An eminent but unbelieving statesman once said to us: “If the Church could find a way to impress more deeply on the hearts of men the testament of her Founder, “Love one another,” she would become the one great power indispensable to all nations.” Might we not also apply the same thought to several other virtues?
With his deep understanding of the needs of the Church, Pius X often saw things with a most remarkable clarity. An interesting conversation of the Holy Pontiff with a group of Cardinals was reported in the French clerical publication, “L’Ami du Clerge.”
The Pope asked them: “What is the thing we most need, today, to save society?” “Build Catholic schools,” said one.
“More churches,” said another.
“Speed up the recruiting of priests,” said a third.
“No, no,” said the Pope, “the MOST necessary thing of all, at this time, is for every parish to possess a group of laymen who will be at the same time virtuous, enlightened, resolute, and truly apostolic.” Further details enable us to assert that this holy Pope at the end of his life saw no hope for the salvation of the world, unless the clergy could use their zeal to form faithful Christians full of apostolic ardor, preaching by word and example, but especially by example. In the diocese where he served before being elevated to the Papacy, he attached less importance to the census of parishioners than to the list of Christians capable of radiating an apostolate. It was his opinion that shock troops could be formed in any environment. Furthermore, he graded his priests according to the results which their zeal and ability had produced in this regard.
This article is taken from a chapter in The Soul of the Apostolate by Jean-Baptiste Chautard, which is available from TAN Books.