BY Father Mateo Crawley-Boevey, SS.CC.
THE PRIME MINISTER OF THE KING OF LOVE.
Devotion to the Pope
AFTER speaking of Mary, the Queen of Fair Love, let us at once turn our thoughts to the Roman Pontiff, the living voice and the very image of Jesus Christ in the Church.
The Pope is one of the richest gifts of Christ’s most merciful love. Recall that beautiful scene along the Lake of Tiberias, when after receiving a threefold profession of love from Peter, the divine Master makes him His Representative on Earth, the dispenser of His power, investing him with that full authority to which Kings as well as their people are subject. His dignity far surpasses all human grandeur. The Vatican, that summit ever covered with the divine majesty, is the Sinai of the new Law whence God dictates to the new Moses — the Pope — His sovereign Will.
Apostles and friends of the Great King, lend me an attentive ear, a docile heart.
The devotion to the Pope, so important, so eminently Catholic, is not sufficiently known.
The King of Glory and His august Vicar must be loved, I should say with a selfsame love, venerated with a selfsame veneration; both must be obeyed with the same unlimited, perfect obedience. Not that we wish to confound the Christ-God with His Representative, but because the honor bestowed upon the Sovereign Pontiff is rendered to Jesus Himself. Has He not said: “He that heareth you, heareth Me — He that despiseth you, despiseth Me”? (Luke x, 16.) And may we not add with as much certainty: “He that honors and loves you, honors and loves Me”?
Fear no exaggeration, for the Gospel testifies most explicitly that the Pope is, by right divine, our visible Jesus upon Earth.
This reminds me of a private audience with which I was gratified by the Sovereign Pontiff and the answer His Holiness made to one of my remarks. — ” Holy Father,” said I,” I always request prayers for the Pope, for I unite the Eternal King and His Vicar in one same love. I often preach the devotion to the Pope, whom I consider as a kind of second Eucharist.”
His Holiness suddenly interrupted me and said: “Oh! you do well, my son, and you are quite right in saying that the Pope is as a second Eucharist. Unfortunately the beauty and necessity of devotion to the Pope is not always understood. You, my son, spread this devotion wherever you preach the King of Love.
Yes, dear Apostles, the Pope is a visible Jesus, concealed beneath a thin white veil as in the Sacred Host; another Jesus, a living, authentic Jesus is truly present under the cover and disguise of Peter. The name changes: we call him Pius X, Benedict XV, Pius XI. These are external accidents which disappear and change; the substance remains immutable, it is ever Jesus to whom the Father has given as a heritage, all nations of the Earth (Ps. ii, 8.) and a name which is above all names. (Phil. ii, 9.)
From this true and beautiful symbolism, let us now draw some practical conclusions. To the Pope, this Eucharist of the Vatican, we owe the greatest, the most profound respect, the highest honors, as a homage of our intellect; to Him we owe an immense, devoted, tender and filial love, as a homage of our will. To prove our submission, our steadfast obedience, our unswerving devotion to the Pope, we should be ready, as O’Connell, the great Irish hero, says, to waive all personal interests, and if necessary seal our loyalty with our blood.
Happy, a thousand times happy are you, dear Apostles, whose enlightened faith enables you ever to distinguish Jesus beneath this thin white veil, the Pope. Happy are you who well nigh confound what Our Lord seems to have confounded and blended together on Earth — His own Self and the Pope — whether in the attribution of His power: “Whatsoever you shall bind upon Earth, it shall be bound also in Heaven,” (Matt. xvi, 19.) or in His formal demand of perfect submission to the appointed Shepherd of His Flock: “Feed my lambs, feed my sheep.” (John xxi, 15-17.)
If Jesus has promised heaven in reward for the good done to a little child ; (Matt. xviii, 5.) if He has condemned the scandal given to this little one who represents Him, (Matt. xviii, 6.) how much richer must be the blessings He bestows on the families that honor, serve, console and obey His own Vicar on Earth. On the contrary, what wrath do they not bring down upon themselves who, in thought, word or deed, dare to profane this second Eucharist, the Pope?
