Abp. Lefebvre, Easter retreat, April 1988 (Part I)

            Our rule is that faith goes before obedience. The first obedience is the obedience of the faith. Faith goes before obedience to men whose duty it is to give us the faith. This position is simple, but clearly we find ourselves in opposition with those who destroy the faith. We have a double fight: there is the fight against the errors, and the fight against those who are in favor of the errors. It is difficult to be against the errors and not to be against the men who diffuse the errors. This is what makes it easy for those who attack us to say: “You battle against Rome and so you are against Rome, so you are against the Pope, so you are against the Council, so you are outside the Church.” These are reactions which are entirely comprehensible, and easy to make, but false. They suppose that Rome never makes a mistake, which is false.

            So, that is where we are, but if our role is to combat the errors, and also to oppose ourselves to and disobey those who diffuse the errors, that does not prevent us from trying to keep contact with them in order to try to convert them, in order to try to bring them back to Tradition. Perhaps it is an undertaking that is a bit presumptuous, perhaps a bit difficult, but at the same time, it is what God asks of us. Even if necessary to try to convert our superiors! What are we doing? But it is clear that they are in error, they are opposed to what their predecessors taught. We see the two texts. The text which is given to us now and the text which was given to us before are completely opposed. Who are we to obey then? Those who went before or those of today? We cannot obey both of them. That’s a contradiction. That’s what I said to Pope Paul VI when I saw him at Castel Gandolfo: “Most Holy Father, we are in an unbelievable situation. We are obliged to disobey you in order to obey your predecessors. Put yourself in our place. It’s an impossible situation. Consider what a situation it is for the faithful! There is a contradiction between what the Council teaches and Quanta Cura of Pius IX.” “Oh, we don’t have time to do theology here.” It is an easy answer to make, but it’s not an answer. It is serious.

            So, that is where we are, and we continue to be there. But keeping contact with Rome is a rather delicate business, rather delicate, because at the same time that we criticize them, we also have to correspond with them, we have to go from time to time to see them, at least the representatives of the Pope. Well, God permits things to happen in this way, that we keep our connection with Rome, and that at the same time we criticize Rome without fear. The letters that I have sent to the Pope with Bishop de Castro Meyer were not very tender. That is the least that one could say. The same is true of the little image (note: about the meeting of religions in Assisi in 1986) that I had made which was even criticized by not a few traditionalists. It even came into the hands of the Pope. That is what Cardinal Ratzinger told me. He was clearly not very edified by it. But I finally said to Cardinal Ratzinger: “if that could but save his soul”. You tell me: “We are giving lessons to the Pope!” These are catechism lessons! He lets all the devils into the Church and then he wants to be in the good books with God! He has to choose. Either he goes completely on the side of the demons, and stays with the demons, or he keeps to the side of the good God and he drives away the demons. What do you want? It is not complicated. It is the catechism in images. In spite of that, they want to correspond with us, they want to consider us as something. It also seemed to me that a principle that should always be kept is to convince by facts rather than convince by means of a propaganda campaign which would be made in our favor by all the media, by the radio, by television, etc.

msgr.png

Prayer for Vocations by Pope Pius XII

Lord Jesus, High Priest and universal Shepherd, Thou hast taught us to pray, saying: "Pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into His harvest" [Matt. 9: 38]. Therefore we beseech Thee graciously to hear our supplications and raise up many generous souls who, inspired by Thy example and supported by Thy grace, may conceive the ardent desire to enter the ranks of Thy sacred ministers in order to continue the office of Thy one true priesthood.

Although Thy priests live in the world as dispensers of the mysteries of God, yet their mission demands that they be not men of this world. Grant, then, that the insidious lies and vicious slanders directed against the priesthood by the malignant enemy and abetted by the world through its spirit of indifference and materialism may not dim the brilliance of the light with which they shine before men, nor lessen the profound and reverent esteem due to them. Grant that the continual promotion of religious instruction, true piety, purity of life and devotion to the highest ideals may prepare the groundwork for good vocations among youth. May the Christian family, as a nursery of pure and pious souls, become the unfailing source of good vocations, ever firmly convinced of the great honor that can redound to our Lord through some of its numerous offspring. Come to the aid of Thy Church, that always and in every place she may have at her disposal the means necessary for the reception, promotion, formation and mature development of all the good vocations that may arise. For the full realization of all these things, O Jesus, Who art most zealous for the welfare and salvation of all, may Thy graces continually descend from heaven to move many hearts by their irresistible force; first, the silent invitation; then generous cooperation; and finally perseverance in Thy holy service.


Art Thou not moved to compassion, O Lord, seeing the crowds like sheep without a shepherd, without anyone to break for them the bread of Thy word, or to lead them to drink at the fountains of Thy grace, so that they are continually in danger of becoming a prey to ravening wolves? Does it not grieve Thee to behold so many unplowed fields where thorns and thistles are allowed to grow in undisputed possession? Art Thou not saddened that many of Thy gardens, once so green and productive, are now on the verge of becoming fallow and barren through neglect?

O Mary, Mother most pure, through whose compassion we have received the holiest of priests; O glorious Patriarch St. Joseph, perfect model of cooperation with the Divine call; O holy priests, who in Heaven compose a choir about the Lamb of God: obtain for us many good vocations in order that the Lord's flock, through the support and government of vigilant shepherds, may attain to the enjoyment of the most delightful pastures of eternal happiness. Amen.

Ordinations.png

Prior's Word: Understanding a Vocation...

A vocation is truly a mystery, one of these truths we cannot fully understand. Why does the Almighty want to be so dependent on us to save other souls? Why does He choose this one and not that one, “dividing to every one according as He will”?

In the Gospel, it is interesting to notice Our Lord asking help for all kinds of things. For instance, passing through Jericho “Jesus, standing still, commanded (the blind man) to be called” (Mk 10:49); at the tomb of Lazarus, He asked the bystanders to “take away the stone!” (Jn 11:32); on Palm Sunday He asked the Apostles to “loose them (the ass and her colt) and bring them to Me” (Mt 21:2). He definitely could have done all these things alone… No, He wanted others to help Him.

There is also the manner in which He calls souls to His service. We see that already in the way He Himself called the Apostles: through John the Baptist (John and Andrew), one brother (Andrew) calling his other brother (Andrew calling Peter), directly (Phillip), a friend calling his friend (Philip calling Nathanael)… Vocation statistics show that the Holy Mass and Holy Communion play the first role in the springing of a vocation, then the example of a truly spiritual person, an old priest, a good nun… Often it will be through a silent reading (St Ignatius), hearing a sermon (St Anthony Abbot), a pilgrimage…  Many decided to give all to God following a severe sickness, or a near-death accident, or surviving a war…  Then, you have, as St Ignatius recommends, the rational analysis, the pros and the cons, what is the best life for me, or looking at my life from my death bed: what kind of life would I have liked to have lived…

The harvest is indeed very great and the workers so few.  Listen to a world famous recruiter of vocations, his words are so true even today:

“Many, many people hereabouts are not becoming Christians for one reason only: there is nobody to make them Christians. Again and again I have thought of going round the universities of Europe, especially Paris, and everywhere crying out like a madman, riveting the attention of those with more learning than charity: ‘What a tragedy: how many souls are being shut out of heaven and falling into hell, thanks to you!’ I wish they would work as hard at this as they do at their books, and so settle their account with God for their learning and the talents entrusted to them.

“This thought would certainly stir most of them to meditate on spiritual realities, to listen actively to what God is saying to them. They would forget their own desires, their human affairs, and give themselves over entirely to God’s will and his choice. They would cry out with all their heart: Lord, I am here! What do you want me to do? Send me anywhere you like – even to India.” (St Francis Xavier)

Mitte, Domine, operarios in messem tuam!

Send, Lord, laborers in Thy harvest!

