“There is nothing small in the service of God.” (Saint Francis de Sales).
I have been reading about the life of Pope Saint Pius X. This Pope is generally considered a great Pope and even greater Saint and the stories of his life that I have read so far have been very interesting to me.
The other day, I read a story that relates to the time when Pope Saint Pius X served as an altar boy in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. And the story was interesting to me for a few reasons…
You see, one day in the late 19th century (in the year 1888 to be precise) before the Saint became Pope Pius X – when he was still known as Bishop Giuseppe Sarto – Pope Saint Pius X was attending Mass at the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome.
While he was praying in the church prior to Mass, he noticed that the priest who was to offer Mass that day – and who was at least twenty years younger than him – was frantically rushing around the church. Upon enquiry he discovered that the reason for the priest’s stress was that there was no altar boy to assist him during Mass that day.
And so, the Saint approached the priest and said, “Father, allow me to assist at Mass today.” “Not at all,” the priest replied. “I cannot allow a bishop the indignity of being an altar server.”
But the Saint – who was a bishop and would later be a Pope – would brook no opposition and served as an altar server with that priest on that day.
And I have been reflecting on this humble action of the man who would take the name Pius when he was elected Bishop of Rome – Pope of the Church, because it is a reminder of what I must do to please my Beloved.
You see, God is not interested in titles, in power or in rewards of this Earth. I know this for a fact, because He told me – through His words and through His actions…
When Christ was being tempted in the wilderness, He was offered food because He was hungry, He was offered power because He was God and He was offered protection because He would suffer and die for our sins.
And though He could have had all of these things without any help at all – for Christ has a PERFECT HUMAN nature AND a PERFECT DIVINE nature – He choose instead to accept with humility all that it was that God had given to Him…
“And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, He was hungry. The devil said to Him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’’ And the devil took Him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, ‘To You I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If You, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.’ And Jesus answered Him, ‘It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.’’ And he took Him to Jerusalem and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to Him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear You up, lest You strike Your foot against a stone.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’’ And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:1-13).
And I have been thinking about that – about that humility of Christ – seen in His vicar on earth, Pope Saint Pius X.
And I wonder, can I be humble enough to serve as an altar boy when I am in fact a bishop?
And I pray for the humility to do God’s Will wherever I may be. Because as Saint Francis de Sales said, “There is nothing small in the service of God.”
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.