Archbishop Lefebvre: Open Letter to Confused Catholics
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1. Why are Catholics Confused?

2. "They are Changing Our Religion!"

3. What They are Doing to the Mass?

4. The Mass of All Times versus the Mass of Our Time.

5. "Your a Dinosaur!"

6. The New Forms of Baptism, Marriage, Penance and Extreme Unction.

7. The New Priests

8. The New Catechisms

9. The New Theology

10. Ecumenism

11. Religious Liberty

12. Comrades and Fellow-Travellers

13. Religious Liberty, Collegial Equality, Ecumenical Fraternity

14. "Vatican II is the French Revolution in the Church"

15. The Marriage of the Church and the Revolution

16. Neo-modernism or the Undermining of the Faith

17. What is Tradition?

18. True and False Obedience

19. The Ecône Seminary and Rome

20. The Mass of All Time

21. Neither a Heretic nor a Schismatic

22. What Families Can Do.

23. Building Up Verses Pulling Down.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
An Open Letter to Confused Catholics
His Grace Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre


While presenting in English Archbishop Lefebvre's recently published book (his only one apart from some collections of addresses), I feel there is a need also of some words of introduction to the author himself - so well known by the name, but so little known as he truly is.

Beginning life in an exemplary Catholic family of the north of France, Marcel Lefebvre knew his vocation from an early age. He joined the Holy Ghost Fathers, and, after the usual training, his life was that of a missionary and seminary professor. It became recognized that he had, to an exceptional degree, the qualities of a bishop, and he was promoted to Archbishop of Dakar and eventually became Apostolic Delegate, the Pope's representative, to all of French speaking Africa. For six years he was also Superior General of his Order, the largest of the missionary congregations.

So Archbishop Lefebvre is, first and foremost, a missionary bishop, and typical of what a bishop should be. His qualities are not showy, they are those of a Christian ruler, which is what a bishop is: reliability, straightforwardness, calmness, approachability, with the capacity for making decisions and sticking to them. Such a man would never, in ordinary times, have been controversial, he would have continued administering and inspiring day‑to‑day work of the missions until his eventual retirement to the position of "elder statesman." What brought him into the limelight, and made him an object of opprobrium - or admiration - all over the Catholic world, is the revolutionary situation in the Church - it is nothing less - that has been developing since the Second Vatican Council.

There is no need for me to enlarge on that situation now: it is the subject matter of this book, the first part of which is a factual study of what is going on in the Catholic Church, while in the second part, the causes of it are examined. Here readers will also find the answers to their questions about the author's personal involvement.

The Archbishop's wide experience makes his analysis an authoritative one. His writing has also a quality that may be unexpected, for all who have only heard about him - it is so eminently reasonable. If he is a "rebel;" (as we never cease being told!), he is an uncommonly calm and courteous one. If this comes as a surprise, it is because he has been given little opportunity to make himself known. He has been conveniently buried in silence, except when quoted as an example of obstinate backwardness, by all who are embarrassed by the accusations he makes, or simply the positions he adopts. In view of this, the publishing of this book is a belated act of justice.

He causes embarrassment in the manner of the little boy in Hans Christian Andersen's parable, who alone spoke the obvious truth: "The Emperor has no clothes!" Among the chorus of satisfaction at the renewal of the Church by Vatican II, the Archbishop asks what, precisely, this renewal consists in. And he points out the facts that can be shown by statistics: the dramatic decline in baptisms, confirmations and ordinations, in the number of monks and nuns, and of schools; not to mention the confusion among the faithful, especially the rising generation, about what Catholic belief is. In this situation, he asks first and foremost for truthfulness (which in revolutions is always one of the first casualties)-truthfulness as to the facts of the present situation, and also with regard to the established teaching of the Church. He knows that the blurring with a view to some immediate advantage is disastrous for the faith of Catholics, and unjust to the others for whose supposed benefit it is usually done. His frank acceptance of established doctrine gives the Archbishop's writing another characteristic that one is grateful for: its perfect clarity. He knows his mind because he knows what his faith is.

It is likely that some who read these pages will be alerted for the first time to the extent of the disintegration of the Catholic Church. If they are shocked into a realization that a revolution is in progress which, if it continues, will eventually engulf their parish also, they may nevertheless find some of the Archbishop's language a little exaggerated: he may seem too absolute. How, for example, can he calmly dismiss as unfit for Christian ideas like Liberalism, Religious Liberty and Socialism?

Here, a word of explanation is called for. We must remember that His grace is writing against the background of France, where ideas are generally more clear‑cut than they are in Great Britain, or at any rate, in England. Take the word "socialism," for example; that means to some of us, first and foremost, a social ideal of brotherhood and justice. We have had our Christian socialists. On the Continent, however, Socialism is uncompromisingly anti‑religious, or almost a substitute for religion, and Communism is seen as the natural development from it. This is the Socialism the Archbishop is writing about. And when he rejects Liberalism, he is not thinking of the Liberal Party, or of the virtue of liberality, but of that religious liberalism that exalts human liberty above the claims of God or of His Church, and which Newman said that it had been his life's work to combat. It is because Vatican II's Declaration on Religious Liberty contains phrases that encourage this liberalism that the Archbishop asks for its revision. Modernism, too, has a special meaning: not a simple urge to be up‑to‑date, but the particular system of ideas which was condemned by Pope St. Pius X on the grounds that, on the pretext of making Revelation acceptable to the modern mentality, it destroyed the very foundations of belief in revealed Truth. And while making these clarifications, we may mention the word "Revolution," as used by the author. Sometimes he is referring to the French Revolution of 1789, with its slogan of "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity"; but he also, especially in Chapter XV, uses the word to indicate the general revolt against the Church which made its appearance in some aspects of the Renaissance, was nurtured by the Freemasons, burst out violently in 1789, and proceeded to produce Marxist Communism. The same rejection of God and His Revelation inspires all these.

A Catholic facing the evidence of disintegration presented here might well be tempted to despair. Archbishop Lefebvre does not despair because he knows that the Church, despite all appearances, is guaranteed by Our Lord Jesus Christ as being His chosen representative on earth, by which He conveys to all men the benefits of the Redemption. It is this unwavering faith that gives him what is perhaps his outstanding quality - the courage that was needed to stand firm, isolated, against the urgent pressures of those who were ready to welcome him with open arms in return for some simple compromise. So exposed a position is perilous and, and he has a right to expect the support of the prayers of those of us who recognize his special service to the Church: that of training priests and nuns who preserve the tried traditions that are the foundation on which an eventual, true renewal can be based.

Though responsibility for the translation is mine, it has been a team enterprise, which will have its sufficient reward in the appearanceof the book. Credit for it is due first to Mr. John Noon, who broke the back of the work, and also, for different sections, to Mr. Malcolm Potter and to Father Philip M. Stark; and not least to Mrs. Ann Nott for typing the scripts for printing.

Father Michael Crowdy 1986

[Emphasis - The Catacombs]
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
An Open Letter to Confused Catholics

Chapter 1. Why are Catholics Confused?

Who can deny that Catholics in the latter part of the twentieth century are confused? A glance at what has happened in the Church over the past twenty years is enough to convince anyone that this is a relatively recent phenomenon. Only a short time ago the path was clearly marked: either one followed it or one did not. One had the Faith--or perhaps had lost it--or had never had it. But he who had it--who had entered the Church through baptism, who had renewed his baptismal promises around the age of twelve and had received the Holy Ghost on the day of his confirmation--such a person knew what he had to believe and what he had to do.

Many today no longer know. They hear all sorts of astonishing statements in the churches, they read things contrary to what was always taught, and doubt has crept into their minds.

On June 30, 1968, at the close of the Year of Faith, His Holiness Pope Paul VI made a profession of the Catholic Faith, in the presence of all the bishops in Rome and hundreds of thousands of the faithful. In his introductory remarks, he put us on guard against attacks on Catholic doctrine which, he said, “give rise, as we regretfully see today, to trouble and confusion in many faithful souls.”

The same words crop up in an allocution of His Holiness Pope John Paul II on February 6, 1981: “Christians today, in large part, feel lost, perplexed, confused, and even deceived.” The Holy Father summarized the underlying causes of the trouble as follows:
Quote:“We see spread abroad ideas contrary to the truth which God has revealed and which the Church has always taught. Real heresies have appeared in dogma and moral theology, stirring doubt, confusion, rebellion. Even the liturgy has been harmed. Christians have been plunged into an intellectual and moral illuminism, a sociological Christianity, without clear dogma or objective morality.”

This confusion is seen everywhere--in conversations, in books, in newspapers, in radio and television broadcasts, in the behavior of Catholics, which shows up as a sharp decline in the practice of the faith as statistics reveal, a dissatisfaction with the Mass and the sacraments, a general relaxation of morals.

We naturally ask, therefore, what brought on this state of things? For every effect there is a cause. Has faith been weakened by a disappearance of generosity of soul, by a taste for enjoyment, an attraction to the pleasures of life and the manifold distractions which the modern world offers? These cannot be the real reasons, because they have always been with us in one way or another. The rapid decline in religious practice comes rather from the new spirit which has been introduced into the Church and which has cast suspicion over all past teachings and life of the Church. All this was based on the unchangeable faith of the Church, handed down by catechisms which were recognized by all bishops.

The faith was based on certitudes. The certitudes have been overturned and confusion has resulted. Let us take one example: the Church taught--and the faithful believed--that the Catholic religion was the one true religion. It was, in fact, established by God Himself, while other religions are the work of men. Consequently, the Christian must avoid all contact with false religions and, furthermore, do all he can to bring adherents of false religions to the religion of Christ.

Is this still true? Indeed it is! Truth cannot change--else it never was the truth. No new fact, no theological or scientific discovery--if there can be such a thing as a theological discovery--can ever make the Catholic religion any less the only means of salvation.

But now we have the Pope himself attending religious ceremonies in false religions, praying and preaching in the churches of heretical sects. Television conveys to the whole world pictures of these astonishing events. The faithful no longer understand.

Martin Luther--and I shall return to him later in these pages--cut entire nations off from the Church, pitched Europe into a spiritual and political turmoil which destroyed the Catholic hierarchy over wide areas, invented a false doctrine of salvation and a false doctrine of the sacraments. His revolt against the Church became the model for all revolutionaries after him who would throw Europe and the whole world into disorder. It is impossible to make Luther, as they want to do now after five hundred years, into a prophet or doctor of the Church, since he is not a saint.

If I read La Documentation Catholique1 or the diocesan papers, I find there, from the Joint Catholic-Lutheran Commission, officially recognized by the Vatican, statements like this:
Quote:Among the ideas of the Second Vatican Council, we can see gathered together much of what Luther asked for, such as the following: description of the Church as ‘the people of God’ (a main idea of the new Canon Law--democratic, no longer hierarchic, idea); accent on the priesthood of all baptized; the right of the individual to freedom of religion. Other demands of Luther in his time can be considered as being met in the theology and practice of the Church today: use of the common language in the liturgy, possibility of Communion under two species, a renewal of the theology and celebration of the Eucharist.”

Quite a statement! Meeting the demands of Luther, who declared himself the resolute and mortal enemy of the Mass and of the pope! To gather together things requested by a blasphemer who said: “I declare that all brothels, murders, thefts, adulteries, are less evil than this abominable Mass!” From such an extravagant summary, we can draw only one conclusion: either we must condemn the Second Vatican Council which authorized it, or we must condemn the Council of Trent and all the popes who, since the sixteenth century, have declared Protestantism heretical and schismatic.

It is understandable that Catholics are confused by such a turn of events. But there are so many others! In a few years they have seen a transformation in the heart and substance of religious practices which adults have known from early childhood. In the churches, the altars have been demolished or replaced by tables, which are often portable and disappear when not in use. The tabernacle no longer occupies the place of honor: most of the time it is hidden, perhaps perched on a post, to one side. When it remains in the center, the priest turns his back to it during the Mass. Celebrant and faithful face each other and dialogue. Anyone may touch the sacred vessels, which are often replaced by breadbaskets, platters, ceramic bowls. Laity, including women, distribute Communion, which is received in the hand. The Body of Christ is treated with a lack of reverence which casts doubt on the truth of transubstantiation.

The Sacraments are administered in a manner which varies from place to place; I will cite as examples the age for baptism and confirmation, variations in the nuptial blessing, introduction of chants and readings which have nothing to do with the liturgy--but are borrowed from other religions or a purely secular literature, sometimes simply to express political ideas.

Latin, the universal language of the Church, and Gregorian Chant have generally disappeared. All the hymns have been replaced by modern songs in which it is not uncommon to find the same rhythms as in places of entertainment.

Catholics have been surprised also by the sudden disappearance of religious garb, as if priests and religious were ashamed of looking like what they are.

