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Archbishop Lefebvre & the Holy Ghost Fathers (3)

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The third article in the series about the battle between the Holy Ghost Fathers & Archbishop Lefebvre.

The Year of All Dangers

On March 7, 1968, the weekly Rivarol published an article by Archbishop Lefebvre entitled: “Some Light on the Present Crisis in the Church.” This public stance caused quite a stir among the members of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost. The Superior General denounced the “doctrines that question the truths considered until now to be the immutable foundations of the Catholic Faith” and expressed his dismay at seeing them spread inside the Church by the action of her ministers. He recalled the divine foundation of the institution of the Church and the assistance of the Holy Ghost, promised to the Magisterium in order to reject error and heresy. He lashed out at the “joint efforts of the Communists and Freemasons to modify both the Magisterium and the hierarchical structure of the Church.” In their eyes, collegiality and the spirit of democracy are the perfect means to “ruin the Faith by corrupting the Magisterium of the Church, to stifle personal authority by making it depend upon multiple organisms that it is far easier to infiltrate and influence.”

Archbishop Lefebvre recalled how Christ asked persons, the Apostles, and not a collective group, to feed his flock. The Magisterium can never be made subject to a majority. In both teaching and governing, collegiality paralyzes authority and makes the salt of the Gospel lose its savor:

Only in our times has there begun to be talk of the Church in a permanent state of Council, of the Church in continuous collegiality. The results have not taken long to appear. Everything is upside down: the Faith, morals, discipline.” The consequences could already be seen: “The Church’s power of resistance to Communism, heresy and immorality has considerably diminished.

Lucid and clearsighted as it was, the article was bitterly discussed in the congregation and earned its author and the Provincial of France several letters of protest. At the seminary of Chevilly, the director, professors and students voiced their unease and their refusal. Fr. Hirtz, General Councilor, wrote to Fr. Morvan, the Provincial of France, on April 12 to tell him just how well he understood and shared the various reactions. He believed that the Superior General’s declarations, publicly expressed in a “classified” journal, “cause a serious prejudice, sow division and disarray among the members of the Congregation and, alas, compromise the success of our upcoming General Chapter” (Béguerie, p. 405).

The Opening of the Chapter

This was the atmosphere when the General Chapter began in Rome on Sunday, September 8, 1968.

In his report, Archbishop Lefebvre proposed several reforms, such as entrusting the General Assistants and Councilors with more responsibilities, reorganizing the provinces, postponing the date of religious professions, accepting non-religious missionary candidates, etc. He also presented the resignation of the General Council, but this did not mean that the congregation was without a head.

In fact, the Chapter was supposed to be purely administrative, since the superiors had been elected in 1962 for a twelve-year term. Archbishop Lefebvre intended to go to the end of his term, but in 1967, he began to consider resigning. After an interview with Cardinal Antoniutti, prefect of the Congregation for Religious, on March 14, 1968, he wrote to tell him on May 7 of his decision to resign from his charge. Indeed, it would have been difficult for him to remain, as his Assistants had announced to him their intention of resigning as soon as the Chapter opened, “no matter what” (Perrin, p. 167).

During the first work session, on Monday, September 9, the chapter members neutralized the powers of the Superior General in the direction of the Chapter. In order to do so, they abolished the two-thirds majority rule prescribed in the Constitutions. A simple majority was then enough to adopt the following motion to relegate the Superior General to the role of an honorary president and hand the direction over to an elected central committee. Archbishop Lefebvre protested, asking that the Superior General be president by right of this Committee in charge of directing the Chapter’s work. In the end, his request was refused by a vote of 63 to 40 on Wednesday, September 11. What a humiliation!

The chapter members did, however, accept the presence of the Secretary General with a vote of 54 to 52. Whatever denials were later made, it is clear that the Chapter was organized democratically in order to “make a profound reform by returning to the Gospels, to the founders, and by adequately adapting to today’s world” (Fr. Morvan’s report on the departure of Archbishop Lefebvre).

At 11:30 a.m., the First Assistant announced that he would preside over the session, and Archbishop Lefebvre left the Chapter. The work continued in a peculiar atmosphere. The rules in effect were suspended, the secrecy on the deliberations was abolished, the novitiate was replaced by periods of spiritual formation and internships, obedience gave way to co-responsibility, dialogue, team work, and group dynamics, and the missions became a “dialogue of salvation” in the ecumenical spirit of the times. Some students and young fathers appealed to the Chapter as “experts on the mentality of young people” and this appeal was voted in (Béguerie, p. 442).

