One day, while the workmen were moving the coffin which contains the remains of His Holiness Pope Pius XII from one place to another (to make room for more office space), a noise was heard from within the coffin. In great fear, the workmen opened the lid to the coffin, and there inside and climbing out, as easily and naturally as one would climb out of an automobile at the end of a trip, was none other than His Holiness himself. He looked as hale and hearty as he had been on the day of his election to the papacy, and yet still also showing a venerable maturity of age he could never have been mistaken for such a young man. And he also obviously possessed all of his faculties, conscious of who he was and what he had accomplished as pope.
It was so obvious that he had been revived by what could only be properly described as a miracle that no one dared to question his identity. Being concerned with the Church and its affairs (and being himself an obvious living miracle) he asked to be taken in to see the current pope, and his request was granted. He was received with honor, wined and dined with many Cardinals and various curial officials, and at once also became the journalistic darling of the world.
Before the day was out, Pius XII expressed a desire to say Mass. Momentarily, the current pope and one of his aids exchanged a quick, worried glance, and the aid nodded briefly to the door.
"Excuse us for a moment," the current pope said to Pius, as he and his aid passed out the door to exchange only six words:
"See to it."
"Sorry for the interruption, now where were we?" the current pope said as he reentered the room and his aid hastily went off to set up for a traditional Mass.
When Pius entered St. Peter's main area, unannounced, the doors were cordoned off and the altar area also secured with a small army of Swiss Guards. Only such faithful as happened to be already in St. Peter's at that moment were permitted to remain as Pius began his Mass. The next day's Mass was announced in advance, and this time only all the most important people dignitaries, prominent people, and others whom the current pope desired to honor were invited, while eager tourists had to wait outside.
After the Mass, the current pope asked Pope Pius, "Do you know why you have been called back to life?"
Pius responded, "In Heaven, I was told that the Church was in need of my guidance. I didn't have to go, and I didn't want to leave Heaven, but it would be a great grace if I did go, since I am needed here for something. Perhaps you could tell me what it is."
The current pope had to think a moment before replying, "I think it might be something of a vocations shortage we seem to be suffering a bit. Um, actually a rather severe one to tell the truth. We've tried offering them a salary, we got all the restaurants here in Rome to agree to provide free meals to any clergy who visit, we have several rather aggressive programs in place to try to inspire the youth to vocations, but none of it seems to be working very well. The people don't seem to be donating very much, several dioceses and even some archdioceses have actually gone into bankruptcy, and frankly, we are waning as a church."
Now it was Pius' turn to ponder for a while. "These things sound no different from what I faced as pope. Except the diocesan and archdiocesan bankruptcies, of course. Are you sure there isn't more to those bankruptcies than merely low donations?"
"Well, there have been a couple of lawsuits. The world is just not as friendly a place as it was in your day."
"In my day, I faced down the German Nazis, the Russian (and other) Communists, and even gross corruption within my own Curia, which was my greatest cross of all. Persecution was reaching an all-time high around the world, with not only the Communists and Nazis and other atheists, but also rising pressure from the Protestants, the Moslems, and a growing media culture that was becoming increasingly anti-Catholic. As you did not mention any of these problems I have to assume that they are no longer problems, as all problems are ultimately temporary. But what you do tell me provides me with no reason that God should want me to come here to help."
The current pope just shrugged and meekly smiled. Nor was there any further opportunity for Pius to discuss his mission in returning to earth, though he continued pondering the question silently within himself.
So it went for some few weeks until the Feast of Corpus Christi came about and Pius asked to be permitted to perform a procession through the streets of Rome. This time the streets were cordoned off and again only special persons and the locals who lived or worked on the planned streets already were permitted to see the resurrected Pope walk by in procession, carrying the only thing more miraculous than himself, the consecrated Sacred Host in the monstrance.
As he passed by, even many non-Catholics, a number of atheists, Protestants, even a Buddhist and three Moslems (all prominent invitees), bowed in awe and resolved then and there to become Catholics. But as he took a planned turn down a side street, an athletic but sweaty and bedraggled young man burst through the crowd and stood before him with a look of the most dire desperation on his face. Before he could be stopped, he blurted out, "Your Holiness, you must see what horrible things have been done to the way our worship is done in the parishes! These people have lied to you and exploited your fame and your miraculous resurrection to their own ends!"
At once, three beefy security thugs grabbed the young man and carried him off, but the young man continued shouting, "They are not Catholics! They have become Modernist heretics! You must..."