Parents who send their children to catechism discover that the truths of the Faith are no longer taught, even the most basic: the Holy Trinity, the mystery of the Incarnation, Original Sin, the Immaculate Conception. Hence the feeling of profound disorientation: is all of this no longer true, out-of-date, passé? Christian virtues are no longer even mentioned. Where can you find a catechism speaking of humility, chastity, mortification? The Faith has become a fluid concept, charity a kind of universal solidarity, and hope is, above all, hope for a better world.

Novelties like these are not the kind which, in the human situation, appear at a certain moment in time, so that we get accustomed to them and assimilate them after an initial period of surprise and uncertainty. In the course of a human life, ways of doing things change. If I were still a missionary in Africa, I would go there by plane and no longer by boat--if, indeed, you could find a steamship company still in operation. In this sense, we can say that one should live in one's own time; one is really forced to do so.

But those Catholics on whom they tried to impose novelties in the spiritual and supernatural order, on the same principle, realized it was not possible. You do not change the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Sacraments founded by Jesus Christ; you do not change the truth revealed once and for all; you do not replace one dogma with another. The pages which follow try to answer the questions you are asking yourselves, you who have known another face of the Church. I shall try also to enlighten the young people born after the Council and to whom the Catholic community does not offer what they have a right to expect from it. I would like to address myself, finally, to the unconcerned and the agnostics, whom the grace of God will touch some day or another, but who by then may find the churches without priests, and a teaching which does not correspond to the needs of their souls.

Then there is a question which, by all evidence, interests everyone, if I can judge by the attention it gets in the general press, especially in France. (The journalists are also showing some confusion.) A few headlines: “Is Christianity Dying?” “Will Time Work Against the Religion of Jesus Christ?” “Will There Still Be Priests in the Year 2000?” These questions I hope also to answer, not with any new theory of my own, but relying on unbroken Catholic Tradition--unbroken, yet so neglected in recent years that to many readers it will seem no doubt like something entirely new.


1. La Documentation Catholique, July 3, 1983, No. 1085, pp. 696-697.


[Emphasis - The Catacombs]
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Chapter 2. "They Are Changing Our Religion!"

Firstly, I must dispel a misunderstanding so as not to have to return to it. I am not the head of a movement, even less the head of a particular church. I am not, as they never stop writing, “the leader of the traditionalists.” They have come to describe certain persons as “Lefebvrists,” as though it were a case of a party or a school. This is an abuse of language.

I have no personal doctrine in the matter of religion. All my life I have held to what I was taught at the French Seminary in Rome, namely Catholic doctrine according to the interpretation given it by the teaching authority of the Church from century to century, since the death of the last Apostle which marked the end of Revelation.

There should be nothing in that to feed the appetite for sensationalist journalists and, through them, current public opinion. Yet, on August 29, 1976, the whole of France was excited on hearing that I was going to say Mass at Lille. What was so extraordinary about a bishop celebrating the Holy Sacrifice? I had to preach before a panoply of microphones and each of my remarks was greeted as if it were a striking declaration. Yet what did I say beyond what any other bishop could have said?

There lies the key to the enigma: the other bishops had been for a number of years no longer saying the same things. How often, for example have you heard them speaking of the social reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ?

My personal experience never ceases to amaze me. These bishops for the most part were fellow students with me in Rome, trained in the same manner. And then, all of a sudden, I found myself alone. But I have invented nothing new; I was carrying on. Cardinal Garrone even said to me one day: “They deceived us at the French Seminary in Rome.” Deceived us in what? Had he not himself taught the children of his catechism class thousands of times, before the Council, the Act of Faith: “My God, I firmly believe all the truths Thou hast revealed and that Thy Church doth teach, because Thou canst neither deceive nor be deceived.”?

How have all these bishops been able to metamorphose themselves in this manner? I can see only one explanation: they were always in France and they let themselves become gradually infected. In Africa I was protected. I came back the year of the Council, when the harm had already been done. Vatican II only opened the gates which were holding back the devastating flood. In no time at all, even before the end of the fourth session, it was catastrophic. Everything, almost, was to be swept away; prayer first of all.

Any Christian who has an instinct for God, a respect for Him, must be shocked by the manner in which prayers are said now. Learning prayers by heart, as we did, is now denigrated as “parrot-fashion.” Children are no longer taught the words nor do they appear now in the catechisms, except for the Our Father. And even that is in a new version, of Protestant inspiration, which makes the child address God as “tu”.[2] To do this systematically is not a sign of great reverence, and is foreign to the spirit of our language, which offers us a choice of styles according to whether we are addressing a superior or a parent or a friend. And in the same post-conciliar Our Father, one asks God not to “lead us into temptation,”[3] an expression that is equivocal, at least; while our traditional French version is an improvement upon the Latin, which is rather clumsily based on the Hebrew. What progress is there in this? The familiar style of speech has also invaded the whole body of vernacular liturgy: the new Sunday Missal makes it exclusive and obligatory, though one can see no reason for a change so contrary to French style and custom.

Tests have been made in Catholic schools with children of twelve or thirteen. Only a few knew the Our Father by heart (in French, naturally), and a few knew their Hail Mary. With one or two exceptions these children did not know the Apostles’ Creed, the I Confess, the Acts of Faith, Hope, Charity and Contrition, or the Angelus or the Memorare. How could they know them, when most of them had never even heard them said? Prayer must be “spontaneous,” we must speak to God out of the abundance of the heart, so they tell us now; and they scorn the marvellous educational system of the Church which has produced and perfected all these prayers, which have been the support of the greatest saints.

How many still practice and encourage morning and evening prayers together in the family, or the saying of the prayers of blessing and thanksgiving at meals? I have learned that in many Catholic schools they no longer want the prayer at the start of the lesson, on the pretext that some of the pupils are unbelievers or belong to other religions, and that it would not do to affront their consciences or display a triumphalist spirit. They congratulate themselves on receiving in these schools a large majority of non-Catholics and even non-Christians, and doing nothing to lead them to God. The young Catholics, meanwhile, must conceal their faith: this on the pretext of respecting the opinions of their schoolmates.

The genuflection is now practised only by a small number of the faithful; it has been replaced by a nod of the head, or more often by nothing at all. One enters a church and sits down. The furniture has been changed, the prie-dieus broken up for firewood. Often seats have been installed similar to those in cinemas, thereby allowing the public to be more comfortably seated when the church is used for a concert.

I have been told of the case of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in a big parish church in Paris, which used to be visited by a number of people working nearby during their Iunch hour. One day it was closed for work to be carried out. When the doors were opened again the prie-dieus had disappeared. On a comfortable pile carpet were deep upholstered seats, evidently expensive and of the sort found in the reception foyers of big companies or airlines. The comportment of the faithful changed at once: some knelt on the carpet, but most made themselves comfortable and meditated before the tabernacle cross-legged. The parish clergy certainly had some intention in their minds; one does not embark on expensive changes or alterations without thinking of what one is doing.

What we are seeing here is the desire to modify the relationship of man to God in the direction of familiarity and casualness, as if we were dealing with Him as equals. How can one acquire a conviction that one is in the presence of the Creator and Sovereign Lord of all things, if one suppresses the gestures that embody the “virtue of Religion”? Does one not also run the risk of diminishing the sense of the Real Presence in the tabernacle?

Catholics are likewise bewildered by the obstinate partiality to banality and even vulgarity, in the manner in which places of worship are treated. Everything that contributed to the beauty of the buildings and the splendor of the ceremonies is decried as “triumphalism”. The décor must now be nearer to that of everyday life. But in the ages of faith they offered to God the most precious things they had. It was only in the village church that were to be seen just those things that do not belong to the everyday world: pieces of gold work, paintings, silks, lace, embroidery, and the statues of the Blessed Virgin crowned with jewels. Christians made financial sacrifices to honor Almighty God in the best way they could. All this was conducive to prayer and lifted up the soul. This is a natural proceeding for mankind: when the Three Magi went to visit the poor crib at Bethlehem they brought with them gold, frankincense and myrrh. Catholics are degraded by being made to pray in commonplace surroundings, multi-purpose halls that have nothing to distinguish them from any other public place, sometimes not even coming up to that. Here and there one finds a magnificent gothic or romanesque church abandoned and a sort of bare and dreary barn built to one side. Or else they organize “domestic eucharists” in dining rooms or even in kitchens.

I have been told of one of these, celebrated in the home of a deceased person in the presence of his family and friends. After the ceremony the chalice was removed and then, on the same table covered with the same table cloth, they set up a buffet meal. At the same time, only a few hundred yards away, only the birds were singing to the Lord around the thirteenth-century church decorated with magnificent stained glass windows.

Those readers who remember the years before the war will certainly recall the fervor of the Corpus Christi processions with their numerous stations, the chants, the thuribles, the monstrance gleaming in the sun, carried by the priest under the gold-embroidered canopy; the banners, the flowers, the bells. The sense of adoration was born into the children's souls and ingrained there for life. This primordial aspect of prayer seems greatly neglected. Do I hear somebody still talking about necessary evolution and new habits of life? But traffic problems do not prevent street demonstrations, and the demonstrators are not inhibited about expressing their political opinions or their demands, whether just or not. Why should God alone be thrust aside, and why must only Christians refrain from rendering Him the public worship which is His due?

The almost total disappearance in France of processions is not caused by a lack of interest on the part of the faithful. It is proscribed by the new pastoral theory which, however, is ceaselessly urging the “active participation of the People of God.” In 1969 a parish priest in the Oise Department of France was expelled by his bishop who had forbidden the organizing of the traditional procession of Corpus Christi. The procession took place nevertheless and drew ten times more people than the village had inhabitants. Can one then say that the new pastoral style which is, in any case, in contradiction on this point with the conciliar Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, is in accordance with the deep longings of those Christians who remain attached to such forms of piety?

And what are they offered in exchange? Very little, because services have been greatly reduced. Priests no longer offer the Holy Sacrifice each day; and when they do, they concelebrate, and the number of Masses has diminished accordingly. In country districts, it is practically impossible to attend Mass during the week; on Sundays a car is needed to travel out to the locality whose turn it is to receive the “sector priest.” Many churches in France are permanently closed, others only opened a few times a year. Add to that the crisis in vocations, or rather the crisis in responding to vocations, and the practice of religion becomes yearly more difficult. The large towns are in general better served; but most of the time it is impossible to receive Communion on First Fridays and First Saturdays of the month, for example.

Naturally there is no longer any question of daily Mass; in many urban parishes Masses only take place by prior order, for a specific group at a pre-arranged time, and in such a manner that the passer-by coming in by chance feels himself to be a stranger at a celebration studded with allusions to the activities and life of the group. Discredit has been thrown upon what are called individual celebrations in opposition to community celebrations, but in reality the community has split into small cells. It is quite common for a priest to say Mass in the home of someone engaged in Catholic Action or other activities, in the presence of a group of activists. Or else one discovers the time-table for Sunday split up between different language groups; a Portuguese Mass, French Mass, Spanish Mass. In these times when foreign travel is commonplace Catholics find themselves attending Masses where they do not understand a single word, in spite of being told that it is not possible to pray without “participating.” How could they? No more Masses, or very few; no more processions, no more Benedictions of the Blessed Sacrament, no more Vespers. Public prayer is reduced to its most simple expression.

Even when the faithful have overcome the difficulties of times and traveling, what will they find to slake their spiritual thirst? I will speak further on about the liturgy and the serious alterations it has undergone. For the moment, let us consider only the obvious outward appearances of public prayer. All too frequently, the atmosphere of the “celebration” offends Catholic religious feelings. There is the intrusion of secular rhythms with all kinds of percussion instruments, guitars and saxophones. A musician responsible for sacred music in a diocese of northern France, supported by a number of leading personalities in the world of music wrote:
Quote:In spite of what it is currently called, the music of these songs is not modem: this musical style is not new, but has been played in the most profane places and surroundings (cabarets, music halls, often for more or less lascivious dances with foreign names). The people are led on to rock or swing. They all feel an urge to dance about. That sort of “body language” is certainly alien to our Western culture, unfavorable to contemplation and its origins are rather suspect. Most of the time our congregations, which already find it hard not to confuse the crochets and the quavers in a 6/8 bar, do not respect the rhythm; then one no longer feels like dancing, but with the rhythm gone to pieces, the habitual poorness of the melodic line becomes all the more noticeable.

What has happened to prayer in all of that? Happily it appears that in more than one place people have returned to less barbaric customs. People have then submitted, those who wish to sing, to the productions of official organizations specializing in Church music. For them, there is no question of making use of the marvellous heritage of past centuries. The usual melodies, always the same, are of a very different inspiration. The more elaborate pieces, executed by choirs, show a secular influence, and excite the feelings rather than penetrate the soul as plainchant does. The words are all new, using a new vocabulary, as if a flood twenty years ago had destroyed all the antiphonaries from which, even if they had wanted to make something new, they could have drawn inspiration; they adopt a style of the moment and are quickly outmoded, in a very short time being no longer comprehensible. Large numbers of recordings purposely designed for the animation of parishes give out paraphrases of the psalms and are frankly presented as such, thereby supplanting the sacred text of divine inspiration. Why not sing the psalms themselves.

