Friday, 24 September 2010

The Voice of... St. Pius X (Part IX)

On 10th August, 1906, Pope St. Pius X issued his Encyclical Letter Gravissimo Officii Munere on the French Associations of Worship:

10. Assuredly they will tax their ingenuity to throw upon Us the blame for this conflict and for the evils resulting therefrom. But whoever loyally examines the facts of which We have spoken in the Encyclical "Vehementer Nos" will be able to see whether We have deserved the least reproach-We, who, after having patiently borne with injustice upon injustice in Our love for the beloved French nation, finally find Ourselves summoned to go beyond the last holy limits of Our Apostolic duty, and We declare that We will not go beyond them -- or rather whether the fault does not lie entirely with those who in hate of the Apostolic name have gone to such extremities.

11. Therefore, if they desire to show Us their submission and their devotion, let the Catholic men of France struggle for the Church in accordance with the directions We have already given them, that is to say, with perseverance and energy, and yet without acting in a seditious and violent manner. It is not by violence, but by firmness, that, fortifying themselves in their good right as within a citadel, they will succeed in breaking the obstinacy of their enemies; let them well understand, as We have said and as we repeat that their efforts will be useless unless they unite in a perfect understanding for the defense of religion.

Friday, 17 September 2010

The Voice of... St. Pius X (Part VIII)

On 28th July, 1906, Pope St. Pius X issued his Encyclical Letter Pieni L'animo to the Archbishops and Bishops of Italy on the Clergy in Italy:

2. The cause which now moves Us to raise Our voice is of very serious importance. It demands all the attention of your mind and all the energy of your pastoral office to counteract the disorder which has already produced the most destructive effects. If this disorder is not radically removed with a firm hand, even more fatal consequences will be felt in the coming years. In fact, Venerable Brethren, We have letters, full of sadness and tears, from several of you, in which you deplore the spirit of insubordination and independence displayed here and there among the clergy. Most assuredly, a poisonous atmosphere corrupts men's minds to a great extent today, and the deadly effects are those which the Apostolic Saint Jude formerly described: "These men also defile the flesh, disregard authority, deride majesty."[Jude viii] That is to say, over and above the most degrading corruption of manners there is also an open contempt for authority and for those who exercise it. What overwhelms Us with grief, however, is the fact that this spirit should creep into the sanctuary even in the least degree, infecting those to whom the words of Ecclesiasticus should most fittingly be applied: "Their generation, obedience and love."[Ecclus. iii:1] This unfortunate spirit is doing the damage especially among young priests, spreading among them new and reprehensible theories concerning the very nature of obedience. In order to recruit new members for this growing troop of rebels, what is even more serious is the fact that such maxims are being more or less secretly propagated among youths preparing for the priesthood within the enclosure of the seminaries.

3. We therefore consider it Our duty, Venerable Brethren, to appeal to your conscience to see that you do not spare any effort and with a firm hand and constant resolve you do not hesitate to destroy this evil seed which carries with it such destructive consequences. Never forget that the Holy Spirit has placed you to rule. Remember Saint Paul's command to Titus: "Rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise thee."[Titus ii:15] Be firm in demanding that obedience from your priests and clerics which is a matter of absolute obligation for all the faithful, and constitutes the most important part of the sacred duty of priests.

4. Take the proper means necessary for the diminution of these quarrelsome souls. Bear well in mind, Venerable Brethren, the Apostle's warning to Timothy: "Do not lay hands hastily upon anyone."[I Tim. v:22] In fact, haste in admitting men to Sacred Orders naturally opens the way to a multiplication of people in the sanctuary who do not increase joy. We know that there are cities and dioceses where, far from there being any reason to lament the dearth of clergy, the clergy greatly exceed the needs of the faithful. Venerable Brethren, what reason is there for imposing hands so frequently? In those places where the lack of clergy is no sufficient reason for haste in so important a matter and the clergy are more numerous than the requirements demand, nothing excuses from the most delicate caution and the greatest exactitude in selecting those who are to receive the sacerdotal honor. The eagerness of the aspirants is no excuse for haste. The priesthood that Jesus Christ instituted for the salvation of souls is by no means a human profession or office which anyone desiring it for any reason can say he has a right to receive. Therefore, let the Bishops call young men to sacred orders, not according to the desires or pretexts of the aspirants, but, as the Council of Trent prescribes, according to the needs of the dioceses. In this task they can select only those who are really suitable and dismiss those who have inclinations contrary to the priestly vocation. The most dangerous of these inclinations are a disregard for discipline and that pride of mind which fosters it.

