Archbishop Lefebvre: 'The Practice of the Virtue of Religion
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The Practice of the Virtue of Religion—The Essential Link between a Holy Life and a Life of Prayer
Taken from Archbishop Lefebvre's Spiritual Journey


Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth

If God is sanctity itself, if we sing of Our Lord that He alone is holy, “Tu solus sanctus,” it is that God is the source of all sanctity, and that it is inasmuch as we are united with God and Our Lord that we will be saints. But how can this union with God be concretely realized? Under the influence of the grace of the Holy Ghost. This union has a name: prayer—oratio.

In studying deeply both the nature of prayer and its extension in our human and Christian existence, we become convinced that the profound life of the created spirit must be one of continual prayer. Every angelic or human spirit is ordered to God by its spiritual nature, by its intellect and will, and gratuitously elevated by grace to enter and participate in the eternal beatitude of the Holy Trinity.Therefore every spirit is fundamentally religious, and its religious life manifests itself in prayer: vocal, mental and spiritual.

Vocal prayer, which includes all liturgical prayer, instituted by God Himself and by God Incarnate and fashioned by the Holy Ghost, especially in the Roman Liturgy, is the most sublime source and expression of mental and spiritual prayer. The place of this prayer in the life of the priest is considerable. To neglect it, to limit it, to render it superficial, is to ruin the essential prayer, the spiritual prayer, to which vocal prayer is ordered by the Holy Ghost.

It is good to read what spiritual authors such as St. Louis-Marie de Montfort in his “Prière embrasée” (Oeuvres compl., p. 673), or Father Emmanuel in his Traité du ministère ecclésiastique, or Abbot Marmion in Christ, Ideal of the Monk (Chapter XIII, “Monastic Prayer”) think on this subject. The chapter by Abbot Marmion is remarkable, and would sanctify all priests if his counsels were put into practice. Finally, Dom Chautard in The Soul of the Apostolate (“Prayer: The Indispensable Element of the Interior Life”).

All the saints practiced mental prayer, which is at the same time an effect and a cause of sanctity. Many have written on this subject, in particular St. Teresa of Avila and St. Francis de Sales. This they did because they had a very elevated notion of this life of prayer. Penetrating both the will and the heart, it enables us to attain the end for which God has created and redeemed us: namely, to adore Him in a total offering of ourselves, following the example of Our Lord coming into this world and saying to His Father: “Ecce venio ut faciam voluntatem tuam—I come...to do Thy will...” (Heb. 10:7).

The conception that reduces prayer to vocal prayer or mental prayer is a disastrous one. For prayer should involve all our being, like the prayer of the angels and of the elect in heaven. The petitions of the Pater Noster cannot be separated. The first three petitions are indissolubly linked. Likewise, the First Commandment of God cannot be separated from the other Commandments.

Ignem veni mittere in terram et quid volo nisi ut accendatur—I have come to cast fire on the earth, and what will I but that it be kindled” (Lk. 12:49). The fire is the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Charity which fills the Holy Trinity and which created spiritual beings to set them afire with this charity.

This burning fire is the prayer of every soul adoring his Creator and Redeemer, surrendering itself to the holy Will, following Jesus Crucified, who offered His life in a great transport of charity toward His Father and to save souls.

Whence the “oportet semper orare—we must always pray” (Lk. 18:1). If that prayer ended, that would signify that the Holy Ghost had abandoned us!

May we be able to live this ardent prayer of the will and of the heart in a constant manner even in our absorbing apostolic activities, which should never absorb us to the point of hindering our wills and our hearts from belonging to God! May our apostolate actually nourish and promote our self-offering to God.

This profound attitude of our soul, in such great conformity both with its nature and with grace, will foster in it a desire for silence and contemplation which will be fulfilled in the common and private practices of piety. Our spiritual life will find there its unity, its constancy, and its truly Christian peace.

These brief considerations open horizons on the accomplishment of the divine will in our daily lives. It is the introduction of this program for our sanctification which must be the thread of our priestly life. “Elegit nos in Ipso, ante constitutionem mundi, ut essemus sancti—He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy” (Eph. 1:4).

The young seminarian entering the seminary should strive to penetrate with all his soul this life of prayer, which unreservedly hands him over to Our Lord and to the Holy Trinity, placing his mind in subjection to Revelation, which enlightens for us the Mysterium Christi, by the virtue of faith and obedience: “Redigere omnem intellectum in obsequium Christi—bringing into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ” (II Cor. 10:5); placing his will and his entire soul under the impetus of the charity of the Holy Ghost in imitation of Jesus Christ, in obedience to the law of charity expressed by the Ten Commandments in imitation of Jesus Christ, in obedience to the law of charity expressed by the Ten Commandments and especially by the First Commandment as well as by Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5 through 7). Thus, his entire soul will be animated with the virtue of religion, and with virtue both natural and supernatural, in union with the Sacrifice of Our Lord renewed and continued on the altar. Thus will he be best fitted to ascend the degrees of holiness, the goal desired by God the Creator and Redeemer, expressed in the first three petitions of the Our Father.
"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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#2
A reminder...
"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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