November 2010 - Superior General's Letter #77
The sum total of events that the Society has encountered over the past 40 years is beyond all imagination. She has been punished because of her obedience to the faith and her fidelity to doctrine. Two points intimately linked should be underlined: The Kingship of Christ and the priesthood. There is a movement towards a return and the Society can offer an important contribution.
Dear friends and benefactors,
Fourty years ago, on November 1, 1970, Bishop François Charrière, bishop of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg, signed the decree founding the Priestly Society of St. Pius X. At that time, who would have thought that we would have to make our way through these forty years as we have done? For the sum of the events that our society has encountered since this date is beyond all imagining. To begin with, the unjust suppression that would strike it five years later…
Too great a love for the Church
Cardinal Oddi resumed the reason for this situation by saying that Archbishop Lefebvre had acted out of too great a love for the Church! A rather surprising argument to explain an impressive series of condemnations. What is certain is that our society has known a destiny unique in the annals of the Church’s history.
The consecration of the four bishops certainly amplified the controversy in which the Society has been involved almost since the beginning of its foundation. And yet this controversy has never ceased to touch those who hold dear the conservation of the most precious principles of the Catholic Church. They glory in their title of faithful and are so attached to these essential elements that they have merited the label of “traditionalists”. They have a horror for contestations, subversion, revolution, and, in spite of this, ever since the beginning, they appear as rebels, contestants in open opposition to authority, an authority that they claim to want to recognize sincerely and yet which they oppose firmly.
Yes, these contradictions encountered throughout our little history bring us to repeat with a deeply moved amazement the words of St. Paul when he retraces the trials he himself underwent: “by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true, as unknown and yet known, as dying and behold we live, as chastised and not killed, as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as needy, yet enriching many; as having nothing, and possessing all things.” (2 Corinthians 6:8-10)
Punished because of obedience
But we can go even further in these reflexions, especially when we see that we are punished precisely because of our obedience, particularly because of our attachment to the truths proclaimed by the Church of all times and because of our opposition to the errors condemned by her. This is what has won us so many curses from those who today have the authority in the Church. To the point where, even today, some consider or declare us to be schismatic. Although we wish only to spread the good news of Salvation, our actions and initiatives are considered dangerous by many; the least of our actions provokes reactions that are totally out of proportion. Would one take greater precautions to defend oneself against the devil himself?! Truly we bear in us the sign announced by the prophet Simeon to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lord’s sign of contradiction. Even if that involves much suffering in our hearts, much incomprehension, in spite of all, we rejoice at having a part in the sufferings of Our Lord and in the magnificent beatitude, the last one listed by St. Matthew: “Blessed art thou when they shall revile thee and persecute thee, and say all manner of evils against thee, for my sake. Rejoice and be glad, for thy reward is great in heaven” (Matt. 5:11-12).
All these elements remind us that here below the Church bears the name “militant”, for she must always fight. The end assigned to her by Our Lord, which consists in saving souls, cannot be obtained without battle, a battle essentially spiritual, but very real, that suffers here and there more or less marked temporary relapses. Our Lord Jesus Christ fought a definitive battle with the devil to tear from him those poor souls that come into the world in his power, with the stain of original sin. This battle is the battle of all times; to forget it would be to condemn ourselves to be unable seriously to understand anything of the great history of men. As for us, we bear daily the stigmata of this combat, and it is an occasion of great gladness. The spiritual authors have always considered trials as a good sign and even a mark of predilection. Since today men do everything to forget and even deny these fundamental truths of the spiritual combat, we are happy to contribute our little part by keeping alive in our own flesh such a truth.
Not that we do not hope for peace, which will come with time, at the good pleasure of Divine Providence, whom we by no means wish to press.
Fidelity to the doctrine
In this, we follow closely in the path traced out for us by our venerated founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. A luminous path in the midst of the shadows of the most terrible trial that can come to a Catholic: that of finding himself in the situation of contradicting the Roman authorities and even the Vicar of Christ. These forty years are so full of lessons that show just how right Archbishop Lefebvre’s perception was. Of the Council, the causes of the crisis, the decadence of the priesthood, the weakening of the doctrine, the Church’s unprecedented friendliness towards the world and other religions, liberalism. But also of the remedies to be applied, that depend upon fidelity to the doctrine as well as to the plurisecular discipline of the Church. Indeed, we have no inventing to do! The means given by Our Lord to His Church are still as fruitful as ever and they always will be, for they come from God, Our Creator and Savior; the faith and grace surpass all circumstances of time and place, all contingencies, for they essentially surpass human nature, its capacities and its hopes. These means are properly supernatural.
That is why Archbishop Lefebvre’s path is still of the present moment. What he said thirty, forty years ago is still perfectly pertinent today. This demands of us a great gratitude to God for having given us – and to the whole Church – such a bishop. There is no doubt that, if in the Church his precious indications were followed, the whole Mystical Body would be better off and would soon come out of this crisis. But seeing what is going on in the Church, even if here and there appear gleams of hope, we must admit that, over all, the ship is pursuing the course begun at Vatican II – course a little slower, certainly, with Benedict XVI, but now hardly more than a free-fall broken by a parachute.
