The Catacombs

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The Angelus - September 1980


The Archbishop Speaks: Ordinations Sermon June 1980

The Sermon of His Grace Monseigneur Marcel Lefebvre on the Occasion of the Ordinations to the Holy Priesthood 27 June 1980, Ecône


My dear brethren:

Is it not a profound joy, for all of us, to be assembled here again, for the annual ordinations to the priesthood? Many of you are faithful pilgrims who come each year to share our prayers, our joys, and our pains, but each time also numerous pilgrims come for the first time, and this year we have the special joy of receiving a group from the New World, 1who are attending this ceremony for the first time and getting acquainted with our seminary here at Ecône. I am sure they will return home full of consolations and great joy, full of assurance and conviction that they have seen the living Church, the Church Militant, the immemorial Church. They will go back and take with them what they have seen and heard and will therefore rejoice the hearts of the faithful who have not come, but who are with us in prayer, in thought, and in spirit.

My dear brethren, on the occasion of this ordination to the priesthood, we cannot help thinking that it was ten years ago that the Society of Saint Pius X was founded—ten years. The approval of Bishop Charriere for our Society was given to us on November 1, 1970, and here we are in 1980. In glancing back over these ten years, we can only sing a hymn of thanksgiving. Not to sing a hymn of thanksgiving today in our hearts, would be to ignore the favors of God, to fail in recognition and gratitude toward God himself, to Our Lord, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to our patron saints and especially to Saint Pius X.

Yes, thanksgiving for all the favors, for all the blessings we have received, we, in particular, members of the Society of St. Pius X, and also, I would add, those who, for one reason or another, have thought it best to leave us; they have themselves paid tribute to the Society, they themselves have written us: "We will remember all our lives the favors and graces we received in the seminary at Ecône."

We cannot help thinking that today we should thank God and we in particular, dear friends, members of the Society of Saint Pius X; priests, those who are about to be ordained priests and subdeacons today, and all seminarians here present, not to mention all those who would like to be with us, from America, from Buenos Aires—priests of the Society who could not be present, but who had to remain in their priories or in their districts; they are certainly united with us today in thought and in prayer. So we thank God for the graces we have received under the protection of our holy pope, Pope Saint Pius X, and the Blessed Ever Virgin Mary, Our Mother in heaven.

What graces, my dear friends, above all the grace to have kept the treasures and the gifts which Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself gave to His Church, because that is the Society of Saint Pius X; it is nothing else, to keep us, to receive us, to do us good and to sanctify us by the gifts which Our Lord Jesus Christ put into the hands of His Apostles, which His Apostles bequeathed to Holy Church and which the Church has always given to us.

But today, when we consider the general condition of the churches, i.e., the parishes, the seminaries, the religious orders, then these gifts take on a value infinitely greater, because we could have been in that utterly baffling situation, thrown into total confusion. We could have found ourselves in that situation. Why has God chosen us? Why has God given us the grace to keep the Church going, and to preserve all these treasures of the Church? The treasure of faith, the treasure of grace, the treasure of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the treasure of the sacraments, treasures incomparable.

That is what we have received, my dear friends, and that is why we must thank God today; and I think I can include all who are joined to the Society of Saint Pius X in one way or another. I am thinking of our Sisters, our Sisters from Saint-Michel-en-Brenne; I am thinking also of all our oblates, religious and lay; I am thinking of all those who live with us, in our houses, everywhere and who are deeply united to the Society, and who therefore also share in the graces of the Society. And I must not forget all those who in one way or another have kept their fidelity to the Church and who are united with us. Is it not because we are united in this unity in the Faith of the Church, and in the sacraments of the Church and in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?

I think of those monasteries where today some will receive priestly ordination—the monastery of Dom Augustine, the monastery of Dom Gerard, both here present. I think of all those monasteries and convents of nuns who have also tried to keep the Faith, to keep Tradition and therefore are united to the priests who have remained faithful and who look in a sense to us, asking us to support them by our prayers and our encouragement: Dominican nuns at Brignoles, Fanjeaux, Poncallec, Carmelites, nuns here present; also nuns from Mainz, nuns from Schellenberg who are united with us in prayer. They could not come, because they are cloistered. All these nuns, and I could not forget how many nuns are united with us in thought and in their conviction that they must keep the immemorial Faith!

So then, all the graces received, all the vocations realized—priestly vocations, religious brothers and sisters, active and contemplative vocations: this is the Church, the Church which goes on. I think of all those priests who are here present, all who have shown us by example of faithfulness, who have encouraged us, and who themselves, I think, find encouragement in the example of the Society—all this is the Church, the Church which goes on.

