A sermon of Archbishop Lefebvre, given on October 29, 1978 on the Occasion of the Ordination of 28 Deacons. The more sermons and writings we read of the man, the more we should recognize what a great saint he was. Please God, Archbishop Lefebvre’s name will be vindicated some day.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.
My dear friends and my dear brethren:
As each year, on this Feast of Christ the King, we have the joy of conferring ordination to the diaconate on some of the seminarians, and this year this joy is particularly great because by the grace of God they are numerous, and in addition there are the subdeacons who have come from Bedoin and also those of the Fraternity of the Transfiguration. We are very happy to see to it that the diaconate, which bears so many graces for those who are going to receive it, may always extend itself for the greater good of souls.
My dear friends: In a few moments you are therefore going to receive Spiritum Sanctum ad robur, the Holy Ghost with the gift of fortitude in particular. You are going to receive the Holy Ghost in order to fulfill your office; that is what the bishop is going to say in the middle of the preface by the sacramental formula. A character more profound and still more significant of Holy Orders is going to mark your souls; before God, before the Church, before all of the holy angels, before the entire celestial court you shall be henceforth deacons for eternity! And if one judges according to the monitions which are give by the bishop to the (sub) deacons before conferring upon them the diaconate, one sees that this function is very important.
The function of the deacon, says the monition, is to serve at the altar, to baptise and to preach: Servire ad altare, baptizare et praedicare.
To serve at the altar; but to serve at the altar in a manner which is closely related to that of the priest. Henceforth, the deacon will be able to carry the sacred vessels which contain the Blessed Sacrament. Henceforth, even though it be only in an extraordinary manner, he will be able to distribute the Holy Eucharist. He approaches therefore in a very close manner these holy mysteries, these great mysteries of our holy religion: the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Holy Eucharist-the great sacrament in the radiance of which the priest must live and in the radiance of which you, my dear friends, must live in an intensified manner.
To serve at the altar, to baptise and to preach. The Church, in the monition which she demands the bishop to pronounce before the ordination, gives you Saint Stephen as an example, an admirable example. This deacon, it is said in the Acts of the Apostles, had been chosen because he was filled with the grace of the Holy Ghost— plenus gratia et Spiritus Sanctus. And a bit further in these same Acts of the Apostles— Plenus gratia et fortitudine. If there is an example which you must follow, an example and a model, it is certainly this Saint Stephen, since he is given to you particularly by the Church. Indeed, Saint Stephen, filled with the grace of the Holy Ghost, preached. The Acts of the Apostles show in a striking manner, in a manifest manner to what point the listeners of his preaching were stupefied—and they saw him as an angel from heaven. He was radiating the splendor of eternity and in spite of this, his judges did not wish to accept his words and they did not wish to receive his preaching. Thus, in terminating his objurgations, Saint Stephen, with force, made them understand that they were no different from the others who had preceded them and who had killed the prophets. “The prophets who announced the coming of the Just, your fathers have killed; and you are similar to them for you have killed the Just Himself.” And upon hearing these words of St. Stephen the Acts of the Apostles say that their rage was at its height and that “they gnashed their teeth”— these are the terms of Sacred Scripture itself—and “they rushed upon Saint Stephen in order to stone him.”
Thus, my dear friends, I believe this is an admirable example for you today, in particular, on the Feast of Christ the King. You must have this contemplation, this vision in a certain sense, of the royalty of Our Lord Jesus Christ, as St. Stephen saw it in heaven. Our Lord present in heaven, the King of Heaven and not only the King of Heaven but, as well, King of the Earth. This is why St. Stephen did not fear to speak with force of the royalty of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the duty to obey Our Lord Jesus Christ. This is what the Scribes and the Pharisees, who had Our Lord put to death, refused and this is why they stoned Saint Stephen, indeed you also with the grace of God are going to become priests and exercise in a manner even more complete during your priesthood, your function of deacon. But already before receiving the priesthood you will be able to preach when the occasion presents itself and you must prepare yourself for this.
