Good Pius X
( Originally Published 1907 )
The Pope here shows fatigue, for his attitude is drooping and his firm features have relaxed. Yet the labors of the day are not over ; the heavy responsibilities of his position will never end for him until death releases him from his great office. The higher the office the more imperious the service. It was philosophy as well as love which prompted Our Lord, when He washed the feet of His disciples and wiped them, to warn the simple souls that the greatest among them must be the servant of all the rest. This is the actual condition of every ruler. Underlings may take vacations and even forget responsibility, but the Chief is never free. This is especially true of the Pope, who cannot even resign unless failure of mind and body make a successor absolutely necessary. The Church in several instances suffered too severely from the existence of two Pontiffs in the world ever to run the risk of a similar misfortune again. In former times he was rarely but cautiously permitted to resign. In modern times the thing is not even discussed.
The Pope is the keystone of the Catholic arch, the very pivot of the wheel, and he must hold office until the end. The weariness of earth is on the face of Pius X at this moment. It is not an expression peculiar to him alone, since the humblest suffer from it as well as the greatest. It is interesting to see it, because it teaches us that no matter how high and enviable the position held by man, he may not escape the physical limitations of nature.