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District Superior's
Letter to Friends & Benefactors

September 2010

Dear Friends and Benefactors,

In DICI (N° 219—July 2010), the communication agency of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X (www.dici.org/en), Fr. Alain Lorans made a very interesting comparison; The Compass and the Magnet, which I would like to reproduce here.

In late August several clerics, former students of Professor Joseph Ratzinger, will meet at Castel Gandolfo to pour over the hermeneutic of Vatican II, in other words, to discuss the correct way of interpreting the documents of that Council. Last March the Lenten conferences at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris described Vatican II as “a compass for our times”. This raises the naive question: can one interpret the direction that a compass indicates? If it points north, as every good compass can do, what commentary does it need? It furnishes precise information that should silence all discussion: here is north, and all the rest is superfluous!

Hence this second ingenuous query: why, for almost fifty years, has the Second Vatican Council been the object of so many divergent or even contradictory readings and re-readings? They talk about discontinuity and rupture, about renewal in continuity and continuity in change…. Opinions clash and disoriented minds seem to be all over the map!

The answer is provided by the fact that the needle of the compass no longer points north when it undergoes an extraneous attraction: a magnet can make it deviate or even cause it to behave crazily. While intending to be open to the spirit of the modern world, the Second Vatican Council subjected itself to the force of an attraction extraneous to the Church. In order to find north again, one would have to be freed from the influence of that magnet. And for that, there is no need whatsoever for a hermeneutic; St. Paul said it straightforwardly enough: “Do not be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2).

Nolite conformari huic saeculo.” St. Paul expressed, indeed, in these few words, the opposition that exists between the world and the Church. Moreover, as Fr. Lorans puts it clearly with the comparison of the compass, the disorientation that we face today comes from the fact that Vatican II left aside the impossibility for the Church to conform with the world. On the contrary, the Council opted for an aggiornamento—an adaptation to the spirit of the world, a search of getting in harmony with the world. “The religion of the God Who made Himself man, has met the religion (for such it is) of man who makes himself God.” This explicit but unbelievable statement of Pope Paul VI sets the new orientation. Vatican II had decided to make a compromise with the world and to accept the “signs of the times”, to believe North and South alike. As North is not clearly indicated anymore, as people do not know which direction to go, people are confused. Because of the openness to the spirit of the world a new, a stranger influence affects the clergy and the faithful. Thus the actual disorientation, the North on the compass is lost!

However, why did they have to, or want to, open the Church to the world? It seems that one of the main reasons was that many were tired of fighting against the world; it would be so nice to make peace with the world and live together they thought. However, in order to make peace men needed to be accepted as they are. They decided to accept the world, human society and human nature as they are. This seems logical, however it is in itself a new principle. Actually, the Catholic Church has always taken men as they are, while not accepting them as they are. Since the Original sin, we cannot accept man as he is by nature, because man, human nature and therefore human society is corrupted. Our Lord calls this personal and social disorder, with its consequences of promoting evil, the World. The world understood as such is essentially opposed to Our Lord and His mission to bring everything back to God. The consequences of Original Sin, and of our own personal sins, are corruption, disorder, and evil. We all are born with an inner tendency toward evil, against which we have to fight our whole life. In order to “restore all things in Christ” we need the grace of God. The Catholic Church, indeed, can heal men of their corruption; fighting against these evil tendencies, saving their lives and their souls. To accomplish this work of salvation there is no other way than to fight, to oppose that tendency, to go up against the World. The Second Vatican Council tried and trusted the ‘goodness’ of the human race. It attempted to teach at the same time, the integrity of men and the dogma of Faith of Original Sin. A contradiction that leads to a disaster! “You cannot serve God and Mammon” (Matt. 6:24)

One of the effects of Vatican II compromising with the world is a decrease of expectations; some kind of a minimalism in religion, where the supernatural elements of our Faith shrink to a minimum—a minimum that might be acceptable to the world. The beliefs have been affected by the contact with the world, the doctrine mixed with ideas of the world… The moral has been influenced by the spirit of the world, its expectations ended or lessened simply because the North, not being clearly marked, everyone began to follow their own judgment or personal sense of right and wrong, choosing their own North. And forgetting that our conscience, affected by Original Sin, is not infallible and further more is inclined to error. The world as a magnet modifies the needle of the compass and the moral values have been modified.

