Dear Faithful and
"By celebrating the
old Mass, I discovered what the priest is."
lately we have received this moving testimony from priests who are
getting to know us. This short sentence sums up the essence of the
profound mystery that has struck the Church:
The Church has been in a
crisis since Vatican II because the priesthood has been
slighted. This is one of the fundamental elements of this
One of the most decisive
points for the Church’s restoration is and will be the
priesthood. Of all the churchmen of the 20th century, Archbishop
Lefebvre was probably the one who understood this most clearly.
In founding the Priestly
Society of St. Pius X, he sought nothing but the restoration
of the priesthood for the sake of restoring the entire Church,
to do this by
re-establishing the intimate, unimaginably profound link that
exists between the priest and the Mass.
The priest was the
forgotten man of Vatican II, as Fathers of the Council have
frankly admitted. In the Constitution on the Church, Lumen
Gentium, while entire chapters were dedicated to the bishops
and especially to the laity, one of the great "discoveries" of
Vatican II, only a few paragraphs refer to the priest, and when
they do it is to subordinate him to the bishops or to the
universal priesthood of the baptized.
As early as 1971,
the International Theological Commission would say: "Vatican II
modified the image of the priest in two regards. The Council
treated of the common priesthood of all the faithful before
treating of the ministerial priesthood.... Moreover, it
highlighted the place of the bishop, the center of each particular
Church and member of the universal college of bishops. The place
of the priest in the Church became blurred." 1
Loss of identity,
an uncertain place in the Church...and yet the decree
Presbyterorum Ordinis gives the same definition of the
priesthood as the Council of Trent! But the context is such that
another idea is put forward, that of the priest as preacher, as
Martin Luther would have it, and not the priest as the one who
offers the Sacrifice. This would lead Fr. Olivier, a recognized
expert on the subject, to say about the crisis that befell the
priesthood after the Council:
The real problem is
so unusual in Catholicism that one can easily understand the
instinctive blindness that has allowed a perception of the cause
to be avoided: the will to be faithful to two Councils that
completely diverge from each other is simply impossible.2
To this new
presentation of the priesthood, a new Mass with an intentionally
Protestant savor corresponds perfectly... The conjunction of these
two elements, the definition of the priesthood and the new Mass,
have sufficed to provoke the most severe crisis touching the
priesthood in the Church’s entire history.
Let us say it quite
simply: the priesthood has been cleverly denatured. The
"president" (præesse), the "preacher" (prædicare)
are indeed sacerdotal roles, but they are not the essential: this
belongs to the "sacrificare" (the "sacrificer").
Insofar as the
priest has not understood that his reason for being is sacrifice,
that his ordination ordains him for the offering of sacrifice, the
sacrifice of Our Lord on the cross, the priest will not truly know
what he is or who he is. The priest without the Mass, without
sacrifice, is an eye that sees not, an ear that hears not, feet
that do not walk.
The Church’s enemy
will never better succeed in striking her heart; for the heart of
the Church, that which communicates supernatural life to the
entire Mystical Body, that which diffuses life throughout the
whole organism, is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. For a Mass
protestantized in the name of ecumenism, according to Bugnini’s
very words, a corresponding priesthood was required...
The priests we
quoted at the beginning of this letter have understood this in a
lightening flash when they came in contact with the traditional
Mass. And then, they tell me, they are both frustrated and happy.
Frustrated, because "they" hid from them this treasure, they
deprived them of it. Happy, inundated with happiness, at
understanding the extraordinary grandeur of their vocation, the
thrilling reality of their participation in the priesthood of Our
Lord Jesus Christ "in persona Christi." The priest is
associated, immersed even, in the sacrificial act of Our Lord,
Sovereign Priest, and he thus participates with his whole being,
which he surrenders to Jesus, priest and victim, for the salvation
of souls, for the redemptive act. All of this was made away with
in the New Mass.
Poor priests who
know not what they are!
Very dear faithful,
we do not doubt that you rejoice with us when priests discover
what they are. These are beautiful victories over the crisis in
the Church, strongholds and citadels reconquered for the Church
Militant, joining ranks with the new priests Divine Providence
gives us every year. This year there will be seventeen, ten in
this month of June, and seven in December. In such occurrences, we
see accomplished in a tangible way one of the goals of our
Society, whose end is the priesthood and everything related to it.
It should be the
constant concern of the superiors to maintain among the members a
lively will to accomplish and to reach this end. As in every
society, from time to time it is necessary to stop and examine the
road traveled, to verify if and how the end of the society is
being pursued, and to consider the state of its members. This work
is done particularly during the course of the "Chapter," an
assembly which for us, the SSPX, meets every twelve years. It is
also on this occasion that the capitulants, numbering
forty, elect the Superior General, who will lead the Society,
assisted by his council, for the next twelve years.
We have no need to
insist upon the importance of such an event for our Society.
During the six months preceding the Chapter, our Statutes
command us to offer prayers to obtain from Divine Mercy His grace,
His light, and the help of the Holy Ghost.
We invite you to
join our prayers and sacrifices by a novena, and if you can, by a
day of fasting. The novena will commence on July 2. It consists of
the prayer of the Veni Sancti Spiritus three invocations to
the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and one to St. Pius X. The day of
fasting has been set for Friday, July 7.
HERE TO OBTAIN THE NOVENA CARD; pdf 9 kb]
Please receive our
warmest thanks for your most touching and faithful generosity,
without which the Society would not have the means to develop and
to grow, a growth that is somewhat miraculous... We count on your
prayers, and ask Our Lady to obtain for you by her intercession
all the graces and spiritual support you need.
May God bless you
The Feast of Pentecost
4 June 2006
+ Bernard Fellay