An unofficial translation of the profound and powerful sermon on the nature of the priesthood given by His Lordship, Bishop Tissier de Mallerais at the ordinations at the Seminary of St. Pius X, Ecône, Switzerland, 29th June 2016.
Instaurare omnia in Christo
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Monseigneur the Superior General,
My dear brothers in the priesthood,
It is with great joy that we are undertaking this ordination of the numerous ordinands [8 priests and 12 deacons]. We remember the beautiful words of St. Pius X “To restore all things in Christ” …especially by the Catholic priesthood.
The feast of St. Peter and St. Paul, which we celebrate today, has this beautiful prayer that I invite you to ponder: “O God, Who made this day holy by the martyrdom of Thine Apostle Peter and Paul, grant Thy Church to follow in all things the teaching of those from whom she first received the faith.” To fully profess the teachings the Church received through the preaching of the Holy Apostles, the Catholic faith, is the purpose for which we will ordain these deacons and priests.
The priest, a real mediator between God and men
The priest, dear friends, is nothing other than the mediator between God and men, Mediator Dei et hominum.
Certainly our Lord Jesus Christ alone is mediator of redemption through the Cross, but the priesthood, instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ, is the instrument of Christ-the-Priest to implement the redemption of souls through the mouth, heart, hands of the priest – sending up the prayer of the Church to God. This prayer of praise, supplication of the faithful is sent up by the priest. The priest is an intercessory mediator.
And in return, the grace of God will descend upon the faithful through the heart, with the words, by the hands, by the gestures of the priest.
So the priest is really mediator between God and men, reconciling God with men – especially by the great prayer of atonement and supplication which is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass – which in turn obtains the propitiation of God toward sinners.
Symbolised by the incensation of the offertory
This lifelong, dual role of ascending and descending mediation, dear ordinands, is expressed very well in the incensing of the offerings in the Offertory of the Mass. The priest will start by drawing three signs of the cross on the offerings (i.e. the chalice filled with wine and the paten on which the host). He draws three large signs of the cross with the censer “Incensum istud – ad te benedictum – ascendat ad te Domine“. He says these words: “May this incense – by Thee blessed – ascend to Thee, Lord” to express prayer, the great prayer of our Lord on the Cross, the supplication of Our Lord on the Cross for sinners.
And then the censer will draw three concentric circles around the offerings “et descendat super nos misericordia tua” “and may Thy mercy descend upon us”: three encircling gestures as if God’s mercy was enveloping us all, entirely, to express, by the action of the priest, the grace, forgiveness, the mercy of God (true mercy) in response to the regret for sins and repentance of the sinner.
So it is in this spirit of Catholic priesthood as mediator between God and men I will order you, dear ordinands.
Loss of understanding of the Catholic Priesthood
Recently, oh it three years ago, a survey was made by the media in a European country deemed fervent in the Catholic faith. And it was a survey on the piety of the priest – to know what was the piety of the priest today.
The survey first touched upon the prayer life of the priest, because the priest is precisely the man of prayer and grace. And they were asked the question: “How long, how regularly do you pray, you Catholic priests of the Catholic Church?” And the result of the survey was that 42% of the priests of this “fervent” country did not even pray once a day, even less than that, and some did not pray at all. 42% of the priests of this country. This is the situation of the Church, the priesthood today.
The question was asked: “How regularly do you go to confession, you priests who also need to receive the sacrament of penance?” And the answer was that 54% go to confession once a year or less or less. That is to say, therefore, that the priest as the man of grace and mercy has disappeared from the face of the Church.
Mission of the Society of St. Pius X
Such is the current situation of the priesthood and therefore the urgency that the Priestly Society of St. Pius X, who received its inheritance of the Church from our venerated founder, communicates this ideal and even this reality of the Catholic priesthood – this mediator and sanctifying of souls, this reality of the priest as a man of prayer and of grace.
And the Society uses all appropriate means today, given the situation of the Church, to transmit to all the priests of the Church, the truth of the Priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, this reality of Christ Priest and King, communicates it to the whole Church.
Priest as Mediator symbolised in the ordination ceremony
This nature of the priest as mediator seems to me very simply illustrated in the ordination ceremony:
- by the anointing of the hands of the priest,
- by the tradition of the chalice and paten,
- and by the second imposition of hands accompanied by the power to absolve sins.
