Summi Pontificatus EN 106


106 Venerable Brethren, the hour when this Our first Encyclical reaches you is in many respects a real "Hour of Darkness" (cf. Saint Lc 22,53), in which the spirit of violence and of discord brings indescribable suffering on mankind. Do We need to give assurance that Our paternal heart is close to all Our children in compassionate love, and especially to the afflicted, the oppressed, the persecuted? The nations swept into the tragic whirlpool of war are perhaps as yet only at the "beginnings of sorrows" (Saint Mt 24,8), but even now there reigns in thousands of families death and desolation, lamentation and misery. The blood of countless human beings, even noncombatants, raises a piteous dirge over a nation such as Our dear Poland, which, for its fidelity to the Church, for its services in the defense of Christian civilization, written in indelible characters in the annals of history, has a right to the generous and brotherly sympathy of the whole world, while it awaits, relying on the powerful intercession of Mary, Help of Christians, the hour of a resurrection in harmony with the principles of justice and true peace.

107 What has already happened and is still happening, was presented, as it were, in a vision before Our eyes when, while still some hope was left, We left nothing undone in the form suggested to us by Our Apostolic office and by the means at Our disposal, to prevent recourse to arms and to keep open the way to an understanding honorable to both parties. Convinced that the use of force on one side would be answered by recourse to arms on the other, We considered it a duty inseparable from Our Apostolic office and of Christian Charity to try every means to spare mankind and Christianity the horrors of a world conflagration, even at the risk of having Our intentions and Our aims misunderstood. Our advice, if heard with respect, was not however followed and while Our pastoral heart looks on with sorrow and foreboding, the Image of the Good Shepherd comes up before Our gaze, and it seems as though We ought to repeat to the world in His name: "If thou ... hadst known ... the things that are to thy peace; but now they are hidden from thy eyes" (Saint Lc 19,42).

108 In the midst of this world which today presents such a sharp contrast to "The Peace of Christ in the Reign of Christ," the Church and her faithful are in times and in years of trial such as have rarely been known in her history of struggle and suffering. But in such times especially, he who remains firm in his faith and strong at heart knows that Christ the King is never so near as in the hour of trial, which is the hour for fidelity. With a heart torn by the sufferings and afflictions of so many of her sons, but with the courage and the stability that come from the promises of Our Lord, the Spouse of Christ goes to meet the gathering storms. This she knows, that the truth which she preaches, the charity which she teaches and practices, will be the indispensable counselors and aids to men of good will in the reconstruction of a new world based on justice and love, when mankind, weary from it course along the way of error, has tasted the bitter fruits of hate and violence.

109 In the meantime however, Venerable Brethren, the world and all those who are stricken by the calamity of the war must know that the obligation of Christian love, the very foundation of the Kingdom of Christ, is not an empty word, but a living reality. A vast field opens up for Christian Charity in all its forms. We have full confidence that all Our sons, especially those who are not being tried by the scourge of war, will be mindful in imitation of the Divine Samaritan, of all these who, as victims of the war, have a right to compassion and help.

110 The "Catholic Church, the City of God, whose King is Truth, whose law love and whose measure eternity" (Saint Augustine, Ep. CXXXVIII. Ad Marcellinum, C. 3, N. 17), preaching fearlessly the whole truth of Christ and toiling as the love of Christ demands with the zeal of a mother, stands as a blessed vision of peace above the storm of error and passion awaiting the moment when the all-powerful Hand of Christ the King shall quiet the tempest and banish the spirits of discord which have provoked it.

111 Whatever We can do to hasten the day when the dove of peace may find on this earth, submerged in a deluge of discord, somewhere to alight, We shall continue to do, trusting in those statesmen, who before the outbreak of war, nobly toiled to avert such a scourge from the peoples; trusting in the millions of souls of all countries and of every sphere, who call not for justice alone but for love and mercy; above all, trusting in God Almighty to Whom We daily address the prayer: "in the shadow of thy wings will I hope, until iniquity pass away" (Ps 56,2).

112 God can do all things. As well as the happiness and the fortunes of nations, He holds in His hands human counsels and sweetly turns them in whatever direction He wills: even the obstacles are for His Omnipotence means to mould affairs and events and to direct minds and free wills to His all-high purposes.

113 Pray then, Venerable Brethren, pray without ceasing; pray especially when you offer the Divine Sacrifice of Love. Do you, too, pray, you whose courageous profession of the Faith entails today hard, painful and not rarely, heroic sacrifices; pray you, suffering and agonizing members of the Church, when Jesus comes to console and to heal your pains, and do not forget with the aid of a true spirit of mortification and worthy practice of penance to make your prayers more acceptable in the eyes of Him Who "lifteth up all that fall: and setteth up all that are cast down" (Ps 114,14), that He in His mercy may shorten the days of trial and that thus the word of the Psalmist may be verified: "Then they cried to the Lord in their affliction: and he delivered them out of their distresses" (Ps 106,13).

114 And you, white legions of children who are so loved and dear to Jesus, when you receive in Holy Communion the Bread of Life, raise up your simple and innocent prayers and unite them with those of the Universal Church. The heart of Jesus, Who loves you, does not resist your suppliant innocence. Pray every one, pray uninterruptedly: "Pray without ceasing" (1Th 5,10).

115 In this way you will put into practice the sublime precept of the Divine Master, the most sacred testament of His Heart, "That they all may be one" (Saint Jn 17,21) that all may live in that unity of faith and of love, from which the world may know the power and efficacy of Christ's mission and of the work of His Church.

116 The early Church understood and practiced this Divine Precept, and expressed it in a magnificent prayer; do you associate yourselves with those sentiments which answer so well to the necessities of the present hour: "Remember, O Lord, Thy Church, to free her from all evil and to perfect her in Thy love, and sanctify and collect her from the four winds into Thy Kingdom, which Thou has prepared for her, because Thine is the power, and the glory for ever" (Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles, C 10).

117 In the confidence that God, the Author and Lover of Peace, will hear the supplications of the Church, We impart to you all as a pledge of the abundance of Divine Grace, from the fullness of Our paternal heart, the Apostolic Benediction.

Given at Castel Gandolfo, near Rome, on the twentieth day of October, in the year of Our Lord, 1939, the first of Our Pontificate.

Summi Pontificatus EN 106