On September 30, at the 4:00 p.m. general assembly, Archbishop Lefebvre reappeared and read a text he had prepared during his stay in Assisi, where he had gone to reflect and pray. He exhorted his brethren to remain faithful to the spirit of Fr. Libermann and to strive for holiness, which is essentially apostolic. The means to do so are “the religious life and community life which bring about the life of self-denial, the life of prayer, and the life of fraternal charity…”. He lamented the state of mind that was spreading and leading to the rejection of these means:

Their individualism, their selfishness, and their thirst for freedom and independence have prevailed against the religious life, community life, the life of obedience, and prudence with respect to the world, the life of real detachment from the goods and comforts of this world. They have prevailed against the realities of life in community which is our mortification and compels us to practice charity and live the life of prayer.

On October 4, the freshly resigned Superior General went to the Sacred Congregation for Religious. In the absence of the prefect, Cardinal Antoniutti, he was received by Archbishop Mauro the new secretary. Archbishop Lefebvre explained to him that he was no longer a member of any committee and that he was no more than a simple spectator of the revolution in progress. The secretary responded:

You understand, after the Council, you have to understand…I am going to give you some advice that I have just given to another Superior General who came to see me about the same thing. ‘Go on,’ I said to him, ‘take a little trip to the United States. It will do you good.’ As for the chapter and even for the congregation’s present business, leave it to your assistants! (Bishop Tissier, p. 373).

The authority of the Superior General collapsed because it was not supported. There was nothing left but to throw in the towel. The final word had been spoken!

For the Honor of Archbishop Lefebvre

During the Chapter, very few defended Archbishop Lefebvre and the authority of the Superior General. Luc Perrin quotes the beautiful declaration of the Brazilian Fr. Cristovao Arnaud Freire on September 20:

The goal of the Chapter is to adapt, not to destroy… It is surprising to hear criticism of the Pope, the bishops and the Superiors from priests who are among us but who are really enemies of the Church and who let their passions lead them. From the very beginning, the Chapter has been dominated by a pressure group moved by personal grievances against Archbishop Lefebvre and incapable of distinguishing between his person and the Superior General… This Chapter is really a confabulation. That is why he has decided to withdraw from it and to return to the bush, contenting himself with praying to Our Lady of Fatima for the authors of all this evil.

Archbishop Lefebvre continued to take care of the day-to-day business and strived to maintain cordial relations with all. He even made suggestions to the Chapter as to the nature and end of the institute. In the end, Fr. Joseph Lecuyer was elected Superior General on October 28. On November 1, Archbishop Lefebvre left the General House and took refuge at the Institute of the Holy Ghost, on Via Machiavelli. Thus ended his mandate as superior, reduced to naught by the conciliar torment.

The last public act of Archbishop Lefebvre was to appear at an audience granted by Pope Paul VI to the members of the Chapter on November 11, 1968. After that, he withdrew for good. Providence had its plans. One day, he had confided to Fr. Michael O’Carroll: “If ever I have to leave the congregation, I will found a traditional seminary and in three years I will have 150 seminarians” (Bishop Tissier, p. 375).

A new chapter was about to begin. It would be written in Ecône.

— Fr. Christian Thouvenot

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Archbishop Lefebvre & the Holy Ghost Fathers (2)

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Following up from the previous post, here is the second article, continuing the story of the early days of Archbishop Lefebvre & the Holy Ghost Fathers:

https://fsspx.news/en/news-events/news/story-archbishop-lefebvre%E2%80%99s-resignation-2-40484

A Contested Superior

As member of the Coetus Internationalis Patrum, the group of conservative conciliar Fathers who tried to counteract the progressivist schemes and resist the imprecision and erroneous opinions expressed in the aula, Archbishop Lefebvre did not have the unanimous support of his congregation. Many were disappointed to see the Superior General of their congregation take sides against the innovators. Especially since he was not the only Spiritan bishop participating in the Council.

Forty-six Spiritan bishops participated in the sessions. Eleven of them, all French-speaking, expressed their growing unease as their superior’s position as a discordant voice became more and more pronounced. They drew up a document in which they mentioned the “disobliging remarks” from French bishops and cardinals in Rome, many of whom stayed at the French Seminary. On November 30, 1963, these eleven bishops presented their grievance to Archbishop Lefebvre, reproaching him for supporting Verbe, the journal of the Cité Catholique, for criticizing the newspaper La Croix, the press organ of the bishops of France, for his letter on wearing the cassock, that was not in keeping with the spirit of the times since it went against the dispositions of the French episcopate allowing clergyman suits, for Fr. Lecuyer’s departure from the Roman Seminary, and for his choice of the Canon Berto, who was not a Spiritan, as theological adviser to assist him at the Council. They also reproached him for taking a public stance at the Council (see Philippe Béguerie, Vers Ecône, Desclée de Brouwer, 2010, p. 255-257).

