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Pope Leo XIII wrote his encyclical letter Sapientiae Christianae in 1890. This was during what has become known as the Second Industrial Revolution. The prosperity of mankind was increasing in certain parts of the world. The steam engine was being replaced by oil fired engines. The railroads were expanding and the telecommunications industry was also expanding. Large scale production in factories and electrification were becoming common. There were great developments in the iron, steel and chemical industries. As man was becoming more affluent, his perceived dependence on God was lessened. God was becoming dispensable.
The Pope mentions this in the opening paragraph of the encyclical.
“Progress, not inconsiderable indeed, has been made towards securing the well-being of the body and of material things, but the material world, with the possession of wealth, power, and resources, although it may well procure comforts and increase the enjoyment of life, is incapable of satisfying our soul created for higher and more glorious things. To contemplate God, and to tend to Him, is the supreme law of the life of man.” (Sapientiae Christianae 1)
Pope Leo XIII returns to this theme and he laments the arrogance that has overtaken men in attributing their scientific advancements to their own ingenuity whilst ignoring God.
“But with what bitterness and in how many guises war has been waged against the Church it would be ill-timed now to urge. From the fact that it has been vouchsafed to human reason to snatch from nature, through the investigations of science, many of her treasured secrets and to apply them befittingly to the divers requirements of life, men have become possessed with so arrogant a sense of their own powers as already to consider themselves able to banish from social life the authority and empire of God.
Led away by this delusion, they make over to human nature the dominion of which they think God has been despoiled; from nature, they maintain, we must seek the principle and rule of all truth; from nature, they aver, alone spring, and to it should be referred, all the duties that religious feeling prompts.
Hence, they deny all revelation from on high, and all fealty due to the Christian teaching of morals as well as all obedience to the Church, and they go so far as to deny her power of making laws and exercising every other kind of right, even disallowing the Church any place among the civil institutions of the commonweal.
These men aspire unjustly, and with their might strive, to gain control over public affairs and lay hands on the rudder of the State, in order that the legislation may the more easily be adapted to these principles, and the morals of the people influenced in accordance with them. Whence it comes to pass that in many countries Catholicism is either openly assailed or else secretly interfered with, full impunity being granted to the most pernicious doctrines, while the public profession of Christian truth is shackled often times with manifold constraints. (Sapientiae Christianae 12)
This paragraph is a true reflection of modern Ireland. Under the auspices of a false ideology and in the name of progress, legislation has been passed which allows for the murder of innocent human beings in their mothers’ wombs. Whilst the number of these murders recorded in 2022 came to 8,156, they are not included in the annual death statistics. This is part of the grand deception which claims that abortion does not end the life of an innocent human being. That this contradicts the science of conception does not matter to the ideologists. They will continue their killing spree to maintain their promotion of a false sexual freedom. These falsehoods are now to be imposed on our primary school children. Abortion is now the third leading cause of death in Ireland next to cancers and diseases of the circulatory system.
Pope Leo XIII now speaks of the duties of Catholics who are faced with such a situation and he will also point out some of the dangers to be avoided.
“Under such evil circumstances therefore, each one is bound in conscience to watch over himself, taking all means possible to preserve the faith inviolate in the depths of his soul, avoiding all risks, and arming himself on all occasions, especially against the various specious sophisms rife among non-believers. In order to safeguard this virtue of faith in its integrity,
We declare it to be very profitable and consistent with the requirements of the time, that each one, according to the measure of his capacity and intelligence, should make a deep study of Christian doctrine, and imbue his mind with as perfect a knowledge as may be of those matters that are interwoven with religion and lie within the range of reason.
And as it is necessary that faith should not only abide untarnished in the soul, but should grow with ever painstaking increase, the suppliant and humble entreaty of the apostles ought constantly to be addressed to God: “Increase our faith.” (Luke 17:5) (Sapientiae Christianae 13)
In order to be able to defend the Catholic faith and to live it out in our lives, we have a duty to study and to know our Catholic faith. The enemies of the Catholic Church have always been aware of this and they have been very successful in undermining the teaching of Catholic doctrine in our Catholic schools.