Canadian martyrs.png

Meditations for Easter.., p.459, 462:

from The Passion and the Death of Jesus Christ by St. Alphonsus de Liguori

 Oh, happy are we if we suffer with patience on earth the troubles of this present life! Distress of circumstances, fears, bodily infirmities, persecutions, and crosses of every kind, will one day all come to an end; and if we be saved, they will all become for us subjects of joy and glory in paradise: Your sorrow  (says the Saviour, to encourage us) shall be turned into joy. So great are the delights of paradise, that they can neither be explained nor understood by us mortals: Eye hath not seen (says the Apostle) nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for those who love Him. Beauties like the beauties of paradise, eye hath never seen; harmonies like unto the harmonies of paradise, ear hath never heard; nor hath ever human heart gained the comprehension of the joys which God had prepared for those that love him. Beautiful is the sight of a landscape adorned with hills, plains, woods, and views of the sea. Beautiful is the sight of a garden abounding with fruit, flowers, and fountains. Oh, how much more beautiful is paradise!

…It is enough to know that in that blessed realm resides a God omnipotent, whose care is to render happy his beloved souls. St Bernard says that paradise is a place where “there is nothing that thou wouldst not, and everything there that thou wouldst.” There shalt thou not find anything displeasing to Thyself, and everything thou dost desire thou shalt find.

…What consolation will it not feel in meeting there with relatives and friends of its own who have previously entered into heaven! …

christ the king.jpg

A meditation for Easter Sunday… from a Dominican friar

How supreme the change that has taken place since the dolor and darkness of Good Friday! Then, the agonized Spouse of Christ was submerged in an ocean of bitter sorrow. Her altars were denuded; her ministers were clothed in the sable garments of mourning; a wail of grief went forth from her bosom, piercing the highest heaven.

Behold the glorious transformation of Easter Sunday! Our weeping Mother has dried her tears and hushed her sighs of grief. Her priests appear in vestments of white and gold; her altars are decked with lovely flowers and flaming lights; her organs peal forth exultant paeans, and, in a very rapture of gladness, she calls upon heaven and earth to join in her song of triumph, repeating again and again her thrilling “Alleluias.”

Nor is the Mater Dolorosa forgotten in those joyful canticles of Easter. Tenderly mindful of the sorrows of Mary, the Church cries to her to rejoice in the golden dawn of the Resurrection: “Regina cœli, lætare,” (she chants), “O Queen of Heaven! rejoice, because He whom thou didst merit to bear, hath risen, as He said. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary! because He is truly risen from the dead!” Yes, Blessed Mother, rejoice and be glad! No longer have hell and Satan power over your adorable Son. He lives and reigns forever, the immortal Conquerer of sin and death, and one day, when your grand work for God and His Church is completed, you shall share everlastingly in the joys of His kingdom!

O sweet and gentle Mother! recalling your profound emotions immediately after the death of your Divine Son, assist us to dwell awhile with you on the action of His adorable soul after its separation from the flesh upon Calvary’s cross. You remember the promise the dying Redeemer made to the poor penitent thief that he would be with Him that day in Paradise (Luke 23. 43). That pledge was faithfully fulfilled.

Our Lord appeared to His Blessed Mother just after His Resurrection, changing her sorrow into intense joy, and giving her in anticipation a share of the glory and happiness that awaited her in Heaven. How sweet and consoling must have been the converse of Our Lord with His Blessed Mother! How she must have thanked and congratulated Him for choosing her to be His companion in the sublime work of the world’s redemption — and for having vouchsafed her a share in His manifold sufferings and sorrows! And how Jesus, in turn, must have thanked His Blessed Mother, and praised and blessed her for all she did and suffered for Him from the moment of His Incarnation to His expiration on the cross! Let us try to picture to ourselves the overflowing rapture of Mary’s immaculate Heart when she beheld the glorified body of her divine Son. She did not go with the devout women when (as the Evangelist tells us) they went very early in the morning to anoint the body of Christ. She well knew that it had no need of the embalming spices or agents, since it was not destined to molder in the grave. She did not go to visit the tomb on Easter morn with the weeping Magdalen, for she was well aware that the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea was vacant of its divine Tenant. Already her adorable Son had visited and consoled her. And with what ecstatic joy must she have gazed on those hands and feet, lately so livid and lacerated, now shining as if adorned with dazzling jewels; on that glorified body, so horribly torn by the scourges, now resplendently arrayed with heavenly vesture; on that sacred face, once clouded by blood and bruises, now more brilliant than ten thousand suns, thence diffusing the light of the Lamb, which shall fill the New Jerusalem with ineffable delight, from everlasting to everlasting!