A novelty appeared a little while ago: posters placed in church porches reading “to praise God, clap your hands.” So during the celebration, at a sign from the leader, the congregation raised their hands above their heads and clapped rhythmically and loudly, producing an unfamiliar din within the sanctuary. This kind of innovation, unconnected even with our secular habits, which attempts to put an artificial action into the liturgy, will no doubt be gone tomorrow: it contributes however to discourage Catholics and to increase their confusion. Nobody is obliged to attend “Gospel Nights” but what can one do when the few Sunday Masses are infected with these lamentable practices?

The pastorale d'ensemble (ministry to the assembly) as they call it, constrains the faithful to adopt these new gestures in which they see no benefit and which go against their nature. Above all, everything must be done in a collective manner, with échanges or sharing of speech, of views, on the Gospel, and of handshakes, too. People go along with this half-heartedly, as statistics show. The very latest figures indicate a further falling off, from 1977 to 1983, in attendance at the Eucharist, whereas personal prayer shows a slight increase.[4] The pastorale d'ensemble has not, therefore won the people over. Here is what I read in a parish magazine in the Paris area:
Quote:From time to time during the last two years the 9:30 a.m. Mass has been in a rather special style, inasmuch as the proclaiming of the Gospel was followed by an échange for which those present formed groups of about ten persons. The first time this kind of celebration was tried, 69 people joined in sharing groups and 138 remained outside. One would have thought that with the help of time there would have been an improvement. This has not been the case. The parish team then organized a meeting to see whether or not to continue with the “Masses with Sharing.”

One can understand how the two-thirds of the parishioners who had so far resisted the post-conciliar innovations were not enthusiastic about these improvised chatterings in the middle of Mass. How difficult it is to be a Catholic nowadays! The liturgy in French, even without “sharings,” deafens the congregation with a flood of words so that many complain that they can no longer pray during Mass. When, then, will they pray?

The confused faithful are offered recipes which are always accepted by their bishops provided that they detach them from Christian spirituality. Yoga and Zen are the strangest, a disastrous orientalism which, claiming to lead to a “hygiene of the soul,” directs devotion in false ways. Again, what about the abuses of “body language” which degrade the personality by exalting the body at the expense of elevation towards God? These new fashions, along with many others, have been introduced even into contemplative monasteries; and they are extremely dangerous. They show how right are those we hear say, “They are changing our religion.”

2. Traditionally, in French, God is addressed using the majestic plural “Vous” (Thee, Thou, etc.) and not the familiar “tu” (you).--ed.

3. French traditional version: “Ne nous laissez pas succomber à la tentation.” New version : “Ne nous soumets pas à la tentation.”--ed.

4. Poll Madame Figaro--Sofres, Sept. 1983. The first question was: "Do you go to communion once a week or more, or about once a month?" This corresponds more or less to attendance at Mass, since everybody now communicates. Replies in the affirmative had dropped from 16% to 9% .


[Emphasis - The Catacombs]
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Chapter 3. What They are Doing to the Mass?

I have before me some photos published in Catholic newspapers representing the Mass as it is now often said. Looking at the first photo I find it difficult to understand at what moment of the Holy Sacrifice it has been taken. Behind an ordinary wooden table, which does not appear very clean and which has no cloth covering it, two persons wearing suits and ties elevate or present, one a chalice, the other a ciborium. The text informs me they are priests, one of them the federal chaplain of Catholic Action. On the same side of the table, close to the first celebrant are two girls wearing trousers, and near the second celebrant two boys in sweaters. A guitar is placed against a stool.

In another photo the scene is the corner of a room which might be the main room of a youth club. The priest is standing, wearing a Taizé-like alb, before a milking-stool which serves as an altar; there is a large earthenware bowl and a small mug of the same sort, together with two lighted candle-ends. Five young people are sitting cross-legged on the floor, one of them strumming a guitar.

The third photo shows an event which occurred a few years ago, the cruise of some ecologists who were seeking to prevent the French atomic experiments on the Isle of Mururoa. Amongst them was a priest who celebrated Mass on the deck of the sailing ship, in the company of two other men. All three were wearing shorts, one is even stripped to the waist. The priest is raising the Host, no doubt for the elevation. He is neither standing nor kneeling, but sitting or rather slumped against the boat’s superstructure.

One common feature emerges from these scandalous pictures; the Eucharist is reduced to an everyday act, in commonplace surroundings, with commonplace utensils, attitudes and clothing. Now the so-called Catholic magazines which are sold on church bookstalls do not show these photos in order to criticize such ways, but on the contrary, to recommend them. La Vie even considers that that is not enough. Using in its habitual manner extracts from readers' letters to express its own thoughts without having them attributed to itself, it says, “The liturgical reform must go further... the unnecessary repetitions, the same form of words ever repeated, all this regulation holds back creativeness.” What ought the Mass to be? The following gives a hint: “Our problems are manifold, our difficulties increasing and the Church still seems to be remote from them. Often we come out of Mass tired. There is a sort of gap between our daily life, our present worries, and the sort of life suggested to us on Sundays.”

Certainly people come away tired from a Mass which strives to bring itself down to the level of mankind instead of raising them up to God, and which, because it is wrongly conceived does not permit them to rise above their “problems.” The encouragement given to go even further demonstrates a deliberate intention to destroy what is sacred. The Catholic is there dispossessed of something which he needs and longs for, because he is drawn to honor and revere all which relate to God. How much more is this the case with the elements of the Sacrifice which are to become His Body and His Blood! Why make hosts that are grey or brown by leaving in part of the bran? Are they trying to make us forget that phrase omitted from the new Offertory: hanc immaculatam hostiam, this immaculate and spotless Host?

That, however, is merely a minor innovation. We frequently hear of the consecration of ordinary bread, leavened with yeast, instead of the pure wheat flour prescribed, the exclusive use of which has again been reiterated in the papal Instruction Inaestimabile Donum. All bounds have now been passed, there has even been an American bishop who recommends little cakes containing milk, eggs, baking-powder, honey and margarine. The desacralization extends to the persons vowed to the service of God, with the disappearance of the ecclesiastical habit for priests and religious, the use of Christian names, familiarity and a secularized way of living, all in the name of a new principle and not, as they have tried to make us believe, for practical needs. In proof of which I mention those nuns who leave their enclosure to live in rented flats in town, thereby doubling their expenses--abandoning the veil and incurring the cost of regular sessions at the hair dressers.

The loss of what is sacred leads also to sacrilege. A newspaper in the west of France informs us that the national contest for band-girls was held in 1980 in the Vendée region of France. A Mass took place during which the band-girls danced and some of them then distributed Communion. Moreover, the ceremony was finished off with a rondelay in which the celebrant took part wearing priests' vestments. It is not my intention here to establish a catalogue of the abuses that are to be met with, but to give a few examples showing why Catholics today have so much at which to be perplexed and even scandalized. I am revealing nothing secret, the television has taken upon itself to spread in people's homes, during their Sunday morning programs, the inadmissible off-handedness that the bishops publicly display with regard to the Body of Christ: witness that Mass televised November 22, 1981, where the ciborium was replaced by baskets which the congregation passed from one to another to be finally placed on the floor with what remained of the Sacred Species!

In Poitiers on Holy Thursday the same year, a big spectacular celebration consisted of the indiscriminate consecration of loaves and jugs of wine upon the tables from which everyone came and helped himself.

Concerts of secular music held in churches are now generalized. Places of worship are even made available for rock music events, with all the excesses that these habitually involve. Some churches and cathedrals have been given over to debauchery, drugs and filth of all kinds, and it is not the local clergy who have then performed ceremonies of expiation but groups of the faithful rightly disgusted by these scandals. How can the bishops and priests who have encouraged these things not fear to bring down divine punishment upon themselves and their people? It is already apparent in the fruitlessness of their work. It is all wasted because the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, desecrated as it is, no longer confers grace and no longer transmits it. The contempt for the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is the most flagrant sign by which the new mentality, no longer Catholic, expresses itself. Even without going as far as the rowdy excesses I have just mentioned, this is noticeable every day. The Council of Trent explained without any possible doubt that Our Lord is present in the smallest particles of the consecrated bread. What are we to think then of Communion in the hand? When a Communion plate is used, even if the Communions are few in number, there are always particles remaining. In consequence, the particles now remain in the communicant's hands. The faith of many is shaken by this, especially that of children.

The new way can only have one explanation: if people come to Mass to break the bread of friendship, of the community meal, of the common faith, then it is quite natural that no excessive precautions should be taken. If the Eucharist is a symbol expressing simply the memory of a past event and the spiritual presence of Our Lord, it is quite logical not to worry about a few crumbs which may fall on the floor. But if it is a matter of the presence of God Himself, our Creator, as the faith of the Church would have it, how can we understand that such practices be allowed and even encouraged, in spite of documents fresh from Rome? The idea which they are endeavoring to insinuate in this way is a Protestant one against which Catholics not yet contaminated are rebelling. To impose it more effectively, the faithful are obliged to communicate standing.

Is it fitting that when we go to receive Christ before whom, says St. Paul, every knee shall bow, in heaven, on earth and under the earth, we should do so without the least sign of respect or allegiance? Many priests no longer genuflect before the Holy Eucharist; the new rite of Mass encourages this. I can see only two possible reasons: either an immense pride which makes us treat God as if we were His equals, or else the certitude that He is not really present in the Eucharist.

Am I just getting up a case against the so-called Conciliar Church? No, I am not inventing anything. Listen to the way the Dean of the Faculty of Theology of Strasbourg expresses himself:
Quote:We also speak of the presence of a speaker or of an actor, meaning thereby a quality different from a simply geographical “being there.” After all, someone can be present by a symbolic act which he does not accomplish physically but which other people accomplish by creative fidelity to his fundamental intention. For example, the Festival of Bayreuth realizes without doubt a presence of Richard Wagner which is greatly superior in intensity to that which may be manifested by occasional recitals or concerts devoted to his music. It is within this last perspective, it seems to me, that we should place the eucharistic presence of Christ.

To compare the Mass with the Bayreuth Festival! No, we certainly do not agree--either regarding the words or the music!

[Emphasis - The Catacombs]

"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Chapter 4. The Mass of All Times versus the Mass of Our Time.

In preparation for the 1981 Eucharistic Congress, a questionnaire was distributed, the first question of which was: “Of these two definitions: ‘The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass’ and ‘Eucharistic Meal’, which one do you adopt spontaneously?” There is a great deal that could be said about this way of questioning Catholics, giving them to some extent the choice and appealing to their private judgment on a subject where spontaneity has no place. The definition of the Mass is not chosen in the same way that one chooses a political party.

Alas! The insinuation does not result from a blunder on the part of the person who drew up the questionnaire. One has to accept that the liturgical reform tends to replace the idea and the reality of the Sacrifice by the reality of a meal. That is how one comes to speak of eucharistic celebration, or of a “Supper”; but the expression “Sacrifice” is much less used. It has almost totally disappeared from catechism handbooks just as it has from sermons. It is absent from Canon II, attributed to St. Hippolytus.

This tendency is connected with what we have discovered concerning the Real Presence: if there is no longer a sacrifice, there is no longer any need for a victim. The victim is present in view of the sacrifice. To make of the Mass a memorial or fraternal meal is the Protestant error. What happened in the sixteenth century? Precisely what is taking place today. Right from the start they replaced the altar by a table, removed the crucifix from it, and made the “president of the assembly” turn around to face the congregation. The setting of the Protestant Lord's Supper is found in Pierres Vivantes, the prayer book prepared by the bishops in France which all children attending catechism are obliged to use:
Quote:“Christians meet together to celebrate the Eucharist. It is the Mass... They proclaim the faith of the Church, they pray for the whole world, they offer the bread and the wine. The priest who presides at the assembly says the great prayer of thanksgiving.”

Now in the Catholic religion it is the priest who celebrates Mass; it is he who offers the bread and wine. The notion of president has been borrowed directly from Protestantism. The vocabulary follows the change of ideas. Formerly, we would say, “Cardinal Lustiger will celebrate a Pontifical Mass.” I am told that at Radio Notre Dame, the phrase used at present is, “Jean-Marie Lustiger will preside at a concelebration.” Here is how they speak about Mass in a brochure issued by the Conference of Swiss Bishops:
Quote:“The Lord's Supper achieves firstly communion with Christ. It is the same communion that Jesus brought about during His life on earth when He sat at table with sinners, and has been continued in the Eucharistic meal since the day of the Resurrection. The Lord invites His friends to come together and He will be present among them.”

