Newsletter of the District
of Father James Peek, Rector
Friends and Benefactors,
I see that Angelus Press is now advertising a new book: “Most
Asked Questions about the Society of St. Pius X”, by the Fathers
of Holy Cross Seminary. As far as I know, it is a book that has
not yet arrived in Australia, but I dare say it will soon be available
from usual Angelus Press book-stalls. What is this all about now?
Well, it started quite simply as a handy compilation for
the benefit of our seminarians and prospective seminarians of answers
to questions on “modern issues”: our Society itself and its dealings
with Rome, what we’ve got against the new ways, etc. You’ll understand
better, perhaps, if I just list the questions addressed:
Who was Archbishop Lefebvre?
What is the Society of Saint Pius X?
Wasn’t the Society of St. Pius X lawfully suppressed?
Wasn’t Archbishop Lefebvre suspended from performing all
sacred functions, along with all the priests he ordained?
Why should Catholics have nothing to do with the New Mass?
What are Catholics to think of Vatican II?
But shouldn’t we be following Pope John-Paul II?
Shouldn’t we accept the 1983 Code of Canon Law?
Do traditional priests have jurisdiction (to hear confessions
and perform marriages)?
May we attend the Indult Mass?
Wasn’t Archbishop Lefebvre excommunicated for consecrating
Isn’t the Society of Saint Pius X schismatic?
What are we to think of the Fraternity of St. Peter?
What are we to think of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church”?
What of the sedevacantists?
The idea of
this “Handbook” was therefore to provide a ready answer to these
questions which can at times be pre-occupying and which require
quite some research to answer fully. And then it was thought, especially
in the light of certain controversies generated by the “Catholic”
newspaper in the course of 1996, that a wider audience needed and
might well appreciate such a ready reference book to our thinking
on these questions. Hence their publication by Angelus Press; and
I notice from their advertisement that they’ve bunged in rather
a number of photos, which should indeed enhance the whole (each
being worth, as they say, a thousand words).
There is another
project, however, that I should like rather to mention this month:
The Apostolate of Prayers for Priests. This is an Australian initiative
already eight years old now and spreading to other countries, but
perhaps still unknown to many of you. It is a Pious Union blessed
by Archbishop Lefebvre whose goal is precisely the sanctification
of priests by prayers and sacrifices, as well, of course, as the
sanctification of its members by this very apostolate. There are
set prayers for priests, and especially during the month of the
Sacred Heart and this one of the Holy Rosary; there are daily practices
of piety and exercises aiming at the sanctification of those in
the Apostolate, for one’s apostolate is all the more fruitful the
closer one is united to God and His holy Will. Wavering and unfaithful
priests are also a special object of one’s life of prayer and suffering.
While you can
understand the need to pray for unfaithful priests perhaps you can’t
see why to pray for the others. Aren’t they supposed to be praying
and sacrificing for you? Yes they are; which only entitles them
the more to your prayerful gratitude. But of course it goes farther
than that. They themselves are but “vessels of clay”, sons of Adam,
weak men like the rest (don’t the modernists like to draw their
own conclusions from such truths?) St. Therese once thought along
those lines but tells us she learnt otherwise:
discovery I made: about priests. I’d never been in close touch
with them, and I’d been puzzled by that phrase in the Rule about
the chief object for which the Reformed Carmelites exist. Pray
for sinners by all means, but why priests? Surely their souls
were like flawless crystal already it bothered me. Well, that
journey to Italy justified itself, if only by throwing a side-light
on my vocation. I mean, I lived for a month among a lot of
good holy priests, and came to realise that although their high
office makes them rank above the angels, they have their frailties
and their weaknesses like other men. And these were good holy
priests, ‘the salt of the earth’; if such people need our prayers,
and need them badly, what about the priests who have gone slack?
‘If salt loses its taste,’ our Lord asks, ‘what is there left
to give taste to it?’ I see now, Mother, what a wonderful vocation
it is to aim (as we Carmelites do) at preserving the tang of
the salt which is going to preserve men’s souls... I declared
in the presence of the Sacred Host that I had come there to
save souls and above all to pray for priests.”
If the communion
of saints has always demanded that priests pray for their flocks
and their children pray for their pastors, how much more so in this
day and age when, the priest’s calling having lost none of its dignity
and exigencies nor the especial enmity of Satan, we are all the
children of our century: unstable, revolutionary, profane, materialistic,