resurrection.jpg

Agony of Jesus in the Garden of Olives

An excerpt from the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ by St. Alphonsus de Ligurori

Simple Exposition of the Passion: Chapter V: Agony of Jesus in the Garden of Olives (p.174-176)

I.    And a hymn being said, they went out to Mount Olivet…  Then Jesus came with them to a country place, which is called Gethsemani.  As soon as they had said grace, Jesus leaves the supper room with his disciples, goes into the garden of Gethsemani, and begins to pray. But, alas, at the commencement of his prayer, he is assailed with a great fear, an oppressive tediousness, and an overwhelming sadness. He began to fear and be heavy, says St. Mark. St. Matthew adds, He began to grow sorrowful and to be sad. Hence our Redeemer, overwhelmed with sadness, said that his blessed soul was sorrowful even unto death. Then was presented before him the melancholy scene of all the torments and ignominies which were prepared for him. In his Passion these afflicted him one by one; but in the garden, the buffets, the spittle, the scourges, the thorns, the nails, and the reproaches which he was to suffer, came all together to torment him. He there embraced them all, but in embracing them, he trembled, he agonized, and prayed: And being in an agony, He prayed the longer. But, my Jesus, who compels Thee to submit to such torments? The love, he answers, which I bear to men constrains me to endure them. Ah, how great must have been the astonishment of heaven at the sight of omnipotence become weak, of the joy of paradise oppressed with sadness! A God afflicted! And why? To save men, his own creatures. In the garden he offered the first sacrifice: Jesus was the victim, love was the priest, and the ardor of his affection for men was the blessed fire with which the sacrifice was consummated.

II.   My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me. Thus Jesus prayed. My Father, he says, if it be possible, save me from drinking this bitter chalice. But he prayed thus not so much to be delivered from the torments that he was to endure, as to make us understand the pain which he suffered and embraced for the love of us. He prayed thus, also, to teach us that in tribulations we may ask God to deliver us from them, but that we should at the same time conform entirely to his divine will, and say with him, Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt. And during the whole time of his prayer he repeated the same petition. Thy will be done…And He prayed the third time, saying the self-same word.

Yes, my Lord, for Thy sake, I embrace all the crosses which Thou wilt send me. Thou, an innocent, hast suffered for my sake, and shall I, a sinner, after having so often deserved hell, refuse to suffer in order to please Thee, and to obtain from Thee the pardon of my sins, and Thy grace? Not as I will, but as Thou wilt: let not my will, but Thine, be always done.

III.   He fell flat on the ground. In his prayer in the garden, Jesus fell prostrate on the ground, because, seeing himself clothed with the sordid garment of all our sins, he felt, as it were, ashamed to raise his eyes to heaven.

My dear Redeemer, I would not dare to ask pardon for so many insults which I have committed against Thee, if Thy sufferings did not give me confidence. Eternal Father, look on the face of Thy Christ: look not on my iniquities, behold this, Thy beloved Son, trembling, agonizing, and sweating blood in order to obtain Thy pardon for me. And his sweat became as drops of blood, trickling down upon the ground. But, my Jesus, in this garden there are not executioners to scourge Thee, nor thorns, nor nails to torture Thee: what, then, extracts so much blood from Thee? Ah! I understand Thee: it was not the foresight of Thy approaching sufferings that then afflicted Thee so grievously; for to these pains Thou didst spontaneously offer Thyself: He was offered because it was His own will. It was the sight of my sins; these were the cruel press which forced so much blood from Thy sacred veins. Hence, it was not the executioners, nor the nails, nor the thorns, that were cruel and barbarous in Thy regard: no, my sins, which made Thee so sorrowful in the garden, have been barbarous and cruel to Thee, my sweet Redeemer. Then, in Thy great affliction, I too have added to Thy sorrows, and have grievously afflicted Thee by the weight of my sins. Had I been guilty of fewer sins, Thou shouldst have suffered less.