The secular State has been taken over by men who deny God and who have infiltrated the Catholic school system to the extent that they now control the curriculum in Catholic schools. They still allow religion to be taught in public schools because they know that they can contradict the teachings with what Pope Leo XIII calls, “the various specious sophisms rife among non-believers” and they are also aware that those who job it is to promote an authentic Catholic education have compromised so as not to offend anyone or to be seen to directly oppose the secular State.
The Catholic faith in Ireland has been thus undermined for at least fifty years with the result that many, if not most, of the teachers in Catholic schools no longer believe or practice the Catholic faith. There are teachers who actively undermine the Catholic faith in Catholic schools.
For instance, the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO), which is the largest teacher’s union in Ireland, has been promoting the homosexual lifestyle to boys as young as four years old, for many years.
They run an annual competition called Different Families – Same Love which seeks to equate homosexual relationships with male/female marriage in the minds of very young children.
The INTO publish a recommended reading list which promotes the book ‘King and King’ to children in junior and senior infants. These children will be aged between four to six years old. The book tells the story of a prince whose mother is anxious for him to get married. They invite princesses from neighbouring kingdoms as possible suitors to the young prince but he does not like any of them. When the last princess appears she is accompanied by her brother and the children are told that the two princes fall in love. The princes then get married and the book finishes with an image of the two men kissing.
The largest teachers union in Ireland is actively promoting the homosexual lifestyle to four year old boys. This is contrary to Catholic Church teaching and contrary to nature and it will cause harm to any young boys who accept these erroneous teachings as being true. It will also harm the young girls who are exposed to these falsehoods as well. This is the situation that Catholic parents are now faced with in this brave, new, post-Catholic Ireland.
Pope Leo XIII continues his discourse with some of his strongest words.
“But in this same matter, touching Christian faith, there are other duties whose exact and religious observance, necessary at all times in the interests of eternal salvation, become more especially so in these our days. Amid such reckless and widespread folly of opinion, it is, as We have said, the office of the Church to undertake the defence of truth and uproot errors from the mind, and this charge has to be at all times sacredly observed by her, seeing that the honour of God and the salvation of men are confided to her keeping.
But, when necessity compels, not those only who are invested with power of rule are bound to safeguard the integrity of faith, but, as St. Thomas maintains: “Each one is under obligation to show forth his faith, either to instruct and encourage others of the faithful, or to repel the attacks of unbelievers.”(Summa theologiae, IIa-IIae, qu. iii, art. 2, ad 2m.)
To recoil before an enemy, or to keep silence when from all sides such clamours are raised against truth, is the part of a man either devoid of character or who entertains doubt as to the truth of what he professes to believe. In both cases such mode of behaving is base and is insulting to God, and both are incompatible with the salvation of mankind.
This kind of conduct is profitable only to the enemies of the faith, for nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good. Moreover, want of vigour on the part of Christians is so much the more blameworthy, as not seldom little would be needed on their part to bring to naught false charges and refute erroneous opinions, and by always exerting themselves more strenuously they might reckon upon being successful. After all, no one can be prevented from putting forth that strength of soul which is the characteristic of true Christians, and very frequently by such display of courage our enemies lose heart and their designs are thwarted.
Christians are, moreover, born for combat, whereof the greater the vehemence, the more assured, God aiding, the triumph: “Have confidence; I have overcome the world.”(John 16:33)
Nor is there any ground for alleging that Jesus Christ, the Guardian and Champion of the Church, needs not in any manner the help of men. Power certainly is not wanting to Him, but in His loving kindness He would assign to us a share in obtaining and applying the fruits of salvation procured through His grace. (Sapientiae Christianae 14)
Catholics are called to fight for the integrity of the Catholic faith and to promote the Catholic faith especially in times like ours when the Catholic faith is under constant attack. The enemies of the Catholic faith will always use the sins of Catholics in order to undermine and attack the Catholic Church but neither our own sins nor the sins of other Catholics should deter us from striving to become better Catholics.
We must realise that conformity to the precepts of God is in the best interests of the State and benefits our neighbour. When the State abandons respect for Almighty God “evils so vast have accrued that no right-minded man can face the trials of the time being without grave anxiety or consider the future without alarm” (Sapientiae Christianae 1)
To be cont’d…
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