A Sermon Pronounced by His Excellency Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre On the Occasion of the Tenth Anniversary of the Society of St. Pius X
1 November 1980
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
My dear friends, my dear brothers,
The Feast of All Saints, the ordination which is going to take place in a few minutes, and the anniversary of the foundation of the Society – these are so many events which gives us a unique opportunity to meditate on the question of holiness, and of the holiness of the priesthood.
Actually, if there is one reason for choosing those who should offer the Holy Mysteries, it is their holiness. I think that if we consider all those who today enjoy the glory of heaven, all the saints who are united to Our Lord Jesus Christ, to the Most Holy Virgin Mary, to all the holy angels who sing the glory of God and of Our Lord Jesus Christ, if we should ask them, each one, the means, the path of their sanctification, there is no doubt that they would reply: the path of sanctification is Our Lord Jesus Christ, and Our Lord Jesus Christ Crucified, the path of perfection, the path of holiness is the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
So, if it is true that the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ is the means of our sanctification, you see immediately what the reason for the priest should be…the path of sanctification for him whose very identity is to offer the Holy Sacrifice, and to offer therefore in the very Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in His own name, the continuation of His Sacrifice of the Cross; it is in the Sacrifice of the Cross that the priest will find the fundamental reason, the essential, the continual reason of his sanctification, it will be also for him the means of sanctifying the faithful. For the faithful the path of sanctification is the same as that of the priest, it is the way of the Cross.
St. Paul so beautifully teaches us what a priest is in his Epistle to the Hebrews, chapter five. He says: “Every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. Because of this he is bound to offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people." He adds, as he is himself weighed down with weaknesses, that he (the priest) should sympathize with those who are ignorance and error. He should strive to have compassion on those who are in error and with those who are in ignorance. This is the secret of the Sacrament of Penance. The priest is therefore made to offer the Holy Sacrifice, to transmit the graces of the Sacrifice, especially in the Sacrament of Penance, exerting himself for those who are in error and ignorance. Since he is himself a sinner, he must offer the Holy Sacrifice also for himself, for his own sins, and not only for the sins of the people of God. See how, in a few lines, St. Paul sums up the very essence of the priest.
Thus, my dear friends, you who are going up to the altar in a few minutes to receive an ordination which will prepare you to offer the Holy Mysteries of God, the Holy Mysteries of Our Lord Jesus Christ – meditate on these words of St. Paul. Know that you too are weak, know too that you are sinners, and yet the Good Lord has chosen you! St. Paul further says: the priest has not chosen himself but he has been chosen, like Aaron, like the Levites, chosen by God to offer the Holy Sacrifice, to offer the true Sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Prepare yourselves, my dear friends, to receive the grace of the priesthood in order to be true priests, holy priests such as the Church wants.
What have we seen for twenty years now? Instead of returning to these fundamental notions of the Church, which are her foundation and cornerstone, a new spirit has been introduced; a new spirit which, far from bringing a return to the true meaning of the Holy Mysteries, has approached the mysteries of the Protestant Last Supper, thus destroying what there was of mystery – profound, divine, sacred – in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In comparing our Sacrifice, the sacrifice of Our Lord, with the unworthy sacrifice of the Protestants, the Sacrifice of the Mass has been emptied of meaning. Now it is plainly evident; we can see every day, the results of this change of attitude in priests, a change which has been introduced under the influence of the Modernists who have invaded the Church. The Church has not done this thing, it is the Modernists and progressivists who have invaded the Church and who have imposed on Catholics an idea of the Sacrifice of the Mass which is not the true idea of the Sacrifice of the Mass, which has emptied the Sacrifice of the Mass of meaning.