gethsemane.png

THE SYMBOLISM OF THE OFFERTORY - PART 10 (CONCLUSION)

Part X (Conclusion) - Angelus Press Conference 2014 – The Mass, Heart of the Church

4th Point: The Spirit of the Offertory continued:

St Thomas speaks of that consent, that ‘yes’ to things which are also beyond our control, the general hardships of life, a tsunami, an accident, a cancer, whatever painful falls on you without your control.  It is in the Summa when he speaks of the third element of confession, which is satisfaction. (Supplement Q15, a.2)

If the scourges, which are inflicted by God on account of sin, become in some way the act of the sufferer they acquire a satisfactory character. Now they become the act of the sufferer in so far as he accepts them for the cleansing of his sins, by taking advantage of them patiently. Fiunt autem ipsius inquantum ea acceptat ad purgationem peccatorum,eis utens patienter.

They become our asset when we say yes to God’s mysterious will.  That is our offertory in our daily life, and life’s unpredictable circumstances. They become ours, if we say yes to God. Fiat, fiat.

Finally, before concluding, I would like to highly recommend to you a little video, professionally made, comparing the Holy Mass and the Passion.  It is on YouTube.  Just type: A Meditation on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  You will discover new depths in the symbolism, not only of the Offertory, but of the whole Mass.

 

Conclusion

Let us conclude and sum up what I have tried to do during this little conference.

I hope that you now see more clearly that behind each gesture, each word of the Holy Mass, there are mysteries.  Please follow that up with the reading of commentaries on the Mass. It is sad to see that the enemies of the Church often know this better than we do.  They knew what they were changing when they made all the liturgical changes, when they changed the signs and the things signified by them.

I hope that you now see more clearly how the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, expresses the mystery of the whole Catholic Church, of the Communion of Saints.

I hope that you now see more clearly the wisdom of these repeated Dominus Vobiscum, particularly the 4th one, asking for the gift of fortitude as we begin the offertory.  We ought to daily hand ourselves over to Our Lord asking Him to accept us, and all we have to offer, to offer us with Him to the Eternal Father, to consecrate, to transubstantiate, to change us into Himself, as He does with the bread and the wine.

Dominus Vobiscum!

Offertory.png

PRIOR'S WORD: TRADITION (III/Conclusion)

I would like to continue stressing that the popes in their teaching did not write differently than these Fathers of the Church (see Part I and II).  They were deeply conscious that they had received a treasure and had to transmit it perfectly to the next generations. as it is defined in the First Vatican Council, dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus :

“The Roman Pontiffs, moreover, according as the condition of the times and affairs advised, sometimes by calling ecumenical Councils or by examining the opinion of the Church spread throughout the world; sometimes by particular synods, sometimes by employing other helps which divine Providence supplied, have defined that those matters must be held which with God's help they have recognized as in agreement with Sacred Scripture and apostolic tradition. For, the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter that by His revelation they might disclose new doctrine, but that by His  help they might guard sacredly the revelation transmitted through the apostles and the deposit of faith, and might faithfully set it forth.” (Denzinger Sch. 3069-3070). Here are two examples.

