Sunday, June 10, 2012

If this chalice cannot pass by me unless I drink it, may the will of God be done

From De vita contemplativa via RORATE CÆLI:
At the conclave of 1903, the Patriarch of Venice, Giuseppe Sarto, and the young Titular Archbishop of Nicaea, R. Merry del Val, met for the first time. In the unfathomable designs of Providence, these two men of the Church , so different in their culture and birth, would give unforgettable lessons to the history of the Church and prepare the triumph of the Catholic Faith in the face of the assaults of modernism. 

The Conclave of 1903 

On July, 20, 1903, the Holy Father, Leo XIII, died at ninety years of age. A few days before his death, Abp. Volpini, Secretary of the Sacred College of Cardinals who was to be the secretary of the future Conclave, died suddenly. Therefore, it was necessary to nominate a successor. 

The eyes of the Cardinals turned unanimously to Abp. Merry del Val, who was elected secretary of the future conclave, and that was due not only to his outstanding capacities, but above all to his eminent virtues, that rendered him the figure of a model priest, whom everyone looked upon with veneration. The young Archbishop of Nicaea sought to evade this election, showing forth his incapacity and inexperience in filling such a burdensome task, but nothing would convince the Cardinals who remained firm in their nomination. 

Merry del Val, seeing in that the evident manifestation of the will of God, resigned himself to it, and began preparing for the Conclave with zeal and an exactitude which revealed his profound and unconditional love for the Church. The task was arduous. 

25 long years had passed since the last Conclave and the situation had changed very much. But the Secretary of the Conclave was able to organize everything with extreme competence and decision, drawing upon himself the admiration even of those who did not know him. On July 31, the Cardinals entered the Sistine Chapel to start the Conclave. 

Though Merry del Val had worked for many years in the Vatican, he had never met the Patriarch of Venice, Giuseppe Sarto. He saw him at the Conclave for the first time, when the votes started to increase for him. Cardinal Sarto, bewildered and fearful, sought to convince the Cardinals not to elect him. In reality these attestations of the most profound humility drew upon him even more admiration and sympathy. And the number of votes increased. 

Then the Cardinal Dean charged the Secretary of the Conclave, Merry del Val, to go to Cardinal Sarto in order to beseech him, in the name of the Sacred College, not to persist in his refusal of the Pontificate. Merry del Val went to the Patriarch’s room, but he was not there. He found him, instead, completely alone, kneeling upon the floor, with his head in his hands, praying intently before the Blessed Sacrament in the Pauline Chapel. The Secretary kindly referred the message of the Cardinals to him. The Patriarch in tears, with imploring eyes, said: “No, no, tell the Cardinal Dean, I beg of you, that they must not consider me; ask them to do me this kindness!” to which Mgr. Merry del Val humbly added: “Courage, Eminence!” But at last the insistence of the Cardinals and the manifested will of the Sacred College overcame the Patriarch’s resistance who was thus elected as Pontiff. That was the first meeting between the future St. Pius X and his Secretary of State, who together would govern the Church during what was defined as the “Supernatural Pontificate”. 

In the act of accepting the Pontificate, Cardinal Sarto said: “If this chalice cannot pass by me unless I drink it, may the will of God be done.” When asked what name he would take, in a prophetic tone he replied: “Since the Popes who have suffered the most for the Church in this past century have taken the name of Pius, I will also take this name.” 

It was August 4, 1903. Having finished the most important of the duties, Mgr. Merry del Val, at the end of the audience, said to the new Pontiff: “Holy Father, my office as Secretary of the Conclave is over. I thank you for your kindness to me and ask you to forgive me my inefficiency and the mistakes I many have made in my official capacity. I leave to your Holiness these papers relating to the affairs still outstanding and on returning to my dear Academy, I beg your fatherly blessing.” Pius X looked at Merry del Val with those eyes of his which “seemed to go through eternity” and with a sweet and fatherly voice he said: “What, Monsignore, do you wish to leave me?” Deeply moved the young Secretary replied: “No, I have no wish to leave Your Holiness, but my office is at an end. The Secretary of State whom you will nominate will take my place and continue to direct affairs.” But Pius X replied: “Take back your papers, Monsignore. I beg you continue in your office as Pro-Secretary of State until I am ready to make a decision.” The young Archbishop of Nicaea could not resist the Pope’s plea and remained at his side. 

We have a saintly Pope,” - he wrote during those days to an English friend - “he seems very prudent and alert; he is very mild and has a charming personality.” 

[From: De vita contemplativa , Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, Italy. Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana]

The Life and Thoughts of Cardinal Merry del Val - V
Cardinal Sarto and Abp. Merry del Val: a meeting that changed the Church

No comments: