Benedict XVI: Remission of excommunication an act of mercy

Translated Version:

Advertisements

Decree Lifting Traditionalist Bishops’ Excommunication

Decree Lifting Traditionalist Bishops’ Excommunication

“A Sign for the Promotion of Unity in Charity”

benedictatprayer

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 25, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the decree released Saturday by the Congregation for Bishops, advising of the lifting of excommunication of the four bishops ordained without papal permission by Marcel Lefebvre in 1988.

* * *

With a letter of Dec. 15, 2008, sent to His Eminence Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, Monsignor Bernard Fellay, in his name and in that of the other bishops consecrated June 30, 1988, again requested the lifting of the excommunication latae sententiae formally declared by decree of the prefect of this Congregation for Bishops on July 1, 1988.

In the mentioned letter, Monsignor Fellay affirms, among other things:

“We are always fervently determined in the will to be and to remain Catholics and to place all of our strength at the service of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the Roman Catholic Church. We accept all of her teachings with a filial spirit. We firmly believe in the primacy of Peter and in his prerogatives and because of this, the present situation makes us suffer so much.”

His Holiness Benedict XVI, paternally sensitive to the spiritual unrest manifested by the interested parties because of the sanction of excommunication, and trusting in the commitment expressed by them in the cited letter to spare no effort in going deeper in the necessary conversations with the authorities of the Holy See in matters still unresolved, and to be able to thus arrive quickly to a full and satisfactory solution of the problem existing from the beginning, has decided to reconsider the canonical situation of the bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta, which arose with their episcopal consecration.

With this act it is desired to consolidate the mutual relations of trust, [and] to intensify and make more stable the relationship of the Fraternity of St. Pius X with the Apostolic See. This gift of peace, at the end of the celebrations of Christmas, also aims to be a sign for the promotion of unity in charity of the universal Church, and with this means, come to remove the scandal of division.

It is desired that this step be followed by the solicitous fulfillment of full communion with the Church of the Society of St. Pius X, thereby witnessing to authentic fidelity and a true recognition of the magisterium and the authority of the Pope, with the proof of visible unity.

In virtue of the faculties that have been expressly conceded to me by the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, in virtue of the present decree, I lift from Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta the censure of excommunication latae sententiae declared by this congregation on July 1, 1988, and declare void of juridical effects beginning today the decree published then.

Rome, Congregation for the Bishops,

Jan. 21, 2009
Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re
Prefect of the Congregation for Bishop

Diocese of Lafayette Congratulates Father Christopher Roberts

The Sung Mass filled every seat

by Brian Poe

Congratulations to Father Christopher Roberts for singing his 1st Sung Traditional Latin Mass at Saint Elizabeth Seton on 1/18/09. Father Robert’s continuing devotion and spiritual dedication is to honor the wishes of the Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio. This Motu Proprio is the idea to bring back the many traditions of the Catholic Church in the form of the Traditional Latin Mass. Father Roberts also says the English Mass as well at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Indiana and is well respected among all his parishioners and fellow priests.

While working together with His Excellency, Bishop William L. Higi, Father Theodore Rothrock, and Father Roberts, the St. John Bosco’s Latin Mass Community was formed and members were elected to serve our Lafayette Diocese in the Carmel Deanery.  Since this time, over 40 Traditional Masses have been held on Sunday and the community is rapidly growing in numbers. Many youths as well as elders are coming forward with this new interest within the Church and are now serving Mass.

Father Robert's 1st Sung Mass

Who is Father Christopher Roberts?

He is young.  Too young to remember when the Extraordinary form of the Latin Rite was only known as ‘Mass’ to Catholics and non-Catholics alike. But then, most of the congregation that attends Mass each Sunday afternoon in the Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton’s day chapel is young.  Father Christopher Roberts, of the diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana, has been saying Mass in the extraordinary form since last June for the very grateful members of the St. John Bosco Latin Mass community.  Since then, it has grown with over 100 participants at each Sunday Mass.  Extra folding chairs have to be brought in for those wishing to experience ‘the most beautiful sight this side of heaven’.

We recently posed some questions to Fr. Roberts so that all of us could better understand what drives this over-worked, over-burdened, server of souls, to strive to learn and say the extraordinary form for the edification of those seeking it. Father was born in Logansport, Indiana, the youngest in a Catholic family. He lived the American dream childhood of academic and athletic star as captain of the football team, debate team, and playing the saxophone.  He went on to Harvard where he graduated magna cum laude with degrees in history and world religions. He is fluent in English, Spanish, Italian, and now a little Latin too.

Father Roberts said he was first drawn to the priesthood because of his love of the study of theology, but later discerned a vocation to be a ‘pastor of souls’.  His formation in the seminary did little to prepare him for this current ministry of the extraordinary form.  He studied Latin for two years and sang some Gregorian chant in the choir.  The rest of his preparation he did on his own with study materials and with the priests of The Institute of Christ the Sovreign King in Chicago. Currently, there are only two priests in the diocese who are capable to saying the extraordinary form, but Fr. Roberts says many seminaries are teaching it so there will be more priests in the near future.

consecration

Below are the questions I asked Father and here are his responses:

Why did you decide to pursue this ministry?

I decided to perform this ministry out of a desire to honor the wishes of Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum. My interest in Church history made me very sympathetic to this form of the Mass, as the Extraordinary Form is more or less exactly what the Latin Church used from the early Middle Ages down to the 1960s.

What have been the rewards of this ministry thus far?

Celebrating this form of the Mass has helped me to appreciate the sacrificial character of the Mass and given me a more clear understanding of the uniqueness of my vocation to the ordained priesthood.

“Lex orandi lex credendi” (We pray as we believe). Do you believe this has any merit when comparing the ordinary and extraordinary forms?

The theology that is behind the prayers of the Extraordinary Form, as well as its gestures and ritual, represent the fruit of a centuries long development. Without a doubt, there is a richness and beauty that is present in the older form of the Missal that surpasses the newer Missal. This form of the Mass is aggressively and unapologetically Catholic. Moreover, the lack of ritual options does a great deal to safeguard the sacredness of the rite. The spiritual treasures of the older rite are truly inexhaustible. There is a considerable challenge, however, entailed in initiating one into the older rite. This was a significant pastoral problem even when the Traditional Latin Mass was the only option before the liturgical changes of the 1960s. Against this backdrop, the desire for flexibility and adaptation that brought us where we are today is quite understandable. Unfortunately, the wideness of scope has oftentimes obscured the continuity between the two forms, which, in my own experience, led was a catechetical and pastoral disaster. In a Church that reverences tradition, disparaging the past is never a healthy thing. We have gotten to the point in the celebration of the Missal of Paul VI in many parts of the Church where the use of Gregorian Chant and Latin is considered the only unacceptable option. I believe, the opportunity posed by the liberalization of the older form of the Missale Romanum of 1962 goes far beyond promotion of the this Missal; it principally lies in the chance to reclaim parts of our Catholic patrimony that have fallen into disuse and nearly have been forgotten.

Do you think future priests in our diocese will embrace the extraordinary form?

Are there currently other priests studying this form in the diocese? I am certain that the Extraordinary Form will become more common in the Diocese of Lafayette in the coming years. Whether that will be in many parishes or only a handful is hard to say. There are currently two priests who are competent in celebrating the Extraordinary Form. Since many seminaries are teaching it, I imagine this number will grow.

How have you found the reception of the extraordinary form among your parishioners at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel?

My experience is that there is great interest, especially among the young and those parishioners who are hungry to go deeper in the spiritual life. Some are genuinely confused, a very few are disappointed.

In what way would you like to see the St. John Bosco Latin Mass community grow?

I think we are getting to the point where need to have more space! We definitely need to find a site that can provide us enough seating for those who are coming. Qualitatively, I’d like to see us move toward having weekly Sung Masses, which will come as the members of our choir continue to improve in their mastery of Gregorian Chant. I hope that the congregation will grow in confidence when they are singing the ordinary of the Mass. I’m also looking forward to developing programs that go beyond the Mass, especially adult book studies. I have no idea where this will lead long term. The important thing that we discern where the Holy Spirit is leading us and take things one step at a time.

About the Author:  The beautiful gradines and canopy on the altar in the above pictures were designed and built by Mr. Brian Poe and Tito Cano.  Brian’s garage at times has been an ecclesiastical workshop, those only found at Vatican City.  When Brian isn’t building altars he’s a husband and father to three children.  Besides being one of two world reknown experts on building gradines, he is a manufacturing engineer with a major automotive manufacturer here in Indiana.  We at Una Voce Carmel think this guy is Leonardo DeVinci and all you Boilermaker fans have been done proud! 

    

Vatican’s Cardinal Francis Arinz: Explanation and History of the Traditional Latin Mass

 

 His Eminence Francis Cardinal Arinze

 1. Advantages of Latin in the Roman Liturgy

 As was mentioned above, by the fourth century, Latin had replaced Greek as the official language of the Church of Rome. Prominent among the Latin Fathers of the Church who wrote extensively and beautifully in Latin were St Ambrose (339-397), St Augustine of Hippo (354-430), St Leo the Great ( 461) and Pope Gregory the Great (540-604). Pope Gregory, in particular, brought Latin to a great height in the sacred liturgy, in his sermons and in general Church use.

The Roman Rite Church showed extraordinary missionary dynamism. This explains why a greater part of the world has been evangelized by heralds of the Latin Rite. Many European languages which we regard as modern today have roots in Latin, some more than others. Examples are Italian, Spanish, Romanian, Portuguese and French. But even English and German do borrow from Latin.
The Popes and the Roman Church have found Latin very suitable for many reasons. It fits a Church which is universal, a Church in which all peoples, languages and cultures should feel at home and no one is regarded as a stranger.

Moreover, the Latin language has a certain stability which daily spoken languages, where words change often in shades of meaning, cannot have. An example is the translation of the Latin “propagare”. The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples when it was founded in 1627 was called “Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide”. But at the time of the Second Vatican Council many modern languages use the word “propaganda” in the sense in which we say “political propaganda”. Therefore, there is a preference in the Church today to avoid the expression “de propaganda Fide”, in favour of “the Evangelization of Peoples”.

Latin has the characteristic of words and expressions retaining their meaning generation after generation. This is an advantage when it comes to the articulation of our Catholic faith and the preparation of Papal and other Church Documents. Even the modern universities appreciate this point and have some of their solemn titles in Latin.

Blessed Pope John XXIII in his Apostolic Constitution, Veterum Sapientia, issued on 22 February 1962, gives these two reasons and adds a third. The Latin language has a nobility and dignity which are not negligible (cf. Veterum Sapientia, nn. 5, 6, 7). We can add that Latin is concise, precise and poetically measured.

Is it not admirable that people, especially well-trained clerics, can meet in international gatherings and be able to communicate at least in Latin? More importantly, is it a small matter that 1 million young people could meet in the World Youth Day Convention in Rome in 2000, in Toronto in 2002 and in Cologne in 2005, and be able to sing parts of the Mass, and especially the Credo, in Latin? Theologians can study the original writings of the early Latin Fathers and of the Scholastics without tears because these were written in Latin.

It is true that there is a tendency, both in the Church and in the world at large, to give more attention today to modern languages, like English, French and Spanish, which can help one secure a job quicker in the modern employment market or in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in their country.
But the exhortation of Pope Benedict XVI to the students of the Faculty of Christian and Classical Letters of the Pontifical Salesian University of Rome, at the end of the Wednesday General Audience of 22 February 2006, retains its validity and relevance. And he pronounced it in Latin! Here is my free English translation: “Quite rightly our Predecessors have urged the study of the great Latin language so that one may learn better the saving doctrine that is found in ecclesiastical and humanistic disciplines. In the same way we urge you to cultivate this activity so that as many as possible may have access to this treasure and appreciate its importance” (in L’Osservatore Romano, 45, 23 February 2006, p. 5).

2. Gregorian Chant

“Liturgical action is given a more noble form when sacred rites are solemnized in song” (SC, n. 113). There is an ancient saying: bis orat qui bene cantat, that is, “the person who sings well prays twice”. This is so because the intensity that prayer acquires from being sung, increases its ardour and multiplies its efficacy (cf. Paul VI: Address to Italian Schola Cantorum, 25 September 1977, in Notitiae 136, November 1977, p. 475).

Good music helps to promote prayer, to raise the minds of people to God and to give people a taste of the goodness of God.

In the Latin Rite what has come to be known as the Gregorian Chant has been traditional. A distinctive liturgical chant existed indeed in Rome before St Gregory the Great (+604). But it was this great Pontiff who gave it the greatest prominence.

After St Gregory this tradition of chant continued to develop and be enriched until the upheavals that brought an end to the Middle Ages. The monasteries, especially those of the Benedictine Order, have done much to preserve this heritage.

Gregorian Chant is marked by a moving meditative cadence. It touches the depths of the soul. It shows joy, sorrow, repentance, petition, hope, praise or thanksgiving, as the particular feast, part of the Mass or other prayer may indicate. It makes the Psalms come alive. It has a universal appeal which makes it suitable for all cultures and peoples. It is appreciated in Rome, Solesmes, Lagos, Toronto and Caracas. Cathedrals, monasteries, seminaries, sanctuaries, pilgrimage centres and traditional parishes resound with it.

St Pope Pius X extolled the Gregorian Chant in 1904 (cf. Tra le Sollecitudini, n. 3). The Second Vatican Council praised it in 1963: “The Church acknowledges Gregorian Chant as proper to the Roman liturgy:  therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services” (SC, n. 116).

The Servant of God, Pope John Paul II, repeated this praise in 2003 (cf. Chirograph for the Centenary of Tra Le Sollecitudini, nn. 4-7; in Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments: Spiritus et Sponsa, 2003, p. 130).

Pope Benedict XVI encouraged the International Association of Pueri Cantores when they met in Rome at the end of 2005. They give a privileged place to the Gregorian Chant. In Rome and throughout the world the Church is blessed with many fine choirs, both professional and amateur, that render the chant beautifully, and communicate their enthusiasm for it.

It is not true that the lay faithful do not want to sing the Gregorian Chant. What they are asking for are priests and monks and nuns who will share this treasure with them.

The CDs produced by the Benedictine monks of Silos, their motherhouse at Solesmes, and numerous other communities sell among young people. Monasteries are visited by people who want to sing Lauds and especially Vespers.

In an ordination ceremony of 11 priests which I celebrated in Nigeria last July, about 150 priests sang the First Eucharistic Prayer in Latin. It was beautiful. The people, although no Latin scholars, loved it. It should be just normal that parish churches where there are four or five Masses on Sunday should have one of these Masses sung in Latin.

3. Did Vatican II discourage Latin?

Some people think, or have the perception, that the Second Vatican Council discouraged the use of Latin in the liturgy. This is not the case.

Just before he opened the Council, Bl. Pope John XXIII in 1962 issued an Apostolic Constitution to insist on the use of Latin in the Church. The Second Vatican Council, although it admitted some introduction of the vernacular, insisted on the place of Latin: “Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites” (SC, n. 36).