Tradition in the liturgy:

In a decretal letter of 416 A.D., Pope St Innocent I wrote: "If the priests of the Lord wanted to preserve the ecclesiastical institutions, as they are regulated by the tradition of the Holy Apostles, there would be no discordance in the offices and the consecrations. But when everyone thinks he can observe, not what comes from Tradition but what seems good to him, it follows that we witness a diversity in the manner of celebrating, according to the diversity of places and of Churches.  This inconvenience causes scandal for the people, who not knowing that the antique traditions have been altered by a human presumption, think that either the Churches don't agree among themselves, or that the Apostles have established contradictory things." (Dom Guéranger)

Tradition in Church law:

For example, on the order of the goals of marriage in canon 1013: “The primary end of marriage is the procreation and education of children; the secondary end is mutual support and a remedy for concupiscence”. The sources of this text are found in numerous documents of the Church over the centuries given in the footnotes of the Code of 1917 (NB. look at the years):

Eugenius IV, in the Council of Florence, Const. “Exultate Deo”, Nov. 22, 1439, n. 16; Benedict XIV, Const. “Dei miseratione” Nov. 3, 1741, n. 1; Leo XIII, Encycl. Letter “Arcanum”, Feb. 10, 1880; Holy Office, instr. (to the bishop of St Albert), Dec. 9, 1874, n. 5; Cong. of Prop. Fide, instr. (to the Greek-Rumen Bishop) 1858.

Popes always quotes their predecessors of past centuries.  That is the sign that they want to be faithful to Tradition.  So do we!

123.jpg

The Symbolism of the Offertory - Part 9

4th Point: The Spirit of the Offertory continued.....

We see here the link, the dramatic link between the infinite value of the Sacrifice of Our Lord, vastly sufficient to redeem the whole world, and all the interior problems of personal sanctification.  This relation is such, writes Fr. Combes, that each one of us, each soul carries within itself the responsibility of the concrete failures of the Redemption.  Each sinful autonomy, every lack of generosity partially renders inefficient the Sacrifice which by right should save a million worlds. 

However, it goes both ways, Father Combes rightly points out.  If selfishness paralyses Redemption, fidelity fulfills it. And it is no longer just about one’s personal sanctity, it is the secret to render effective the sanctification of all souls.

Let us continue with the words of St Therese Couderc herself, how she understood this total offering of oneself, ‘se livrer’.

But then, what does it mean to hand oneself over? I understand the whole extension of this word ‘to hand oneself over’ but I can’t explain it.  I only know that it is very vast, that it includes the present and the future.  To hand oneself over is more than to be devoted to, it is more than the gift of self, it is even more than to abandon oneself to God.  To hand oneself over is to die to all and to self, to have no more care of oneself except to make sure it is always turned towards God.  Moreover, to hand oneself over, it is also to seek ourselves in nothing, whether for the spiritual or for the corporal, I mean to no longer seek any personal satisfaction, but only the divine good pleasure.  We must add that to hand oneself over is also that spirit of detachment that holds on nothing, whether persons, things, time, places.  It is to cling to all, to accept all, to submit ourselves to all.

That is a beautiful description of what the offertory signifies for our spiritual life.

I would dare say that, secundum quid, from this point of view, quoad nos, for us, the Offertory could be the most important moment of the Holy Mass. And it is all signified, we could add, in these few drops of water, blessed by the priest, and mingled to the wine.

As we have briefly seen with St Therese Couderc, we must give our consent, our ‘yes’ to the mystery of the Redemption. That is our part in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

The Hebrews were told to eat the Pascal Lamb, with bitter herbs, standing, holding a walking stick.  All this was a clear figure that we must unite ourselves to the Holy Eucharist by bringing to it our own consents, our own crosses, and our own little and big sacrifices.

This is expressed in these drops of water.  When we see the priest at the Epistle side blessing the water and pouring it in the chalice, let us ask ourselves, What have I done since my last mass that can be offered on the altar, in the chalice?  Have I consented to all the sacrifices my Savior has asked from me?   Oh, I know that it can be so hard at times to give that ‘yes’ to the Will of God!

Yes to a sickness that breaks bright projects, a promising future, yes to a vocation, to yet another child, to an act of forgiveness, to a humiliation, to an act of obedience !

Mary at foot of Cross.png