On this feast of the institution of the Holy Eucharist and Catholic Priesthood, I wish to dedicate this year’s post to none other than Abp. Marcel Lefebvre. The reason is simply because the good fight of the Archbishop is the reason we still have both today. Without his providential fight to preserve these treasures, what would the Church have become? When conciliar Rome “suppressed” the Traditional Mass and Sacraments and nearly destroyed the Sacred Priesthood, it was Abp. Lefebvre and his brother-in-arms, Abp. de Castro Mayer, who fought against the grave system of errors that had infiltrated the Church through the Second Vatican Council. However, since Abp. de Castro Mayer was obliged to attend to the diocese he was entrusted with, it was Abp. Lefebvre who had the duty of spreading Tradition around the world.
And how the Archbishop succeeded! The most well-known example of his work is obviously the Priestly Society of St. Pius X, which is one of the greatest and most beautiful miracles the world has ever witnessed. However, his mission did not even extend only to the SSPX! One may observe the myriad religious communities of Tradition present even in today’s world. These were formed by the Archbishop encouraging priests of good will to establish true monasteries amidst the shambles. The Archbishop and these good priests literally picked up the pieces, so to speak, of their devastated Orders. Thanks to their noble efforts, all of the major Religious Orders(with the sad exception of the Jesuits, though the Abp. did keep their Spiritual Exercises!) were spared destruction. Most of these Communities the Archbishop helped raise still work alongside the SSPX today in the fight for Tradition.
Even then, the Archbishop’s influence was not solely confined to the “Traditional world”. For one, as the Archbishop’s work grew and flourished, Rome was forced to make several concessions. Although the “1984 Indult”, the “legal” but shackled Ecclesia Dei Orders, and even Summorum Pontificum were filled with compromises, Divine Providence has used these steps taken by Rome to lead Religious and faithful to full Tradition. The “Traditional Movement” has become ever more justified by even Modernist Rome! I have personally heard or witnessed myself many conservative diocesan priests praise the Archbishop for preserving the Traditions they still possessed. Perhaps this younger, conservative uprising in the Church is the beginning of the Restoration. We can pray!
I cannot end without noting the spirit in which Abp. Lefebvre accomplished his work. While the Archbishop remained firm and uncompromising in the fight, he possessed an extraordinarily good nature, one that was humble, tender, and compassionate. His beautiful meek example perfectly complimented his strong Faith, making Him a worthy figure of Christ to both his enemies and dear friends. His humility inspired him to maintain his position as simply a Bishop of the Catholic Church(not a Pope or a “Savior”) and to keep the proper respect for those who held positions of authority in the Church, even if he frequently had to oppose their ideas. When it became clear that, despite his great, patient efforts, there was no step the Archbishop could take with Rome without endangering Tradition, he recognized this great state of necessity and the action he was forced to perform. On June 30, 1988, Tradition and the Sacred Priesthood were assured survival by the consecration of traditional Bishops who continue to this day the work of Eternal Rome for the good of the Church and for souls.
Yes, does the Archbishop not sound like a certain great prelate predicted by Our Lady of Good Success?
An editorial of Fr. Benoit de Jorna, now Rector of The International Seminary of St. Pius X in Econe, published in Fideliter (September-October 1995) on the occasion of 25th anniversary of the Society of St. Pius X:
In these days when we celebrate the twenty-five years of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X, my thought turns to the great figure of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. These twenty-five years of life, after God, are certainly owned to him. On your behalf, I would like to express our gratitude.
THANK YOU, YOUR EXCELLENCY, for having been the core of resistance to the destructive innovations during the Second Vatican Council.
THANK YOU, YOUR EXCELLENCY, for having early supported by your authority Catholics who fought against progressivism, especially those of the Cite Catholique,1 a breeding ground for the future traditional resistance.
THANK YOU, YOUR EXCELLENCY, for resigning your office as Superior General of the Holy Ghost Father, so as not to condone in front of the Church the abandoning of the essence of religious life.
THANK YOU, YOUR EXCELLENCY, for having, during the crisis of vocations, welcomed young people willing to give themselves to God, and putting aside your tranquil respite to guide and support them.
THANK YOU, YOUR EXCELLENCY, for having, in 1969, left your peaceful retirement and founded age 65, a priestly society in the midst of the doctrinal, moral and liturgical debacle.
THANK YOU, YOUR EXCELLENCY, for having clearly seen, at the publication of the New Mass, the immense devastation that this Mass would cause and having refused to condone it in any way.
THANK YOU, YOUR EXCELLENCY, for having founded Econe, the seminary of the traditional priesthood, of the traditional Mass, of the traditional doctrine, the seminary of the hope for a renewal of the Church.
THANK YOU, YOUR EXCELLENCY, for having traveled the world for years, preaching, giving confirmation, opening seminaries, priories and schools and supporting the priestly, religious and Christian life.
THANK YOU, YOUR EXCELLENCY, for your statement of November 21, 1974, which will remain a monument in the Church history.
THANK YOU, YOUR EXCELLENCY, for having borne, for the Reign of Jesus, to be contradicted, defamed, attacked, betrayed, and finally condemned during the years 1974, 1975 and 1976.
THANK YOU, YOUR EXCELLENCY, for attempting everything possible to bring Conciliar Rome to the Catholic Truth, and further thanks to you for your clear-sightedness that has rescued us from its clutches before it was too late.
THANK YOU, YOUR EXCELLENCY, for having not wanted, at the end of your journey, to leave as orphans the priests and faithful and for having the courage to give us Catholic Bishops, despite the dangers.
THANK YOU, YOUR EXCELLENCY, for these twenty-five years and thank you for the years to come, which will exist because of your vision, of your courage and especially of your immense love of Jesus Christ.
1 A traditional Catholic organization found in 1946 by Jean Ousset, author of the book, Action: A Manual for the Reconstruction of Christendom.
~ Steven C.