These three rites are performed after the actual ordination, when the ordinands are already priests by the silent imposition of hands by the Bishop and the consecration preface. They are already priests. Nevertheless the Church insists on these three secondary rites, to clarify what is the nature of the priest’s power.
1. Annointing of hands – to consecrate & bless
And first, the anointing of the hands, so beautiful, so rich in significance. The priest is not a man like the others, he is consecrated because of the anointing of his hands. When anointing the hands of the ordinand, the Bishop says these words: “Consecrate and sanctify, Lord, by this anointing and our blessing, these hands so that all they bless and consecrate may be consecrated and sanctified the name of the Lord.”
Now through your hands, dear candidates for the priesthood, you will accomplish wonders, you will consecrate and sanctify. Consecrate at the Mass, of course, holding the paten which will support our Lord Jesus Christ – His sacrificed Body, taking the chalice that will become the chalice of Precious Blood. So you will consecrate the Holy Eucharist – sacramentally renewing the Sacrifice of the Cross.
And you will sanctify souls by your hands, by all the blessings of the Church, by baptism, by the Holy Communions that you give.
Now, my dear faithful, this wonderful anointing the priest’s hands was sabotaged by the conciliar Church for the last 46 years. Paul VI instituted other words which do not speak of consecration or sanctification. That’s why we carefully keep this treasure of prayers of ordination.
2. Presentation of the chalice and paten – offer the Sacrifice
The second rite is the rite of presentation to the young priest’s chalice and paten, with very clear words: “Receive the power to offer the Sacrifice to God.” These words cannot be found in other part of the ordination. Nowhere. It is in this secondary rite you will find the ultimate precision of what the priesthood is that you will receive. Receive the power to offer the Sacrifice to God, and he continues, “and to celebrate the Mass both for the living and the dead in the name of the Lord.” To celebrate Mass, it is clear, both for the living and the dead.
Not just a sacrifice of praise for the living, but also the sacrifice of expiation and propitiation for the souls in purgatory about which we no longer talk in the Church today. Your priesthood is a priesthood that has effects in eternity, not only on earth but in heaven to bring souls to heaven and purgatory to rescue souls.
Archbishop Lefebvre told us: “The priest is a man of eternity, who does not live in time but whose priesthood has effects in eternity.”
Now this beautiful prayer was deliberately viciated, again, by the conciliar church, the new ordination rite where the Bishop presents the chalice and paten with the wine and host, and yes, simply saying: “Receive the gifts of the faithful to offer them to God.” So what is this? You receive the gifts of the faithful to offer to God? That’s all? We do not receive the gift of the faithful, we receive the gift of God which is our Lord Jesus Christ sacrificed on the cross to offer again to God His Father. That’s the truth! We cannot, of course, accept this new sabotaged rite of ordination which poses doubts about the validity of many ordinations according to the new rite.
3. Unfolding the chasuble – forgive sins
And the third beautiful rite, secondary it is true and yet so important, symbolises the power to absolve sins. The priest says to the ordinand, deploying his chasuble to signify that now he will be able to exercise his priesthood and all his priestly duties, he says, “Receive the Holy Ghost. Those whose sins you forgive will be forgiven and those you retain shall be retained.” The beautiful words of our Lord to the apostles on Easter Day, Easter Sunday evening. What could be more beautiful? They express this power, that young priests have already received by the laying on of hands and the silent preface this is true, but express explicitly that the priest has the power to forgive sins. You tell me, but only God can forgive sins. Exactly the priest is the instrument of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, to forgive sins.
Now my dear faithful that prayer, this rite of transmitting the power to forgive sin, was simply deleted from the new rite of ordination. There is no trace of it. So this new rite of ordination is not Catholic. And so we will of course continue faithfully transmitting the real and valid priesthood – made valid by the traditional rite of ordination.
I conclude, dear faithful, inviting you to invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary, her Immaculate Heart, which can only have pity for the plight of the Church of Rome today, so that she helps us to transmit the torch: to clearly preach the doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ, true God, true King, true priest; this doctrine of the priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ in which our future priests will participate today by the grace of God, Amen.
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. Amen
~Damsel of the Faith