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Cardinal Pie: The Family is the First Society - Printable Version

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Cardinal Pie: The Family is the First Society - Hildegard of Bingen - 01-31-2021

THE FAMILY IS THE FIRST SOCIETY – according to Cardinal Pie

 The Family is the First Society.  Msgr. P:ie, the Doctor of social worship, would first speak of domestic worship, indispensable prelude of public worship, in the strict sense.  In 1854, in the Synodal Letter of the Fathers of the Council of Rochelle, he made this to be inserted in its deliberations. (Vol. II, 148-150).  We cite the principal passages.  It is a magnificent picture of the Christian family:
      “In the language of St. Paul, each home is a sanctuary.  Let the Crucifix of Jesus Christ be found there as the sign of every Christian home and let the image of Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother, be inseparable from the Crucifix!  Let holy water and blessed palms protect the house against the ambushes of the enemy; let the candles of the Candlemas (in the book the word that appears as “Chandelier”, unfortunately it is a miss translation from chandeleur which is Candlemas) be conserved so as to be lighted in the times of danger, at the hour of agony and of death.  Ah! Would that our fathers possess the secret of this totally Christian life where religion had its place marked in all things.  Mealtime would be sanctified by the blessing that would be recited by the head of the family.  Three times a day, when the sacred sound would ring out from the parish bell-tower, each one would suspend his work to lovingly invoke the Virgin who has given to the world the Word made flesh.  At the end of the property a cross would be planted that the worker could piously greet upon returning from his day’s work.  Again, one would find, in the course of the work-day, some moments to recite the rosary; there would be read some pages from a handed-down book that contained the principle facts from the two testaments and the most beautiful features from the lives of the Saints.  The mother of the family would not feel she had fulfilled all her religious duties other than when she had been able to explain to her children and to her servants some article of Christian doctrine.  If it happened that the funeral bell tolled announcing a death, all the brothers and all the sisters in Jesus Christ of the deceased would promptly accord to them the benefit of their suffrages; and the prayers for the dead so neglected today would be brought about by various testimonials and by the practices that could not be overstated.  Finally, when the last ray of daylight would surround the hearth around the dispersed family, how touching was it to see the elderly and the children, masters and servants, genuflect before the holy images, to intermingle in a single prayer their voices and their love?  These pious expressions drew down upon earth blessings from heaven; they enabled the house at the same time that they sanctified and reflected upon society so grave a matter, so worthy to maintain, along with the unity of the dogmas of the faith, innocence of morals and the union of wills.
     “Would that we could see these touching practices of Christian times revived.” (II, 149-150.  See also V, 21, 29: Allocution pronounced following the consecration of the altar of a certain chapel, Aug. 4, 1863.)
     Nothing is left out in this program of Christian family life.  But Msgr. Pie knew what an important and delicate role is reserved in the family for the Christian woman: it is she who keeps watch over the faith.  She is encouraged to fulfill this sublime role with perfection and, by thus encouraging the family, she shows them that they must work also, in its turn, for the Christian social restoration.  We listen: “During the first half of this (19th) century, the Church has not encountered under its hand another truly conservative element, no other seriously powerful conservative than the French woman. . . . These are the French women who have prevented the worship of the Name of God from perishing upon the land and who, despite sarcasms and scorn, have preserved in their hearts and in their practices the religion of Jesus Christ.”  But as for the Christian women of today to be worthy of those who have preceded them, it behooves them “to preserve in themselves the life of faith and of grace, the spirit of renouncement and sacrifice.”  They are exhorted to be energetically opposed “to those new habits, to those allurements that are foreign to the traditions of our national and Christian education, which threatens to substitute to this smooth modesty, to this noble and reserved affluence, to this cheerful and bright charm, in a word, to all the inexpressible qualities that have rendered French women the admiration of the whole world.”  (Eulogy of Saint Theodosius: II, 1-14)
     In order to maintain and develop Christian life in the domestic realm, Msgr. Pie consecrated the families of this diocese to the Sacred Heart. (VI, 614)
Source:  The Book “The Social Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to Cardinal Pie” in English, pages 98-100.  An English translation by Daniel Leonardi. The French version can be found in "Oeuvres de Monseigneur L'Eveque de Poitiers - Tome II, page 149.