Volume 3, Chapter
Sermon Pronounced by His Excellency Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre
On the Occasion of the Tenth Anniversary of the Society of St. Pius
1 November 1980
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Courtesy of the Angelus
Press, Regina Coeli House
2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64109