The Council also required that seminarians “should acquire a command of Latin which will enable them to understand and use the source material of so many sciences and the documents of the Church as well” (Optatam Totius, n. 13). The Code of Canon Law published in 1983 enacts that “the Eucharistic celebration is to be carried out either in the Latin language or in another language, provided the liturgical texts have been lawfully approved” (can. 928).

Those, therefore, who want to give the impression that the Church has put Latin away from her liturgy are mistaken. A manifestation of people’s acceptance of Latin liturgy well celebrated was had at the world level in April 2005, when millions followed the burial rites of Pope John Paul II and then, two weeks later, the inauguration Mass of Pope Benedict XVI over the television. It is remarkable that young people welcome the Mass celebrated in Latin.

 

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Carmel, Indiana: Latin Mass surges in the Diocese

Similar results were achieved in 2007 at St. Boniface in Lafayette with attendance over 600.  The Christmas and NewYears Masses at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel the attendance surged around 300 souls per Mass.  Many of these souls came to experience the extraordinary Latin Rite out of interest and curiosity for the first time.  However, many souls are part of our growing St. John Bosco’s Latin Community that are attending this traditional (extraordinary) rite every Sunday at St. Elizabeth Seton 3pm. 

We are urging all attending the Latin Mass to write a “Thank-you” letter to the Holy Father.  This letter will help our Holy Father know how much each of us appreciates the opportunity to know this ancient rite which forged the holy souls in our Communion of Saints.

If you have any questions or would like to become part of our apostolate of promoting the Latin Mass, please contact Fr. Roberts at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel via email at robertsc@olmc1.org.

Did you know?:  The Traditional Latin Mass is known as the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, since Pope Benedict XVI issued the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.

Latin Mass to return to England and Wales

By Damian Thompson

The traditional Latin Mass – effectively banned by Rome for 40 years – is to be reintroduced into every Roman Catholic parish in England and Wales, the senior Vatican cardinal in charge of Latin liturgy said at a press conference in London today.

In addition, all seminaries will be required to teach trainee priests how to say the old Mass so that they can celebrate it in all parishes.

Catholic congregations throughout the world will receive special instruction on how to appreciate the old services, formerly known as the Tridentine Rite.

Yesterday’s announcement by the senior Vatican cardinal in charge of Latin liturgy, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, speaking on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI, will horrify Catholic liberals, including many bishops of England and Wales.

The Pope upset the liberals last year when he issued a decree removing their power to block the celebration of the old Mass. Yesterday’s move demonstrates that the Vatican intends to go much further in promoting the ancient liturgy.

Asked whether the Latin Mass would be celebrated in many ordinary parishes in future, Cardinal Castrillon said: “Not many parishes – all parishes. The Holy Father is offering this not only for the few groups who demand it, but so that everybody knows this way of celebrating the Eucharist.”

The Cardinal, who heads the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, made his comments as he was preparing to celebrate a traditional Latin Mass at Westminster Cathedral yesterday, the first time a cardinal has done so there for 40 years.

In the traditional rite, the priest faces in the same direction as the people and reads the main prayer of the Mass in Latin, in a voice so low as to be virtually silent. By contrast, in the new rite the priest faces the people and speaks audibly in the local language.

Cardinal Castrillon said that the reverent silence of the traditional rite was one of the “treasures” that Catholics would rediscover, and young worshippers would encounter for the first time.

Pope Benedict will reintroduce the old rite – which will be known as the “Gregorian Rite” – even where the congregation has not asked for it. “People don’t know about it, and therefore they don’t ask for it,” the Cardinal explained.

The revised Mass, adopted in 1970 after the Second Vatican Council, had given rise to “many, many, many abuses”, the Cardinal said. He added: “The experience of the last 40 years has not always been so good. Many people have lost their sense of adoration for God, and these abuses mean that many children do not know how to be in the presence of God.”

However, the new rite will not disappear; the Pope wishes to see the two forms of Mass existing side by side.