This doctrine is but pure Catholicism, very elementary and officially defined. A mountain, the Vatican, separates us from Lutherans, Anglicans and Schismatic Russians, for the touchstone is and ever will be Peter. His authority soars far above and beyond all human discussion and control. It is indeed the Pope who, in the face of all human authorities, all existing tribunals, may apply to himself, in the full sense of the word, the categorical expression of St. Paul: “Que judicat Me, Dominus est.” (1 Cor. iv, 4.) Yes, the only Judge, the only tribunal to which the Sovereign Pontiff is accountable is the tribunal of the Most-High, the tribunal of the King of Kings. In the meantime, while on this Earth, his commandments have the character of “supremacy” for all true Catholics. Hence the axiom: “Rome has spoken, the question is settled.” A truth which shall remain eternally in spite of Luther and his followers.
Dear and zealous Apostles, teach this beautiful doctrine, spread it around you, weary not in explaining that the Holy Father’s slightest desires are sacred to his children, to Catholics, true at heart and worthy of their title. Especially stress the point that his formal orders are inviolable laws which are not to be discussed, and which cannot be transgressed, without committing a sin. This you know full well is a fundamental principle of our faith and of religious discipline. To assume any other attitude is espousing the Protestant view and criterion. Promote true love for the Pope wherever the Sacred Heart has been enthroned as King of the family. By this sublime term “love,” I wish to imply all that the immortal Pontiff, Pius X, did imply when he wrote the following words: “When people love the Pope, they do not discuss his orders; they do not question the extent of their obedience, nor in what matters they are to obey; when people love the Pope, they do not pretend that he has not spoken clearly enough, as if he were obliged to whisper in each one’s ear that which he has often-times expressed so clearly in words and Encyclicals. One cannot cast a doubt upon his orders under the pretext so commonly adduced by those who are unwilling to obey, that it is not the Pope who commands, but those who surround him; one cannot limit the ground on which he may and ought to exercise his authority; in matters of authority, one cannot give the preference to persons whose ideas clash with those of the Pope, however learned these may be, for though they be learned, they are not saints.” Such are the very words of the great Pontiff of the Eucharist.
Families of the King of Love, you His intimate friends, do you wish to know a secret that shall ravish His Sacred Heart? — Love, oh! love the Pope with an immense, filial love. Love him with that super-natural affection made of a profound gratitude, a perfect, integral submission that will stand any proof. To the love which is due to the Vicar of Christ, we may apply the ringing words of St. Paul: “Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creatures shall be able to separate us from the love of God” (Rom. viii, 38-39.) and of His sweet visible Christ, His “alter Ego” the Pope.
I have spoken of the Pope as a second Eucharist. Consider therefore, that if the Eucharist, the God-Man, is at an infinite distance above all creatures, yet, it is the voice of the Pope alone that has the right to assure us of that Divine Presence in the consecrated Host. Sublime right which marks the transcendency of the Papal Authority. Hence it is that all heretics, all, have begun by rejecting the cornerstone, Peter, accusing him of going beyond his powers, of trespassing on the domain of Philosophy, Science, History, Politics, etc. … And once they have broken away from his authority for one or other of these reasons, they have logically thrown overboard the treasures of our Faith which we call Catholic Unity, the Holy Eucharist, the Sacraments, etc. …
I close these reflections, so important, and no doubt, so sympathetic to all friends and promoters of the Reign of the Sacred Heart, by relating the little anecdote that gave rise to the title of this chapter.
At the audience which followed the reception of the famous Autographed Letter of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XV, which officially entrusted to us the Work of the Enthronement, as I was thanking the Holy Father for this great and unexpected favor, His Holiness said to me: “Do not thank me, my son, do you not say that you are the Apostle of the great King Jesus?” — “Oh yes indeed, Your Holiness, that I wish to be with my whole soul!”
“Well then,” replied the Pope, “you preach the King, I am His Prime Minister; it is I then who am to thank you for what you do for the King of Love.”
Dear Apostles of the King of Love, may Jesus confirm the word of His Prime Minister, may He confirm it for you and for me in life and in death. Yea, may He confirm it by the richest blessings of His adorable Heart.
← Prior Chapter 19 – Mary, Mother of Fair Love and Queen of the Heart of Jesus
Current — Chapter 20 – The Prime Minister of the King of Love
Next →: Chapter 21 – The Social Reign of the King of Love