Social Kingship of Christ
Among the lessons that Archbishop Lefebvre has left us, we would like to underline two that he considered intimately linked.
The first is concerning the social kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in other words, the title and the rights of Our Lord Jesus Christ, true God, Creator of the entire universe, for whom and by whom all things were created (Col. 1), and true man. “All power has been given to me in heaven and on earth”: these words come to us directly from His divine lips. This royalty expresses well that, even if the first mission of Jesus Christ is the salvation of men, it in no way cancels out His other prerogatives, which He uses in the service of this first end. How much easier it is for souls to save themselves when the civil society, penetrated by principles that inspire Christian law, exercises over them this beneficent influence by laws in conformity with the natural and eternal law! One need not reflect much to realize all the benefits that the temporal society can and should give to the men that make it up and that God has created for a supernatural end. His Excellency resumed this question with the lapidary sentence: “it is because the social reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ is no longer at the center of the preoccupations and activities of those who are praepositi [leaders] to us, that they have lost the sense of God and of the priesthood.” Wishing to fall in line with the world, they have lost sight of the essential, God. The same goes for the one who was chosen by God to lead men to Him, the priest.
The Council and the cult of man
Paul VI said already at the end of the Council that more than any other, the Church has also the cult of Man. John Paul II spoke of the anthropocentrism of the Church. These few expressions show clearly the shift that has taken place since Vatican II: the Church’s new preoccupation is man. There where before, it was – and it always should be, for there can be no other end – the glory of God, inseparable from salvation. To serve God, to honor Him, to glorify Him, that was men’s reason for living, and therefore that of the Church! Following the trend of the world, it is as if we have forgotten God even in His Temple, substituting there the cult of man.
Let the authorities of the Church give God, Our Lord, back His place in the world and the restoration of the Church will follow as if by miracle! Of course, one must not confuse everything; Catholic doctrine has always recognized that the Church and civil society are two perfect, distinct societies, having each its proper end and means. But that eliminates God from neither the one nor the other.
The liberal and socialist world wants to free itself from the yoke of God, and there is nothing more fatal for the human creature. The present situation of the world, that has never gone so far as today in its aspirations to an independence from its Creator, spreads further every day the sorry results of its senseless designs. Everywhere there is instability, fear. Indeed, what do the rulers have in mind for the years to come? And the businessmen and economists?
If the time is not come for Christ to reign
“If the time is not come for Jesus Christ to reign, then the time is not come for governments to last” (Cardinal Pie). All things, and not only supernatural things, find in Him their consistency. A world without God is without sense. It becomes absurd. The common end of all creatures is and will always remain in God. Consequently, the best means of obtaining a true peace and prosperity in this world is to respect and submit to Him Who made it.
That is what the Church should remind today’s world of, and that is where the priest comes in, the priest whose mission Archbishop Lefebvre recalls to us. This is the second lesson, intimately related to the first.
The role of the priest
The fallen world, like fallen human nature, cannot find its perfection outside of Him Who was sent to it by the Father. Even if the mission of Our Lord is essentially supernatural – since it concerns the salvation of men, their redemption, their purification from sin by the satisfactory sacrifice of the Cross –, it addresses nonetheless men who are at the same time destined to this supernatural end and members of human and civil society. Thus, when they are sanctified, they necessarily bring the greatest good to human society. There is no place for opposition or contradiction in the plan of salvation; on the contrary, the greatest harmony is also the most desirable, each one remaining in its proper place and order.
Thus the priest, totally given to the perpetuation of the sacrifice of Our Lord the High Priest, will render to God the cult and the homage due to Him, and will at the same time bring to men the benefits of God. From all time the world has needed this mediation, and it has always been the work of the priest who, alter Christus, plays a central role in men’s future.
“To restore all things in Christ” cannot be an option among others; it is really and truly a necessity that comes from the nature of things, from their state of created beings. It matters little that modern society proves deaf to such a discourse! Let it pursue its dreams, the awakening will only be all the more painful! But more than ever the Church has something to say to the world. And it will always be the same thing.
The events of these past years show a certain movement towards a return, up until now still very slight, but quite real all the same. No doubt the Society of St. Pius X can offer an important contribution. But it is still quite difficult to predict anything more concrete in its relations with Rome.
Finally, we wish to continue our marial bent, to confirm the necessity of the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and to pursue our prayer campaign. Let us besiege Our Lady’s throne of graces; by the multitude of roses of our rosaries let us offer her our homage, let us persist in our request and intensify our supplication: may her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart triumph! May she deign to hasten this blessed time!
We do not forget you, dear friends and benefactors, in our daily prayers and thanksgivings. May God reward you a hundredfold, especially in eternal graces, for your generosity, and may He bless you abundantly.
† Bernard Fellay
First Sunday of Advent
November 28, 2010