Today, 21 Aug 2012, is the feast day of St Pius X, who was Pope from August 1903 until his death in August 1914. Although this holy Pope did many wonderful things during his pontificate, he is probably best remembered for lowering the age at which children could make their first Holy Communion.
The following extract is abridged from Chapter 30, of ‘Flame of White, a life of Saint Pius X’, by William Hunermann, c.1959…
“On August 8, 1910, Pope Pius X announced the solemn decree ‘Quam singular Christus amore,’ commanding that all priests over the whole world should admit children to Holy Communion as soon as they were able to distinguish Eucharistic bread from common food. The whole world received the decree with great joy. Especially happy were the young souls for whom the Pope opened the tabernacle. Although there arose some voices that expressed fear lest reverence for the Holy Sacrament be lessened if little children were admitted, the Pope knew that his way was God’s way. Above all he was consoled by the numberless letters that came to him from the little ones all over the world. Again and again he read them with tears of consolation.
‘Just see, Giovanni, what this little girl writes to me,’ he said with eyes sparkling. “At times after Communion, I feel as if my Father pressed me to His heart; I am so happy that I cannot say a word. But dear Jesus knows how much I love Him.” Oh, friend, what bishop in the world could have spoken more beautifully about the meeting of the Lord in Holy Communion?’
Each year he invited the First Communicants of Rome to the Vatican. In the Cordile della Pigna the Holy Father was surrounded by a vast crowd of little ones. From an elevation he spoke to them with deep love, asking them to be always true to Jesus and never allow Him to depart from their hearts. ‘Will you do that?’ he called to them.
‘Yes,Yes,’ rang the chorus of radiant children.
‘And of course you will help me pray. The Pope has many big cares; but you will help me pray when Jesus comes to your heart?’
‘Yes, yes – yes, Papa,’ promised the little ones. Some attempted to climb up on the platform. He helped one girl and one boy get on the dais. It seemed as though that moment was being repeated when Jesus drew the Palestinian children about him and caressed and blessed them. Again, the Pope asked them if they would love Jesus all their lives. The answer was a thundering ‘yes’. But the little girl near the Holy Father pressed close and said, ‘Yes, Jesus.’
Even the masters of ceremony, who were displeased at first when they saw the children, became so touched that tears were visible in their eyes. They saw Christ’s love in action and admitted the result.
‘We will come again, Holy Father; we will come again,’ called the children as Pius X dismissed them with his blessing. Nothing in those days gave the Pope more consolation than audiences with children. He rejoiced over their visit many days ahead of time.
‘When I am dead,’ he often said to Don Bressan, ‘I shall still desire to have First Communicants come to me. Bring them to my coffin and even from my grave I will bless them.’ ”
The rest of ‘Flame of White, a life of Saint Pius X’ is well worth reading, and will give you a deep love and respect for this true servant of Jesus.
Note: Rome is a long way to go, to where St Pius X is buried in St Peter’s Basilica, but should you ever visit Port Macquarie in NSW or the Gold Coast in QLD, there are two places you could pray to receive this promised blessing. At Port Macquarie there is a chapel dedicated to St Francis of Assisi which is part of the Catholic Retirement Village. Inside the chapel, near the statue of St Francis is a little box, it contains a little relic of St Francis of Assisi and a little relic of St Pius X. At Marian Valley, www.marianvalley.org , at 2541 Beechmont Road, Canungra QLD (about a 40 minute drive from Surfer’s Paradise) there is a little outdoor chapel dedicated to St Pius X containing a life-sided bust of him.
Another story about St Pius X goes like this : St Pius X was once speaking to the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament. This is what he said to them. ‘Holy Communion is the shortest and surest way to Heaven. There are others, innocence for instance, but that is for little children; penance, but we are afraid of it; generous endurance of the trials of life, but when they approach us we weep and pray to be delivered. Once for all, beloved children, the surest, easiest, shortest way is by the Holy Eucharist. It is so easy to approach the Holy Table, and there we taste the joys of Paradise.’
To the intercession of St Pius X we entrust all of the young and not-so-young that we have prepared to receive Holy Communion for the first time, and all of those that the good Lord will sent to us in the future. May our young girls and boys fall in love with Jesus and always remain faithful to Him, as was St Pius X’s dearest wish.
St Pius X, pray for us.