June 7, 1994
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
As many of you already know, from July 11 to 13 next month is due to take place in Ecône, Switzerland, the General Chapter of the Society of St. Pius X. This is an important meeting of some forty representative members of the Society from all over the world, held every twelve years to elect the Society's main officers, including its Superior General for the next twelve years, and to deliberate on Society policy and affairs.
It is called a Chapter because in the Middle Ages the monks in a monastery would meet regularly to hear a chapter or small section of their Rule being read to them, so the word "chapter" came to be transferred from the section of the Rule, to the reading of the section, to the meeting of the monks to hear the reading, to any assembly of the members of a religious congregation to consult on their affairs. It is called General when they consult on affairs of their Society as a whole, and not just part of it.
There is no need to say how important such an event is in the life of the Society, and so we beg the prayers of all our friends for the occasion. "The heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord: whithersoever He will He shall turn it," says Scripture (Prov. XXI, l), and the hearts of forty electors are likewise in God's hand to move which way He will. If He holds back from moving them, they will make human choices, as did the bishops assembled in the Second Vatican Council. If on the other hand God steps in to move the human hearts, they will make choices pleasing to Him, as did the bishops of the First Vatican Council, in 1870. What made the difference? Why did God step in the one case and not in the other? No doubt to a great extent because of the prayers of the people.
Hence the need for our friends to pray for the Society's General Chapter, and hence the enclosed prayer card with a picture of Archbishop Lefebvre and Fr. Barrielle, taken at the end of a thirty-day Retreat of Society members in the 1970's, and with on the other side three prayers slightly adapted from the Roman Missal. A novena prior to the General Chapter would run from Saturday July 2 to Sunday July 10 inclusive.
Mother Church is used to praying for such occasions because she knows that it is God who plays the decisive part. Even in an organization where the leader is designated by popular vote, still his authority and the use he makes of his authority come from above. Scripture again (Prov. VIII, 14-16): "Counsel and equity is mine, prudence is mine, strength is mine. By me kings reign, and lawgivers decree just things, by me princes rule, and the mighty decree justice." The influence of leaders over the people they lead is decisive, and the influence for good over the leaders must come from God. That is why when a people prays to Him, He will give them good leaders, but when they turn their backs on Him, He punishes them by letting them have leaders of their own choice, who will lead them to perdition. People cannot lead their leaders, which is why we must pray to God for leaders to lead well.
Take for instance the aftermath of Vatican II. How many faithful Catholics in distress attempted, and are still attempting, to hold their clergy back from the ruinous reforms! Largely in vain. The priests hold from God their sublime authority, and if they are determined to misuse it, there is little the people can do. God could force the free will of His priests, but that is not His way. Is then God without means to intervene, or are the people without recourse? Of course not.
If the people pray in their distress, then God can convert a few of His misleading ministers, and from the rest He can without any injustice can hold back the gift of His grace, whereupon left to their own devices they fall further and further away from Him, until numbers of them quit their religious calling and lose their priesthood or sisterhood altogether, as we have seen since Vatican II, at which point they lose their authority and most of their power to harm the people. And if the people continue to pray in their distress, then God as a free gift can grant them a new generation of priests to replace those fallen away, and these priests He is liable to form from the most surprising material, e.g., fishermen in the case of Our Lord, in order to demonstrate that it is His work and not a work of human hands. Thus God turned His back on the Pharisees, and built from scratch His Apostles.
Here is exactly the story of the Society of St. Pius X, and it is extraordinary to watch the timing! As the Catholic priesthood was being decimated in the aftermath of Vatican II, Archbishop Lefebvre had just enough help from older priests to be able to found a Seminary and a Society to form again true priests on the old model, but by 1977, with a few notable exceptions like Fr. Barrielle, those older priests could not stand the heat of disapproval from Rome, and they left the Archbishop. However, by 1977 the Archbishop had just enough help from his own young priests from within his Society to be able to staff his Seminary in Ecône and to continue the Society's apostolate. The relief arrived in the nick of time!
Since 1977, those juveniles of the Archbishop have all been growing older regularly at a rate of one year every 365 days, so there is some senility creeping even into the Society priesthood! Nevertheless, for those who have eyes to see, it is God and God alone who has raised up this new flowering of the true priesthood in the 1970's, 80's and 90's. He has turned His back on the pharisees of neo-modernism, and He has rebuilt priests virtually from scratch.
The moral of the tale is clear. The fortunes of the Society depend to a large extent upon the prayers of the people. As Catholics appreciate or fail to appreciate what God gives them, so the Society will rise or fall. If then you have any love of anything God has given you through the senilizing juveniles of the Society of St. Pius X, pray for their deliberations and decisions at this General Chapter, which must be a keystone of the Society's future. And may God repay you for the alms of your prayers!
The good news in this connection is that as I have been circulating at this time of year amongst several of the Society's major centres in the United States to give Confirmation, I have been finding everywhere a warm response to the Society's efforts. Our numbers are not growing by leaps and bounds, but all over there are courageous young parents ready to trust God, with children, children, children, so there is certainly a future! There is also quality, insofar as Catholics seem to be learning to trust the Society when it tells them how far liberalism has eaten into their way of life, how far they must repudiate the modern world and its false ideals. This quality of real conversion is what we must look for, and then the quantity or numbers will look after themselves, in God's good time.
The bad news is that the official Church is even accelerating in its downhill plunge. Towards the beginning of last month the Consistory of Cardinals in Rome was due to consider with the Pope a document newly issuing from the Vatican Secretariat of State projecting ways to celebrate the Jubilee Millennial year of 2,000. The Pope then broke his hip and the Consistory was at least delayed, but the projects are no less hair-raising from a Catholic point of view, for instance another major ecumenical meeting of Christians, Jews and Mohammedans, this time on Mount Sinai!
The idea is to bring together the three religions that acknowledge Abraham as their ancestor, but in what sense, for instance, are the Jews of today's Synagogue the descendants of Abraham? Talmudic Jews are the spiritual descendants of the Pharisees, to whom already in his own day Our Lord had to say, "If you be the children of Abraham, do the works of Abraham" (Jn. VIII, 39). Jews who reject Jesus Christ reject thereby Abraham, yet here are Christ's own Vicar and many Cardinals apparently ready to pretend they are friends of Abraham! On the mountain of the Ten Commandments the one true God, Lord God of Hosts, three in one and one in three, struck holy terror into the hearts of His people (Exodus XIX, XX). Just how much further will He allow Himself to be mocked by His own ministers?
Lord, have mercy upon Thy Pope and upon Thy Catholic Church and preserve it from corruption! We thank Thee for the immense gift to us of Thy servant Marcel Lefebvre. We beg Thee to guide the deliberations and counsels of the Society he founded.
After the priestly ordinations at Winona on June 25, there are still places on the Doctrinal Sessions (June 28 to July 2 and August 30 to September 3), on the Music Workshop (July 19-24) and on the Men's Retreat (July 25-30), only the Women's Retreat (July 11-16) is fully booked. Make use of these opportunities. Your response to God's gifts is the surest way to ensure their continuance.
With all good wishes, and thanks for your support,
Sincerely yours in Christ,