at Ecône by
His Excellency, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre
on September 18, 1977
The 30th Anniversary of his Consecration as Bishop
dear brothers, my dear friends,
is kind of Providence that this day of return to the Seminary should
coincide with the anniversary of my episcopal consecration which
took place on September 18, 1947 in my native city. At the request
of friends we are celebrating this anniversary in a special way.
the breviary this morning we read the lesson of Tobias. It was said
that the young Tobias, finding himself surrounded by the men of
his race, the Jews, adoring a golden calf which had been set up
by the King of Israel himself, went faithfully to the temple to
offer the sacrifices God had demanded. He was thus faithful to the
law of God.
we hope that we too have been faithful to God, faithful to Our Lord
Jesus Christ. Later on Tobias was among the prisoners sent to Niniva
and there, the Scripture says, while all his compatriots did homage
to the pagan cult, he continued to hold to the truth, retinuit
omnem veritatem. He held to the whole truth. I believe this
is the lesson Holy Scripture has for us and I hope that we, too,
remain faithful like Tobias did, both in his youth and in his captivity.
Is it not true that we today are in a certain sense in captivity,
restraint surrounding us on all sides, imposed on us by those who
bow to error both in the world and inside the Church itself? By
those who juggle with the truth and who keep truth hidden instead
of proclaiming it; We are in a world enslaved by the Devil, enslaved
it is our wish to hold to truth. We want to continue to proclaim
it. What then, is this truth? Do we have a monopoly on it? Are we
so presumptuous as to say we have the truth, others do not? No,
truth does not belong to us. It does not come from us, it was not
invented by us. This truth was transmitted to us, it was given us.
It is written. It is living in the Church and in the whole history
of the Church. This truth is known. It is in the books, in the catechisms,
in all the acts of the councils, in all the acts of the sovereign
pontiffs. It is in our Creed, in our Ten Commandments, in the gifts
that God has made to us, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the
Sacraments. It is not we who invented this truth. We have only to
persevere in it.
truth has an eternal character. The truth we profess is God, Our
Lord Jesus Christ who is God and God does not change. God remains
immutable. It was St. Paul who said, vicissitudinis obumbratio.
There is not a shadow of vicissitude in Him, not the shadow
of changeability. God is unalterable, semper idem, always
the same. Certainly He is the source of everything that changes
but He, Himself, is unalterable, unchangeable. And by the fact that
we profess God as truth we will enter in some way into eternity
through truth. We have no right to change that truth. Indeed it
cannot be changed. It will never change.
have been put on earth to receive a little of that light of eternity
as it descends on them. They become in some way eternal, they too,
immortal, according to the extent to which they attached themselves
to the things that change, to moving things, they move away from
God. And here it is that we feel a need. All men feel this need.
They have in them an immortal soul which is already now in eternity,
a soul which will be happy or unhappy, but it is a soul that exists.
It will not die.
man who is born, who has a soul has entered into eternity. That
is why we have need of eternal things, of the true eternity which
is God. We cannot do without it. It is part of our lives. It is
what is most essential to us. That is why men seek the truth, seek
the eternal, because they have an essential need of eternity.
what are the means by which Our Lord has given us eternity, communicated
it to us, made eternity enter into our lives even here below? Often
when I was going through the African countries on my diocesan visits
I chose a them that was dear to me and very simple, too. You have
heard it many times but for the simple people I spoke to it summed
up the truth. Asking what are the gifts the Good God has given
us which make us participants of the divine life, life eternal,
I would answer: there are three great gifts which God has made us
and they are the Pope, the Blessed Virgin and the Eucharistic Sacrifice.
reality it is an extraordinary gift that God has made us in giving
us the Pope, in giving us the successors of Peter, giving us precisely
this perpetuity in truth communicated to us through the successors
of Peter, that must be communicated to us through them. And it seems
inconceivable that a successor of Peter could fail in any way to
transmit the truth that he is obliged to transmit. Indeed, without
virtually disappearing from the line of succession he cannot fail
to communicate that which the popes have always communicated, the
Deposit of Faith which does not belong to him alone.
