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The Angelus - August 1981



The Archbishop Speaks

THE ORDINATION SERMON of His Grace Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre 29 June 1981
at the International Seminary of the Society of Saint Pius X in Ecône, Switzerland



In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

My dear brothers, dear friends, it is with a great delight and a profound joy that we arrive each year at this point, on this date, to confer ordination to the holy priesthood upon the young deacons who have prepared themselves for long years to receive the holy anointing of the priesthood. We rejoice to confer ordination not only on members of the Society, but also on those who have prepared so carefully in the monasteries, those of Dom Gerard and Dom Augustine. If the number this year seems smaller, it is because, day before yesterday, I performed the same ceremony in our seminary at Zaitzkofen, in Germany. We ordained five members of the Society who had completed their studies, either at Weissbad or at Zaitzkofen. And I must say, the ceremony was very moving—remarkable in the devotion of all the faithful who were present, in the number of the faithful present—some three thousand, I think. We had a day truly blessed by God. And I am sure that today also—the sky proves it with the sun God has given us—God is blessing us equally at Ecône, as usual.

My dear friends, we often use this occasion, to which you come from everywhere, to highlight, in a sense, the situation of the Society, and the situation also of the Church. We must say that the Passion of the Church continues, a Passion which manifests itself even, I would say, in the health of the Head of the Church. The Pope suffers in his own body, so to say, the Passion of the Church, in these sad and difficult times, by this accident—incredible, inconceivable, in our time. And we have had to live through an age when the Pope could be mortally injured. Yes, we are truly living the Passion of the Church. But this Passion manifests itself in an even more urgent way, more difficult, more shocking, when one thinks of all that is happening today in the world, and that this is promoted, we must say, by the clergy, by members of the Church. Just as Our Lord was betrayed by one of His own, Our Lord was abandoned by the apostles, when the soldiery came to lay hands on Our Lord, even so today, members of the clergy and others betray anew Our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have observed, alas, in our dear country of France, how on the occasion of the last elections, the bishops, the priests, religious men and women, aided the coming to power of Socialism—Socialism which wars against Our Lord Jesus Christ, which fights on the side of atheism! Not for nothing did the new President go to receive—as the newspapers put it—lay-anointing at the Pantheon. It is this which disturbed us. The economic consequences are less important alongside this drama which we are living, this struggle against Our Lord Jesus Christ. It seems that the devil, unleashed, has finally arrived at his goal. By the Socialism which is spreading in all countries, by the Communism which spreads through the world, the devil aspires to destroy the Catholic religion and Our Lord Jesus Christ. And unfortunately, we must say once again, in South America, in the episcopacy of North America, in almost all espicopacies, one may say, of Europe, these movements of rebellion against Our Lord are promoted—willingly, most willingly by the episcopacy. This is the particular drama of the Church in our day. St. Pius X said it clearly: the enemies of the Church are no longer merely outside the Church; they are now also inside. He pointed the finger himself at the seminaries. And in pinpointing the seminaries, he also pinpointed the professors of the seminaries—those charged with the formation of the clergy. It is thus that the clergy was formed by Modernist ideas, Liberal ideas, and so we arrive at the point where we are today.

We must also say—we cannot deny it that this Passion of the Church is everywhere. The Church suffers everywhere. And it suffers, first, we must add, in the Roman Curia, which continues to propagate Modernist ideas. And now we see, in spite of everything, these reforms, which were set in motion by Vatican II, which are in the process of destroying the Church—the self-destruction of the Church, as Pope Paul VI himself called it! This self-destruction of the Church, how did it come about, if not by the clergy themselves, if not by those placed in the citadel of the Roman Church, to protect the Faith of the Church—which they are no longer protecting. Are they condemned? These so-called philosophers, these so-called theologians who corrupt the Faith, who are virtually heretics—are they really being punished? Are the bishops punished, who fashion an ecumenism which is nothing more nor less than the spread of heresy, who invite Protestants to concelebrate with them? Are they condemned, the bishops? The superiors of seminaries who introduce pornography into the seminaries—and Rome knows this—one could go on indefinitely with examples of this kind. Are the bishops of Mexico condemned, who in their diocesan assemblies, in their newspapers, publish articles favorable to the Revolution, and against El Salvador, asking for money for Fidel Castro, expressing a willingness to fight—physically, if possible—against the government of El Salvador, to spread the Revolution, to spread Communism?