5. In order that young men who display qualities suitable for the sacred ministry may not be lacking, Venerable Brethren, We wish to insist most earnestly on what We have already frequently pointed out. That is to say, you have a very serious obligation before God of guarding and fostering most solicitously the proper conduct of the seminaries. Your priests will be as you have trained them. The letter of December 8, 1902, which Our most prudent Predecessor addressed to you as a testament from his long Pontificate is very important.[Cf. ASS, 35:257 ff.] We desire to add nothing new to it; We shall merely remind you of the rules it lays down. We especially recommend the immediate execution of Our orders, published through the Sacred Congregation of Bishops and Regulars, on the concentration of the seminaries especially for the study of philosophy and theology. In this way the great advantage resulting from the separation of the major and minor seminaries and the no less great advantage of the necessary instruction of the clergy will be secured.

6. Let the seminaries be jealously guarded in order that a proper atmosphere will be maintained. Let them always be destined exclusively for preparing youths, not for civil careers, but for the noble vocation of being ministers of Christ. Let philosophy, theology, and the related sciences, especially Sacred Scripture, be studied along the lines of pontifical directives: according to the teaching of Saint Thomas which Our venerable Predecessor so often recommended, and We Ourselves recommended in the Apostolic Letter of January 23, 1904.[Cf. ASS, 36:467 ff.] Therefore, let the Bishops exercise the most prudent vigilance towards the professors' teachings. Let them recall those who run after certain dangerous novelties to their sense of duty. If they do not profit from these warnings, let them be removed-cost what it may -- from their teaching position. Young clerics are forbidden to frequent the universities unless the Bishops think there are very good reasons and necessary precautions have been taken. Seminarians are absolutely forbidden to take part in external activities. Accordingly. We forbid them to read newspapers and periodicals, excepting, in the case of the latter, those with solid principles and which the Bishop deems suitable for their study. Let discipline continue to be fostered with renewed vigor and vigilance. Finally, in every seminary there must be a spiritual director. He is to be a man of extraordinary prudence and experienced in the ways of Christian perfection. With untiring zeal he must train the young men in solid piety, the primary foundation of the spiritual life. Venerable Brethren, if these rules are conscientiously and religiously followed they will be your sure guarantee of seeing a clergy growing up around you which will be your joy and your crown.

7. If these instructions are not observed, the problem of insubordination and independence which We now lament will be even more aggravated by some of the younger clergy and cause even more harm. This is especially so since those who are subject to this reprobate spirit are not lacking, and, abusing the sacred office of preaching, they are its outspoken promoters and apostles, to the detriment and scandal of the faithful.

Monday, 13 September 2010

What Must Be Done?

Glory be to our Lord Christ!

A poll conducted by the BBC recently discovered that 49% of Catholics interviewed believed that the Holy Father should drop his (in fact, the Latin Church's) insistence on clerical celibacy in light of the sexual abuse scandals. Now, we must ask whether such a measure would be beneficial to the Church's mission, which is to perpetuate the Incarnation and bring the Redemption wrought by Christ's Precious Blood to all nations. Will a relaxing of discipline allow the Church to fully witness to the salvific work of God and make it effective in the lives of mankind? The simple answer is no.

