July 18, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — With his inaugural encyclical E Supremi of October 4, 1903, the supreme pontiff who succeeded Leo XIII eloquently outlined the program of his pontificate: Instaurare omnia in Christo, “to restore all things in Christ.” As subsequent years would prove, Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto (1835–1914), who reigned as Pius X from 1903 to his death in 1914, committed himself bravely and energetically to this mission. Pius X looked with tender love on his own flock, ready to guide it into pastures of sound doctrine and holiness, while he gazed out with anguish upon the ever growing multitudes of unbelievers, lost sheep for whom he felt the Good Shepherd’s compassion.
The first pope in many hundreds of years to have been canonized (due to the lofty and stringent norms for canonizations in place before Vatican II), Pius X was single-mindedly dedicated to the reform of the Church, above all in her liturgical and devotional life. His writings indicate that he always considered the internal strengthening of the Church, the deepening of her life of prayer and sacrifice, her best and, in truth, her only safeguard against depredations from without and dissensions from within.
Like Benedict XVI, Pius X knew the fundamental importance of preserving and preaching Catholic identity, the irreducible uniqueness of our faith, without which the Church has nothing definite and salvific to offer mankind. No matter how much the world changes in its structures, no matter what technology is developed and deployed, the human condition is ever the same: man the sinner is always in need of God’s mercy, always in need of the salvation Christ alone offers to us through the ministry of the Church He founded. It is in light of this stubborn adherence to the immutable essence of the Catholic Faith that we must understand Pius X’s battle against the “Modernists.”
While Modernism was an exceedingly complex movement, the spirit behind it can be discerned in this quotation from its most famous intellectual, the ex-priest Alfred Loisy:
It appears evident to me that the notion of God has never been more than a sort of ideal projection, a replication of the human personality, and that theology has never been, nor could it ever be, more than a mythology that becomes with time more and more sanitized. ….