To that every Catholic is obliged to reply in a categoric manner, “NO! the Mass is not that!” It is not the continuation of a meal similar to that which Our Lord invited Saint Peter and a few of his disciples one morning on the lakeside, after His Resurrection. “When they came to land they saw a charcoal fire there and a fish laid thereon and bread. Jesus said to them, come and dine. And none of them durst ask Him, ‘Who art thou?,’ knowing that it was the Lord. And Jesus cometh and taketh the bread and giveth them, and fish in like manner” (John 21: 9-13).

The communion of the priest and the faithful is a communion to the Victim Who has offered Himself up on the altar of sacrifice. This is of solid stone; if not it contains at least the altar stone which is a stone of sacrifice. Within are laid relics of the martyrs because they have offered their blood for their Master. This communion of the Blood of Our Lord with the blood of the martyrs encourages us also to offer up our lives.

If the Mass is a meal, I understand the priest turning towards the congregation. One does not preside at a meal with one's back to the guests. But a sacrifice is offered to God, not to the congregation. This is the reason why the priest as the head of the faithful turns toward God and the crucifix over the altar.

At every opportunity emphasis is laid on what the New Sunday Missal calls the “Narrative of the Institution.” The Jean-Bart Centre, the official centre for the Archdiocese of Paris, states, “At the center of the Mass, there is a narrative.” Again, no! The Mass is not a narrative, it is an action.

Three indispensable conditions are needed for it to be the continuation of the Sacrifice of the Cross: the oblation of the victim, the transubstantiation which renders the victim present effectively and not symbolically, and the celebration by a priest, consecrated by his priesthood, in place of the High Priest Who is Our Lord.

Likewise the Mass can obtain the remission of sins. A simple memorial, a narrative of the institution accompanied by a meal, would be far from sufficient for this. All the supernatural virtue of the Mass comes from its relationship to the Sacrifice of the Cross. If we no longer believe that, then we no longer believe anything about Holy Church, the Church would no longer have any reason for existing, we would no longer claim to be Catholics. Luther understood very clearly that the Mass is the heart and soul of the Church. He said: “Let us destroy the Mass and we shall destroy the Church.”

Now we can see that the Novus Ordo Missae, that is to say, the New Order adopted after the Council, has been drawn up on Protestant lines, or at any rate dangerously close to them. For Luther, the Mass was a sacrifice of praise, that is to say, an act of praise, an act of thanksgiving, but certainly not an expiatory sacrifice which renews and applies the Sacrifice of the Cross. For him, the Sacrifice of the Cross took place at a given moment of history, it is the prisoner of that history; we can only apply to ourselves Christ's merits by our faith in His death and resurrection. Contrarily, the Church maintains that this Sacrifice is realized mystically upon our altars at each Mass, in an unbloody manner by the separation of the Body and the Blood under the species of bread and wine. This renewal allows the merits of the Cross to be applied to the faithful there present, perpetuating this source of grace in time and in space. The Gospel of St. Matthew ends with these words: “And behold, I am with you all days, even until the end of the world.”

The difference in conception is not slender. Efforts are being made to reduce it, however, by the alteration of Catholic doctrine of which we can see numerous signs in the liturgy.

Luther said, “Worship used to be addressed to God as a homage. Henceforth it will be addressed to man to console and enlighten him. The sacrifice used to have pride of place but the sermon will supplant it.” That signified the introduction of the Cult of Man, and, in the Church, the importance accorded to the “Liturgy of the Word.” If we open the new missals, this revolution has been accomplished in them too. A reading has been added to the two which existed, together with a “universal prayer” often utilized for propagating political or social ideas; taking the homily into account, we often end up with a shift of balance towards the “word.” Once the sermon is ended, the Mass is very close to its end.

Within the Church, the priest is marked with an indelible character which makes of him an alter Christus: he alone can offer the Holy Sacrifice. Luther considered the distinction between clergy and laity to the “first wall raised up by the Romanists”; all Christians are priests, the pastor is only exercising a function in presiding at the Evangelical Mass. In the Novus Ordo, the “I” of the celebrant has been replaced by “we”; it is written everywhere that the faithful “celebrate,” they are associated with the acts of worship, they read the epistle and occasionally the Gospel, give out Communion, sometimes preach the homily, which may be replaced by “a dialogue by small groups upon the Word of God,” meeting together beforehand to “construct” the Sunday celebration. But this is only a first step; for several years we have heard of those responsible for diocesan organizations who have been putting forward propositions of this nature: “It is not the ministers but the assembly who celebrate” (handouts by the National Center for Pastoral Liturgy), or “The assembly is the prime subject of the liturgy”; what matters is not the “functioning of the rites but the image the assembly gives to itself and the relationship the co-celebrants create between themselves” (P. Gelineau, architect of the liturgical reform and professor at the Paris Catholic Institute).

If it is the assembly which matters then it is understandable that private Masses should be discredited, which means that priests no longer say them because it is less and less easy to find an assembly, above all during the week. It is a breach with the unchanging doctrine: that the Church needs a multiplicity of Sacrifices of the Mass, both for the application of the Sacrifice of the Cross and for all the objects assigned to it, adoration, thanksgiving, propitiation,[5] and impetration.[6]

As if that were not enough, the objective of some is to eliminate the priest entirely, which has given rise to the notorious SAAP (Sunday Assemblies in the Absence of the Priest). We can imagine the faithful gathering to pray together in order to honor the Lord's Day; but these SAAP are in reality a sort of “dry Mass,” lacking only the consecration; and the lack, as one can read in a document of the Regional Center for Social and Religious Studies at Lille, is only because “until further instructions lay people do not have the power to carry out this act.” The absence of the priest may even be intentional “so that the faithful can learn to manage for themselves.” Father Gelineau in Demain la Liturgie writes that the SAAP are only an “educational transition until such time as mentalities have changed,” and he concludes with disconcerting logic that there are still too many priests in the Church, “too many doubtless for things to evolve quickly.”

Luther suppressed the Offertory; Why offer the pure and Immaculate Host if there is no more sacrifice? In the French Novus Ordo the Offertory is practically non-existent; besides which it no longer has this name. The New Sunday Missal speaks of the “prayers of presentation.” The formula used reminds one more of a thanksgiving, a thank-you, for the fruits of the earth. To realize this fully, it is sufficient to compare it with the formulas traditionally used by the Church in which clearly appears the propitiatory and expiatory nature of the Sacrifice “which I offer Thee for my innumerable sins, offenses and negligences, for all those here present and for all Christians living and dead, that it may avail for my salvation and theirs for eternal life.” Raising the chalice, the priest then says, “We offer Thee, Lord, the chalice of Thy redemption, imploring Thy goodness to accept it like a sweet perfume into the presence of Thy divine Majesty for our salvation and that of the whole world.”

What remains of that in the New Mass? This: “Blessed are You, Lord, God of the universe, You who give us this bread, fruit of the earth and work of human hands. We offer it to You; it will become the bread of life,” and the same for the wine which will become “our spiritual drink.” What purpose is served by adding, a little further on: “Wash me of my faults, Lord. Purify me of my sin,” and “may our sacrifice today find grace before You”? Which sin? Which sacrifice? What connection can the faithful make between this vague presentation of the offerings and the redemption that he is looking forward to? I will ask another question: Why substitute for a text that is clear and whose meaning is complete, a series of enigmatic and loosely bound phrases? If a need is found for change, it should be for something better. These incidental phrases which seem to make up for the insufficiency of the “prayers of presentation” remind us of Luther, who was at pains to arrange the changes with caution. He retained as much as possible of the old ceremonies, limiting himself to changing their meaning. The Mass, to a great extent, kept its external appearance, the people found in the churches nearly the same setting, nearly the same rites, with slight changes made to please them, because from then on people were consulted much more than before; they were much more aware of their importance in matters of worship, taking a more active part by means of chant and praying aloud. Little by little Latin gave way to German.

Doesn't all this remind you of something? Luther was also anxious to create new hymns to replace “all the mumblings of popery”. Reforms always adopt the appearance of a cultural revolution.

In the Novus Ordo the most ancient parts of the Roman Canon which goes back to apostolic times has been reshaped to bring it closer to the Lutheran formula of consecration, with both an addition and a suppression. The translation in French has gone even further by altering the meaning of the words pro multis. Instead of “My blood which shall be shed for you and for many,” we read “which shall be shed for you and for the multitude.” This does not mean the same thing and theologically is not without significance.

You may have noticed that most priests nowadays recite as one continuous passage the principal part of the Canon which begins, “the night before the Passion He took bread in His holy hands,” without observing the pause implied by the rubric of the Roman Missal: “Holding with both hands the host between the index finger and the thumb, he pronounces the words of the Consecration in a low but distinct voice and attentively over the host.” The tone changes, becomes intimatory, the five words “Hoc est enim Corpus Meum,” operate the miracle of transubstantiation, as do those that are said for the consecration of the wine. The new Missal asks the celebrant to keep to the narrative tone of voice as if he were indeed proceeding with a memorial. Creativity being now the rule, we see some celebrants who recite the text while showing the Host all around or even breaking it in an ostentatious manner so as to add the gesture to their words and better illustrate their text. The two genuflections out of the four having been suppressed, those which remain being sometimes omitted, we have to ask ourselves if the priest in fact has the feeling of consecrating, even supposing that he really does have the intention to do so.

Then, from being puzzled Catholics you become worried Catholics: is the Mass at which you have assisted valid? Is the Host you have received truly the Body of Christ?

It is a grave problem. How can the ordinary faithful decide? For the validity of a Mass there exists essential conditions: matter, form, intention and the validly ordained priest. If these conditions are filled one cannot see how to conclude invalidity. The prayers of the Offertory, the Canon and the Priest's Communion are necessary for the integrity of the Sacrifice and the Sacrament, but no, for its validity. Cardinal Mindzenty pronouncing in secret in his prison the words of Consecration over a little bread and wine, so as to nourish himself with the Body and Blood of Our Lord without being seen by his guards, was certainly accomplishing the Sacrifice and the Sacrament.

A Mass celebrated with the American bishop's honeycakes of which I have spoken is certainly, invalid, like those where the words of the Consecration are seriously altered or even omitted. I am not inventing anything, a case has been recorded where a celebrant went to such an extent of creativity that he quite simply forgot the Consecration! But how can we assess the intention of the priest? It is obvious that there are fewer and fewer valid Masses as the faith of priests becomes corrupted and they no longer have the intention to do what the Church--which cannot change her intention--has always done. The present-day training of those who are called seminarians does not prepare them to accomplish valid Masses. They are no longer taught to consider the Holy Sacrifice as the essential action of their priestly life.

Furthermore it can be said without any exaggeration whatsoever, that the majority of Masses celebrated without altar stones, with common vessels, leavened bread, with the introduction of profane words into the very body of the Canon, etc., are sacrilegious, and they prevent faith by diminishing it. The desacralization is such that these Masses can come to lose their supernatural character, “the mystery of faith,” and become no more than acts of natural religion.

Your perplexity takes perhaps the following form: may I assist at a sacrilegious Mass which is nevertheless valid, in the absence of any other, in order to satisfy my Sunday obligation? The answer is simple: these Masses cannot be the object of an obligation; we must moreover apply to them the rules of moral theology and canon law as regards the participation or the attendance at an action which endangers the faith or may be sacrilegious.

The New Mass, even when said with piety and respect for the liturgical rules, is subject to the same reservations since it is impregnated with the spirit of Protestantism. It bears within it a poison harmful to the faith
. That being the case the French Catholic[7] of today finds himself in the conditions of religious practice which prevail in missionary countries. There, the inhabitants in some regions are able to attend Mass only three or four times a year. The faithful of our country should make the effort to attend once each month at the Mass of All Time, the true source of grace and sanctification, in one of those places where it continues to be held in honor.

I owe it to truth to say and affirm without fear of error that the Mass codified by St. Pius V--and not invented by him, as some often say--express clearly these three realities: sacrifice, Real Presence, and the priesthood of the clergy. It takes into account also, as the Council of Trent has pointed out, the nature of mankind which needs outside help to raise itself to meditation upon divine things. The established customs have not been made at random, they cannot be overthrown or abruptly abolished with impunity. How many of the faithful, how many young priests, how many bishops, have lost the faith since the introduction of these reforms! One cannot thwart nature and faith without their taking their revenge.

But as it happens, we are told, man is no longer what he was a century ago; his nature has been changed by the technical civilization in which he is immersed. How absurd! The innovators take good care not to reveal to the faithful their desire to fall into line with Protestantism. They invoke another argument: change. Here is how they explain it at the theological evening school in Strasbourg: “We must recognize that today we are confronted with a veritable cultural mutation. One particular manner of celebrating the memorial of the Lord was bound up with a religious universe which is no longer ours.” It is quickly said, and everything disappears. We must start again from scratch. Such are the sophisms they use to make us change our faith. What is a “religious universe?” It would be better to be frank and say: “a religion which is no longer ours.”

5 The action of rendering God propitious.

6 The action of obtaining divine graces and blessings.

7 Any Catholic, in fact.--ed.

"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Chapter 5. "You're a Dinosaur!"