His calls to order on the priestly spirit, the necessity of prayer, the religious and apostolic life, and his warnings against Communism, secularism, and materialism were scarcely in keeping with the spirit of the conciliar aggiornamento either.

The time had come for a general reassessment of the methods of apostolate and the organization of missions. Besides the liturgical novelties and the unconditional openness to any and all experiments, the religious were quite taken with psychology and psychoanalysis. The magic word was seeking personal fulfillment, as Luc Perrin explains in his study (“Mgr Lefebvre, d’une élection à une demission”, in Histoire, monde et cultures religieuses, #10, June 2009, p. 165). The Spiritan province in Holland experienced an emblematic crisis: in a few years’ time, the scholasticates, novitiates and seminaries were emptied. The habit, the rules, the community prayers, the liturgy, the taking of and fidelity to the vows, everything was abandoned or transformed (see Côme de Prévigny, “Mgr Lefebvre: d’un chapitre à l’autre” in Fideliter, #244, p. 74).

A revolutionary wind had blown in.

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For a True Aggiornamento

For the time being, after the promulgation of the decree Perfectae Caritatis on October 28, 1965, Archbishop Lefebvre loyally undertook to reform his Congregation. The letter he signed on January 6, 1966 ordered the local superiors to have their communities study the conciliar texts and collect the suggestions they inspired in preparation for an administrative General Chapter. To this end, he created four commissions to prepare the reforms of the legislation, the formation, the religious discipline and the apostolate. But he intended to conduct all these reforms in such a way as to bring about a “true aggiornamento of the congregation regarding the religious virtues.”

Amidst all the talk of “independent learning and independent training”, Archbishop Lefebvre spoke up forcefully against this “abdication of authority in what is its essential role,” and against “the lack of realism which ends up causing chaos and indiscipline, represents a bonus to those who are daring and strong-headed, and leads to good, humble, and submissive religious being scorned.”

“Let us have our aggiornamento not in the spirit of a destructive neo-Protestantism that ruins the sources of sanctity” but “driven by the holy desires that have inspired all saints who were involved in reform. They were reformers because they loved our Lord on the Cross, and practiced obedience, poverty, and chastity. There, they acquired the spirit of sacrifice, oblation, and prayer which made them into apostles.” (Bp. Tissier, p. 364).

Despite his efforts to limit the effects of the conciliar reforms, a general slackness was spreading in the congregation. The first thing to go was the discipline of the religious life, but there were also many departures and a lack of perseverance among the candidates, and the life of prayer and contemplation was depreciated, giving way to activism in the accomplishment of the congregation’s works. To remedy this situation, Archbishop Lefebvre drew up an ambitious project in the beginning of 1967, hoping to implement a better formation for members and a better preparation to the priesthood and the missionary religious life.

In the meantime, the preparations for the Chapter were well under way. He entrusted it to the prayers of Padre Pio, whom he visited on Easter Monday, 1967. The holy Capuchin took a very dim view of the changes that would soon lead his own religious family to write up new constitutions. On September 12, 1968, he would write to Pope Paul VI these revealing lines:

I pray to our Lord that the Capuchin order continue its traditions of serious religious austerity, evangelical poverty, and observance of the rule and constitutions, while renewing its vitality and interior spirit according to the directives of the Second Vatican Council.

One might as well try to make a circle square… This attitude reveals the torment so many Catholics experienced during those years.

Already published: The Story of Archbishop Lefebvre’s Resignation (1)

Archbishop Lefebvre & the Holy Ghost Fathers

 

The Society is publishing a series on the battle between the Holy Ghost Fathers & Archbishop Lefebvre, over the doctrine & morality crisis that began to attack the Church in full force during the days of the Council.  Archbishop Lefebvre, saintly man that he was, handled his Congregation with such love & care, addressing the problem head on.  The following is the first article:

Fifty years ago, in the midst of the raging upheaval caused by the Council, one man found himself faced with the weighty task of assembling a Chapter to update his religious congregation and adapt it to the times. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers at the time, and in the midst of the dilapidating chaos, the experimental activities, the contestation and the upheaval, he chose to withdraw.

The story of the forced resignation of the Superior of one of the Church’s most important religious congregations is a page of history that reveals much about the crisis the Church is living through.

