by Fr Richard Heilman | March 28, 2016 12:56 AM
King: As Jean-Baptiste Chautard recounts in his book The Soul of the Apostolate, Pope St. Pius X was conversing with a group of his cardinals one day. The pope asked them:
“What is the thing we most need, today, to save society?”
“Build Catholic schools,” said one.
“More churches,” said another.
“Speed up the recruiting of priests,” said a third.
“No, no,” said the pope, “the most necessary thing of all, at this time, is for every parish to possess a group of laymen who will be at the same time virtuous, enlightened, resolute, and truly apostolic.”
Chautard continues, “Further details enable us to assert that this holy pope at the end of his life saw no hope for the salvation of the world unless the clergy could use their zeal to form faithful Christians full of apostolic ardor, preaching by word and example, but especially by example. In the diocese where he served before being elevated to the papacy, he attached less importance to the (count) of parishioners than to the list of Christians capable of radiating an apostolate. It was his opinion that shock troops could be formed in any environment.”
“Shock troops” (or assault troops) is actually a military term that refers to infantry formations, along with supporting units, created to lead an attack. Consider the Allied Forces of World War II moving toward the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. That first wave of men knew full well that their chances were extremely poor of ever leaving that beach alive, but they knew somebody needed to go first. It is no less than profound that the holy Pope St. Pius X would use a military term, shock troops, to describe the most necessary need of our times. The pope is resolute in acknowledging we are in spiritual warfare as he calls for an uncommon valor willing to be the tip of the spear, the vanguard, warrior saints unafraid “to lead.”
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