That is why we have resisted. We are not rebels, we are not schismatics, we are not heretics. We resist. We resist this wave of Modernism which has invaded the Church, this wave of laicism, of progressivism which has invaded the Church in a wholly unwarranted and unjust manner and which has tried to erase in the Church all that was sacred in it, all that was supernatural, divine, in order to reduce it to the dimension of man. So we resist and we will resist, not in a spirit of rebellion, but in the spirit of fidelity to the Church, the spirit of fidelity to God, and to Our Lord Jesus Christ, the spirit of fidelity to all who have taught us our holy religion, the spirit of fidelity to all the popes who have maintained Tradition. This is why we have decided simply to keep going, to persevere in Tradition, to persevere in that which has sanctified the saints who are in heaven. Doing so we are persuaded we are rendering a great service to the church, to all the faithful who wish to keep the Faith, all the faithful who wish to receive truly the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Little by little, apparently, some authorities in the Church are beginning to realize – more objectively – that serious mistakes have been made, and that it is perhaps time, if not to return completely to the former ways of things, which would be ideal, then to reform their reforms. It is at least a first step. Alas! It has taken twelve years of these tragic results: defection of priests, defection of members of religious orders, the ruin of novitiates, the ruin even of religious holiness, the ruin of churches, the apostasy of so many faithful. All this had to happen before our eyes so that a start could be made slowly to realize the damage which this reform has caused – reform which was not made by the Church but which has been carried out by those who were imbued with ideas contrary to those which the Church has always taught.
Recently I have been re-reading the encyclical Humani Generis of Pope Pius XII, which he promulgated in 1950. This encyclical is neither more nor less than a condemnation of all that has happened since the Council. It is impossible to admit that what has happened since the Council and to admit at the same time that Pope Pius XII was right in his encyclical Humani Generis.
We have made our choice. We obey the popes, the popes of Tradition and we are persuaded we are rendering great service to the Church and that we find here the way of Truth.
This, I think, is what we should see in today's Feast, in this ordination which is an ordination performed like those of Tradition; in the Feast of All Saints; where all the saints teach us to remain in Tradition, to do what they did to sanctify themselves, to do what they did to get to heaven.
This is quite simply what we are doing. We carry out the same rites, the same rubrics, the same prayers, we adore the same God, we adore Our Lord Jesus Christ, we believe in our immemorial catechism as they did and believed. This is what got them to heaven. We too wish to save our souls, we wish to follow our ancestors in the faith and to be martyrs with them if necessary, like those who became martyrs in order to profess their faith.
Finally, we wish, because the Society has been the means of maintaining Tradition, we wish to maintain the ends of the Society and thus to keep the Church going, to keep the Church going in order to save souls, in order to give holy priests to the souls of the faithful who wait impatiently until they can again find true and holy priests.
There you have it, my dear friends, that is what the ceremonies and the Feast we celebrate today have to teach us. I would like you to find in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the whole reason of your holiness, so that under the vigilance and protection of the of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, who so well understood the Mystery of the Cross, who lived the Mystery of the Cross with Our Lord Jesus Christ in an entirely unique way, with an infinite wisdom. Yes, we ask the Most Holy Virgin Mary to help us understand the profound Mystery of the Cross. There we find all the answers, my dear friends, all the answers.
Whenever in our lives problems arise, problems of all sorts, every possible and imaginable human problem, do not search anywhere but in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ. There you will find the answer to the problems of each and every individual. Souls will come to confide in you, they will confide all kinds of problems to you. You will say to them always: look at the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, because in this Cross – which the Apostles taught, especially St. Paul – in this Cross is the answer to all problems, because the Cross is Charity, it is Love, love to the point of Sacrifice. All problems resolve themselves in Charity, Charity carried to the point of death if necessary.
Recently, during the Synod, I was in Rome and had the opportunity to meet with several cardinals who were discussing the problems of marriage, problems which seem today much more difficult than formerly – it would seem that problems were not found among married until today – I had the opportunity of saying to them: without sacrifice it is impossible to resolve the problems of marriage, and all other problems besides, not just these. But to exclude sacrifice from marriage is to exclude Christianity from marriage. It is useless to talk for weeks on end about the Christian family and exclude the idea of sacrifice. That is leaving out the real answer, leaving out the real remedy, and thus to remain without an answer.
When it comes to economic, social, political problems, problems of those in hospital beds, there is only one answer: the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is justice, such as Our Lord Jesus Christ realized on the Cross; to render to God that which is God's and to render to our neighbor what is our neighbor's. This is what Our Lord did on the Cross. There is no more beautiful act of love of God, no more beautiful act of love of neighbor, than that which Our Lord accomplished on the Cross. All problems resolve themselves in this Figure of the Cross, of Sacrifice.
There you have it, dear friends, what your program should be, the program of your seminary, the program of your priesthood. Thus you will truly be disciples of Our Lord Jesus Christ, you will be truly what is said of a priest – what should be said of a priest: that a priest is another Christ.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.