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 colored 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 10:15) 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 (Psalms 11:8) and a name which is above all names. (Philippians 11:9)
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; “Whatever thou shall bind on Earth shall be bound in Heaven,” (Matthew 16:19) or in His formal demand of perfect submission to the appointed Shepherd of His Flock: “Feed my lambs, feed my sheep.” (John 21:15 & 17)
If Jesus has promised heaven in reward for the good done to a little child; (Matthew 18:5) if He has condemned the scandal given to this little one who represents Him, (Matthew 18:6) 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: “He who judges me is the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 4:4) Yes, the only Judge, the only tribunal to which the Sovereign Pontiff 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 oftentimes 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 if 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 supernatural 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 things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:38) 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.
Jesus the King of Love, Fr. Mateo Crawley-Boevey SS.CC., Fairhaven, 1945, pp. 270 - 6
Many, not fully understanding the Catholic theology, may no doubt get the wrong impression that the Popes confess themselves to be Jesus Christ His very Self incarnate. As Fr. Mateo noted over 60 decades ago, we must not confound "the Christ-God with His Representative." Every Christian is Jesus Christ thinly veiled in flesh, but it is to the Pope alone that has a greater responsibilty than we. Even if the Pope did not personally believe in Christ, as history affirms, this does not prohibit Christ from Shepherding His Church. Why? Because He is All-Soverign, and He is the Master-Designer of all things, and despite the wickedness of those within His Mystical Body, His Divine Will will be done. Though Satan himself tried to thwart God's eternal plan, God incorrporated Satan's treachery as part of the natural flow to His Will, and in the end, His Will is that which declares and defines the cosmic course of events. This is why Catholics [true Catholic by faith, not those who merely 'say' they are 'Catholic'] are at perfect ease when even a most vile, blasphemous, God-hating Pope declares infallibly a dogma of the Faith. It is not the Pope who declares, but it is God Himself restricting Satan from causing the Pope to slip into doctrinal heresy. His infallibility does not mean he is sinless, nor that his every word and action are pure.
"The infallibility of the Pope does not mean that he cannot sin; it does not mean that he cannot err in matters of science; it does not mean that he cannot err in political matters; it does not mean that he cannot err in his personal theological views; it does not mean that he cannot err in his private theological utterances relating to faith or morals; it does not mean that he cannot err in his personal decisions; it does not mean that he cannot err in his measures concerning the discipline and practice of the Church, for example: sanctioning or dissolving an Order, precepts of worship, ecclesiastical rules etc." (Illustrations for Sermons and Instructions, Rev. Charles J. Callan O.P., New York, 1916, page 147)
Now consider St. Catherine of Siena's words, "Even if the Pope were Satan incarnate, we ought not to raise up our heads against him, but calmly lie down to rest on his bosom."
Why such language? I will reply that Israel's and Judah's kings were worse than incarnate devils, wicked and depraved men that blasphemed God in word and action. Yet it was God Himself, Yahweh the Lord of lord, the God of gods, that ordained the Office of Kingship to His chosen people. The people demanded a king, even though God was their King, and so to give them their request He also gave to them the curses of having monarchs. David was righteous, but Saul a devil. Manasseh king of Judah sacrificed his own son on the altar to false gods, yet he was a lawful and true king. It was the people's duty to respect and obey his office, but to resist him concerning things which he decreed that went contrary to God's previous revelations. Likewise, for the true Catholic, it is a lawful and even holy deed to completely resist the Pope if he teaches or imposes a set of false doctrines and practices [all of which would never be infallibly declared].
"Just as it is licit to resist a Pontiff who attacks the body, so it is licit to resist him who attacks souls, or who disturbs the civil order, or, above all, who tries to destroy the Church. It is licit to resist him by not doing what he orders and by impeding the execution of his will. It is not licit, however, to judge him, to punish him, or to depose him, for such acts belong to a superior." (St. Robert Bellarmine Doctor of the Church "De Romano Pontifice" Book II, Chapter 29)
We cannot judge because it is a sin for the sheep to judge the shepherd, since as St. Paul says by Apostolic Office, "No man may judge me but God." We also cannot and should not judge nor inflict punishment on the Pope because it would also go against Yahweh's own decree, which decree is the most terrible and horrifying to anyone who dares invoke it, "Vengeance is mine, saith the LORD, I will repay." To any Pope that has been foolish enough to invoke this Divine Decree, God has Judged him with Supreme Judgment, and has inflicted Supreme Punishment upon all these shepherd which have pastured themselves on their sheep. Every bishop, every pastor, is subject to this Decree. We as the laity may lawfully resist what we should resist, but we may not judge, for that is left to God alone, and His Judgment is eternally Just. Even if Satan himself were elected Pope, that would only happen because it was in the Divine Will of the All-Soverign Triune God, and just as He set Pharoh, Nebbecudnezzur, Hitler, and others, in their offices "to fulfill My glory", so He would have also set up Satan himself in the Papal Office, to fulfill His Divine Will. It is to God alone that we are obliged to obey the Pope [were he Satan himself] only to the extent that is needed, "Give to Ceasar what is Caesar's, and to God the things that are God." But on the same note, as an obligation to God, if this Satan-incarnate Pope were to rise up and say, "You will worship me as your God and you will worship the Eucharist as my flesh," we would under pain of death be obliged to resist.
Because He is the God above all things known and unknown, He alone decrees who is the Pope, who was the Pope, and who will be the Pope. In all, Jesus Christ is in the Office of Pope, and when the Pope sins gravely, he blasphemes the very character and Holy Name of Jesus Christ, earning for himself the worst of damnations. But that matter is left up to Yahweh Himself. To us, "He who listens to you listen to Me," is taken very seriously, and we know that Our Lord's words are True, and we know He is the Truth, and because He lives we have faith that no matter what the outcome, obedience to the Pastor of the Church is a holy thing in God's eyes, and it is by His grace that we maintain that obedience, even when we would rather curse him.