What must be done is a return to the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ and an embrace of her teachings and her disciplines in their fullness. The Catholic Church (thankfully) is not founded as a democracy, otherwise she would have consumed and mutilated herself by impatiently attempting to conform to the prevailing trends in society. However, in a short period of time, these 'absolute values' of the world will be classed as outmoded and contrary to the judgment of right-minded and rational people. If we as a modern, technical and 'humane' society have progressed such a great deal in the past 50 or so years, could we even contemplate the marvellous nature of our country in another hundred years time? Will not our current 'truths' be decried as preposterous and Medieval? Let us not latch on to the latest novelty for the mere sake of it being 'new'. It must be noted however that not all developments must be rejected out of hand without due consideration, we must be careful not to throw out the wheat with the chaff.

Many have commented that if the Church does not alterate her doctrines and practices, there will not be a Church to worship in shortly. We are being warned that great multitudes will depart from her bosom as the Sacrament of Salvation is not fulfilling their needs. What should we do? Let them go. Our Blessed Lord said that 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God' (Lk 9:62) and 'anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me' (Mt 10:38). Such are hard (dare we say, harsh?) demands that require the conversion and consecration of the whole person to Christ Who descended to save all men and all of man. Let not an itch of your being remain cut off from Christ. Let your words be the words of Christ, your thoughts be of Christ, and your actions be of Christ. A recommitment to our Divine Lord especially to the Holy Sacrifice and to His Most Holy Mother Mary will allow us to be conformed to His likeness, resulting in an unconditional renunouncement of ourselves to our Lord. Do we not say at Compline, 'Into Your hands Lord, I commend my spirit'? Why do we idly recite those precious words of the Crucified and then retire to our beds without a single change of heart, of true repentence and desire for sanctity? The soul who verily acknowledges his debt to the God Who created, sustains and has redeemed him counts nothing as too much. 'Oh but it is too hard' we lament and blubber. Yes it is, for you. We must listen attentively to the words of our Lord to the Divine Apostle, Paul, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' (2 Cor 12:9) He, as the fashioner of human nature, knows exactly what we are capable and by His grace and illumination He allows man to live a divine life. A life free of disordered passions and worries of the ephemeral sort.

This will shrink the Church, they cry. Certainly. Yet, we must remember that few souls will enter and savour the Beatific Vision for all eternity anyway. Our Way is in the steps of our Master Who has went before us and He promised His chosen ones nothing less than sorrow, persecution and repudiation in return for eternal felicity. Is the servant greater than the Master? (Jn 13:16). Let us not be blinded by secular oppression and accept a Gospel other than the one 'entrusted once for all to the saints'(Ju 1:3). The Church cannot witness to the Redemption of the Incarnate Logos by attenuating her commitment to her Bridegroom and the salvation of souls. So if it has to be that men walk away sad from her like the rich man (Lk 18:23), or those gathered around our Lord as He spoke of the necessity of eating His flesh and drinking His blood who departed at this 'hard teaching' (Jn 6:60), so be it. However, I would greatly prefer that we educate our children in the Faith and hand it on to them whilst leading a holy and cheerful life, in willing obedience to Christ and His Church. By our example to our friends, family and extended society, let us become channels of grace for this darkened time and with the Apostle may we say honestly, 'I feel as if I'm going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives.' (Gal 4:19).

Friday, 10 September 2010

The Voice of... St. Pius X (Part VII)

On 11th February, 1906, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, Pope St. Pius X issued his Encyclical Letter Vehementer Nos to the Archbishops of Paris, of Bordeaux, of Lyons, of Rennes; and to all the Archbishops and Bishops, and to all the Clergy and People of France on the French Law of Separation:

17. As for the defense of religion, if you wish to undertake it in a worthy manner, and to carry it on perseveringly and efficaciously, two things are first of all necessary: you must model yourselves so faithfully on the precepts of the Christian law that all your actions and your entire lives may do honor to the faith you profess, and then you must be closely united with those whose special office it is to watch over religion, with your priests, your bishops, and above all with this Apostolic See, which is the pivot of the Catholic faith and of all that can be done in its name. Thus armed for the fray, go forth fearlessly for the defense of the Church; but take care that your trust is placed entirely in God, for whose cause you are working, and never cease to pray to Him for help.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Institute of Christ the King takes up permanent residence in Ireland

by Mgr. Wach

Canon Lebocq celebrates Holy Mass at St. Patrick's Church in Limerick

Dear Friends of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest,

For the last four years Divine Providence has permitted the Institute of Christ the King to exercise a ministry in the Diocese of Limerick with the permission of the Most Reverend Bishop Murray, then Bishop of Limerick, whom I had the pleasure to meet several times on my visits.