My dear friends, we are betrayed. You—you are betrayed. All honest people are betrayed. All who believe in the Catholic Faith are betrayed. All who believe in Our Lord Jesus Christ, all who wish to defend the Faith of Our Lord, who wish to defend the fundamental truth of their Faith, in the catechism itself, who wish to defend morality, the Ten Commandments, who wish to defend Sacred Scripture itself—all these are betrayed. Betrayed by Modernist ideas. Modernism replaces the Faith by research, purely masonic ideas! ("We are all searching for the truth. It does not exist. We will never find it. We don't know if it exists.") We do know our Faith, and we wish to maintain it! The Ten Commandments have been replaced by the Rights of Man. What we have now is the religion of the Rights of Man, in place of the Ten Commandments. Now we know perfectly well that the Rights of Man and justice in this world, exist only in virtue of the Ten Commandments. When we have done our duty to God and our neighbor, justice will prevail—but not in the fight against the authority of God, against all authority. The Rights of Man is simply the struggle against the authority of God and against all authority. Law has been replaced by conscience. Everyone does as he pleases. Everyone looks to his conscience, and no longer to law. These are the Modernist ideas which are spreading in the world.

And so they wanted to fashion for us a liturgy in this spirit. In this spirit of liberty, of pluralism, in short, of desacralization. They don't want to adore God any longer; they don't want to recognize His sovereign authority: they don't want to believe any longer in Our Creator, Our Savior, Our Redeemer, Our Judge. And all this is promoted—promoted by the Roman Curia. Perhaps not everyone [in the Curia], but certainly by those in charge of worship, of the bishops and of religious. And also by the Secretary of State. Because, wherever the freedom of all religions has been proclaimed, as in Spain, in Ireland, and here in the Canton of Valais, and in all countries where the Catholic religion has been kept as the one true religion, they wanted to establish this law of ecumenism, this false ecumenism, as the great desire of the age, this heresy which destroys what is still Catholic in those countries which recognize Our Lord Jesus Christ as their head and their sovereign. And all this is promoted. And it is promoted by the [Papal] Secretary of State.

How can this be, my dear friends? You know as well as I. I cite facts. I do not seek for explanations; I stand by facts. The fact is that our resolution is made, to stand forever: qui perseverat usque in finem, his salvus erit. (He who perseveres unto the end, he will be saved. Mt. 10:22) And persevere in what, I ask you? Persevere in the Catholic Faith! Persevere in what Our Lord Jesus Christ taught us—that there is only one true religion, that other religions were invented by the devil, to turn souls away from Our Lord Jesus Christ. This is clearly the truth. This is what Pope St. Leo in the Lesson for today, the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul, teaches, that, before the coming of Peter and Paul, Rome was the place which recognized all gods, and that the devil invented that idea to keep men in error. Now Rome has become the mistress of truth. That is what St. Leo says. So we must maintain our Catholic Faith. Persevere—unto the end.

AND TO MAINTAIN OUR CATHOLIC FAITH, my dear brothers (I now address the men who will be ordained priests in a few minutes), what is the means? Maintain your Holy Mass! Not because it is the Mass of the Latin Rite. There are other Masses in other rites. But this rite contains all the truths of Our Catholic Faith—and proclaims them! Thus today these new rites, infested with ecumenism, a false ecumenism, does not proclaim our Faith any longer, as the immemorial Mass does. And in this way we know that the faithful are in the way of losing the Faith. Some more rapidly than others, to the extent that priests are guarding tradition. But the results are forthcoming; they are clear and unmistakable. So what must we do? We must maintain our holy immemorial Mass. It is the cornerstone of the Church. This is the treasure that Our Lord Jesus Christ has given us: hic est calix sanguinis mei, novi et aeterni testamenti—the new and everlasting covenant. This is the covenant of Our Lord Jesus Christ: His blood poured out for us, for the forgiveness of our sins.

It is in this that you will believe, my dear friends. You will believe in the Sacrifice of the Mass, the Sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ, renewed by yourselves, for us sinners, all poor sinners, as the good Lord has given us the power—this power actually given to bring the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ upon our altars, for the forgiveness of our sins. You will maintain this profound understanding of your Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which is simply the great charity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In pronouncing the words of consecration, you will think of the last breath of Our Lord Jesus Christ and you will think of His pierced heart. Can one show a greater love than to lay down his life for those he loves? Our Lord Jesus Christ gave His life first of all for His Father, for the glory of His Father, to establish the glory of His Father. The Father never received such glory as when Our Lord Jesus Christ breathed His last, when His Heart was pierced—it was for Him that He did that. You too, you will offer your entire lives to God, first to God.

Then, in a spirit of prayer, in a spirit of adoration, in a spirit of humility, in a spirit of holiness, then you will go, to bring the word of the Gospel, to bring your faith—so well expressed in the Catechism of the Council of Trent, which is at the foundation of what you teach—to bring the light of faith, to draw people to the light of charity, to kindle the fire of charity, this fire which will embrace your hearts and your souls, and you will go forth, to bring the grace of the Lord in the sacrament of baptism and in the sacrament of penance especially. No one goes to Confession any more! In entire countries, like Ireland, no one goes to Confession for two, three, four years. And they go to Communion whenever they have a chance. And this can be said for the whole world, for the whole Catholic world. And you will allow souls to pour into your hearts the secrets of their conscience, and you will wash these souls in the Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, with your words of absolution. If you spend the whole of your day in the confessional, that is the most beautiful service that you could render, to souls and to the Church. And you will give, above all, by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Holy Communion, the very Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ, with all the respect that we owe Him, Our God, Our Savior, Our Redeemer.