In this preaching, you will preach the royalty of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for it is not of other things that the priest has to preach.
You will preach this royalty first of all by prayer, through the example of piety, by the love of the altar, and by the love of the Holy Sacrifice to which you will henceforth be attached forever. You will manifest this attachment to the sacrifice of Our Lord by respect for sacred things, in order to encourage the faithful to respect them also, and to understand that these great mysteries are the source of our sanctification. You will pray therefore for it is through prayer and sacrifice that Our Lord saved the world, and you will not save it other than by prayer and your sacrifice. You will preach Our Lord Jesus Christ and His royalty by the example of your virtue, by your priestly dress, by your attitude, by your goodness, by your charity, by your zeal, in your conversations on all the occasions that you will have to approach the faithful and unbelievers; you will preach Our Lord Jesus Christ. And God knows that today the world has need of this preaching! St. Francis of Assisi in taking Brother Leo with him in the streets of Assisi said to him, “Let us go preach Our Lord Jesus Christ,” and Brother Leo accompanied him. After having traversed the streets of Assisi, St. Francis, not having pronounced a word, was asked by Brother Leo, “But how have we preached Our Lord Jesus Christ?” “By our example and by our habit we have preached Our Lord Jesus Christ,” and the world has need of this example, and the world has need of this preaching.
You will also preach Our Lord Jesus Christ by your words. We must establish His reign for He has commanded that we do so. Our Lord, in sending the seventy-two disciples to preach the Gospel did not speak of other things. Go! Preach the reign of God! The reign of God —Regnum Dei. This reign of God is HIS reign for He is God. He is Our God. We have no other God but Our Lord Jesus Christ! It is therefore the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ which His disciples preached. It is also the reign of God that Our Lord preached during the forty days which followed His Resurrection before His Ascension; it is the Gospel which says so: “He conversed with the Apostles of the reign of God.” It is thus the reign of God which preoccupied Our Lord; definitively His own reign. Thus, as Our Lord was preoccupied with this reign we are also, who are His disciples. We must always be preoccupied with the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ: the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ for ourselves, the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ for individuals, for persons, the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ for families, the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ in societies.
But you will not forget that opposed to the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ there is the reign of Satan. The reign of Satan has never perhaps been more extensive and penetrated everywhere into all domains as it has today. It surrounds us on all sides.What is the reign of Satan? The reign of Satan is the reign of scandal but scandal understood in its true sense understood in the sense of that which leads us to sin and, as a consequence, which leads us to HELL. That is scandal! Scandal is that which leads to sin, that which draws one into sin and indeed the reign of scandal is to be found in this world. Much is scandal around us, much is contrary to the law of God. Henceforth, in society, even the commandments of God are not only ignored but they are publicly and officially attacked. Laws are passed which are contrary to the law of God. All of this is legalized, officialized; the magistrates, the doctors are obliged to do some things which are contrary to the law of God, which are unjust, which are horrible, abominable! All of this in a time when one believes that our civilization has never been as great or as beautiful! On the contrary! This civilization bears the mark of SATAN and it bears the mark of HELL!
You will denounce these scandals in order to prevent them from leading souls to hell. You will not be afraid to denounce all that which drags souls into sin.
In order to have this courage and this force, you will ask these graces particularly of the Blessed Virgin Mary. You know, my dear friends, Mary is our Mediatrix Mother. She is the Mediatrix of all graces. The grace which you are going to receive in just a few moments by the imposition of the hand of the bishop and by the sacramental words which are going to be pronounced over you, this grace of the Holy Ghost is going to be given to you by the intercession of our good mother in heaven. Ask Mary. Ask her—your mother, to give you this grace in abundance that you may truly be deacons according to her heart, that later on you may be priests according to her heart as was her Divine Son. She will aid you to be apostles of the Kingdom of Our Lord and of the Reign of God.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.