Deposit of Faith does not belong to the Pope. It is the treasure
of truth which has been taught during twenty centuries. He must
transmit it faithfully and exactly to all those under him who are
charged in turn to communicate the truth of the Gospel. He is not
should it happen because of mysterious circumstances which we cannot
understand, which baffle our imagination, which go beyond our conception,
if it should happen that a pope, he who is seated on the throne
of Peter, comes to obscure in some way the truth which it is his
duty to transmit or if he does not transmit it faithfully or allows
error to darken truth or hide it in any way, then we must pray to
God with all our hearts, with all our soul, that light continues
to be thrown on that which he is charged to transmit.
CAN THE TRINITY BE CHANGED.
CAN THE REDEMPTIVE WORK OF CHRIST THROUGH THE CROSS AND THE SACRIFICE
OF THE MASS BE CHANGED!
THINGS ARE ETERNAL.
BELONG TO GOD.
we cannot follow error, change truth, just because the one who
is charged with transmitting it is weak and allows error to spread
around him. We don’t want the darkness to encroach on us. We want
to live in the light of truth. We remain faithful to that which
has been taught for two thousand years. That what has been taught
for 2,000 years and which is part of eternity could change is inconceivable.
it is eternity which has been taught to us. It is the eternal God,
Jesus Christ eternal God, and everything which is centered on God
is centered on eternity. Never can the Trinity be changed. Never
can the redemptive work of Christ through the Cross and the Sacrifice
of the Mass be changed. These things are eternal. They belong to
God. How can someone here below change those things? Who is the
priest who feels he has the right to change those things, to modify
we possess the past we possess the present and we possess the future.
Because it is impossible, I say metaphysically impossible, to separate
the past from the present and future. Impossible! Then God would
no longer be God! God would no longer be eternal! God would no longer
be immutable. And there would be nothing more to believe in. We
would be completely in error.
is why, without worrying about all that is happening around us in
these times we ought to close our eyes to the horror of this drama
we are living through, close our eyes and affirm our Creed, our
Ten Commandments, meditate on the Sermon on the Mount which is also
our law. We must attach ourselves to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass,
to the Sacraments awaiting the light that will shine around us again.
That is all. We must do this without becoming bitter or violent
in a spirit that is unfaithful to Our Lord. Let us stay charitable.
Let us pray, suffer, accept all the trials, everything that happens,
everything that God sends us. Let us do as Tobias did. Abandoned
by everyone as they went to adore the golden calf of the gods of
the pagans, he remained faithful. Still, he too could have thought
that, since only he remained faithful it might be that he was mistaken.
But no, he knew that whatever God had taught to his forebears could
not change. The truth of God existed and could not change. And so
it is with us. We too have to rely upon the truth that is God yesterday,
today and tomorrow. Jesus Christus heri, hodie et in secula.
that is why I say we must retain our confidence in the papacy.
We must retain confidence in the successor of Peter in so far as
he is the successor of Peter. But if it should happen that he were
not perfectly faithful in his duties, then we must remain faithful
to those who were the successors of Peter and not to him who is
not the successor of Peter. That is all. His duty is to transmit
the Deposit of the Faith.
second gift is that of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She has never changed.
Is it possible to imagine that the Blessed Virgin Mary could change
in her attitude to the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, her divine
Son, toward the Sacrifice of the Cross, toward the work of redemption?
Is it possible to imagine that the Blessed Virgin Mary could change
one iota of her faith, that she could have had doubts at some period
of her life, that she could have thought herself mistaken? That
she could have doubted the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, doubted
the Blessed Trinity, she who was filled with the Holy Ghost? Impossible!
below she was already in eternity. The Blessed Virgin Mary, through
her faith, an unchangeable, profound faith, could not be disturbed
in any way. That is evident. Do not let us be disturbed by the noises
around us but keep faithful, faithful like the Blessed Virgin Mary.
And I want to add to this subject of the Blessed Virgin Mary something
which seems to me to be important for us at this time in which
we live. Continuously we are told the Virgin says this or says that.