Elected by a Large Majority Six Years Earlier

In 1968, Archbishop Lefebvre had been superior of his congregation for six years. He was elected by his fellow religious with a large majority on July 26, 1962, in the second round of votes, and Pope John XIII approved the election two days later. The former archbishop of Dakar who had become bishop of Tulle six months earlier, left his diocese in Corrèze and moved to Paris, rue Lhomond, to the General House of the Spiritan Fathers. Assistant to the papal throne and member of the Preparatory Commission for Vatican Council II, his election as head of his congregation coincided with the opening of this assembly. All throughout the Council’s five sessions, he kept the members of his religious family updated on the debates, the texts adopted, and the decision made.

This study does not intend to present everything Archbishop Lefebvre said during the Council. Readers can find all his speeches in I Accuse the Council. The idea is rather to show how, over a period of six years, the situation became inextricably untenable. When he was elected in 1962, Archbishop Lefebvre inherited a delicate situation that can give readers an idea of the great difficulties involved in governing an institution that had fallen prey to the indecision and questioning of the period that followed World Wars.

A Headwind Mandate

Divisions and a harmful atmosphere were developing above all in France and particularly in Chevilly-Larue, the congregation’s main scholasticate. Authors with modern tendencies and experiments in self-management and self-formation were developing dangerously. Archbishop Lefebvre undertook to put an end to this. He demanded that the library containing the condemned works of Fr. Congar and Fr. Chenu be purged.

He transferred Fr. Fourmond, who was trying to eliminate apologetics and the treatise on the Blessed Virgin Mary from his theology class. In the spring of 1963, he sent precise directives to the superiors of the major scholasticates, ordering them “to remove all those imbued with Modernist ideas from teaching positions.” He exhorted them to show discernment in their choice of preachers for retreats and conferences, and authors for journals.

We must avoid everything that is likely to undermine respect for the Church and the Pope, and everything that minimizes the historical truth of the Scriptures, the value of Tradition, the fundamental notions of morality and sin, and personal responsibility. We must prevent the invasion of the spirit of the world in religious communities.

(Bp. Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Marcel Lefebvre: The Biography, Angelus Press, p. 345)

Archbishop Lefebvre renewed the teaching staff in the scholasticates, especially the deans of studies. In philosophy, he denounced the “great evils of our time, idealism and subjectivism. Thomistic philosophy alone gives us knowledge of the real.” In theology, he insisted upon “the importance of the Magisterium, and on Tradition and its relations with the ministry of sacraments and sacrifice”. He prescribed refectory readings of the main encyclicals and papal documents from Pius IX to the present, especially the acts of St. Pius X.

As for the liturgy, his orders were to follow the prescriptions from Rome, “avoid everything that comes from the personal initiatives of so-called liturgists”, keep the language of the Church, never fuse the para-liturgy with the liturgy, not to celebrate Mass facing the people, and not to receive Communion standing up.

The Reformation Turns into a Tornado

At the end of the year 1963, he insisted yet again on the very alarming situation in some of the Spiritan houses. Bishop Tissier de Mallerais describes the prelate’s appalling description:

Ruin of authority, unbridled freedom, the right to judge and criticize everything, the absence of humility. The loss of respect for colleagues, authority, and for themselves. The loss of modesty in dress, in looks, in reading and television. (…) Scorn for traditions, giving up Latin and Gregorian chant, and abandoning scholastic philosophy and theology.

Unfortunately, although Archbishop Lefebvre was lucid, he lacked decisive men capable of implementing the much-needed reforms. In Chevilly, he accepted the resignation of the rector and the replacement of three professors, but the new rector nominated in 1964 later admitted that he had betrayed his trust: “I pulled the wool over his eyes and used methods that were not to his liking. The students were my brothers, not my inferiors!” This attitude reveals an inability to practice “a truly fatherly authority that was both strong, capable of training priests, and able to withstand the craze for the new theology and for revolutionary teaching methods.” (Bp. Tissier, p. 348)

During the years of the Council, the direction Archbishop Lefebvre wished to give was more and more openly contested even within his congregation and under pressure from the other bishops, especially French bishops.

Coming tomorrow: The Impossible Aggiornamento

SSPX District Superior preaches on the North American martyrs & more

Fr. Jurgen Wedgner, US District Superior for the SSPX, speaks on the North American martyrs, the importance of the sign of the cross, the youth & purity.  Having met this man recently, I can definitely say he is a very gracious, holy priest.