Thanks to your prayers and perseverance, and also to Father Irwin, Pastor of St. Patrick Church, we have celebrated mass more and more often in Limerick.

This year as every year, I have asked all the canons of our Institute to come together at our mother house and seminary at Gricigliano, near Florence, Italy, for the first week of September. Canon Lebocq knows this house well, having received his priestly formation here and having spent another seven years here as vice-rector and choirmaster.

Our 57 young priests have thus come together this year, first of all, to pray together and also to cultivate a spirit of family and true brotherhood. It is also the occasion when I receive them individually and announce to them the place where they will exercise their ministry for the next year.

As you know, Canon Lebocq has been coming regularly from Italy for several years to tend to your souls. Thanks to your prayers, patience and perseverance, I have the pleasure to announce to you that Canon Lebocq will soon stay in Ireland permanently; you will thus be able to attend the extraordinary form of the mass every Sunday in Limerick, as encouraged by our Holy Father, Benedict XVI. Monsignor R. Michael Schmitz, my Vicar General, whom many of you know, will assist me as Provincial for Ireland. The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest is a Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right in canonical form, which means that all the priests of our community are canons. This title is not first of all an honour but above all a duty. The principal duty of a canon is to make the prayer of the Church public by chanting the divine office in community. For this reason, I have asked a seminarian and an oblate to form a community life with him. They will pray together, study and work in St. Joseph House in Graigacurragh, Granagh, to advance the reign of Christ the King on your beautiful island.

I will have the pleasure to come visit you soon and to sing the mass again at St. Patrick Church. In the meantime, I ask you to give thanks to God for sending you our young community which, by the Catholic priesthood, will bring to you the wonders of God in a spirit of great love for the Church. I thank each one of you for supporting by your prayers and fidelity this apostolate which we have placed under the patronage of St. Joseph, foster father of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Msgr Wach
Prior General of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest

(reproduced from Rorate Caeli)

Friday, 3 September 2010

The Voice of... St. Pius X (Part VI)

On 11th June, 1905, Pope St. Pius X issued his Encyclical Letter Il Fermo Proposito to the Bishops of Italy on Catholic Action in Italy:

25. The priest, raised above all men in order to accomplish the mission he has from God, must also remain above all human interests, all conflicts, all classes of society. His proper field of action is the Church. There, as ambassador of God, he preaches the truth, teaching along with respect for the rights of God respect also for the rights of every creature. In such a work he neither exposes himself to any opposition nor appears as a man of factions, ally to one group and adversary to others. In such a way he will not place himself in the danger of dissimulating the truth, of keeping silence in the conflict of certain tendencies, or of irritating exasperated souls by repeated arguments. In all these cases he would fail in his real duty. It is unnecessary to add that while treating so often of material affairs he may find himself obligated to perform tasks harmful to himself and to the dignity of his office. He may take part in these associations, therefore, only after mature deliberation, with the consent of his Bishop, and then only in those cases when his assistance will be free from every danger and will be obviously useful.

26. This does-not diminish his zeal. The true apostle must make himself "all things to all men"[I Cor. ix:22] in order to save all. Like the Divine Redeemer, he ought to be moved with compassion, "seeing the crowds . . . bewildered and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd."[Matt. ix:36] By means of the printed and spoken word, by direct participation in the above-mentioned cases, he can labor on behalf of the people according to the principles of justice and charity by favoring and promoting those institutions which propose to protect the masses from the invasion of Socialism, saving them at the same time from both economic ruin and moral and religious chaos. In this way the assistance of the clergy in the works of Catholic Action has a truly religious purpose. It will then not be a hindrance, but rather a help, to the spiritual ministry by enlarging its sphere and multiplying its results.