October 1986 - Superior General's Letter # 31
Catholic Tradition can no longer be extinguished. Traditional religious houses are growing with vocations and Major Seminaries are opening in France and Gabon. Next year will see less expansion, but more strengthening. Continue firm in the Faith with a strong inner life. Support Tradition in word and deed by prayer, alms and carrying your crosses.
Dear Friends & Benefactors:
Catholic Tradition can no longer be extinguished
The Church's Tradition and the true Holy Sacrifice of the Mass are saved. The unceasing prayers and zealous sacrifices of countless souls from north, south, east and west, the unbroken fidelity of traditional priests and the courageous commitment of religious throughout the world, the ordination since 1971 of 280 new priests for the Society of St. Pius X, and for like-minded communities, have worked the miracle. Let further sanctions on the part of the bishops or of the enemies occupying Rome strike us, let all-destroying neo-Modernism and Marxist liberation theology continue their demolition work within the Church; yet the Church lives on! Catholic Tradition can no longer be extinguished.
Moreover, from the little spark of scattered priests and religious, from the gathering of young people around a bishop, there has grown a conflagration spreading wider and wider from day to day.
- The Benedictines of LeBarroux and the Benedictine nuns of Uzes are richly blessed with vocations.
- The Capuchins of Morgon, founded by Father Eugene, now number five friar-priests, and they are in the process of solidly building up their community.
- The Dominicans of Avrille include twelve members; in accordance with the tradition of their Order they preach in public in the streets and market-places of towns.
- The Bishop of Bourges tried once more this year to drive the Fathers of Fr. Lecareux' Fraternity of the Transfiguration out of the parish churches of his diocese. He did not succeed, thanks to the resolute resistance of the Catholic people.
- The Little Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi have sold their former motherhouse in Flavigny to the Society of St. Pius X and have moved to Brittany.
- The Carmelites of Quievrain began their rebuilding in 1978 with two nuns; today their community numbers seventy nuns in four Carmels; a fifth opened its doors on October 6 in Bas-en-Basset in France.
- The Sisters of the Precious Blood in Schellenberg (Principality of Liechtenstein) returned to the traditional Mass in 1977, since when their convent has again flourished.
- The Sisters of Atonement of the Holy Ghost in Mainz, who had become true martyrs of the Faith in the USSR, were able to emigrate to West Germany in 1966. The good they do so generously to the sick, the old and the poor is known throughout the city.
- The Sisters' branch of the Society of St. Pius X was brought into existence in 1973 by Sister Mary Gabriel, a natural sister of Archbishop Lefebvre. Today it numbers three novitiates and seven little communities amongst our priories.
Numbers of priests, seminarians, nuns and priories continue to grow
For its own part the Society of St. Pius X includes at the beginning of this academic year 177 priests, 260 seminarians, 15 brothers and 25 oblates. At the end of 1986 there should be 190 priests. With its seminaries, schools, retreat-houses and priories, it is operating in 22 countries in all five continents; foundations of new houses took place in July in Santiago, Chile; in August in New Zealand and the French Caribbean; in September in India. The opening of a new priory in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) is now being prepared. In addition, missionary journeys are being undertaken to New Guinea, to the Philippines, to Japan, Sri Lanka and to Lebanon, to countries of Africa and South America and also Scandinavia.
More retreats, days of recollection and youth camps than ever before were held by our priests in the course of this past summer.
Major Seminaries opening in France and Gabon
However, most important for us is and will always be the formation of priests. Hence we are opening on October 5th the International Major Seminary of St. Jean-Marie Vianney in France, where at the moment of writing thirty-five candidates from all over the world have registered to enter. Hence there is opening at the same time in Libreville (Gabon, Central Africa) the Major Seminary of St. Joseph, for which four candidates from black Africa are inscribed. We are thinking of founding a major seminary next year in Australia.
To our great joy Bishop de Castro Mayer will be taking part again this year in the priestly ordinations in the Argentine on November 30th, and to our own ten ordinands he will be adding two of his own, formed at his seminary in Campos.