Catholics who feel that radical transformations are taking place have difficulty in standing up against the relentless propaganda they encounter (and which is common to all revolutions). They are told, “You can't accept change. Yet change is a part of life. You're static. What was good fifty years ago isn't suitable to today's mentality or way of life. You're hung up on the past. You can't change your ways!” Many have given in to the reform to avoid this criticism, unable to find an argument against the sneering charge, “You're a reactionary, a dinosaur. You can't move with the times!”

Cardinal Ottaviani said of the bishops, “They are afraid of looking old.”

But we have never refused certain changes, adaptations that bear witness to the vitality of the Church. In the liturgy, people my age have seen some of these. Shortly after I was born, St. Pius X made some improvements, especially in giving more importance to the temporal cycle in the missal, in lowering the age for First Communion for children and in restoring liturgical chant, which had fallen into disuse. Pius XII came along and reduced the length of the eucharistic fast because of difficulties inherent in modem life. For the same reason he authorized afternoon and evening Masses, put the Office of the Paschal Vigil on the evening of Holy Saturday and rearranged the services of Holy Week in general. John XXIII, before the Council, added his own touches to the so-called rite of St. Pius V.

But none of this came anywhere near to what happened in 1969, when a new concept of the Mass was introduced.

We are also criticized for being attached to external forms of secondary importance, like Latin. This is a dead language, they tell us, which no one understands--as if Christians understood it in the sixteenth or nineteenth centuries. Such negligence on the part of the Church (in this view) in waiting so long to get rid of Latin! I think the Church had her reasons. Yet we should not be surprised that Catholics feel the need of a greater understanding of the sacred texts, from which they draw spiritual nourishment, and that they want to be more intimately involved in the action taking place in front of them.

It was not to satisfy these desires, however, that the vernacular was introduced from one end of the Holy Sacrifice to the other. Reading the Epistle and Gospel in the vernacular is an improvement and is practised at St. Nicholas du Chardonnet in Paris and in the priories of the Society which I founded. To go any further would mean losing far more than would be gained, because understanding the texts is not the ultimate purpose of prayer, nor even the only means of putting the soul in a state of prayer, i.e., in union with God. If too much attention is given to the meaning of the words, they can even be an obstacle.

I am surprised that this is not understood, especially when we hear so much talk these days about a religion of the heart, less intellectual and more spontaneous. Union with God can be achieved as much by beautiful, heavenly music as by the general ambiance of liturgical action: the sanctity and religious feel of the place, or its architectural beauty, or the fervor of the Christian community, or the dignity and devotion of the celebrant, or symbolic decorations, or the fragrance of the incense. Moving about is unimportant, as long as the soul is uplifted. All you need to prove this is to go into a Benedictine monastery which has kept the divine worship in all its splendor.

But this does not lessen in the least the need to seek a better understanding of the prayers and hymns as well as a more perfect participation. But it is a mistake to try to reach the goal purely and simply by bringing in the vernacular and totally suppressing the universal language of the Church, as has unfortunately happened almost everywhere in the world. We need only look at the success of Masses, even in the Novus Ordo rite, which have kept the chant for the Credo, the Sanctus, or the Agnus Dei.

Latin is a universal language. In using it, the liturgy forms us into a universal, i.e., Catholic, communion. By contrast, localizing and individualizing the liturgy robs it of this dimension which can make such a deep impression on souls. To avoid making such a mistake, it should be enough to observe the Eastern rites, in which the liturgical action has long been couched in the vernacular. And there, an isolation can be seen--from which members of these communities suffer. When they scatter far and wide from their homelands, they need their own priests for the Mass, the sacraments and ceremonies of all kinds. They build special churches, which, in the nature of things, separate them from the rest of the Catholic population.

What do they gain from this? It is not entirely clear that having their own liturgical language has made them more fervent in practising their faith than people benefitting from a universal language, not understood by man, perhaps, but easy enough to translate.

If we look outside the Church, we may ask how Islam has succeeded in keeping its cohesiveness while spreading over regions as different and among peoples of such diverse races as in Turkey, North Africa, Indonesia and black Africa. It has succeeded in imposing Arabic everywhere as the single language of the Koran. In Africa, I saw marabouts teachings children to recite the sacred texts by heart when they could not understand a single word of them. Islam goes so far as to forbid the translation of this holy book. It is fashionable these days to admire the religion of Mohammed: thousands of French people, it is said, are converting to it and taking up collections in the churches to build mosques in France. We would do well, however, simply to take note of one example which we should remember: the sustaining power of a single language for prayer and worship.

The fact that Latin is a dead language is in its favor: it is the best means of protecting the expression of faith against linguistic changes which take place naturally in the course of time. The study of semantics has developed rapidly in the last ten years or so: it has even been introduced into French language courses in the schools. Semantics investigates changes in the meaning of words, the gradual shift of signification in the passage of time and often over very short periods. Let us make use of this branch of knowledge, therefore, to understand the danger of handing over the deposit of faith to changing ways of speaking. Do you believe that we could have kept intangible, eternal truths free of corruption for two thousand years if they were expressed in languages that are constantly evolving and which differ from one country and even from one region to another? Living languages change and fluctuate. If we put the liturgy into any one of them at any time, we will have to be continually adapting according to semantic requirements. So it is not surprising that there must be endless committees set up for this, and that priests no longer have time to say Mass.

When I went to see His Holiness Pope Paul VI at Castelgandolfo in 1976, I said to him, “I do not know if you are aware, Your Holiness, that there are now officially thirteen Eucharistic prayers in France.” The Pope raised his arms heavenward and exclaimed, “More than that, Your Excellency, more than that!” This gives me the basis for asking, would there be so many if the liturgists were required to compose in Latin? Besides these formulas put into circulation--after being printed here, there or anywhere--we would have to mention also the canons improvised by the priest during the celebration and everything he introduces from the “penitential preparation” to the “dismissal of the assembly.” Do you think he could do this if he had to officiate in Latin?

Another external sign against which opinion has solidified is the wearing of the cassock--not so much in church or in visits to the Vatican as in everyday life. The question is not of the most fundamental importance, yet it has great symbolic value. Every time the Pope mentions this--and Pope John Paul II has done so repeatedly--howls of protest are heard from the ranks of the clergy. In this connection I read in a Paris newspaper this statement from an avant-garde priest:
Quote:“This is childishness... in France, wearing a recognizable uniform is meaningless, because there is no need to recognize a priest on the street. Quite the contrary: the cassock or Roman collar creates a barrier... the priest is a man like anyone else. Of course he is president of the Eucharistic Assembly!”

This “president of the Eucharistic assembly” is here expressing ideas that are contrary to the Gospel and to clearly recognized social realities. In all religions, leaders wear distinctive signs. Anthropology, which is now all the rage, is there to prove it. Among Muslims you see differences in dress: collars and rings. Buddhist monks wear saffron-colored robes and shave their heads. Young people associated with this religion can be seen on the streets of Paris and other large cities, and their appearance evokes no criticism.

The habit identifies the cleric or the religious, as a uniform identifies a soldier or a policeman. But with a difference: these latter, in representing the civil order, remain citizens like other people, whereas the priest is supposed to keep his distinctive habit in all phases of life. In fact, the sacred mark he received at ordination means that he is in the world but not of the world. We know this from St. John: “You are not of the world; I chose you out of the world” (15:19). His habit should be distinctive and at the same time reflect the spirit of modesty, discretion and poverty.

Secondly, the priest has the duty to bear witness to Our Lord.
“You are My witness... men do not put a lamp under a bushel.” Religion should not be confined to the sacristy--as the powers in Eastern European countries have long since declared it should be. Christ commanded us to spread our faith, to make it visible by a witness which should be seen and understood by all. The witness of the word, which is certainly more essential to the priest than the witness of the cassock, is nevertheless greatly facilitated by the unmistakable sign of the priesthood implicit in the wearing of the soutane.

Separation of Church and State, which is accepted and sometimes considered preferable, has helped the spirit of atheism to penetrate little by little into all the realms of activity, and we must admit that many Catholics and even priests no longer have a very clear idea of the place of the Catholic religion in civil society. Secularism is everywhere.

The priest who lives in a society of this type gets the ever increasing impression of being a stranger in this society, an embarrassment, and finally a symbol of a past age, doomed to disappear. His presence is barely tolerated. At least that is the way he sees it. Hence his wish to identify with the secular world, to lose himself in the crowd. What is lacking in priests of this type is experience of less dechristianized countries than theirs. What is especially lacking in them is a profound sense of their priesthood.

It is therefore difficult to make judgments on the religious spirit of the day. It is unfair to assume that those whom we meet in business relations or in informal relations are not religious. The young priests who come out of Ecône and all who have not gone along with the fad of anonymity verify this every day. Barrier? Quite the contrary. People stop them on the street, in stations, to talk to them, often quite simply to say what a joy it is for them to see a priest. The great boast of the new Church is dialogue. But how can this begin if we hide from the eyes of our prospective dialogue partners? In Communist countries the first act of the dictators is to forbid the cassock; this is part of a program to stamp out religion. And we must believe the reverse to be true too. The priest who declares his identity by his exterior appearance is a living sermon. The absence of recognizable priests in a large city is a serious step backward in the preaching of the Gospel. It is a continuation of the wicked work of the Revolution and the Laws of Separation.

It should be added that the soutane keeps the priest out of trouble for it imposes an attitude on him, it reminds him at every minute of his mission on earth. It protects him from temptations. A priest in a cassock has no identity crisis. As for the faithful, they know what they are dealing with; the cassock is a guarantee of the authenticity of the priesthood. Catholics have told me of the difficulty they feel in going to confession to a priest in a business suit; it gives them the impression they are confiding the secrets of their conscience to some sort of nobody. Confession is a judicial act; hence the civil law feels the need to put robes on its magistrates.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Chapter 6. The New Forms of Baptism, Marriage, Penance and Extreme Unction

The Catholic, whether he be regularly practising or one who goes to church for the great moments of life, finds himself asking such basic questions as, “What is baptism?”

It is a new phenomenon, for not so long ago anyone could answer that, and anyway, nobody asked the question. The first effect of baptism is the redemption from original sin; that was known from father to son and mother to daughter.

But now nobody any longer talks about it anywhere. The simplified ceremony which takes place in the church speaks of sin in a context which seems to refer to that which the person being baptized will commit during his or her life, and not the original fault that we are all born with.

Baptism from then on simply appears as a sacrament which unites us to God, or rather makes us members of the community. This is the explanation of the “rite of welcome” that is imposed in some places as an initial step, in a first ceremony. It is not due to any private initiative since we discover plenty of variations upon baptism by stages in the leaflets of the National Center of Pastoral Liturgy. It is called “deferred baptism.” After the welcome comes the “progression,” the “seeking.” The sacrament will be administered, or not administered, when the child is able, according to the terms used, to choose freely, which may occur at quite an advanced age, eighteen years or more. A professor of dogmatic theology, highly esteemed in the new Church, has established a distinction between those Christians whose faith and religious culture he is confident he can verify, and the others--more than three-quarters of the total--to whom he attributes only a supposed faith when they request baptism for their children. These Christians “of the popular religion” are detected during the preparatory meetings and dissuaded from proceeding any farther than the “ceremony of welcome.” This method of going on is “more appropriate to the cultural situation of our civilization.”

Recently a parish priest in the Somme department who had to enroll two children for their First Communion asked for their baptismal certificates, which were sent to him from the family's parish of origin. He then found that one of the children had been baptized but not the other, contrary to what the parents believed. This is the sort of situation that results from such practices. What they give is in effect only a semblance of baptism which those present take in good faith to be the true sacrament.

That you should find this disconcerting is quite understandable. You have also to face up to a specious argument which even appears in parish bulletins, generally in the way of suggestions or testimonies signed with Christian names, that is to say anonymously. We read in one of them that Alan and Evelyn state, “Baptism is not a magic rite which will efface by miracle any original sin. We believe that salvation is total, free, and for all: God has elected all men in His love, on any condition, or rather without condition. For us, to be baptized is to decide to change our life, it is a personal commitment that no one can make for you. It is a conscious decision which implies preliminary instruction, etc.” What frightful errors are contained in those few lines! They lead to the justifying of another method; the suppression of infant baptism. It is another alignment with the Protestants, in defiance of the teachings of the Church right from its beginnings, as St. Augustine wrote in the fourth century:
Quote:“The custom of baptizing children is not a recent innovation but the faithful repetition of apostolic tradition. This custom by itself alone and without any written document, constitutes the certain rule of truth.”
The Council of Carthage, in the year 251, prescribed that baptism should be conferred on infants “even before they are eight days old,” and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a reminder of the obligation in its Instruction Pastoralis actio, on November 21, 1980, basing it upon “a norm of immemorial tradition.”

