For future reference.
Bishop Fellay’s Sermon for Ordinations on June 29, 2012, in Ecône
Filed under Documents
Dear brothers in the priesthood, dear ordinands,
Dear seminarians, dear sisters,
Dear faithful and parents of the ordinands,
This year, Providence allows us yet again to confer ordinations to the diaconate and to the priesthood on this great feast of the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul. This is the whole reason for our very existence, for the finality of the Society is the priesthood, and ordinations are for us the opportunity to renew the spirit that should be ours, this priestly spirit, faithful to the heritage that was passed on to us by our venerable founder, Archbishop Lefebvre.
You are not deacons to please the world.
For the deacons, let us note that the examples given by the Pontifical and by Tradition, are that of the most famous of all the martyrs, St. Stephen, and that of St. Lawrence in Rome, and we might add St. Vincent in Spain. All these models of deacons are martyrs. And today on this feast which celebrates the martyrdom of the two pillars of the Church, most especially of the rock upon which the Church is built – Our Lord said: “Upon this rock I will build My Church” (Matt. 16:18) – this feast which celebrates the martyrdom of St. Peter should bear for you, dear future deacons, a special meaning and it should show you the perspective of martyrdom. One of the deacon’s first functions is to preach, but one of the most beautiful titles in the pontiff’s admonition is the one that calls you: comministri et cooperatores Corporis et Sanguinis Domini Nostri Jesu Christi, the co-ministers and cooperators in the Body and Blood of Our Lord. That shows you how deeply the Church already associates you with the sacrifice of Our Lord.
It is true that when we speak of deacons, we think of preaching. That is the mission that is confided to you by the Church. It is an apostolic mission: fides ex auditu, the faith comes from preaching (Rom. 10:17). The Church received this mission from Our Lord himself: “Go, teach all nations, preach to them all things whatsoever I have taught you.” (Matt 28:19). By becoming deacons and receiving this mission from your superiors, you are associated with the Church’s preaching mission. It is impressive to see how much the Church insists upon the link between the deacon and the Holy Ghost. When the bishop imposes his hand upon your head, he will mention the Holy Ghost in an extraordinary manner: accipe Spiritum Sanctum ad robur – receive the Holy Ghost to strengthen you – ad resistendum diabolo et tentationibus ejus – and to resist the devil and his temptations.
Why insist upon this strength, why call upon the Holy Ghost for the deacon with such insistence on this strength? It seems to me that we must really see the connection between preaching and martyrdom. The two are connected. When Our Lord speaks to the apostles of the action of the Holy Ghost, He tells them: “The Holy Ghost will give testimony of Me to the world” (John 15:20). And we all know that that means that the Holy Ghost will show forth to the world the divinity of Our Lord. Our Lord then goes on to say to His apostles: “and you also will give testimony” (John 15:27). In Greek, the word for testimony is martyrdom. Testimony is martyrdom. You must be ready to assume this charge of preaching even to the point of martyrdom. It is part of the secret of God’s will, we touch here upon the mystery of salvation, and of the combat of the Church Militant. Salvation is won by the cross of Our Lord. Our Lord is killed because He brings salvation; and for His disciples, the possibility of martyrdom is included in their participation in His priesthood and in His saving mission. St. John tells us that Our Lord is “the light of the world” (Jn. 8:12), He enlightens all men, and it is true that the world does not want to receive this light. Those who are His instruments, those who must bring this light are not above their Master: “If the world hates you, know that it hated Me before you.” (Jn. 15:18)
If you have problems in your preaching, even though you preach what you ought to preach and not your personal ideas – it would be another issue if you had problems because of that – but if you are truly faithful to your mission and you have problems, do not be astonished! It is normal. It is why the Church calls down the Holy Ghost for you, in the same prayer that mentions both the Holy Ghost and the combat to resist the devil and his temptations: “Receive the Holy Ghost to strengthen you and to resist the devil and his temptations”. The examples offered to you are: St. Lawrence, and especially St. Stephen, the first martyr. For you are not deacons to please the world, you receive already this participation in the mission of salvation and that will cost you; you must be faithful. We will pray for this fidelity in today’s ceremony.
