Having begun with the life of Our Most Holy Redeemer, the combat under the standard of the Cross will only cease at the end of time. Today, more than ever, the strength of the wicked depends on the cowardice of the good, and the power of Satan’s reign lies in the weakness of Christians.
I am grateful that from your generous heart, Venerable Brother (1), you desire to see me work in the vineyard of the Lord always under the light of the sun, without clouds or tempests. However, we must both adore the dispositions of Divine Providence who, after establishing His Church here below, permits that She encounter obstacles of every kind and formidable opposition along her journey.
Harsh trials and continual contradictions
The reason for this is obvious: the Church is militant and, therefore, in constant combat. This combat makes the world a battlefield and every Christian a valiant soldier to fight under the standard of the Cross.
Having begun with the life of our Most Holy Redeemer, this fight will only cease at the end of time. Therefore, we must proceed every day like the courageous people of Judah returning from captivity: with one hand repelling the enemy and with the other rebuilding the walls of the sacred Temple, that is, working for our sanctification.
The life of the heroes whose decrees we have just published (2) confirm us in this truth. They reached glory not only by means of dark clouds and fleeting storms, but also by constant contradictions and harsh trials, until they gave their blood and life for the Faith.
An age in which many hold God up to public ridicule
Nevertheless, I cannot deny my great joy at this moment, for in glorifying so many Saints, God expresses His mercy in a time of such incredulity and religious indifference. In a time of such weakness of character, generous souls who gave their life to testify to their Faith are put before us as models to imitate. […]
I rejoice because we live in a time in which many feel ashamed to call themselves Catholics, and many others hold God, the Faith, Revelation, worship and its ministers up to public ridicule, filling their speeches with godless sarcasm. They deny everything and turn everything into scorn and derision, without respect even for the sanctuary of conscience.
However, it is not possible that, before these supernatural manifestations, no matter how great their desire to close their eyes to the sun that illuminates them, a divine ray not pierce them and, even though it only be by way of remorse, lead them back to the Faith.
I rejoice because the courage of these heroes must revivify and fortify the faith of timid and languid hearts, fearful at this moment of putting Christian doctrines and beliefs into practice.
There will be courage when there is faith in hearts
In fact, courage is only possible when it is grounded upon a conviction. Without the light of intelligence, the will is a blind power. It is impossible to walk resolutely amid darkness.
If the present generation shows all the vacillation of a man who gropes in the dark, it is a sure sign that it does not take to heart the word of God: Reproduction May 2019 · Heralds of the Gospel 7 “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps 119:105).
There will be courage when faith is alive in hearts, when all the precepts imposed by it are practised, for faith without works is as impossible as a sun that emanates neither light nor heat.
The martyrs whom we have commemorated witness to this truth. Do not think that martyrdom is an act of simple enthusiasm, consisting in letting oneself be decapitated so as to ascend directly to Paradise. Martyrdom presupposes a long and arduous exercise of all the virtues, an absolute and immaculate purity.
The strength of the wicked lies in the cowardice of the good
Let us speak of her who is the most well known to you, the Maid of Orleans; both in her humble birthplace as amid the licentiousness of the troops, she kept herself as pure as the Angels.
As courageous as a lion amid the dangers of battle, she showed great kindliness toward the poor and unfortunate. Simple as a child in the tranquillity of the meadows and the tumult of war, she was always recollected in God and ardent in her love for the Virgin Mary and the Holy Eucharist – like a Cherub – as you so rightly said, Venerable Brother. Called by the Lord to defend her native land, she responded to her vocation to an undertaking that seemed impossible to all, especially to herself; but what is impossible for men is always possible with God’s assistance.
Therefore, let us not exaggerate the difficulties in putting into practice what the Faith prescribes so as to fulfil our duties and carry out a fruitful apostolate of example, which the Lord awaits from each of us: “And He gave commandment to each of them concerning his neighbour” (Sir 17:14).
Difficulties arise from those who create and exaggerate them, those who confide in themselves and not in heavenly aid, those who succumb to cowardice, intimidated by the world’s mockery. Hence we must conclude that, today more than ever, the strength of the wicked depends on the cowardice of the good, and the power of satan’s reign lies in the weakness of Christians.
“Became accomplices of My adversaries”
Alas, if I were permitted, as the prophet Zechariah did in spirit, to ask the Lord: “What are these wounds on Thy hands?”, the answer would undoubtedly be: “The wounds I received in the house of My friends” (Zec 13:6); in other words, by My friends who did nothing to defend Me and who, on the contrary, became accomplices of My adversaries. And from this reproach, merited by the pusillanimous and fainthearted Christians of every country, many Christians of France are not exempt. […]
Thus, Venerable Brother, upon your return, you must tell your compatriots that, if they love France, they must love God, the Faith and the Church, which is for all of them the kindest Mother, as She was for your forefathers. Tell them that they must have great regard for the witness of St. Remigius, Charlemagne and St. Louis, testimonies that can be summed up in words so often repeated by the heroine of Orleans: “Long live Christ, King of the Francs!”
Only in this way is France great among the nations; under this covenant God will protect and make it free and glorious; under this condition you can apply what is said of Israel in the Sacred Books: “And there was no one that triumphed over this people, but when they departed from the worship of the Lord their God” (Jdt 5:17).
St. Pius X. Excerpts from the address given on the occasion of the reading of the decree of beatification of Venerables Joan of Arc, John Eudes, Francis de Capillas, and Jean-Théophane Vénard and companions, 13/12/1908: AAS 1 (1909), 142-145
1. Most Rev. Stanislas-Arthur-Xavier Touchet, at the time Bishop of Orleans, later created Cardinal. It fell to him to initiate the process of beatification of St. Joan of Arc.
2. On this day were proclaimed the decrees on the heroic virtues of Venerables Joan of Arc, John Eudes, Francis de Capillas, and Jean-Théophane Vénard and companions.