That is a thing you should know so as to be able to insist upon a sacred right when someone attempts to refuse your newborn children their share in the life of grace. Parents do not wait until their child is eighteen years old before deciding for him his diet, or to have a necessary surgical operation. Within the supernatural order their duty is even greater, and the faith which presides at the sacrament when the child is not capable of taking on for himself a personal engagement is the responsibility you would have in depriving your child of eternal life in Paradise. Our Lord Himself has said in a most clear manner, “No one, unless he be born again of water and the Holy Ghost can enter into the Kingdom of God.”

The results of this peculiar pastoral practice were quick to appear. In the diocese of Paris, whereas one child out of two was baptized in 1965, only one child in four was baptized in 1976. The clergy of one suburban parish observed, without appearing concerned about it, that there were 450 baptisms in 1965 and 150 in 1976. From the whole of France, the fall continues. From 1970 to 1981, the overall figure dropped from 596,673 to 530,385, while the population increased by more than three million during the same period.

All this is the outcome of having falsified the definition of baptism. As soon as they stopped saying that baptism wipes out original sin, people have been asking, “What is baptism?” and straightaway after, “What is the good of baptism?” If they have not got as far as that, they have at least thought about the arguments that have been put to them and accepted that there was no urgency, and after all, at the age of adolescence the child could decide for himself and join the Christian community in the same way as joining a political party or a union.

The question is raised in the same way regarding marriage. Marriage has always been defined by its first aim which is procreation and its secondary aim which is married love. Now, at the Council they sought to alter this definition and say there was no longer a primary aim, but that the two aims of which I speak were equivalent. It was Cardinal Suenens who proposed this change and I still remember Cardinal Brown, the Master General of the Dominicans, getting up to say, Caveatis! Caveatis!--Beware! Beware! If we accept this definition we go against all the tradition of the Church and we pervert the meaning of marriage. We do not have the right to modify the Church's traditional definitions.”

He quoted texts in support of his warning and there was great agitation in the nave of St. Peter's. Cardinal Suenens was pressed by the Holy Father to moderate the terms he had used and even to change them. The Pastoral Constitution, Gaudium et Spes, contains nevertheless an ambiguous passage, where emphasis is laid on procreation “without nevertheless minimizing the other aims of marriage.” The Latin verb, post habere, permits the translation “without putting in second place the other aims of marriage,” which would mean “to place them all on the same level.” This is what is wanted nowadays; all that is said about marriage comes back to the false idea expressed by Cardinal Suenens, that conjugal love--which was soon termed quite simply and much more crudely “sexuality”--comes at the head of the purposes of marriage. Consequently, under the heading of sexuality, everything is permitted--contraception, family planning and finally, abortion.

One bad definition, and we are plunged into total disorder. The Church, in her traditional liturgy, has the priest say, “Lord, in Thy goodness, assist the institutions Thou hast established for the propagation of the human race...” She has chosen the passage from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians, which points out the duties of the married couple, making of their joint relationship an image of the relationship uniting Christ and His Church. Very often the couple to be married are nowadays invited to make up their own Mass without even having to choose the Epistle from Holy Scripture, replacing it by a profane text, and taking a reading from the Gospel that has no connection with the sacrament to be received. The priest in his exhortation takes good care not to mention the demands to which they will have to submit, for fear of giving a forbidding impression of the Church or even of offending any divorced people present among the congregation.

Just as for baptism, experiments have been made for marriages by stages, or non-sacramental marriage, which scandalize Catholics. These experiments, tolerated by the episcopate, take place following lines laid down by the official organizations and are encouraged by diocesan officials. A form put out by the Jean Bart Center shows some of the ways of going about it. Here is one:
Quote:A reading from the text: “The essential is invisible to the eyes” (Epistle of St. Peter). There is no exchange of vows but a liturgy of the hands, symbol of labor and workers’ solidarity. Exchange of rings (without the blessing), in silence. Reference to Robert's work: welding, soldering (he is a plumber). The kiss. The Our Father by all the believers in the congregation. Hail Mary. The newlyweds lay a bouquet of flowers at the statue of Mary.

Why would Our Lord have instituted the sacraments if they were to be replaced by this kind of ceremony devoid of everything supernatural, excepting the two prayers at the end? A few years ago, we heard a lot about liturgy in the department of Saône-et-Loire. To justify this “Liturgy of Welcome,” it was said that they wished to give young couples the desire to come back later and get married for good. Out of something like two hundred pseudo-marriages, two years later not a single couple had returned to regularize their position. Even if they had, the fact would remain that the priest of this parish had actually recognized officially, if not actually blessed, over a period of two years, something none other than concubinage. An official Church survey has revealed that in Paris, 23% of the parishes had already held non-sacramental weddings for couples, one of whom if not both were non-believers, for the purpose of gratifying the families, or the couples themselves, often out of concern for social conformity.

It goes without saying that a Catholic does not have the right to attend such goings-on. As for the so-called married couple, they can always say they have been to church and doubtless they will end up by believing their situation to be regular by dint of seeing their friends follow the same path. Misguided Catholics will wonder if it is not better than nothing. Indifference takes over; they become willing to accept any arrangement, from a simple registry-office wedding to juvenile cohabitation (in respect of which so many parents want to show themselves to be “understanding”), and finally through to free unions. Total de-christianization lies ahead; the couples each lack the graces which come from the sacrament of marriage in order to bring up their children, if at least they agree to have any. The breakdowns in these unsanctified households have increased to such an extent as to worry the Council of Economic and Social Affairs, of which a recent report shows that even a secular society is aware that it is heading for ruin as a result of the instability of these families or pseudo-families.

Then there is the sacrament of Extreme Unction. This is no longer the sacrament of the sick or the feeble. It has become the sacrament of the old: some priests administer it to persons of pensionable age who show no particular sign of approaching death. It is no longer the sacrament that prepares one for the last moment, which wipes out the sins before death and disposes the soul to final union with God. I have in front of me a notice distributed to all the faithful in a Paris church to warn them of the date of the next Extreme Unction: “For those who are still active, the sacrament of the sick is celebrated in the presence of the whole Christian community during the Eucharistic celebration. Date: Sunday, at the 11 o'clock Mass.” These anointings are invalid.

The same collectivist mentality has provoked the vogue of penitential celebrations. The sacrament of penance can only be of an individual nature. By definition and in conformity with its essence, it is, as I have previously pointed out, a judicial act, a judgment. A judgment cannot be made without having examined a cause; each one's case has to be heard in order to judge it and then to remit or to retain the sins. His Holiness John Paul II has insisted several times on this point, notably to the French bishops on April 1, 1982 telling them that personal confession followed by individual absolution is “a requirement of the dogmatic order.”

It is consequently impossible to justify these ceremonies of reconciliation by explaining that ecclesiastical discipline has become more relaxed, that it has adapted itself to the needs of the modern world. It is not a question of discipline. There was formerly one exception: general absolution given in a case of shipwreck, war, etc.; an absolution whose value is debated by learned writers. It is not permissible to make a rule out of the exception. If we consult the Acts of the Apostolic See we find the following expressions uttered both by Paul VI and John Paul II on various occasions: “the exceptional character of collective absolution,” “in case of grave necessity,” “in extraordinary situations of grave necessity,” “quite exceptional character,” “exceptional circumstances.”

Celebrations of this type have, however, become habitual though without becoming frequent in any one parish, due to the scarcity of faithful who are disposed to put themselves right with God more than two or three times a year. They no longer feel the need, as was quite foreseeable since the idea of sin has been wiped out of their minds. How many priests still remind people of the need for the sacrament of penance? One member of the faithful has told me that in going to confession in one or another of several Paris churches where he knows he will be able to find a “priest on duty” he often receives the congratulations or thanks of the priest, surprised to have a penitent.

These celebrations subjected to the creativity of the “animators” include singing, or else a record is played. Then comes the turn of the Liturgy of the Word, followed by a litany type of prayer to which the assembly responds, “Lord, have mercy upon me, a sinner,” or else by a sort of general examination of conscience. The “I confess to Almighty God” precedes the absolution given once and for all to the whole congregation, which only leaves one problem: would a person present who did not want absolution receive it just the same? I see on a duplicated sheet distributed to those taking part in these ceremonies at Lourdes that the organizer has asked himself this question: “If we wish to receive absolution, let us dip our hands in the water and make the sign of the cross upon ourselves,” and at the end, “Upon those who are marked by the sign of the cross with the water of the spring the priest lays his hands. Let us unite ourselves to his prayer and accept pardon from God.”

The British Catholic paper, The Universe, a few years ago lent its support to a movement launched by two bishops which consisted of bringing back to the Church those of the faithful who had long since given up the practice of religion. The appeal made by the bishops resembled the public notices put out by families of runaway adolescents: “Little X, please come home. No one will grumble at you.” It was then said to the future prodigal sons, “Your bishops invite you during this Lent to rejoice and celebrate. The Church offers to all her children, in the imitation of Christ, pardon for their sins, freely and without restriction, without their meriting it, and without their requesting it. She urges them to accept and begs them to return home. There are many who wish to return to the Church after years of separation but are unable to make up their minds to go to confession. At any rate, not straightaway...”

They could then accept the following offer: “At the Mission Mass which will be attended by the bishop in your deanery (here is given the time and the date) all those who are present are invited to accept the pardon of all their past sins. It is not necessary for them to go to confession at that moment. It will be sufficient for them to repent their sins and desire to return to God, and to confess their sins later, after having been again welcomed into the fold. Meanwhile they have only to let Our Father in heaven take them into His arms and embrace them tenderly. Subject to a generous act of repentance the bishop will grant to all those present and desiring it pardon for their sins. They may then immediately receive holy communion...”

The Journal of the Grotto, the bi-monthly magazine from Lourdes, reproducing this curious pastoral letter under the heading “General Absolution: Communion now, confession later,” made the following comment:
“Our readers will be fully aware of the deeply evangelical spirit which has inspired it, likewise the pastoral understanding of people’s actual situation.”

I do not know what results were obtained, but that is not the issue. Can pastoral needs take precedence over doctrine to the point of undertaking to give Communion in the Body of Christ indiscriminately to people who are probably in many cases in a state of mortal sin, after so many years without the practice of religion? Certainly not. How can we so lightly consider paying for the conversion with a sacrilege, and how much chance has this conversion of being followed by perseverance? We can observe, in any case, that before the council and before this “welcoming” pastoral method there were between fourteen and fifteen thousand conversions annually in England. They have dropped off to about five thousand. We recognize the tree by its fruit.

Catholics are just as confused in Great Britain as in France. If a sinner or an apostate, following his bishop's advice, presents himself for collective absolution and at the holy table in these conditions, does he not risk losing his confidence in the validity of sacraments so lightly accorded, when he has every reason to consider himself unworthy of them? What is going to happen if later on he neglects to “regularize” himself by going to confession? An unsuccessful return to the house of the Father will only make more difficult a final conversion.

That is what dogmatic laxity leads to. In the penitential ceremonies which take place, in a less extravagant manner, in our parishes, what certainty has the Catholic of being truly pardoned? He is given over to the same anxieties as Protestants, to interior torments provoked by doubt. He has certainly gained nothing by the change.

If it is a bad thing from the point of view of validity, it is also bad psychologically. For instance, how absurd to give collective absolution with the reservation that people with grave sins have to confess them personally immediately afterwards! People are not going to draw attention to themselves by showing that they have grave sins on their consciences, that is obvious! It is as though the secret of the confessional were violated.

We should add that the faithful who communicate after collective absolution will no longer see the need to present themselves before the judgment of penance, and that one can understand. The ceremonies of reconciliation are not complementary to auricular confession, they eliminate and supplant it. We are proceeding towards the disappearance of the Sacrament of Penance, established like the six others by Our Lord Himself. No pastoral concern can justify this.

For a sacrament to be valid, the matter, the form and the intention are all needed. The Pope himself cannot change that. The matter is of divine institution; the Pope cannot say “tomorrow we will use alcohol for the baptism of infants, or milk.” Neither can he change the essential of the form. There are essential words. For example, one cannot say, “I baptize thee in the name of God,” because God Himself has settled this form: “Thou shalt baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.”

The Sacrament of Confirmation has been equally maltreated. One formula current today is, “I sign thee with the Cross, and receive the Holy Spirit.” But the minister does not then specify what is the special grace of the sacrament by which the Holy Ghost gives Himself, and the sacrament is invalid.

That is why I always respond to the requests of parents who have doubts regarding the validity of the confirmation received by their children or who fear it will be administered invalidly, seeing what goes on around them. The cardinals to whom I had to explain myself in 1975 reproached me on this and since then similar reproaches are repeated through the press on all my journeys. I explained why I carried on in this way. I meet the wishes of the faithful who ask me for valid confirmation, even if it is not licit, because we are in a period when divine law, natural and supernatural, has precedence over positive ecclesiastical law when the latter opposes the former instead of being a channel to transmit it. We are passing through an extraordinary crisis and there need be no surprise if I sometimes adopt an attitude that is out of the ordinary.