By becoming priests you are devoted to sacrifice
The Holy Ghost is mentioned for the priest, too. We know very well that every time we talk of sanctification, this work is attributed to the Holy Ghost. And every time a character is conferred, this operation is specially attributed to the Holy Ghost. Again, in the very form of the sacrament of the ordination of priests: innova in visceribus eorum spiritum sanctitatis, this is what the Church asks: the spirit of sanctity. There is an immediate, direct connection between the priesthood and sanctity. Ever since Our Lord, it is impossible to imagine the priesthood without sanctity. We can no longer make a distinction between the two, the priesthood must be associated with sanctity. There can be no discount priesthood; sanctity is a truly essential, fundamental duty that reposes upon the very being of the priest.
It is not surprising to see that the first article of Canon Law concerning the Church and the clergy – and therefore the priests – bears upon the duty to strive for sanctity. When we hear those who wish to spare themselves efforts by saying: “No! We are not monks,” we are so far from the essential. Those excuses are easy, but they are false and harmful to the priesthood. The spirit of sanctity is founded upon the priesthood of Our Lord – Tu solus Sanctus – He, sanctity itself, who wishes to make us partakers in His priesthood. The character is a participation in His Priesthood, and St. Thomas does not hesitate to say in the hypostatic union itself, that is, the very heart of God’s sanctity. The priest can no longer say that he is like others. He is certainly chosen from among men, but he receives this sacred mark, this seal that touches his very substance, that touches his being: his soul is marked forever with this character by which he becomes the privileged instrument of Our Lord, by which Our Lord continues upon earth His priestly work, His work of sanctification. He is truly the instrument of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
By becoming priests, you are devoted to sacrifice. Devoted to sacrifice, devoted to making the sacrifice, to renewing it, to perpetuating the sacrifice of Our Lord, but you are also associated to the victim. This is something that goes beyond reason, but the faithful know it well: the priest must enter into this spirit of immolation that is the spirit of Our Lord… Jesus Christ says: “I have meat to eat which you know not. My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me (Jn. 4:32, 34). I do all that pleases Him, that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father hath given me commandment, so do I.” (Jn. 14:31) – you see this care for a constant, total submission to the will of God. And we know well that very often in the plans of God, in our work of apostolate, we run into contradictions: it is normal, it is the path that Our Lord walked upon and that He wishes for His priests. Of course all these contradictions frustrate us, but it is up to us to be careful not to let the man take over again, but to let the priest triumph. We see that apostolic fecundity depends on this spirit of immolation and we also see that this was Archbishop Lefebvre’s great worry for his priests. I make you priests by preparing you for the priesthood of Jesus Christ, bur do not forget that the spirit of Our Lord is intimately connected to the great prayer of His Sacrifice. The priest is a sacrifice.
On this beautiful day, this great day for us, let us ask this grace of fidelity, fidelity to the grace that you receive by the imposition of the hands, as St. Paul teaches. Let us ask for all those who are priests, for all those who have received this grace, that these splendid, gripping days of the priestly ordinations may renew in them the love of Our Lord, the love of souls, knowing that all the contradictions, sufferings and cross…none of it is a loss for the priest. It must all be of service us to us, in a holy complicity, for saving souls, for winning them over to Our Lord, for snatching them from sin and from the world.
We are Roman, even if we suffer at the hands of the Rome of today
When we speak of St. Peter and St. Paul, when we think of their martyrdom, we think of Rome. They died in Rome; it is to Rome that Divine Providence led St. Peter and St. Paul. They are associated together in a mysterious way, and we celebrate them together: the apostle of the Gentiles and the head of the Church, the first pope. It all happened in Rome, and when we celebrate their feast we cannot but think of Rome. Nor can we forget the love that our founder had for Rome and that he wished to pass on to his sons. We are Roman! We must not give up this love, even if we live in difficult times, even if we suffer at the hands of the Rome of today. This should in no way tarnish this true effective and affective love for Rome, for it is God who chose this city to be the head of the Church.
