Saint Pius X can be considered a hero in the fight against modernism. Thus, his fight is relevant to our days since modernism is a remote version of progressivism. A complete description of progressivism can be found in the prophetic documents of Saint Pius X against modernism.
Like many other saints, Saint Pius X also had prophetic insights about nations. In one document, he speaks of the conversion of France in such a way that we can imagine the conversion of the world in what Saint Louis de Montfort called “the Reign of Mary.” By prophesying about the Reign of Mary for France, he is prophesying for all nations. This document was dated November 29, 1911, when Saint Pius X addressed a message to the French people.
Before citing the text of the message, we will consider its context. The saintly pope issued the document amid his difficult battles with the French Republic.
In The Complete Acts of Leo XIII, I read a letter in which Leo XIII complained to the French president about some extremely anti-Catholic measures proposed in the French Parliament. The pope was deeply hurt and disappointed because his whole policy toward the French Republic had been one of cooperation. As his pontificate and life drew to a close, he saw the fruits reaped from this approach was real religious persecution.
The French president replied with an icy letter that went something like this: Holy Father, I have received your letter. I understand your sorrow, but the only answer I have to give is that I have very limited constitutional powers as president of the French Republic. Therefore, it is not in my power to prevent the events that Your Holiness fears will happen. Please be assured of my respect, etc.
Shortly thereafter, Saint Pius X became pope. He began an uncompromising policy to defend the rights of the Church. The result was the unleashing of a vicious onslaught against religion in France. The attack targeted the part of the French people most faithful to the Church.
However, the French establishment represented by its leadership turned en masse against Saint Pius X. A large segment of so-called Catholic France did likewise. This rejection included Msgr. Louis Duchesne, a member of the French Academy, and other prominent figures. They advocated a policy of appeasement between Saint Pius X and France and invited the pope to make impossible concessions. What a tragedy!
Saint Pius X fought back with feats of admirable heroism! On one occasion, he consecrated several French bishops together, defying French law that prohibited episcopal consecration of bishops without government approval. He called the candidates to Rome, consecrated them in St. Peter’s Basilica and established them in the dioceses.
On August 10, 1906, he promulgated the tremendous encyclical “Gravissimo Officii Munere” against the errors of the French government.
This climate of admirable struggle was the context of Saint Pius X’s message of prophetic insight when he addressed these words to the French people:
“A day will come, and we hope it will not be far away, when France, like Saul on the road to Damascus, will be surrounded by a heavenly light and will hear a voice repeating to her, ‘My daughter, why do you persecute me?’ And to her response, ‘Who art thou, Lord?’ the voice will reply, ‘I am Jesus, whom you persecute. It is hard for you to kick against the goad because, in your obstinacy, you destroy yourself.’ And she, trembling and astonished, will say, ‘Lord, what wouldst Thou have me do?’ And He will say, ‘Rise up, wash the filth that has disfigured you, awaken in your heart those dormant affections and the pact of our alliance and go, eldest daughter of the Church, predestined nation, vessel of election, go, as in the past, and carry my name before all peoples and before the kings of the earth’” (Consistorial Allocution Vi ringrazio, November 29, 1911, in Acta Apostolicae Sedis, year 3, vol. 3 [Rome: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1911], 657, //www.vatican.va/archive/aas/documents/AAS-03-1911-ocr.pdf ).
The language he employs is most interesting: “a day will come.” After the announcement, there comes a conjecture and uncertainty: “we hope it will not be far away.” He no longer affirms but states a desire, calculating probability. Unfortunately, the facts did not confirm the probability of a quick fulfillment. The document was issued in 1911, and many years have passed.
However, the prediction still stands. This conversion will be the outcome for France. When Our Lady said in Fatima, “Finally, My Immaculate Heart will triumph,” she meant a triumph that would encompass the whole world. The conversion of France and the world will happen. The conversion of France will take place in the manner foretold by Saint Pius X.
The pope describes the conditions needed for this conversion. To receive that ray of light, Saul had to fall off his horse. Thus, France will have to undergo countless humiliations in which she must recognize that she is extremely humiliated. At that moment, when her pretentious place in the contemporary world is destroyed, we can have a converted France now and in the Reign of Mary.
I used the word “pretentious” on purpose. The more I analyze the history of the Counter-revolution, the more I am convinced that pretentiousness is the great temptation of the counter-revolutionary!
Pretentiousness is the state of individuals who attribute all their qualities exclusively to themselves rather than to grace or a supernatural gift to which they must correspond. Pretentiousness can also be seen in individuals who are enraptured by both their genuine and false qualities. They show off in front of others, pretending to be what they are not.
Some might object that the Counter-revolution suffers much more from a lack of energy than pretentiousness. However, I disagree and repeat what I once affirmed: Let us fight pretentiousness with all our soul, and the rest will be added unto us. We must be unpretentious, never wishing to “show off” or stand out. We should behave normally and naturally according to our qualities. However, when in doubt, we should even prefer not to shine among other counter-revolutionaries.
Fighting against our opponents, we must selflessly stand out by unfurling Our Lady’s standard. Such action is not pretentious. However, we must behave without pretensions among ourselves. I will tell you this: give me an unpretentious soul, and I will give you a soul on the way to solving problems. Give me a pretentious soul, and any advice you give him will not work as long as he has that propensity.
Thus, this reflection about France’s need to abandon pretentiousness applies to everyone. To combat energetically against pretentiousness is to create conditions to solve seemingly insoluble spiritual problems.
The preceding article is taken from an informal lecture Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira gave on September 3, 1968. It has been translated and adapted for publication without his revision.—Ed.