Thursday, April 30, 2015

Memorial of Saint Pius V, pope

(Acts 13:13-25; John 13:16-20)

For a while the Council of Trent seemed to fall out of favor in the minds of many twentieth century Catholics.  After all, Trent standardized the liturgy to the extent that the common person not knowing Latin could hardly participate in it.  More recent views, however, sees Trent as one of the most effective ecumenical councils in history.  It reformed Church thought and practice when it was being severely tested.  Today the Church celebrates the man who executed those reforms, the Dominican Pope St. Pius V.

Pius was elected pope two years after the end of the council.  One of his priorities was to eliminate extravagance in the papal court.  Another was to assure the clergy reside in their parishes.  He also – to the chagrin of many today -- bolstered the Inquisition and suffered little tolerance for French Protestants and the English queen.  Today Pius V is best remembered for forming the Holy League which stopped the advance of the Ottoman Empire in Europe.  Pius credited the naval victory of Don Juan of Austria at Lepanto in the Greek Mediterranean to the intercession of the Virgin Mary and named the day of the victory, October 7, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

In today’s gospel Jesus tells his disciples that no messenger is greater than the one who sent him.  Seeing the harshness with which Pius V treated the enemies of the Church, we might be reassured by this statement.  Jesus also says that whoever receives his messenger receives him.  Working for Christ, St. Pius V deserves our appreciation for his efforts to renew the Church and to save Western Europe from Ottoman dominance.

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