This does not mean that we are going to start loving the modern errors, of course not! We suffer from them. But we must not let ourselves become so disgusted by what is going on that we throw everything. away No! We must maintain what we are trying to do.
You wonder what is going on with Rome: if until now we have said almost nothing, it is because there was not much to tell you. Up until now, things have been at a stand still, in the sense that there have been comings and goings, an exchange of letters, of proposals…but we are once again back at the point where we started. At the point that we said we could not accept, that we could not sign. That is where we are, and that is all. For three years now, I have been saying that we come up against a contradiction in Rome. I have been saying so since 2009 and I repeat it, and we see it all over again every day. It is the situation of the Church: there are those who wish to take progressivism and its consequences even further, there are others who wish to make some corrections; and we, in the middle of it all, we become like a ping-pong ball that everyone hits upon. We know that in the end, the Church will find herself again. It is up to us to maintain in our hearts this will not to be satisfied with a certain comfort created by a situation that simply is not normal.
For, we must not get used to the situation in which we are in just because we have mostly what we need, and we must not come to consider it as normal: that is not true, it simply is not true. And it is good for us to seek, all the while respecting, of course, all the necessary conditions, to regain the title that is ours and to which we have a right, the title of Catholics. That does not mean that we have to prostrate ourselves before the modernists; nothing of the sort.
The present situation is difficult, and everywhere a bit electric, and we can see that the devil is attacking on all sides. It is time to pray. It is a trying time. People are saying all sorts of things about us, but the only thing that we wish is to do the will of God. That’s all.
We can only do good to the Church by remaining faithful to Archbishop Lefebvre’s legacy
The will of God is expressed in concrete facts. It is clear to us that we must not tarnish the work that the Archbishop founded; it is also very clear that we can only do good to the Church by remaining faithful to the Archbishop’s legacy. Hence the conditions that we have expressed several times and that would guarantee that the Society will remain what it is if at some point a collaboration is to be conceivable. When? How? The circumstances will show us. We can see very well that things are changing, things are moving; we cannot say that everything is staying on the same level.
I will give you an example of something that is very interesting but that we tend not to notice. One of the fundamental points of the crisis, which Archbishop Lefebvre pointed out, is that the priest is marginalized, desacralized. In his conference in Nantes for the 15th anniversary of the Council, he insisted that this is the heart of the problem: the Church has been turned upside down and made into a Church of men. It is the Church of Our Lord, holiness must be at its heart, and the priest is the one who holds this role of sanctification. Well! Surprisingly, in the present situation, we hear, we see, we are reminded of the necessity of sanctity, the necessity of placing Our Lord in the center. In a recent letter, certain aspects of which can certainly be disputed, we are reminded that the sanctification both of the Church and of the world depends on the sanctification of the priest. So the Rome of today wishes to place the priest and his sanctification back at the heart of the Church. That does not mean that all the problems are taken care of, but it does mean that all of a sudden we are hearing a fundamental reminder. And if we lead souls to Our Lord Jesus Christ, and if we put Our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, the only Savior, the only Name given under Heaven whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12), if we place Him back in the center, it is obvious that it will help us get out of this crisis.
How much time will it take to go from expressing the principle to a practical application? Who long will it take for priests to live it? Let us begin by living it ourselves. Let us be persuaded of it and live this sanctification. And for them do I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified (Jn. 17:19): Our Lord Himself gives us a living example.
Let us entrust all these great cares to Our Lady with confidence. Until now we can see how Divine Providence and the Blessed Virgin Mary have led our Society in an extraordinary way, how they have helped us avoid all the pitfalls– and God knows that there have been pitfalls in our history. Let us continue to have the same confidence, let us pray to the Most Holy Virgin more than ever, let us truly take her for our patroness, as our protectress; may she watch over your priesthood, over your diaconate. May she lead you every day closer to God, closer to Our Lord, closer to Heaven. Amen.
To respect the character of the sermon, the spoken style has been kept. The subtitles are from the editor.
(Sources: FSSPX/MG – DICI#258, July 20, 2012)