A clammy hand of one of the thugs clapped itself over his mouth to silence him, but he continued trying to shout through the hand nevertheless, "Mmm-mm Mmmm Mm Mmmm-Mmmmm!" was all Pius could hear from him after that.
One of the security thugs returned to Pius, who demanded of him, "What in the world was that all about?"
"Oh, nothing. Nothing. Pay it no mind. Just some kook who snuck in somehow."
Realizing that he had a procession to finish, to be followed with a Mass, he resumed decorum and completed it. Needless to say, there were no further security incidents during that procession. But in the back of his mind he continued to ponder that event, and he wondered, what was that young man trying to tell him? Might this have something to do with why he had been sent back to earth?
That night, he resolved to find out. They had provided him with a small room on the second floor only a short distance from the current pope's own private apartment, and posted a guard at his door. It did not take him long to discover to his horror that the guard had been as much posted to keep him in as to keep other people out. So he dressed in the plainest clothes he could find, with a hood to cover his head, climbed out the window, and lowered himself to the street. No one saw him, and no one he later passed in the street recognized him.
He arrived at a local parish having a late night service. What he saw there first made him sick and then apoplectic with rage. Several times he had to pull an usher aside and ask him, "Are you sure this is a Catholic Church, in union with the pope?" What he heard only confirmed his worst fears, as did what he heard from the parishioners afterwards (such very few as did not zip away immediately). Again, nobody recognized him and they responded to him as they would have to just any stranger showing up at the door.
"Is it like this all over the world?"
"Oh yes, this is quite typical."
"And they all use the vernacular?"
"Oh yes, that is the modern liturgical norm. See the liturgical guides coming out of Rome these days!"
That was enough for Pius. He stormed back to the Vatican and demanded to see the current pope.
"What is going on here?" he demanded of the current pope. "Are these 'liturgical guidelines' as official as I was told that they are?"
"If you'll let me explain..." the current pope began wheedling, but Pius was having none of it.
Angelic anger filled his eyes as Pius XII coldly informed the pope in a level voice "What's going on there is absolutely NOT Catholic - and you've allowed things to be that way. How dare you!"
"Well, if you'll let me explain. There was a Council. All of the Church bishops and cardinals and experts got together and decided that it was time for the Church to stop closing in on itself and instead to reach out to the world at large."
With that, Pius' anger level shot up an order of magnitude, "And what was the Church supposedly to have been doing all those two thousand years before that Council, during my reign, and the reigns of all my glorious predecessors clear back to St. Peter himself? Playing Mumbly Peg?"
"We just felt it was time to bring the Church out of the Dark Ages and into the Modern Age, to bring it in step with the times. All we really did was make a few minor adjustments."
"Minor adjustments? The Faith of billions has been devastated, and here you sit complaining about a lack of vocations and financial donations. I think it has become very clear why I am needed here."
"That will be enough," the current pope told Pius in the coldest voice he could muster. "I have tried to see to your comfort and needs, to hail your resurrection to the world as a great miracle. Pah! What a laugh! I don't need your criticisms, your sermonizing, and I am the one in charge here, not you. You may have been in charge once, but that was a long time ago. Times have changed, and now I am pope and you are nothing. Go back where you came from; go back to your heaven. I don't have to listen to you any more. Security!"
At once, the same beefy security guards who grappled away the young man at the procession now did likewise with Pope Pius, as they hauled him in the back, gave him a considerable roughing up, and finally left him for dead, dumping his remains in a garbage can in a back street of Rome. The current pope put the word out that the resurrected Pope Pius XII had returned to Heaven, having told him what a great job he was doing and that he also said that everyone should get behind his latest agenda.
But the same miracle which brought him back to life also saw to it that he was not really dead lying in that garbage can, but still alive. He climbed up out of that garbage can and began to wander the streets of Rome, and other parts of Italy. For several years he wandered in the streets, surviving as a beggar, recognized by none, but most of all despairing over what had become of the Church he had fought so heroically in his own time to protect from these very problems.
He wished he could die, wished he had not decided to leave Heaven, felt his return to earth a total failure, and now a disaster for his own soul. "Surely," he thought to himself, "I must be the last real Catholic left on the face of the earth."
But then a certain Scripture came to him. It was in his reading of the Breviary, which after a few years of despair he resumed, as he also resumed saying private Masses all by himself in private and secret, whenever he could obtain something closely enough approximating a proper host and wine for consecration. It stated, "Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all those whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him."