The Virgin has appeared here, the Virgin has communicated this message
to that person. Of course, we do not rule out the possibility that
a word of the Blessed Virgin could be addressed to persons of her
choice. That is evident. But considering the kind of period we are
living through we must be suspicious. We must mistrust.
IS PRESENT AT EVERY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS.
CANNOT SEPARATE HERSELF FROM THE CROSS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.
DEVOTION TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN OUGHT TO BE PROFOUND, PERFECT.
place of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the theology of the Church is,
in my estimation, infinitely sufficient to make us love her above
everyone after Our Lord Jesus Christ and that we should have toward
her a devotion which is profound and continuous day after day.
It is not necessary that we have constant recourse to messages about
which we cannot be absolutely certain whether they come from the
Blessed Virgin or not. I am not speaking of the apparitions which
have been recognized by the Church. But we must be very careful
when it comes to rumors that circulate everywhere today. All the
time I am receiving people or communications which are said to
be addressed to me from the Blessed Virgin or from Our Lord ‑
a message to be addressed to me from the Blessed Virgin or from
Our Lord ‑ a message received here, another there. Whereas
in fact we should hope the Blessed Virgin is with us every day.
she is. We know that. She is with us. She is present at every Sacrifice
of the Mass. She cannot separate herself from the Cross of Our
Lord Jesus Christ. Our devotion to the Blessed Virgin ought to be
profound, perfect. But it ought not have to depend on private messages.
Christ, has given us Himself in the Eucharist. What more beautiful
thing could He do? I often say to the seminarians: if
the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X has a particular spirituality
- and I do not really want it to have one although I do not criticize
the founders of Orders like St. Ignatius, Sts. Dominic and Vincent
de Paul whom I know wanted to give particular characters to their
societies, characters without doubt willed by Providence at the
moment they were founded ‑ I think that if there is a particular
mark to our Society it is devotion to the Holy Sacrifice of the
our spirits, our hearts, our bodies are as if captivated by the
great mystery of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass! And it is in proportion
to how we deepen our understanding of the great mystery of the Sacrifice
of the Mass that we understand the priesthood, the grandeur of
the priesthood. Because it is intimately, I say metaphysically,
bound up with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. And this is of the
greatest importance in these times.
have need of this, my dear friends. You have need of being captured
by this spirituality of the Mass. Not only the priests but also
our religious, our brothers, our nuns, and all of the laity, all
of you faithful here present. We must have for the Sacrifice of
the Mass a devotion greater than ever before because it is the very
foundation stone of our faith.
SEMINARY REMAINS A CATHOLIC SEMINARY. AND IF GOD GIVES ME LIFE
THE SEMINARY WILL NOT CHANGE!
WOULD DIE RATHER THAN CHANGE ANY PART OF THE CATHOLIC DOCTRINE
WHICH MUST BE TAUGHT IN THE SEMINARY.
hardly dare cite for you an example, something that happened in
Chile during the three days I spent there. Still, because the idea
occurs to me, I will indeed tell you if only to show the point of
degradation the concept of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has reached
in the minds of some of the highest members of the hierarchy. During
my stay in Chile a concelebration was televised. It was presided
over by the Auxiliary Bishop of Santiago. I myself did not see the
screening but it was described to me by many people who saw it.
There were some 15 or 20 priests concelebrating with him. During
the ceremony the Auxiliary Bishop explained to the faithful, that
is, everyone who was looking at the television, that this was a
meal and he saw no reason why one should not smoke during a meal.
And he himself smoked during that concelebration!
is how far things have reached! This is the sad state of degradation,
of sacrilege a bishop can attain. It is unheard of, inconceivable!
Penance must be done for years in reparation for such offenses,
for such unimaginable scandal! It serves to show how far one can
go when one no longer believes.
must be attached to the Sacrifice of the Mass as to the apple of
our eye; as we are attached to that which is dearest to us, that
which is the most respected, the most holy, the most sacred, the
most divine. That is the meaning of this Seminary.
may criticize the Seminary in any way they like. And they do. The
Seminary is this way, that way. They have decided this about it,
that about it. But in fact they decide nothing, change nothing.