And if we should thank God for the graces which have been given to the Society, I think we should also thank God for the graces given by the Society. I cannot help thinking of all the houses, scattered across the world, forty or more houses of our priests, and besides these, many places of worship which have been opened and which are served by our Fathers every Sunday.

And of course I do not forget all that is done by those dear priests who, like us, defend the Faith and who dedicate themselves with their whole heart and soul to celebrating the holy and immemorial Mass, administering the immemorial sacraments to their faithful people and thus preserving the Catholic Faith. Oh, I cannot forget them, but I think above all of what has been accomplished by the grace of God by the Society of Saint Pius X, the tenth anniversary of which we are celebrating; and so we can scarcely contemplate the graces which have been poured out upon us.

When I think of all the dying who have had a real priest, a priest who came to help them to die a holy death, who came to bring them the consolation of the sacraments of Extreme Unction, Communion, Viaticum—these souls have been strengthened and prepared to receive the grace of final perseverance. And all the children, all the schools that we have, by the grace of God, been able to open or to develop, so many children preserved from the contamination of the world, and who have kept the Faith. And all those families who gather in thousands upon thousands around our churches, often makeshift little churches like catacombs, where the sanctuary lamp shines—small, but always well kept, decorated with flowers, well arranged, little churches worthy of the Holy Mysteries which are celebrated, where everything is beautiful, even in poverty, by the care of the priest who faithfully preserves the ceremonies of the Church and who sees to it that his chapel is beautiful, beautiful for Our Lord Jesus Christ, beautiful for the holy angels who dwell there, beautiful for the Blessed Virgin Mary; so the faithful come into these chapels, into these churches, are consoled, strengthened, and feel there the grace of God, the grace of the Holy Ghost; and they go home refreshed, reassured that they have received into themselves the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ, by Holy Communion, the Eucharist, and thus the Church goes on.

There, my dear brethren, is what the Society is: schools, priories, parishes, chapels scattered over the world. And tomorrow, again with the grace of God, since all this is happening almost miraculously, tomorrow, the opening of a university in Paris. To tell the truth, I am astonished myself; I can't get over it. Of course we were dreaming, hoping some day to open and begin a university. And today in Paris, tomorrow in Rome, day after tomorrow perhaps in the United States, we would like to give the Truth, to communicate the Truth to those who no longer have it, who have lost it, who have been led astray by false modern philosophies.

What will happen to this world tomorrow if there is no longer any ability to recognize the Truth? To recognize the truth about philosophy, the truth about theology, the truth about Sacred Scripture and thus to recognize Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. What a joy then for us to think that these young men and women who will come to get this university education, will be pillars of the Truth, luminaries of Truth—everywhere they will be, and probably in important positions, which will make them a beacon for the spread of Truth.

So we thank God again that He Himself has sent us the professors we needed. These professors themselves came to us in Paris and told us: "It is this year or never for us; either you take us this year or we get other jobs and you can no longer count on us." What was I to do? Good professors, committed, who said: "From now on, after all that we have been through, we wish to be under the Society of Saint Pius X; we wish to teach under the authority of the Society of Saint Pius X; we wish one of your priests there, to direct and counsel us, because we feel that there, at least, the Church will be, and the Truth." So what was I to do? Faced with this proposition, in spite of the difficulties which that could mean, we decided to open this university; that is what God wanted, a unique, extraordinary occasion, which God has given us, something like a tenth anniversary gift. Let us thank him.

There, my dear brethren, is what God has done by means of the Society of Saint Pius X. And tomorrow, what will we be? Well, we will always be the same, we do not have to search out our path; we can only remain the Church; we can only keep the Church going; we can only keep preaching Our Lord Jesus Christ, preaching the Truth, teaching the Truth, and tomorrow, well, if God wishes (and I think He does wish it and will wish it), He will integrate us into the official Church, just as we are, just as we are.

It is not a question of changing, of going either to the right or to the left; we wish to remain the Church and we wish to remain what we have always been since the beginning of the Society, because we have no other motive than to keep the Church going; and thus we have always thought that one day, when God wills it, when He decides, then we will go back into the official Church, since they have put us out of an official Church which is not the real Church, an official Church which has been infested with Modernism; and so we believed in the duty of disobedience, if indeed it was disobedience! To obey, but to obey the immemorial Church, to obey all the Popes, to obey the whole Catholic Church.