“We begged God to accept our lives and our blood and unite them to His life and His blood for the salvation of these tribes.”  ~ St. Isaac Jogues

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Poem for the Church Militant by the Damsel

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I penned this poem some time ago, which I am very much proud of. I don’t write poetry but feel I was inspired in writing this. I find that it becomes more & more relevant with each passing day, as the Church faces it’s decisive battle between the children of darkness & the children of light.

“Rise up, knight, the Holy Church needs you
to fight for her honor against those who would
dishonor such a great and glorious Queen.

Faith, Charity, Truth, Valor, Prudence and
Fortitude, these are your beatitudes, with the
whole armor of God and your feet shod to
proclaim the Gospel of Our Lord and God.

Fearless and courageous, with the sword
of truth in your hand and the love of Christ
in your heart to reach the promised land.

Where art her defenders in her greatest
hour, to wrest the forces of evil from those
who are in power, for the hour grows late?

Stand out from the rest in your courage and
bravery, militancy and hatred for the slavery of
Modernism, for then we shall see who is the best.

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Fight like you mean it for truth, justice and honor,
and for all that is right, with your whole mind, soul
and might for this is the hallmark of a true knight.

When the hour grows late and weary you grow,
remember who you fight for, namely the Church
of the Lord, with all manner of foes inflicting upon
her the most bitter of blows to bring her to ruin.

To Rome you must ride with the Holy Angels of God
on your side, for Christendom, the Church, in Hoc
Signo Vinces, until she arise with the newness of
life in her eyes, at her glorious and grand restoration.

Satan encamps around the Church of our Master
always inflicting all sorts of disaster, to cause the
destruction of souls in the hereafter, always with
such gleeful laughter.

And so, Knight of the Church, fight you must for
your duty to God is to be militant and brave, for
His honor and glory so that souls might be saved.

Rise up, knight. The Church is in need of brave
knights who will never give up the fight, to
fight till the death even till the very last breath,
for the Bride of Christ, the Holy Church.”

~Damsel of the Faith

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Our Lady’s Birthday

Today is the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin, the day, we can say, that we can be assured of our salvation, for from Her was destined to come the Son of God, Jesus Christ Our Lord. Here is a meditation for the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, by Fr. Francis Xavier Weinger, 1876.  Happy Birthday to Our Lady, the pure, holy, spotless and Immaculate Mother of God!

 

“What an one, think ye, shall this child be?”–Luke i, 66.

When St. John, the precursor of our Lord, first saw the light of day, and when his father’s tongue was loosed, as he wrote the name of the child, people wondered and said: “What an one, think ye, shall this child be? For the hand of the Lord was with him.”

This child was to be the forerunner of our Lord, of Him who is to be the Saviour of the world, to prepare for Him a way by which to enter the hearts of the children of men. Had the neighbors, when they first saw the child, but known his high vocation, they would have had every reason to congratulate him, and to be glad over his birth. I shall apply this text: “What an one, think ye, shall this child be?” to the birth of the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of the Incarnate Son of God.

How many and how great reasons should have urged the people, who lived at the time of her birth, to congratulate the child, and to be glad. To them, however, these were not known. But we do know, and we, therefore, celebrate the memory of the happy occurrence of her nativity, as though this were the day on which our Blessed Lady first saw the light of day. It is in this spirit, as you are well aware, that the Church celebrates her feasts, and her prayer for today’s festivity confirms what I have just said. Be it then to her honor and to our consolation that I ask the question: what child is this that is born today? and what shall this child be?  The answer to the two questions shall be the subject of my sermon.

And thou, Mother of God, obtain for us the grace to know thy Dignity and Power, and our hearts will be filled with festive joy! I speak in the holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God! The chief reason why a whole empire often rejoices at the birth of a child, is because this child is heir or heiress to the throne. Then it is, that days of jubilee are proclaimed throughout the land. Observe, then, the character of the child that is born today. This child is the future Queen of heaven and earth, the Ruler of the powers of Nature, the Mistress, not only of the visible world, but of those spacious realms of glory that loom up with dazzling brilliancy beyond the skies. Yea, more, she is Queen of the Angels, in the order of their choirs,–of Angels, of Archangels, of Dominations, Virtues, Powers, Thrones, Principalities, Seraphim, and Cherubim. All the Choirs of Angels are hovering around the cradle of this child, and pay homage to their Queen.

Yet, even now, at the first moment of her life, this child is full of grace, surpassing, by the splendor of her virtues, all the Choirs of Angels who may justly exclaim in their bewilderment of joy: “Who is she, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, the one chosen Mother of the Son of God?”Already in her mother’s womb she was endowed with the full use of reason, so that with every breath she could gain merits that surpassed those of the angels and saints, and these merits would go on increasing to the end of her life. What a glorious spectacle for the Angels to behold this child! and her name should be Mary, which signifies–the sea.