The third condition of a valid sacrament is a right intention. The bishop or priest must have the intention of doing what the Church wills to be done. Not even the Pope can change that.

The priest's faith is not among the necessary elements. A priest or bishop may no longer have the faith; another may have it less; and another a faith that is not quite complete. That has no direct effect on the validity of the sacraments they administer, but may have an indirect one. One remembers Pope Leo XIII's decision that Anglican ordinations are invalid through a defect in the intention. Now it was because they had lost the faith, which is not only faith in God, but in all the truths contained in the Creed, including, “I believe in one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church,” that the Anglicans have not been able to do what the Church wills.

Are not priests who lose the faith in the same case? There are already priests who no longer wish to confect the Sacrament of the Eucharist according to the Council of Trent's definition. “No,” they say, “the Council of Trent was a long time ago. Since then we have had Vatican II. Now it's trans-signification, or trans-finalization. Transubstantiation? The Real Presence of the Son of God under the appearances of bread and wine? Not in these days!”

When a priest talks like this, he makes no valid consecration. There is no Mass or Communion. For Christians are obliged to believe what the Council of Trent has defined about the Eucharist until the end of time. One can make the terms of a dogma clearer, but not change them; that is impossible. Vatican II did not add anything or retract anything; and it could not have done so. Anyone who declares that he does not accept transubstantiation is, in the terms of the Council of Trent, anathema, that is, cut off from the Church.

This is why Catholics in this latter part of the twentieth century have a duty to be more vigilant than their fathers were. They must not let just any idea be imposed upon them, in the name of the new theology or the new religion: for what this new religion wants is not what the Church wills.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Chapter 7. The New Priests

To the man in the street, even the most indifferent to religious questions, it is obvious that there are fewer and fewer priests, and the newspapers regularly remind him of the fact. It is over fifteen years ago since the book appeared with the title "Tomorrow a Church without Priests?"

Yet the situation is even more serious than it appears. The question has also to be asked, how many priests still have the faith? And even a further question, regarding some of the priests ordained in recent years: are they true priests at all? Put it another way, are their ordinations valid? The same doubt overhangs other sacraments. It applies to certain ordinations of bishops such as that which took place in Brussels in the summer of 1982 when the consecrating bishop said to the ordinand, "Be an apostle like Gandhi, Helder Camara, and Mohamed!" Can we reconcile these references, at least as regards Gandhi and Mohamed, with the evident intention of doing what the Church intends?

Here is the order of service for a priestly ordination which took place at Toulouse a few years ago. A commentator starts off, introducing the ordinand by his christian name C., with the words "He has decided to live more thoroughly his self-dedication to God and to man by consecrating himself entirely to the service of the Church in the working-class." C. has worked out his "pathway," that is to say, his seminary training, in a team. It is this team who present him to the bishop: "We request you to recognize and authenticate his application and ordain him priest." The bishop then asks him several questions purporting to be a definition of the priesthood: Do you wish to be ordained a priest, "to be, with the believers, a Sign and a Witness of what Mankind is seeking, in its striving for Justice, for Brotherhood and for Peace," "to serve the people of God," "to recognize in men's lives, the action of God in the ways they take, in their cultural patterns, in the choices open to them," "to celebrate the action of Christ and perform this service;" do you wish "to share with me and with the body of bishops the responsibility that has been entrusted to us for the service of the Gospel?"

The "matter" of the sacrament has been preserved in the laying on of hands which takes place next, and likewise the "form," namely the words of ordination. But we are obliged to point out that the intention is far from clear. Has the priest been ordained for the exclusive service of one social class and, first and foremost, to establish justice, fellowship and peace at a level which appears to be limited to the natural order only? The eucharistic celebration which follows, "the first Mass" in effect, of the new priest was, in fact, on these lines. The offertory has been specially composed for the circumstances. "We welcome you, Lord, by receiving on your behalf this bread and wine which you offer us; we wish to show by this all our work and our efforts to build a more just and more humane world, all that we are trying to bring about so that better living conditions may follow..." The prayer over the offerings is even more dubious: "Look, Lord we offer you this bread and this wine, that they may become for us one of the ways in which you are present." No! People who celebrate in this manner do not believe in the Real Presence!

One thing is certain; the first victim of this scandalous ordination is the young man who had just pledged himself for ever without exactly knowing to what, or thinking that he knows. How can he not fail, sooner or later, to ask himself certain questions? Because the ideal that has been proposed to him cannot satisfy him for long; the ambiguity of his mission will become evident. The priest is essentially a man of faith. If he no longer knows what he is, he loses faith in himself, and in his priesthood.

The definition of the priesthood given by Saint Paul and by the Council of Trent has been radically altered. The priest is no longer one who goes up to the altar and offers up to God a sacrifice of praise, for the remission of sins. The relative order of ends has been inverted. The priesthood has a first aim, which is to offer the sacrifice; that of evangelization is secondary.

The case of C., which is far from being unique, as we know of many examples, shows to what extent evangelization has taken precedence over the sacrifice and the sacraments. It has become an end in itself. This grave error has had serious consequences.

Evangelization, deprived of its aim, loses direction and seeks purposes that are pleasing to the world, such as a false "social justice" and a false "liberty." These acquire new names: development, progress, building up the world, improving living-conditions, pacifism. Here is the sort of language which has led to all the revolutions.

The sacrifice of the altar being no longer the first end of the priesthood, it is the whole of the sacraments which are at stake and for which the "person responsible for the parish sector" and his "team" will call upon the laity, who are themselves overburdened with trade unions or political tasks, often more political than trade unions. In fact, the priests who engage in social struggles choose almost exclusively the most politicized organizations. Within these they fight against political, ecclesiastical, family and social structures. Nothing can remain. Communism has found no agents more effective than these priests.

I was explaining one day to a Cardinal what I was doing in my seminaries, with their spirituality directed above all to the deepening of the theology of the Sacrifice of the Mass and towards liturgical prayer. He said to me, "But Monsignor, that is exactly the opposite of what our young priests now want. We now define the priest only in terms of evangelization." I replied, "What evangelization? If it does not have a fundamental and essential relationship with the Holy Sacrifice, how do you understand it? A political evangelization, or social, or humanitarian?"

If he no longer announces Jesus Christ, the apostle becomes a militant and marxist trade unionist. That is very natural. We quite understand it. He needs a new mystique and he finds it this way; but loses that of the altar. We must not be surprised that, completely bewildered, he gets married and abandons the priesthood. In France, in 1970, 285 ordinations; in 1980, 111. And how many of them have returned or will return to civil life? Even the startling figures we have quoted do not correspond to the actual decline in numbers of the clergy. What is offered to young men and what it is said they "now desire" evidently does not satisfy their aspirations.

The proof is easy to demonstrate. There are no more vocations because they no longer know what is the Sacrifice of the Mass. In consequence, one can no longer define what the priest is. On the other hand, where the Sacrifice is known and respected as the Church has always taught, vocations are plentiful.

I have witnessed this in my own seminaries. All we do is to affirm the everlasting truths. Vocations have come to us of their own accord, without publicizing. The only advertizing has been done by the modernists. I have ordained 187 priests in thirteen years. Since 1983 the regular numbers are from 35 to 40 ordinations per year. The young men who apply to enter Ecône, Ridgefield (USA), Zaitzkofen (West Germany), Francisco Alvarez (Argentina) and Albano (Italy) are drawn by the Sacrifice of the Mass.

What an extraordinary grace for a young man to go up to the altar as the minister of Our Lord, to be another Christ! Nothing is finer or greater here on earth. It is worth the cost of leaving one's family, of giving up having a family, or renouncing the world and accepting poverty. But if there is no longer that attraction, then I say frankly, it is not worthwhile, and that is why the seminaries are empty.

Let them continue on the lines adopted by the Church for the last 20 years, and to the question "Will there still be priests in the year 2000?" The answer must be, "No." But if there is a return to the true notions of the Faith, there will be vocations, both for seminaries and for the religious orders.

For what is it that makes the greatness and the beauty of a priest or a nun? It is the offering up of oneself as a victim at the altar with Our Lord Jesus Christ. Otherwise the religious life is meaningless. The young men are just as generous in our times as they were in former times. They long to make an offering of themselves. It is our times that are defective.

Everything is bound up together. By attacking the base of the building it is destroyed entirely. No more Mass, no more priests. The ritual, before it was altered, had the bishop say, "Receive the power to offer to God the Holy Sacrifice and to celebrate Holy Mass both for the living and for the dead, in the name of the Lord." He had previously blessed the hands of the ordinand by pronouncing these words "so that all that they bless may be blessed and all that they consecrate may be consecrated and sanctified." The power conferred is expressed without ambiguity: "That for the salvation of Thy people and by their holy blessing, they may effect the Transubstantiation of the bread and the wine into the Body and Blood of thy Divine Son."

Nowadays the bishop says, "Receive the offering of the holy people to present it to God." He makes the new priest an intermediary rather than the holder of the ministerial priesthood and the offerer of a sacrifice. The conception is wholly different. The priest has always been considered in Holy Church as someone having a character conferred by the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Yet we have seen a bishop, not "suspended," write, "The priest is not somebody who does things that the ordinary faithful don't do; he is not 'another Christ,' any more than any other baptized person." This bishop was merely drawing the conclusions from the teaching that has prevailed since the Council and the liturgy.

A confusion has been made with regard to the relation of the priesthood of the faithful and that of priests. Now as the cardinals said who were appointed to make their observations on the infamous Dutch catechism, "the greatness of the ministerial priesthood (that of priests) in its participation in the priesthood of Christ, differs from the common priesthood of the faithful in a manner that is not only of degree but also of essence." To maintain the contrary, on this point alone, is to align oneself with Protestantism.

The unchanging doctrine of the Church is that the priest is invested with a sacred and indelible character. "Tu es sacerdos in aeternum." Whatever he may do, before the angels, before God, in all eternity, he will remain a priest. Even if he throws away his cassock, wears a red pullover or any other color or commits the most awful crimes, it will not alter things. The Sacrament of Holy Orders has made a change in his nature.

We are far from the priest "chosen by the assembly to fulfill a function in the Church" and still more so from the priest for a limited period, suggested by some, at the end of which the official for worship--for I can think of no other term to describe him--would take his place again amongst the faithful.

This desacralized view of the priestly ministry leads quite naturally to querying priestly celibacy. There are noisy pressure groups calling for its abolition in spite of the repeated warnings of the Roman Magisterium. We have seen in Holland, seminarians go on strike against ordinations to obtain "guarantees" in this matter. I shall not quote the names of those bishops who have got up to urge the Holy See to reconsider the subject.

The subject would not even arise if the clergy had kept the right understanding of the Mass and of the priesthood. For the true reason appears of itself when we fully understand these two realities. It is the same reason for which Our Blessed Lady remained a virgin: having borne Our Lord within her womb it was perfectly right and fitting that she should remain so. Likewise, the priest by the words he pronounces at the Consecration, brings down God upon earth. He has such a closeness with God, a spiritual being, spirit above all, that it is right, just and eminently fitting that he also should be a virgin and remain celibate.

But, some object, there are married priests in the East. However, let us not deceive ourselves: it is only toleration. The eastern bishops may not marry, nor those holding important positions. This clergy respects priestly celibacy, which forms part of the most ancient Tradition of the Church and which the apostles had observed from the moment of Pentecost. Those who like Saint Peter were already married continued to live with their wives, but "knew" them no longer.

It is noticeable that the priests who succomb to the mirage of a so-called social or political mission almost automatically get married. The two things go together.

People would have us believe that the present times justify all sorts of licence, that it is impossible under present day conditions to live a chaste life, that the vows of virginity for religious people are an anachronism. The experience of the last twenty years shows that the attacks made on the priesthood under the pretext of adapting it to the present time are fatal to it. Yet a "Church without priests" is not to be envisaged because the Church is essentially sacerdotal.

In these sad times they want free-love for the laity and marriage for the clergy. If you perceive in this apparent illogicality an implacable logic having as its objective the ruin of Christian society, you are seeing things as they are and your assessment is correct.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Chapter 8. The New Catechisms

Among Catholics, I have often heard, and continue to hear the remark, “They want to impose a new religion on us.” Is this an exaggeration? The modernists, who have infiltrated themselves everywhere in the Church and lead the dance, sought at first to reassure us: “Oh no, you have got the impression because old obsolete ways have been changed, for compelling reasons: we cannot pray now exactly as people used to pray, we have had to sweep away the dust, adopt a language that can be understood by our contemporaries and open ourselves up to our separated brethren... but nothing is changed, of course.

Then they began to take fewer precautions, and the bolder ones among them began to make admissions, in little groups of like-minded people and even publicly. One Father Cardonnel went round preaching a new Christianity in which “that precious transcendence that makes God into a Universal Monarch” would be challenged. He openly adopted Loisy's modernism: “If you were born into a Christian family, the catechisms you learnt are mere skeletons of the faith.” And, “Our Christianity would seem to be neo-Capitalist at best.” And Cardinal Suenens, after reconstructing the Church to his own liking, called for “an opening up to the widest theological pluralism” and for the setting up of a hierarchy of truths, with some that must be strongly believed, others that must be believed a little, and others of no importance.