So we thought it our duty to disobey those cardinals who asked us to adopt, in part, Modernist errors, because we did not want to poison our souls and our hearts with the errors which have been condemned by our holy patron, Saint Pius X, and we remain faithful to the anti-Modernist Oath—the oath which Saint Pius X requires us to take. We remain faithful to that. They will receive us with the oath in our hands, or we will remain what we are.2 And we are convinced, we hope, we pray for this, and perhaps, my dear brethren, things will soon work out. This goal which seems impossible—to be taken as we are, with what we are doing, with what we are accomplishing, with our Faith—this seems almost impossible. But God can do the impossible, and we are more hopeful than ever, we are perhaps closer than ever to being recognized officially in Holy Church, as the Society of Saint Pius X, with all that we are, all that we think, all that we believe, all that we do.

And so, by the same token, all those who, like us, have defended the same Faith, the same Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the same sacraments, will come with us, will be accepted by us. There is no doubt about it. So we must pray today, in a very special way, for this intention, because you can imagine what we would be, how many we would be here, if we were not persecuted by certain members of the Church. Not five or six thousand, but twenty thousand, fifty thousand would profit by the graces that God gives us, that the Church gives to us, whereas now they are dying of Christ, perishing, losing the Faith, abandoned. We must think of all these souls and hope these unjust persecutions against us may cease.

I CLOSE, MY DEAR FRIENDS, with a few words to you who are about to be ordained priests, and to you I say, "Keep your faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ." Everything depends on Our Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing exists without Our Lord Jesus Christ, nothing in the material world, nothing in the supernatural world. Without Jesus there is nothing. Jesus is the Creator of all things, Jesus is the Redeemer of all souls. Without Him, there is no hope. Without Him, there is no being, no possible existence. So what is Our Lord Jesus Christ? What are the essentials that you have studied in your theology? Jesus Christ is Savior; Jesus Christ is Priest; Jesus Christ is King. These are the three essential attributes of Our Lord Jesus Christ by the very fact of His hypostatic union, i.e., His union with God Himself in One Person.

So these three attributes: Savior-Redeemer, Priest and King, where are they made concrete? Where do we live them? Where do we grasp them? In Holy Mass. In Holy Mass, Our Lord Jesus Christ is Redeemer. Who can deny that? The sacrifice of the Cross is His Redemption, the Redemption of Our Lord. Thus in offering your Holy Sacrifice of the Mass you contribute to the Redemption of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Redemption which Our Lord Jesus Christ has accomplished.

Priest. But where is He more priest than in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? He is the Priest, you are only His ministers, you act only in the person of Christ, Who is the true Priest; thus your Sacrifice of the Mass is still Our Lord Jesus Christ in one of His essential attributes.

And finally, King. "God reigned from the Cross." Our Lord reigned from the wood of the Cross; that is His throne, that is His crown. There He has conquered the world, and there He has a right to His Kingship. So it is also in he Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that His Kingship shines forth irresistibly; we must all submit to Him and revere, adore and thank Him as King.

And so—Redeemer, Priest and King—this is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; all the days of your lives you will discover Our Lord in His essential attributes, and you will share in them.

Poor creatures that we are! To share in the essential attributes of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to share in His Redemption, to share in His priesthood, to share in His kingship what a responsibility! What a responsibility to all His faithful people! What a profound joy for you! With what humility and what joy you should perform the sacred mysteries! You should also bring your people to share in these attributes of Our Lord, by Holy Communion, by giving Jesus Christ Himself in the Eucharist. What a joy! Nothing is more beautiful than the priest distributing Holy Communion, nothing is greater, more sublime, nothing richer in virtues, in gifts, in graces. The faithful expect this of you.

Therefore, be faithful, my dear friends, be faithful to all you have been taught here at Ecône. It is only the echo of what the Church has always taught. Remain close to your seminary, remain close to what has made you a priest, remain close to the Society of Saint Pius X ;in this way you will be truly priests and through you Holy Church will go on, while waiting for your reward from the hands of your Mother in heaven, the Mother of the Priesthood, who has been by your side, here at Ecône, every day.

Oh, how touched we are, every evening, when we see you kneeling before the Blessed Virgin Mary before taking your rest; you say some prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary, commending yourselves to her, asking her to sustain you, asking her to help you to become holy priests. And now, here you are ready to be sent out, ready to go, as Our Lord said, "Go forth, preach the Gospel." That is what you will do, and all our prayers today will go with you, the prayer of your parents, your friends, and all those who love you and who are united with you here below and in heaven.

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


[Emphasis - The Catacombs]


1.TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: The Angelus Pilgrimage

2. TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: At this point His Grace was interrupted by the applause of those in attendance.