"Dear God, if there be any such seven thousand, or even a dozen such souls alive today, please show me them, for my spirit is dying for lack of saintly fellowship." He began praying this every day, and did so for quite some months.
One day, as he passed through a seedy part of an obscure European village, he heard a rather small and rather unimpressive choir singing the "Ave Maria," and it was live, not recorded, and though the singers were obviously not professionals, nor even trained in singing, the sincerity of their song nevertheless shone through, and he followed this sound to a small structure, all done up inside to be like a small informal Catholic chapel. Seeing the priest continue the Mass in Latin, he marveled, since he had not seen any of this since his ejection from the current Vatican.
Before, he would have merely written off such a group as though they were just some schismatic offshoot of the Church, but this time he chose to remain and see just what they had to say for themselves. As he watched, he noted that the Mass was being done correctly, the homily sound and solid, the people devout and reverent. After the Mass, he visited with the people there, learned how many of them had come from hundreds of miles away, just to be at an authentic traditional Catholic Mass.
They too had a recounting of history, including mention of a Council that changed everything. But instead of putting it in terms of "bringing the Church out of the Dark Ages into the Modern Age" and "reaching out to the world for a change" and so forth, they put it more accurately in terms of "stealing the Church's resources from the real Catholics" and "letting the barbarians come in and take over so as to smash everything."
These people, for their part, had wondered who this sad, weather-beaten man was who was falling on his knees and crying at their door. They too had heard about the resurrection of Pope Pius XII, and had for the most part dismissed the whole thing as a publicity stunt to rake in more believers for the new false church. When one of their members recognized him, the whole tenor of this visitation changed. Suddenly they were kneeling before him, kissing his finger where the papal ring should have been.
"You must come and meet our priest. He is very holy. If you really are Pius XII then he and all of us will very much want to know what you would have to say."
So they introduced him to their priest, Father Brenshaw. Fr. looked at him for a full minute, regarding him closely with his eyes, before asking him, "So, was that you whom they hailed some years back as the resurrected Pope Pius XII?"
"Yes, that's me."
"They said you returned to Heaven, and that you approved of the new pope and all his new programs. Did you?"
"No one ever heard ME say any such thing, because I never did. That's just a story."
They discussed theology, Pius examining Father for his theology to confirm that he really was a Catholic priest and not any kind of dissenter, and the humble priest, for his part, learning about the former pope's decision to answer the will of God in returning to earth in order to provide guidance to the Church, his adventures in the Vatican, and his sorrowful wanderings until he arrived at this tiny congregation.
"To us," Father Brenshaw explained," it is as if you were the last real Pope the Church ever had, all those coming after you being at best very naive and ignorant and trusting of the most obviously villainous persons imaginable, and at worst in all-out cahoots with the bad guys who were out to undermine the Church. On behalf of my congregation and of every traditional Catholic like us all around the world I implore you, Holy Father! So long has the Church been without your divine guidance. Please guide us now, for we need that guidance now more than ever before. Tell us what we must do to be saved!"
At that, Pius XII knew that he had found the Church, and that God had finally answered his prayer. And in hindsight it stood to reason that it had to be answered, not only that God answers prayers, but also that God promised that His Church would not be prevailed over by the gates of hell. So there simply had to be at least a few real Catholics somewhere, and now at last he had found them. It was with a heavy heart that he learned also of what had happened with the traditional Catholics who had kept the Faith during this latest and most confusingly difficult crisis. He learned of the various feuds and fiascos of the loyal Catholics desperate to preserve their faith and also the apostolic succession. But in and through all that Pius also saw that amongst the failing, fallible men who had kept their faith at the cost of many mistakes, arguments, and desperate measures, the Holy Ghost had in fact thereby kept the Church Herself intact.
Finally, he knew what was to be done. All who would submit to him as the true Successor of Peter that all knew that he had been, and who stood unambiguously today for that same exact Faith and Church, would be absolved of any sins committed as a result of their confusion in this crisis. With this, the traditional bishops, to a man, all came and submitted to the true pope's authority, and ceased their infighting. Many more, long deceived by the false religion, as well as those deceived by many other false religions, gradually came to see that it was the traditional Catholics who were the reason for the miracle of the resurrection of Pope Pius XII. In time he led the traditional bishops to gather among themselves and choose from among their number one bishop to lead the Church, and with that decision, His Holiness Pope Pius XII returned to Heaven, with no unfinished business to weigh down the remainder of his glorious eternal reward.