The Seminary stays as it is. It continues to be what it is because
that was why it was founded. The Seminary remains a Catholic seminary.
And if God gives me life the Seminary will not change. I would die
rather than change any part of the Catholic doctrine which must
be taught in the Seminary. With the grace of God, come what may,
we will not change. So let them say what they will. Let them say
that the Seminary has a new direction, the Seminary is this way
or that. It is the Devil who says such things in order to destroy
the Seminary. Obviously he cannot tolerate Catholic priests who
have the faith.
then, one cannot avoid speaking about it, all around us here and
there in every country but particularly in France, there are divisions
among those who are trying to hold to the faith, a mixture of calumny,
slander, exaggerated words, foolish expressions, unjustified suppositions.
Let us ignore it all. Let us instead work well, doing the will of
God according to the teachings of the Catholic Church, continuing
like our predecessors and our ancestors, doing what the Council
of Trent asked of us, bishops, who must continue the formation which
has always been given to priests. If we do this we will be certain
we are remaining faithful.
is enough. Let us remain calm. Let us remain faithful. And if it
should ever come to be that the faith is not taught here, then leave
me. If, my dear seminarians, I do not teach you Catholic truth,
then leave! Do not stay here. That is your duty. But if I teach
the Catholic Faith ‑ and you have the whole library at your
disposal to find out whether or not what was handed to us is being
handed down to you ‑ then, be confident. And we will do everything
so that the Catholic Faith continues to be taught here, taught in
its entirety so that you can, you too, carry on that truth that
is so full of grace and life. Truth is the source of life. We have
need of that life. The faithful are hungry for it. Why is it we
have requests for priests from all sides? Because the faithful are
thirsty for truth, thirsty for the grace of God, for the supernatural
life, thirsty for that eternity toward which we are heading.
have confidence in doing what the Church has always done - not confidence
in Msgr. Lefebvre. I am a poor man like the others. I have no pretention
to be better than others. On the contrary, I do not know why God
has permitted me to have 30 years in the episcopate. I think that
if I were to judge things on the human plane I would have preferred
to remain a missionary in the jungles of Gabon; in isolation I would
not have had all the problems I have had in my 30 years in the episcopate.
But God has wanted it this way. He continues to try us. Very well,
if that is His will so it must be and we must continue to carry
the cross. It is not because He imposes crosses that we may abandon
Him. On the contrary, we may not abandon Our Lord. We must follow
so, my dear friends, be faithful ‑ faithful to the Pope, successor
of Peter when he shows himself to be truly the successor of Peter.
Because that is what a pope is and it is in this sense we have need
of him. We are not the people who want to break with the authority
of the Church, with the successor of Peter. But neither are we people
who want to break with twenty centuries of tradition in the Church,
with twenty centuries of successors of Peter!
have made our choice. We have chosen to be obedient in the real
sense, obedient to what all the Popes have taught for 20 centuries
and we cannot imagine that he who sits on Peter’s throne does not
want to teach these things. Well, if that is the case then God will
judge him. But we cannot go into error because there is a kind of
rupture in the chain of the successors of Peter. We want to remain
faithful to the successors of Peter who transmitted to us the Deposit
of the Faith. It is in this sense that we are faithful to the Catholic
Church, that we remain within it and can never go into schism. Since
we are attached to twenty centuries of Faith we cannot make a schism.
That is what guarantees for us the past, the present and the future.
It is impossible to separate the past from the present and the future.
Sustaining ourselves with the past we are sure of the present and
have confidence! Ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to help us under all
circumstances. She is as strong as an army arrayed for battle. She
who suffered as Queen of Martyrs at the Cross of Our Lord Jesus
Christ. And will we not follow Our Blessed Mother and with her be
ready to suffer martyrdom so that the work of redemption can continue?
TO PRINT GRANTED BY HIS GRACE, ARCHBISHOP MARCEL LEFEBVRE
HIS EUROPEAN PUBLISHER
TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH BY MARY MARTINEZ
Courtesy of the Angelus
Press, Regina Coeli House
2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64109
No. 4, Apr. 1991