Christ undistorted by errors, as continuing to live and to work down through the centuries in His Church—that is to say in Tradition—is the one and only Author of spiritual fruitfulness and true holiness.
1987 will see less expansion, but more strengthening
And if, in the year 1987, we are going to be somewhat thrifty in the founding of new priories, the reason for that is simply in order to build up our existing institutions, to form them according to our statutes as houses with a community life, and as far as possible not to leave any of our colleagues working on his own; otherwise the outer expansion could, in the long run, mean an inner slackening or even exhaustion which would serve nobody—neither the Church nor the people. We must at all costs preserve the fresh vitality and apostolic joy of our priests. Above all we must make long-term plans for the formation of a new generation of self-sacrificing priests, well-taught and zealous for souls.
Dear friends and benefactors! Let me lay out in five points for your earnest consideration what seems to me especially important for you today:
- Be firm in the Faith, unyielding in professing the mystery and the law of Jesus Christ. Each time we give way on principles, we weaken our resistance and harm our vital work of re-building. Above all attend with your family only the Traditional Mass; it alone ensures one's keeping the Catholic Faith; it alone truly professes the Crucified and Risen Lord.
- In today's age of confusion, practice with care the discernment of spirits. St. Ignatius of Loyola has set up precise rules for that in his book of the Exercises. Above all, give glory each day to the Holy Ghost and ask for His light, so that you may not be deceived through false prophets who are working when all is said and done for world revolution, or simply for their own glory instead of for the glory of God. The devil is cunning and deceives souls.
- Support the Church's living Tradition in word and deed. All the institutions enumerated above live on the strength of faith of the Catholic people, and on that alone. "If you have plenty, give plentifully; if you have little, strive to give gladly even of the little you have," is the instruction of Tobias to his son in the Bible. Building up the Faith in Third World countries more than anywhere else requires our active Christian involvement. Let me, however, at this point, address to all of you most heartfelt thanks for your so generous support up till now. God alone knows all your hidden merits: they are inscribed in the Book of Life.
- Only if you lead an inner life, making at least a little meditation every day, praying the Rosary regularly in your family, receiving the Sacraments frequently, and wholeheartedly fulfilling the law of Christ, especially His way of love—only thus can you survive these dark times without harm. "Whoever prays, is saved; whoever does not pray, is damned," says St. Alphonsus de Liguori.
Living as a Christian demands also that you see to your children's being taught the catechism and that you send them to truly Catholic schools, that you practice the apostolate of charity amongst the old, the sick and the poor around you, that you promote the observance of the Ten Commandments in your place of work, and that you impregnate the temporal order with a supernatural spirit.
- The true Christian is recognized by the cross which is marked on his forehead in Baptism and Confirmation. The more apostasy, terrorism and anarchy spread, the more willingly must we climb the way to Calvary with the Suffering Lord in resignation and love. To a brave family which most generously set to work in the preparing of a new priory, I had especially recommended prayer and sacrifice as the spiritual basis for the new foundation. Shortly before the arrival of our priests, the father of the family, who was in the prime of life, was called to eternity by God, through a heart attack. The letter of condolences addressed by me to the widow received from her the following reply: "Yes, the ways of God's Providence are often very mysterious. But there are occasions in life also when one recognizes His design with clarity. And while we stand awesome struck at His almighty ways and go burdened beneath the Cross, we know at the same time a certain joy at submitting to His holy will, and a feeling of safety in the knowledge that He has everything fully in hand. Remember, Father, that you had asked us to prepare the way by prayer and sacrifice. We have prayed and are praying much. It was God Himself who decided upon the sacrifice. Our son and myself, who were at the death-bed, recognized this the moment he died. We know the depth of the sacrifice and we are fully confident that the Priory and the Society in our country will be richly blessed."
It is not external successes nor world-wide expansion which prove that we are genuine followers of Christ, but the carrying day by day of the redeeming Cross of Christ, in faith, hope and love, as children of that Mother, who can transform the bitterest of suffering into joy and consolation.
Father Franz Schmidberger,
The Society of St. Pius X
Feast of the Holy Rosary,
7 October 1986