Newsletter of the District of Asia

 December 1997

Letter of Father James Peek, Rector


Dear 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 bishops unlawfully?

    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:

“Another 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, sensual,...?

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