And you will teach souls the meaning of sacrifice. No one speaks any more of the Sacrifice of the Mass, but rather of a Eucharist, a Communion, a Sharing. It is not that! It is a question of the Holy Sacrifice, the sacrifice of Our Lord. The spirit of sacrifice is the Catholic spirit. Without sacrifice, there is no more Catholicism. You know this very well, my dear brothers, and you are an example of it, a magnificent example.

Everywhere I go, where I have occasion to go, I find this circumstance, of people who have the Faith, who want to keep the Faith. We find beautiful Christian families, with numerous children, whence come religious and priestly vocations. How beautiful! There you are—this is what the Church does! This is what the grace of Our Lord produces, by Holy Mass and by Holy Communion. And we must add, my dear brothers, that the sacrament of marriage has its symbol, its image, its meaning on Calvary. Our Lord gives birth to His bride, unites Himself to His bride, on Calvary. One finds it in His Blood, in His pierced Heart, the water and blood which flowed from His Heart. Here is the symbol of marriage, the mystical marriage of Our Lord Jesus Christ with His bride. As a result, the grace of the sacrament of marriage renews itself in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. So Christians cannot nourish the grace of marriage without frequently attending Holy Mass.

This is what you do, and we congratulate you. This is what is done, so traditionalist families—i.e., simply good Catholics, have numerous children. See the joy and peace which is at the root of the many vocations which we have in our seminaries. They are here, they are in monasteries, they are in the religious congregations which we know, these religious who are here present—numerous vocations. You will be the support, my dear brothers, of these Christian homes, and at the same time the models.

Now I end with these few words. You have studied. You have bent over the holy books, over those books which are at the foundation of the Faith of the Church, these books of philosophy, of theology; you have questioned your professors; you have enlightened your minds; you have increased your faith; and you feel yourselves profoundly attached to the Church, to the Sovereign Pontiff, to all the bishops (insofar as they remain Catholic), to all the Church, to Rome—Rome which cannot separate itself from the Church. You feel yourselves attached to all these fundamental values, which have made the entire history of the Church, for twenty centuries, and which you wish to hand on. It is for this reason that you are traditionalists, as St. Pius X so well said: the Catholic is a traditionalist, because the Church is a tradition. So you will transmit all this to all the souls who will turn to you. But you will be nothing, my dear brothers, without holiness. You have an intelligence well enlightened, an extraordinary knowledge of philosophy and theology, Holy Scripture and Canon Law. But you will do nothing if you have not holiness. And who is the model of holiness for the priesthood? The Most Blessed Virgin. Why? Because see how God, Our Lord Jesus Christ, chose to prepare His mother to be worthy to receive Him—this was the Immaculate Conception. She knew the dominion neither of sin nor the devil. Her soul is pure. Her soul is holy. Her soul is truly divine. The Holy Ghost dwells there; the Holy Trinity dwells with joy in this soul which has never known sin. By her Fiat, prepared by her total virginity, she prepares for the coming of the Lord, she accepts the coming of the Lord. So you too—your lips in pronouncing the words of consecration, will repeat in a sense the Fiat of the Virgin Mary, and make Jesus Himself come upon the altar—Jesus, to Whom you unite yourselves first, before distributing Him to souls. So if the Lord wished the Virgin Mary to have a wonderful holiness, a holiness which surpasses the holiness of all other creatures, you priests, priests of Jesus Christ, you who will bring Jesus upon the altar, you too must be holy. One cannot stay with a priest who is not holy, who does no seek for holiness, who does not seek for a humility like that of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary.

Respexit humilitatem meam. He has looked upon my lowliness, said the Holy Virgin. Yes, she can sing of the glory of God, because she is humble. So you too will be humble in heart, because these graces which you are going to receive, which you owe not to yourselves, but to God, you have been chosen by God, and you receive them also through the Virgin Mary. As the Apostles in the Cenacle, seated around the Virgin Mary, received the graces they received through the Virgin Mary, so you too, in a few minutes, by the imposition of hands of the bishop and by the words of the sacrament of ordination, you will receive the Holy Ghost, and you will receive Him through your Good Mother in Heaven, the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. So remain united to the Holy Virgin, like the Apostles, who sat around her in the Cenacle, remain so all your lives, and you will exercise in this way a magnificent apostolate. And thus you will persevere until the end, and you will save yourselves, with all the souls whom you have sanctified.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.