Wednesday, April 30, 2008



Saint Pius V
by El Greco, 1600-1610

Additional Information about St. Pius V [1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Pius V

Readings and Commentary: [2]

Reading 1

1 Corinthians 4:1-5

Brothers and sisters:
Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ
and stewards of the mysteries of God. Now it is of course required of stewards
that they be found trustworthy.
It does not concern me in the least
that I be judged by you or any human tribunal; I do not even
pass judgment on myself; I am not conscious of anything against me,
but I do not thereby stand acquitted; the one who judges me
is the Lord.
Therefore do not make any judgment before the appointed time,
until the Lord comes,
for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness
and will manifest the motives of our hearts,
and then everyone will receive praise from God.
Commentary on 1 Cor 4:1-5

This selection is part of St. Paul’s pre-oration regarding the need for unity in the church in Corinth. In this concluding section, the Apostle calls upon the community to be faithful to the teachings passed on to it. He speaks of Christian Wisdom with an exhortation to the community not to pass judgment on their leaders. He summarizes his thought with the statement: "Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God." The words St. Paul uses to describe the roles are, in the first instance: “servants of Christ ,” hypēretēs, a word that designated rowers on the lowest rank of a galley, later coming to mean assistant or helper. The word “stewards” (or managers) was oikonomos, a name given to servants put in charge of their master’s property.

He goes on to exhort them not to pass judgment upon each other, rather to follow his own example of being non-judgmental, even about his own actions. He concludes by reminding them that, at the “appointed time” (referring to the eschaton), the Lord will reveal all motives of the human heart and judgment will be passed.

CCC: 1 Cor 4:1 859, 1117; 1 Cor 4:5 678
Responsorial Psalm

Psalm 110:1, 2,3,4

R. (4b) You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

The Lord said to my Lord:
"Sit at my right hand till I make your enemies your footstool."
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

The scepter of your power the Lord will stretch forth from Zion:
"Rule in the midst of your enemies."
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

"Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor,
before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you."
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

The Lord has sworn, and he will not repent:
"You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek."
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
Commentary on Ps 110:1, 2,3,4

We are given the reference point used in the Hebrews 5:1-10. The psalmist, David, reflects upon the call to service of the people. The final verse specifically mentions the High Priest Melchizedek. Melchizedek was the ancient king of Salem (Jerusalem) who blessed Abraham (Genesis 14:18-20); like other kings of the time he performed priestly functions.

Psalm 110 thanks God for earthly authority, recognizing that it is only through His strength that authority is exercised. Using Melchizedek as an arch example, he was a secular king in the time of Abraham who ruled on the spiritual side as well. Though he was not of the Hebrew race, he was none the less chosen by God to be priest not of the line of Aaron. Since the ancient text refer neither to his lineage nor his death, his office is seen as eternal (“You are a priest forever…”)

CCC: Ps 110 447; Ps 110:1 659; Ps 110:4 1537
John 21:15-17

After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples
and eaten breakfast with them, he said to Simon Peter,
"Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?"
Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs."
He then said to Simon Peter a second time,
"Simon, son of John, do you love me?"
Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep."
He said to him the third time,
"Simon, son of John, do you love me?"
Peter was distressed that
Jesus had said to him a third time,
"Do you love me?" and he said to him,
"Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.

"Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep."
Commentary on Jn 21:15-17

Following the third revelation to the disciples as they were fishing at the Sea of Tiberias, Jesus now focuses on Peter, making sure he understands his role in the foundation of the Church. The triple confession of Peter reverses his earlier denial of the Lord the night of the Passion. This is also a key passage, identified by the Church as Christ’s post-resurrection assignment of Peter to be the shepherd of the Church – essentially establishing the beginning of Apostolic Succession.

CCC: Jn 21:13-15 645; Jn 21:15-17 553, 881, 1429, 1551

In order for us to truly appreciate the role of St. Pius V in the history of our faith we must recall the age into which he was born. The Renaissance is in full swing as is the Reformation drive of Martin Luther and John Calvin. The Church is in real trouble as strife and divisions among Christians undo at least western unity (the great schism between the Eastern and Western Churches had already taken place in the 1100s.)

Into this period came St. Pius V. His humble roots gave him a unique insight into the fruits of the Church and an appreciation for the discipline of the faith. He was a tireless worker for reform in the Church whose natural leadership was recognized as he was elevated, against his own protestation first to Bishop, then Cardinal, and finally Pontiff. The reforms he was called to implement were from the Council of Trent, many of which were a counterweight to the excesses of the Reformation seen in Germany, France, and Britain. The proof of his effectiveness lies in that legacy.

Sacred Scripture, given in his memorial today, reveals his faithfulness. St. Paul, in the first reading addresses the church at Corinth telling them not to be judgmental; that Christ alone is the judge. His message is that falling into the trap of condescension based upon the belief that one has correctly interpreted the will of God and their fellow travelers along that same road have gotten it horribly wrong, somehow presumes some special relationship with the Lord who came equally for all.

While St. Paul calls for unity, the Gospel reminds us of the Lord’s intent to pass along his teachings through St. Peter whom he commissions to that task in St. John’s Gospel. The thrice issued call, to carry the love of Christ to the world, echoes down through the halls of the Church. It is picked up by each succeeding person called to the Chair of Peter. They in turn, pass that message on and we, as members of that body, find that we too become a herald of Christ’s Love. St. Pius V did it in his age, we are called to follow his example in ours.


[1] The portrait of Pius V is by El Greco, 1600-1610
[2] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 1973, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.

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