It was not without a special intervention of heaven that St. Joachim and St. Anna gave the child of grace this name. For as all the waters of the rivers flow into the sea, and the sea majestically flows over them all, so should every grace which God ever granted to Angels and Saints, and will ever grant them to the end of time, flow into the heart of Mary, and be inundated with the fullness of her grace. Yet, what do I say: this Child is pleasing in the sight of Angels. Rather let us consider, with what complacency the Blessed Trinity looks upon this Child. “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased,” thus resounded the voice of the heavenly Father on Mount Tabor. And today the voice of that same Father is heard over the cradle of the Blessed Virgin: “This is My beloved daughter, in whom I am well pleased.” And the voice of the Son re-echoes: “This is My Mother, whom I have chosen from eternity, and in whom I am well pleased.” Beneath her heart I shall soon rest as God and man; shall first take substance from her. Her I shall afterwards embrace as My Mother, honor as my Mother, and glorify as My Mother. “This is My beloved spouse whom I have chosen from eternity, and in whom I am well pleased, My only spouse, immaculate.” Such are the words spoken by the Holy Ghost. And had a prophet been present at her birth, as at that of St. John, what might his prophecies have been? We know, for even then all that Scripture and tradition said of her dignity power, sanctity, and glory was fulfilled.

This child–such might have been the words of the Prophet–this child when scarcely three years of age shall consecrate herself, body and soul, to God in the temple. This child, as the virgin spouse of St. Joseph, shall receive the Angel’s salutation, and become the Mother of the Son of God. Being Mother to the Son of God, she shall nourish and nurse Him, live with Him for thirty years under the same roof, shall daily have His most holy example before her eyes; and, like Him, grow in age and wisdom and grace before God and men. She shall accompany Him on His apostolic journeys, hear His divine word, and witness all the wonders that He will work. She shall hear the cry of the people: “Blessed the womb that bore Thee, and the paps that gave thee suck.” And when the hour comes in which He will end the sacrifice of redemption on the cross, this child shall stand at the foot of the Cross, and there she shall hear the words of her dying Son: Woman, behold thy Son!

She shall remain on earth in the midst of the Apostles as their Queen, and as protectress of the Church, until saints of every rank shall have preceded her to heaven, and be ready to render her entry glorious. This child, when it shall have shone as the Mirror of Justice on earth, shall be taken, body and soul, glorified into Heaven Oh, what a day of triumph this shall be, when Christ shall embrace her as His Mother, lead her to her throne, where she remains seated forever, and enjoys the bliss and glory of her Divine Son. There she will entone that “Magnificat” which once on earth she sang in such rapturous tones of thanksgiving. There she will be our intercessor with Christ, recommending to Him each of her children, and showing herself the Mother of grace and of mercy, the refuge of sinners, the consoler of the afflicted, the restorer of the sick, our only hope after Christ our Lord.

The whole of Christendom, from its first beginning, and down through all succeeding ages, honored our Lady under all these titles. How many are the examples and witnesses that go to establish grounds for which the Church greets her with these titles, and that prove how accurately were fulfilled the words of the Queen of Prophets: “From henceforth all generations shall call me blessed! ”

Let us think especially of the many shrines erected in her honor throughout Christendom, and of the enthusiasm with which Catholics fifteen hundred years ago received the decree of the Council of Ephesus, declaring that Mary is the Mother of God, and is to be honored and praised and venerated as such. Coming to our own days, think of the ever-memorable year 1854, in which Pius IX published the declaration that Mary was conceived without stain, exempt from the defilement of original sin. Then it was that the “Te Deum” resounded over the length and breadth of the earth. Look at the many shrines in Europe, where faith has fructified for nineteen hundred years. There is scarcely a province in which Catholics do not assemble at some shrine, and where we do not see countless memorials kept to testify that Mary has proven herself to be the refuge of sinners, the restorer of the sick, the help of Christians. But still more impressive and still more consoling it is for us, her children, to glance into the sanctuary of our own hearts, to look back upon our life-long pilgrimage, and to see how often we ourselves have experienced our dear Mother’s help and protection.

Let me ask the sinner: “Who has obtained for you the grace of conversion?” Oh, it is Mary! I cried to her for help. To her I owe this grace. And who, O grief-stricken soul! was it that consoled you when your father, mother, husband, or child were snatched away from you by death? You sought relief from Mary. She consoled you. And to whom do you acknowledge your thanks for the recovery from this or that sickness, for the rescue from this or that danger? You took refuge to Mary. She stood by you. Who is it that will be your consolation and hope on your deathbed? It is Mary, the Mother of a happy death.

