Pius XII: Allocution of January 14, 1952

February 11, 2013

Faithful to your ancient tradition, beloved Sons and Daughters, you have again come this year to present the visible Head of the Church with a testimonial of your devotion and your fond wishes for the New Year. We welcome them with keen and affectionate gratitude, and offer you in return Our warmest regards. We include them in Our prayers, so that the year just born may be marked by the seal of divine goodness and enriched with the most precious favors of Providence. To these wishes We should like to add, as usual, a few practical spiritual gifts, which We will summarize in a threefold exhortation.

Palatine Gara Defends Queens Mary and Elisabeth c. 1855 by Mihaly Kovacs
First of all, you must look fearlessly, courageously, at the present reality.

1) First of all, you must look fearlessly, courageously, at the present reality. It seems superfluous to insist on recalling to your mind what, three years ago, was the object of Our considerations; it would seem vain and unworthy of you to veil it in prudent euphemisms, especially after the words of your eloquent representative have given Us so clear a testimonial of your adhesion to the social doctrine of the Church and to the duties stemming therefrom. The new Italian Constitution no longer recognizes you as possessing, as a social class, in the State and among the people, any particular mission, quality, or privilege.A page of history has been turned; a chapter has ended. A period has been placed, indicating the end of a social and economic past; a new chapter has begun, inaugurating very different lifestyles. One may think as one wishes, but the fact remains: It is the “irresistible course” of history. Some, perhaps, may painfully resent so profound a transformation; but what good can come of wallowing at length in the bitterness of that fact? All, in the end, must bow to reality; the difference lies solely in the “manner.” While the mediocre can only wear a frown in the face of ill fortune, superior spirits are able, according to the classic expression, to prove themselves “beaux joueurs,” imperturbably maintaining their noble and untroubled bearing.

Sermon on the Mount by Carl Heinrich Bloch
Lift your gaze and keep it fixed on the Christian ideal. All those upheavals, those evolutions and revolutions, have left it untouched. They can do nothing against what is the inner essence of true nobility, that which aspires to Christian perfection, the same that the Redeemer pointed to in the Sermon on the Mount.

2) Lift your gaze and keep it fixed on the Christian ideal. All those upheavals, those evolutions and revolutions, have left it untouched. They can do nothing against what is the inner essence of true nobility, that which aspires to Christian perfection, the same that the Redeemer pointed to in the Sermon on the Mount. Unconditional loyalty to Catholic doctrine, to Christ, and to His Church; the ability and the will to be also models and guides for others. Need We enumerate the practical applications of all this? You must present to the world, even to the world of believers and of practicing Catholics, the spectacle of a faultless conjugal life, the edification of a truly exemplary domestic hearth; you must build a dike against every infiltration, into your home and your circles, of ruinous ideas, pernicious indulgences and tolerances that might contaminate and sully the purity of matrimony and family. Here indeed is an exemplary and holy enterprise, well suited to ignite the zeal of the Roman and Christian nobility in our times.

The wedding of Bl. Archduke Karl of Austria-Este and Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma
You must present to the world, even to the world of believers and of practicing Catholics, the spectacle of a faultless conjugal life, the edification of a truly exemplary domestic hearth

As We present these reflections for your consideration, We are thinking especially of countries in which the devastating catastrophe struck the families of your class particularly violently, reducing them from power and wealth to forlornness and even to extreme poverty; yet at the same time it revealed and brought out the nobility and generosity with which many of them have remained faithful to God even in misfortune and the silent magnanimity and dignity with which they are able to bear their lot. These are the virtues that are not improvised, but rather which flourish and ripen at the hour of affliction.

Queen María de Molina presents her son Ferdinand IV in the Cortes of Valladolid by Antonio Gisbert Pérez
Lastly, give your devoted and ready assistance to the common effort.

3) Lastly, give your devoted and ready assistance to the common effort. Vast is the field in which your activities may prove useful: in the Church and in the State, in parliamentary and administrative life, in literature, in science, in the arts, in the various professions. Only one attitude is forbidden you—for it would be contrary to the original spirit of your station: We are referring to “abstentionism.” More than an “emigration,” it would be a desertion, since whatever may happen and however much it may cost, one must above all preserve, against the danger of even the smallest rifts, the strict union of all the forces of Catholicism.

It may well be that one thing or another about the present conditions displeases you. Yet for the sake and for the love of the common good, for the salvation of Christian civilization, during this crisis which, far from abating, seems instead to be growing, stand firm in the breach, on the front line of defense. There your special qualities can be put to good use even today. Your names, which resonate deeply in the memories even of the distant past, in the history of the Church and of civil society, recall to mind figures of great men and fill your souls with echoes of the dutiful call to prove yourselves worthy.

The battle of Seneffe, detail of the young Duc d’Enghien rescuing his father, the Great Conde, 1786 — Peinture de Bénigne Gagneraux, photo by Noel Olivier
Yet for the sake and for the love of the common good, for the salvation of Christian civilization, during this crisis which, far from abating, seems instead to be growing, stand firm in the breach, on the front line of defense.

The inborn sentiment of perseverance and continuity, the attachment to a healthy notion of tradition, are characteristic features of true nobility. If you are able to combine them with a vast openness of views on contemporary reality, especially on social justice, and an honest and sincere collaboration, you will be making a contribution of the highest value to public life.

These, beloved Sons and Daughters, are the thoughts We deemed suitable to communicate to you at the dawn of this New Year. May the Lord inspire in you the resolve to carry them out and deign to fecundate your good will with the abundance of His grace, in hopes of which We now with all Our heart impart to you, and to your families, your children, your sick and infirm, and to all those dear to you, near and far, Our paternal Apostolic blessing.

Signature of Pope Pius XII

Discorsi e Radiomessaggi di Sua Santità Pio XII (Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana, January 14, 1952), pp. 457-459.

 

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