pontiff, Saint Pius X, to place before our Lord and Lady our petition to help us undo the evils of Modernism; our petition to “Instauráre ómnia in Christo —to restore all things in Christ.”

Text of Pope Saint Pius X' Encyclical Pascendi Dominici gregis - 8 December AD 1907
On the Doctrine of the Modernists

Text of Pope Saint Pius X' Encyclical Lamentabili sane - 4 July AD 1907
Syllabus Condemning the Errors of the Modernists

The Oath Against Modernism
Declared on 1 September 1910 by His Holiness Pope Saint Pius X, to be required of all to be ordained to major orders, pastors, confessors, preachers, superiors, and professors of philosophy or theology.

Mass of the Feast of Pope Saint Pius X

Mass of the Feast of Pope Saint Pius X

The Catholic Encyclopedia s.v. "Pope Pius X"

Jean Baptiste Lemius (1851-1938), Catechism on Modernism according to the encyclical 'Pascendi dominici gregis' of his Holiness Pius X (1908)

John Vennari, "Modernism in a Nutshell" - Catholic Family News August AD 2003


[1]  Pius X, motu proprio Tra le Sollecitudini   22 November 1903 para 3 and 9.

[2]  Pope Saint Pius X, encyclical E supremi apostolatus 4 October 1903, para 8 and    7.

[3]  Pope Saint Pius X, encyclical Pascendi Dominici gregis, 8 September 1907, para 39.

[4]   Pope Saint Pius X, Pascendi Dominici gregis, para 34.

[5]   Pope Saint Pius X, Pascendi Dominici gregis,  para 27.





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