And may she be such to us in truth. May she, by her assistance, complete, even unto the salvation of our souls, the work of grace begun in us, in order that we, who have presented our hearty congratulations at her cradle, may behold her throne of glory, and that when, through death, we shall be reborn unto life eternal, departing this world under her guidance and protection, we may forever share her happiness in heaven. Amen!

110th Anniversary of Pascendi

A war has been waged in the Catholic Church this past century. Me thinks we are witnessing a climax.  Let’s make use of our weapons, our Saints & our Mass to overthrow the evil that has the Church in its stronghold, through the intercession of Pope St. Pius X.

 

https://sspx.org/en/news-events/news/110th-anniversary-pascendi-what-remedy-modernism-31924

On September 8, 1907, St. Pius X published his great encyclical against Modernism, Pascendi Dominici Gregis. 

This major document remains just as pertinent 110 years later.

In 1974, Fr. Roger-Thomas Calmel, OP wrote a preface to the second edition of the Catéchisme sur le modernisme (Catechism on Modernism) in which Fr. Jean-Baptiste Lemius, OMI, presents the encyclical Pascendi in a question-and-answer format. In his preface, the Dominican theologian considers whether there exists a remedy for Modernism which has infected the Church like gangrene, and his answer is:

It exists for sure. There are several, in fact. The evil is not incurable, since by faith we are sure that the gates of Hell will not prevail (Mt. 16:18), since the Lord will not leave us orphans (Jn. 14:18), since none can take from the Lord the sheep He holds in His hand (Jn. 10:28), since the Lord will continue to offer His sacrifice through the ministry of His priests donec veniat, until He returns (I Cor. 11:26). Therefore the evil the Church is undergoing will not destroy the Church. It can be healed. But this time, unlike what happened in the beginning of the century, the evil has greatly penetrated into the hierarchy itself. So long as the hierarchy has not eliminated the poison that infects it, the remedy can only be partial and limited. Doubtless the remedy will not come from the hierarchy alone, nor from the head alone. The body has to rid itself of the poison in all its members. But it remains that for the whole to be healed, the head needs to recover.
When we seek to find what remedy should be applied against Modernism, three fundamental questions arise: the question of the head of the Church, the question of the testimony to be rendered, and the question of theological studies.”

The Testimony of Tradition

Speaking of the testimony to be given by members of the Church, Fr. Calmel explains the precise conditions needed for this witness to be a truly Catholic response to Modernism. The most important passages are emphasized:

It is indispensable to confess the Faith, to bear public witness both with humility and gentleness and with pride and patience. For true confession of the Faith is a work of love, humility, goodness, and not only fortitude and courage. However, in times of Modernist revolution, new difficulties arise which keep the confession of the Faith and of the sacraments of the Faith from being a great work of love. But if it is not that, it remains very insufficient in the presence of God, angels, and men. If we had to bear witness to the traditional Catholic Mass before classic persecutors, if we had to face the tribunals of Terror and the Directory like our elders, we would obviously expose ourselves to a violent death simply by attending a Catholic Mass. In these conditions, how could we not hear or celebrate Mass with increased fervor? The violence would place us in a near occasion, so to speak, of growing in love in order not to commit the sin of denying the Faith. But today we have to deal with the Modernist revolution and not a violent persecution.
“Bearing witness to the traditional Catholic Mass undoubtedly requires a patient effort, but it does not actually place us in a state of necessarily growing in charity when we celebrate or hear Mass. We do not necessarily become apostates of the Mass if we continue to go with mediocre dispositions, whereas our persecuted elders would have become apostates if their interior dispositions had remained ordinary. There are in fact faithful and priests who, though they surely make an effort to confess their faith in the traditional Catholic Mass, persist in celebrating or hearing Mass with practically unchanged lukewarm dispositions. They do not seem to act with the great love that animated the martyrs of the Terror when they exposed themselves to death for going to the Mass of a refractory priest. They bear witness to the traditional Catholic Mass to a certain extent without being obliged to assist at or celebrate Mass with much love.
“Today there is practically no stimulus coming from the outside; but even without external provocation, the interior fire of divine life and mental prayer should be intense enough to make us bear witness to the Faith and the sacraments of the Faith with the love Our Lord desires. Not only Our Lord, but the souls of good will who are waiting; they hope to find this love in us, in order to find the courage themselves to turn to God and confess the Catholic Faith and the sacraments of the Faith.