The solution to this “aggiornamento” is nothing other than the restoration of the true principles within the teaching of the Churchmen. “If the world hate you, know ye that it hath hated Me before you.” “If you had been of the world, the world would love its own, but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” (John 15; 18-19) There is a radical opposition between the Spirit of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the spirit of the world. Let us free the compass from the influence of this magnet and then the North will be visible again.

All Christians have and will always have to protect themselves from the influence of the world. “For the flesh lusteth against the spirit: and the spirit against the flesh: for these are contrary one to another.” (Gal. 5, 17) This is an important thing to remember. Let us protect ourselves from the spirit of the world. I would like to make here a practical application for our lives. When we speak about protecting ourselves from the spirit of the world we think of secluding ourselves away from the world. Surely there is a necessary protection and prudence but it means above all to understand our nature and God’s supernatural plan. We ought to understand the dogma of Original Sin, that our human nature is affected, corrupted by the Original sin and therefore we should not be surprised to be tempted or to be weak. We would like to be saints but at the same time, we think we cannot, because we are attracted by evil. We do not understand our real condition, that is, we are all sinners. We do not understand that Our Lord has come to redeem us from our sins. The grace of God gives us the strength to resist but do not suppress temptations.

As the Church needs to fight against the spirit of the world, we, at the level of our personal life, need also to oppose it. In addition, we will over come it by fighting ourselves first, struggling against the tendency of our wounded nature. We cannot trust our nature but must ever be wary of it. As Fr. de Chivre would put it: “We must not be human, but super-human.” Here we do not mean to say that our human nature is to be destroyed, certainly not. Our human nature exists and is necessary, but we cannot remain at the level of nature. If we do, then we will remain in our corrupt state, the corruption of sin, and the corruption of the Original Sin. We therefore, need to be super-natural, to elevate our souls, our activities—everything we do—to the supernatural level. “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever else you do, do all for the glory of God.” (I Corinth. 10:31) Every time we forget, or we refuse to live up to that level, the tendency of our nature will bring us down to the level of nature, which is dominated by passions; the lower instinct of our nature takes over our soul, step by step.

To come back to the precious comparison with the compass, our conscience must be directed and often corrected by the teaching of the Church; the true doctrine of the Church is the North. It is easy to let our own nature to lead us away from the direction we ought to go.

In other words, the grace of God must govern our life—every aspect of our life. Our first preoccupation is therefore the state of grace. This does not mean that we will not be tempted, that there will not be any solicitation, for our wounded nature remains. It means that we will not follow these solicitations. Holiness does not consist in not being tempted; it resides in not giving in to these temptations. Holiness doesn’t consist in destroying human nature but rather in not following our natural inclinations, and on the contrary, following supernatural motives based on the Revelation of God, on the teaching of the Church, on the advice of spiritual authors… Then the Spirit of Our Lord Jesus Christ will begin to take root and grace will dominate. However, if we think that grace can dominate in our souls without a spiritual combat, without denying our natural inclinations by penance and asceticism, we are just deceiving ourselves. To delude ourselves that we can make peace between our nature rebelling against God and the Gospel would just be a dream, the same dream that the Modernists had at Vatican II…

This is the work of sanctification that we are called to pursue. Holiness is not so much in what we do, but in how we do it; not so much the steps we walk but those we make in the direction indicated by the compass! The most ordinary things can be sources of great merits if we perform everything with a supernatural spirit and for the glory of God.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary enlighten us and help us to elevate our lives to the supernatural life that her Son has brought to us.

With my prayers and blessing,

In the Immaculate Heart of Mary,

Fr. Arnaud Rostand

 
 
 
 

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