In 1973, on the premises of the Archbishop's house at Paris, Fr. Bernard Feillet gave a course of lectures of a thoroughly official kind, under the banner of “Adult Christian Formation.” In it he repeatedly affirmed, “Christ did not conquer death. He was put to death by death. On the level of life, Christ was conquered, and we shall all be conquered: the fact is that faith is not justified by anything; it must be a cry of protest against the universe which ends, as we said just now, in the perception of absurdity, in the consciousness of damnation, and in the reality of nothingness.”

I could quote an impressive number of cases of this kind, which caused various degrees of scandal and were repudiated more or less --some of them not at all. But it passed over the heads of the Catholic people as a whole. If they learnt of these things in the newspapers they thought of them as abuses that were exceptional and did not affect their own faith. But they began to be worried when they found in their children's hands catechisms which no longer set out Catholic doctrine as it had been taught from time immemorial.

All the new catechisms that draw their inspiration to a greater or lesser degree from the Dutch Catechism published in 1966 were so spurious that the Pope appointed a commission of cardinals to examine it. They met in April 1967 at Gazzada in Lombardy. Now this commission raised ten points regarding which it advised the Holy See to demand modifications. It was a way of saying, in conformity with the post-conciliar style, that on these points there was disagreement with the teaching of the Church. A few years earlier they would have been forthrighty condemned and the Dutch Catechism put on the Index. The errors or omissions concerned did, in fact, touch upon essentials of the faith.

What do we find in it? The Dutch Catechism ignores the angels, and does not treat human souls as being directly created by God. It insinuates that original sin was not transmitted by our first parents to all their descendants but is contracted by men through their living in the human community, where evil reigns, as though it were a sort of epidemic. There is no affirmation of the virginity of Mary. Nor does it say that Our Lord died for our sins, being sent for this purpose by His Father, and that this was the price by which divine Grace was restored to us. Consequently, the Mass is presented not as a sacrifice but as a banquet. Neither the Real Presence or the reality of Transubstantiation are clearly affirmed.

The Church's infallibility and the fact that she is the possessor of the truth have vanished from this teaching, likewise the possibility for the human intellect to “declare and attain to revealed mysteries”: thereby one arrives at agnosticism and relativism. The ministerial priesthood is minimized. The office of the bishops is considered as a mandate entrusted to them by the “people of God,” and their teaching authority is seen as a sanctioning of the belief held by the community of the faithful. And the Pope no longer has his full, supreme and universal authority.

Neither is the Holy Trinity, the mystery of the three divine Persons, presented in a satisfactory manner. The commission also criticized the explanation given of the efficacity of the sacraments, of the definition of a miracle, and of the fate of the souls of the just after death. It found a great deal of vagueness in the exposition of the laws of morality, and the “solutions to cases of conscience” put a low price on the indissolubility of marriage.

Even if all the rest of the book is “good and praise-worthy”--which is not surprising, since Modernists, as St. Pius X firmly pointed out, have always mixed truth and falsehood together--nevertheless, we have seen enough to be able to describe it as a perverse production particularly dangerous to faith. Yet without waiting for the commission's report, on the contrary going full tilt ahead, the promoters of the operation had the book published in several languages. And the text has never since been altered. Sometimes the commission's statement is annexed to the list of contents, sometimes not. I shall refer later on to the problem of obedience. Who is being disobedient in this affair? And who denounces this “catechism”?

The Dutch set the pace. We have quickly caught them up. I shall not relate the history of the French catechism, but will pause to consider its latest manifestation, the “Catholic collection of key documents of the Faith” entitled Pierres Vivantes (Living Stones), and the accompanying flood of “catechetical studies.” These works ought, out of respect for the word “catechesis” used in all of them, to proceed on a question-and-answer method. However, they have abandoned this form, which allowed the content of the faith to be studied systematically, and they hardly ever give answers. Pierres Vivantes avoids affirming anything, except new and unusual propositions that have nothing to do with Tradition.

When dogmas are mentioned, they are spoken of as the particular beliefs of a section of mankind which this book calls “the Christians,” putting them on a level with the Jews, the Protestants, the Buddhists, and even the agnostics and atheists. In several courses the catechists are invited to ask the child to choose a religion, no matter which. It will also be for his good to listen to unbelievers, who have much to teach him. What matters is to “belong to the team,” to help one another as classmates and to prepare for the social struggles of tomorrow in which one will have to take part, even alongside communists, as is seen in the edifying story of Madeleine Delbrel. Her story is sketched in Pierres Vivantes and told at length in other courses. Another “saint” put forward as an example to children is Martin Luther King, while Marx and Proudhon are vaunted as “great defenders of the working class” who “appear to come from outside the Church.” The Church, you see, would have liked to have taken up this fight, but did not know how to set about it. She contented herself with “denouncing injustice.” This is what children are being taught.

But still more serious is the discredit that is being cast upon the Scriptures, the work of the Holy Ghost. Whereas one would have expected to see the selection of Biblical texts begin with the creation of the world and of man, Pierres Vivantes begins with the book of Exodus, under the title of “God creates His people.” Catholics must surely be not only confused but disconcerted and disgusted by such a misuse of words.

We have to arrive at the First Book of Samuel before returning to Genesis to learn that God did not create the world. I am not inventing anything here, either. We read: “the author of the story of creation, like many people, is wondering how the world began. Believers have given thought to it. One of them wrote a poem...” Then, at the court of Solomon, other wise men reflected on the problem of evil. To explain it they wrote a “picture-story,” and we have the temptation by the serpent and the fall of Adam and Eve. But not the chastisement. The story is cut at that point. God does not punish, just as the Church no longer condemns, except those who stay faithful to Tradition. Orignal sin (printed between quotation marks) is “an illness from birth,” “an infirmity going back to the origins of humanity,” something very vague and inexplicable.

Of course, the whole of religion crumbles. If we can no longer give an explanation of the problem of evil, there is no further point in preaching, saying Mass or hearing confessions. Who will listen to us?

The New Testament opens with Pentecost. The emphasis is laid on that first community uttering its cry of faith. Next, these Christians “remember,” and the story of Our Lord emerges little by little from the clouds of their memory, beginning with the end: the Last Supper, or Calvary. Then comes the public life, and finally the infancy under the ambiguous heading “The first disciples tell the story of Jesus' childhood.”

On such foundations these courses have no difficulty in giving the impression that the Gospel accounts of the infancy of Christ are pious legends of the sort that ancient peoples were accustomed to invent when they recorded the lives of their great men. Pierres Vivantes also gives a late dating of the Gospels which diminishes their credibility and tendentiously portrays the Apostles and their successors as preaching, celebrating the Mysteries and teaching before “presenting their own reading of the life of Jesus on the basis of their experience.” The facts are turned upside down: the Apostles' personal experience becomes the origin of revelation shaping their thoughts and their lives.

When it comes to the “four last things,” Pierres Vivantes is confusing and disquieting. What is the soul? Reply: “We need breath if we are to run; when someone dies, we say ‘he has breathed his last.’ The breath is the life, the intimate life of a person. We also say, ‘the soul.’” In another chapter the soul is likened to the heart, the heart which beats, and loves. The heart is also the seat of the conscience. What can we make of this? And death: what is that? The authors come to no conclusion. “For some, death is the final ceasing of life. Others think we can live after death, but do not know for sure. Finally there are others who have a firm assurance about this: Christians are among them.” It is up to the child to choose: death is a matter of opinion. But is not the one who is being taught the Catechism a Christian? In that case, why speak to him of Christians in the third person instead of stating firmly, “We Christians know that eternal life exists and that the soul does not die?”

Paradise also is a subject treated equivocally: “Christians sometimes speak of Paradise to describe the perfect joy of being with God forever after death; it is Heaven, the Kingdom of God, Eternal Life, the Reign of Peace.” This is a very hypothetical explanation. It would seem that one is dealing with a figure of speech, a reassuring metaphor used by Christians. But Our Lord has promised us Heaven, if we keep His commandments; and the Church has always defined that as “a place of perfect happiness where the angels and the elect see God and possess Him for ever.” This catechesis shows a definite going-back on what the catechisms used to affirm. The only result will be a lack of confidence in the truths taught and in a spiritual disarmament: what is the good of resisting our instincts and following the narrow way if we are not very sure of what awaits a Christian after death?

A Catholic does not go to the priests or his bishop asking for suggestions to enable him to form his own idea about God, or the world, or the last things. He asks them he must believe and what he must do. If they reply a whole range of propositions and patterns for living, it only remains for him to make up his own personal religion: he becomes a Protestant. This catechesis is turning children into little Protestants.

The keynote of the reform is the drive against certainties. Catholics who have them are branded as misers guarding their treasures, as greedy egotists who should be ashamed of themselves. The important thing is to be open to contrary opinions, to admit diversity, to respect the ideas of Freemasons, Marxists, Muslims, even animists. The mark of a holy life is to join in dialogue with error.

Thenceforth everything is permitted. I have already spoken of the consequences of the new definition of marriage. These are not the remote consequences which would follow if Christians took this definition literally: on the contrary, they have not been slow to appear, as we can judge by the moral permissiveness which is becoming daily more widespread. But what is still more shocking is that the catechesis is aiding this process. Let us take an example from some “catechetical material” as they call it, published with the episcopal imprimatur about 1972 at Lyons, and intended for teachers. The title: “Behold the Man.” In the section dealing with morals we read: “Jesus did not intend to leave to posterity a moral system, either political, sexual, or what you will. His only permanent insistence is love for one another. Beyond that, you are free; it is for you to choose what in every instance is the best way to express this love which you bear to your fellow-men.”

The section on “purity” draws consequences from this general principle. After explaining, at the expense of the book of Genesis, that clothing only appeared later “as a sign of social rank or dignity” and to serve “a purpose of dissimulation,” purity is defined as follows: “To be pure is to be in order, to be faithful to nature... To be pure means being in harmony, at peace with men and with the earth; it means being in accord with the great forces of nature without either resistance or violence.” Next we find a question and an answer: “Is a purity of this sort compatible with the purity of Christians? --Not only is it compatible, it is necessary to a truly human and Christian purity. Jesus Christ neither denied or rejected any of the discoveries and acquisitions that are the fruit of the long searching of the peoples. Quite the contrary; He came to give them an extraordinary extension: ‘I came not to destroy but to fulfill.’”

In support of their claims the authors give the example of Mary Magdalen: “In that gathering it is she who is pure, because she has loved much, loved deeply.” This is their manner of falsifying the Gospel: of Mary Magdalen they retain only the sin, the dissolute life. The pardon that Our Lord granted her is presented as an approval of her past, and no notice is taken of the exhortation “Go, and sin no more,” nor the firm resolution that led the former sinner to Calvary, faithful to her Master for the rest of her days. This revolting book knows no limits: “Can one have relations with a girl,” the authors ask, “even if one knows that it is for pleasure or to see what a woman is like?” And they reply “To put the problem of the laws of purity in this way is unworthy of a true man, a loving man, a Christian. Wouldn’t that mean imposing a strait-jacket, an intolerable yoke? When Christ came precisely to free us from the heavy burdens of laws: ‘My yoke is easy and My burden light.’” You see how the holiest words are interpreted so as to pervert souls! From Saint Augustine they have remembered only one sentence, “Love, and do as you will!”

I have been sent some contemptible books published in Canada. They speak only of sex and always in capital letters: “sexuality lived in faith,” “sexual promotion,” etc. These pictures are absolutely disgusting. It seems that they wish at all costs to give children a desire for and an obsession with sex; to make them think it is the only thing in life. Many Christian parents have protested, but nothing has been done about it, for a good reason: on the back page we read that these catechisms have been approved by the Catechetical Commission. The permission to print has been given by the President of the Episcopal Commission for Religious Teaching of Quebec!

Another catechism approved by the Canadian episcopate calls upon children to break with everything so as to rediscover their personality that all these ties have smothered, and free themselves from the complexes that come from society or from the family. Always looking for justification in the Gospel, those who give this sort of advice claim that Christ made similar breaks and thereby revealed Himself to be the Son of God. So it is His wish that we should do likewise.

How can one accept an idea so contrary to the Catholic religion on the pretext that it is covered by episcopal authority? Instead of talking about breaks we need to cherish the bonds that make up our life. What is the love of God if not a link with God and obedience to Him and His commandments? And the bond with our parents, our love for them, is a bond for life, not of death. But they are now presented to children as something constraining and repressing which diminishes their personality, and from which they must free themselves!

No, there can be no question of your allowing your children to be corrupted in this manner. I say frankly, you cannot send them to these catechism classes that make them lose their faith.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre

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