The Feast of Saint Peter Claver (United States)
In the late spring of 1749 the Catholic world seemed to be at peace. The fervor of the Protestant revolt a quarter of a millennium earlier had worn thin and the disasters of the ensuing Thirty Years War by then had passed out of living memory. Pope Benedict XIV even seemed to entertain a serious hope of bringing the Protestants back into the Church as he penned the encyclical Peregrinantes. Thus, as he proclaimed a Holy Year for 1750, he declared the Church to be at peace in the following words:
God has granted His people peace after the calamities of a long war; may this gift which God gave for the temporal tranquility of His people lead also to the improvement and, finally, to the eternal salvation of this same people.
But the Holy Father also issued a warning. Though there was temporal peace that did not mean that the enemy of the human race had given up the fight:
A new kind of war against the enemies of our salvation must now be waged. The license of thinking and acting must be curbed. The luxury and the pride of life must be restrained and cupidity for gain must be kept in check. All impurity must be purged and all enmity eliminated. All hatreds must be abolished.
But it was not to be. Pope Benedict XIV’s command went unheeded and the peace did not last. A few weeks before the Holy Father’s death nine years later he appointed a Cardinal to investigate the first charges made against the Jesuits in Portugal by Voltaire and his cronies. The Jesuits were the Church’s greatest defense against an approaching evil that she didn’t yet understand well enough, since they operated on an international basis under the direct command of the pope. The occult lodges, which had been condemned by Benedict XIV’s predecessor, were gaining strength and that peace which God had given to his people faded into history.
Pope Benedict XIV died in 1758, and four years later Jean-Jacques Rousseau distilled the errors of Luther and of Calvin, of Locke and of Hobbes and of Descartes into a single disastrous sentence that unleashed a reign of terror all over the earth and laid a curse on the human race that persists to this day: Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains! All of the evil facets of fallen human nature that Benedict XIV had proposed to eliminate were then amplified to an unheard of extent, and an orgy of pride and hatred, of murder and of lust, unknown in the whole history of the man on this earth, commenced which persists to our own day.
Yet the papal command remains. And, even though there has now been a lapse of a quarter of a millennium, the war that Pope Benedict XIV proposed must yet be waged. We must curb our license of thinking and acting. We must restrain our luxury and pride of life and keep in check our cupidity for gain. And we must purge impurity and eliminate enmity. And we must abolish hatred. We must start with ourselves and then teach the world again what our fathers once knew. And we must make reparation for all that we have done and for what our fathers threw away.
Please pray three Hail Marys in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.