October 1995 - Superior General's Letter #49
With the 25th anniversary of the existence of the SSPX, we look back at how Archbishop Lefebvre defended the true spirit of the priesthood which was being lost. Through this priesthood flows the Holy Mass and all the Church’s sanctity. We are blessed to live at a time when two bishops courageously defended the fullness of the priesthood.
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
The 25th anniversary of the existence of the SSPX
On the eve of the anniversary of 25 years’ existence of the Society of St, Pius X, how can we help remembering that day of grace when Archbishop Lefebvre came back from the Bishop of Fribourg’s chancery holding the document officially setting up our Society!
The true spirit of the priesthood is lost
Already many years back, with extraordinary clear-sightedness the Archbishop had grasped what was in the process of happening to the Church : a crisis rumbling underground beneath Pope Pius XII, was about to break out into the open, as happened with the Second Vatican Council, in that crisis, what struck the Archbishop was above all the loss of the true spirit of the priesthood and at the same time his understanding that Mother Church would not overcome this trial other than by and through the sanctification of the priesthood : “How could one bring about what seemed to me then the only solution for the renewal of the Church and Christendom? It was still only a dream, but in it appeared to me already the need of transmitting not only the genuine priesthood, not only the sane teaching approved by the Church, but also the deep and unchanging spirit of the Catholic priesthood and the Christian spirit tied essentially to the great prayer of Our Lord expressed for all time in His sacrifice of the Cross” (Archbishop Lefebvre, Spiritual Journey, preface).
The only way to raise the Church up again is the priesthood
In the upheaval that was shaking the house of God from the cellar to the attic, and which by opening wide the windows has let in a gale of the spirit of the world, the spirit of novelty, the spirit of liberalism, the spirit of compromise, the Archbishop had clearly grasped that by way of defense, the faith alone, or morality, or even, perhaps above all, a sane philosophy would not be enough. A tidal wave was sweeping everything away, from the principle of non-contradiction to belief in the mystery of the Holy Trinity: a gale-force wind of madness, blasphemy and rebellion now bursting into the light of day in unrealistic dreams like the fantasy of the year 2000, or in insanities like the “base churches” in Austria and Germany.
The only way to raise the Church up again is the priesthood, and the only way of raising up the priesthood is the Holy Mass, the Sacrifice, And so the Archbishop set up as goal for the little congregation he was founding “the priesthood, whatever concerns the priesthood and only what concerns that priesthood, such as Our Lord had in mind when He said : “Do this in memory of me . The Society is to guide and direct the life of the priest towards what is essentially his reason for being, namely the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, with everything that the Mass means, everything that flows from it, everything that surrounds it (Society Statutes, Ch. 0). God comes to the help of His Church in times of difficulty and distress by raising up saints. Every age has seen its heroes who gave to the Church a fresh impetus of sanctity, generosity and missionary spirit, to save souls and reform morals.
All the Church's sanctity flows from the Holy Mass
Now by the will of the Church’s divine Spouse, all her sanctity flows from the Holy Mass: “A profound theological knowledge of the Sacrifice of the Mass will convince society members ever more firmly that in this sublime event is brought into being all of Revelation, the Mystery of Faith, the completion of the Mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption, the full power of the apostolate” (Statutes, Ch. II). Holy Mass is the heart of the Church, the “mysterium fidei”, the mystery of faith, the daily manifestation of the greatest charity of all, the charity of the incarnate God sacrificing himself for the salvation of his creatures. As being the purpose of the Incarnation and center of Christ’s life, the sacrifice of the Cross, renewed upon the altar, is also the center of the Church’s life. From that sacrifice offered in every place from sunrise to sunset as a pure oblation in the name of God (cf. Mat, 1,11), flow all graces of salvation and redemption, all glory of the saints in heaven, all praise rising from the Church to the Holy Trinity, all Christian life with its virtues, patience in tribulation, and charity. From the altar flows even more abundantly than from the rock of Moses a flood of victory over the devil and his minions, a flood of light for men’s minds bringing them into obedience to the Faith, a flood of divine love seeking to set aflame all men of good will. From the death of Our Lord renewed and made sacramentally present again upon the altar springs up for all eternity life for the whole Church, life even for society.
“Regnavit a ligno Deus”: God has reigned from the cross. Ah, if men knew — stuck fast in the mire of their own making, claiming to set up a world without God — if at last they would understand that the nations’ prosperity like world peace can only come from the daunting sacrifice of the Son of God made man, handed over to the world, crucified, dead and buried, for us men and for our salvation!
It was well worth fighting to defend the Ark of the New Alliance, the Holy Mass; indeed that is where all priests and all the Church must expect any efficacy in the apostolate to come from, any happiness in heaven, any goods of this world insofar as they are necessary or useful for salvation.
We are blessed to live in this age where the fullness of the priesthood is defended
Never will be able to thank God enough for having given us to live in this age, to have witnessed the two bishops who had the courage to defend at whatever cost the reason for being of the fullness of their priesthood. Let what takes place on the altar be renewed in our hearts too, as we accompany the King of Kings in his mysterious conquest of souls and societies. Let us redouble our prayers and sacrifices, in union with our glorious Head, Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Dear faithful, thank you for making possible by your generosity the remarkable extension of the Society’s work.
May Our Lord, on the occasion of this anniversary, graciously obtain for us the grace of an unwavering fidelity to the Faith of all times, an unfailing love of God. May Our Lady graciously give us her motherly blessing and grant increase to our work wholly devoted to serving the Church, until at last David’s ardent wish lacks nothing for its fulfillment ; “Arise. O Lord, into thy resting- place: thou and the ark, which thou last sanctified. Let they priests be clothed with justice: and let they saints rejoice”
(Ps. 131, 8, 9).
† Bernard Fellay
Eve of All Saints
31 October 1995