The Specious Objection that Tradition is “Inadequate”

If our witness is penetrated with this love, the specious objection, that comes up in a thousand different forms, will be quickly swept aside. They tell us, ‘By teaching the Roman catechism, maintaining the traditional, Latin, and Gregorian Catholic Mass, you have no chance of influencing souls; you are preserving museum pieces; souls need a religion adapted to their needs; and this adaptation consists in adopting the spirit of the Council, entering into the evolutionary movement you call Modernism.’ (In truth, Modernism is not an adaptation, but a perversion under the cover of adaptation: non profectus sed permutation, in the words of St. Vincent of Lerins.)
“We know perfectly well that it belongs to the supreme authority to make ritual adaptations of general importance, and even more so to provide dogmatic explanations. When this authority is deficient, does any adaptation become impossible and are we left with being unadapted to our brothers of today, insofar as we confess the Faith of all times? It is a specious question and it is almost entirely resolved when the testimony is given with charity. For charity makes one attentive to the true needs of others, able to sense the right way to present the religion of all times so that it remains fitting in the present situation without being either corrupted or tampered with.
“Even when the supreme authority is deficient and the general adaptations, far from being accomplished in truth, have taken on the form of general perversions, even in these extreme cases, charity shows the simple priest and even more so the bishop, within the restricted field of his authority, the best way of preaching healthy doctrine and celebrating the Catholic Mass with the participation of the faithful without upsetting anything. There is no shortage of examples. The priests who keep the traditional, Latin, and Gregorian Catholic Mass out of a loving attachment to the Sovereign Priest, and therefore, inseparably, out of zeal for souls, know how to take care of the faithful and bring them to participate in the holiest possible way. These same priests captivate children by teaching them the catechism of St. Pius X and do not think they need to give in to Modernism in order to find a suitable way of teaching. However, these well-adapted presentations or this faithful adaptation can only be accomplished on two conditions: first meditating unceasingly on the traditional doctrine and rites in order to hold them as they are and never change or deform them; and then living in union with God so that the witness one bears to the Catholic Faith, the firm testimony one upholds, is a result of love.

The Spiritual Testament of Archbishop Lefebvre

For more on these interior dispositions that Fr. Calmel sees as indispensable in order to offer an effective remedy for the Modernist crisis ravaging the Church, the reader is invited to reread the Spiritual Journey of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, in which the founder of the Society of St. Pius X, one year before his death, recalled

the need, not only to confer the authentic priesthood, to teach not only the sana doctrina approved by the Church, but also to transmit the profound and unchanging spirit of the Catholic priesthood essentially bound to the great prayer of Our Lord which His Sacrifice on the Cross expresses eternally. (p. iii)

And he developed this thought a few pages further on:

Given that the Summa of St. Thomas represents the framework of knowledge of the Faith for each seminarian or priest who wishes, according to the desire of the Church, to enlighten his intelligence with the light of Revelation, and acquire accordingly divine wisdom, it seems to me supremely desirable that these priestly souls find in this Summa not only the light of the faith but also the source of sanctity, of a life of prayer and contemplation, of a total and unreserved offering of themselves to God by Our Lord Jesus Christ Crucified, thus preparing themselves and preparing the souls which are entrusted to them for a blessed life in the bosom of the Holy Trinity.” (p. 14)

He then went on to voice his wish for priests to write “a spiritual Summa from the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas”, of which he gives a luminous outline in his Spiritual Journey.

Some may tacitly criticize what they see as too spiritual a vision of the fight for the Faith, thinking it is a failure to understand the priorities and current emergencies…and, in a sense, a form of demobilization. Fr. Calmel shows at the end of his preface the exact nature of this fight that a soldier would call asymmetrical, and forcefully recalls the One who in these circumstances remains our indispensable help:

Our fight against Modernism, even if waged in prayer as it should be, even if the appropriate weapons are used, remains out of proportion with the evil. This time, the apostasy has fine-tuned its methods too perfectly for it to be defeated without a miracle. Let us never cease to implore the Immaculate Heart of Mary for this miracle. Let us continue the fight with all our strength as useless servants, but let us place our hope more than ever in the all-powerful intercession of Mary, the Mother of God ever Virgin, for it is she who, once again, will be victorious over heresy. Gaude Maria Virgo, cunctas haereses sola interemisti quae Gabrielis archangeli dictis credidisti.

After all, it was on September 8, the feast of the Nativity of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, that St. Pius X published his encyclical against Modernism.