Such sweeping liturgical changes are certain to cause intense controversy. At a press conference, a journalist from the liberal Tablet magazine, which is close to the English bishops, told the Cardinal that the new liturgical changes amounted to “going backwards”.

Following last year’s papal decree, liberal bishops in England and America have attempted to limit the takeup of the old Mass by arguing that the rules say it should only be reintroduced when a “stable group” of the faithful request it. But Cardinal Castrillon said that a stable group could consist of as few as three people, and they need not come from the same parish.

The changes will take a few years to implement fully, he added, just as the Second Vatican Council had taken a long time to absorb. He insisted that the widespread reintroduction of the old Mass did not contradict the teachings of the Council.

Priestly Vocation

 Rev. Mr Jonathan Romanoski, FSSP

This last Thursday our Lord ascended into heaven. The last words put before us were these: “Go ye into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.” At the end of the Gospel the Paschal Candle was extinguished, symbolizing the presence of Christ no longer among us, or rather now transferred to you. For our Lord came only to cast fire upon this earth, divine fire in your soul, and the flame that we received on the Paschal vigil, lit from the Paschal candle, Christ our Light, will now burst forth at Pentecost, in tongues of fire unto all the ends of the earth. The continuation of Christ’s life among us now depends on you, his Mystical Body. The salvation of the world now depends on you, “for he that believeth not shall be condemned.” We heard at the end of the gospel the Apostles response “But they going forth preached everywhere, the Lord working withal, and confirming the word with signs that followed.” What will be your response?

For all are called to bear witness to this divine light they have received, in word and deed to our cold dark culture of death, as our late, and rather optimistic Holy Father referred to it. However, Our Lord calls certain representatives today to participate in this work most intimately, sharing in his very priestly persona. A priesthood, which is in fact, rooted in nothing less than the incarnation itself, the union of the divine and human nature in Christ who is thus the sole mediator between God and man.

It is in this divine mediation that the priest is called to participate. And thus it is a calling utterly divine in it’s origin, unlike the priesthood of nature, which every father enjoys by the natural law over his family, which indeed continues in his Christian life, as the father is always to be found as the spiritual leader and model of holiness for the family, interceding for them before God. Yet the ministerial priesthood is entirely “from above,” and ends in no less than the very Fatherhood of God. For at the words of the priest God Himself obeys, and comes down from heaven anew, as it were, obedient even unto the mystical death of the Cross, sacramentally shedding his blood at the command of the priest. At whose voice, a soul in mortal sin, a slave of satan condemned to hell for all eternity, becomes in an instance the friend of God, a living tabernacle of the Most Holy Trinity who truly dwells in the soul by sanctifying grace. As St. John Chrysostom says, “so wondrous is this mystery, that it surpasses all wonder.”

And because it is a vocation so divine in its end it must also be divine in its means. And so let us listen for the supernatural criteria by which one discerns such a call.

The vocation to the priesthood is seen in 3 principle signs St. Alphonsus tells us.

First, purity of intention– the intention above all to serve God and save souls for the glory of God, and not to please men, or gain the esteem of others, for the scriptures tell us “God hath scattered the bones of them that please men: they have been confounded, because God hath despised them,” (Ps. 52:6), that is, those who pleased men apart from or contrary to God’s good pleasure, which is indeed the plague of the Church today.

Secondly, there is needed the necessary talent and learning, a talent and learning so as to understand and communicate the faith. As we read in the Gospel today: the priest is sent by “the Spirit of Truth.” And Holy Writ declares, “the lips of the priest shall teach knowledge, and they shall seek the law at his mouth.” (Mal 2:7). A teaching ordered toward the love of God, which aims not only at enlightening with truth but which is truly pastoral as well, exposing and condemning error, which is the ruin of souls. As Pope Pius XI said: “The first and obvious duty the priest owes to the world about him, is service to the truth, the unmasking and refutation of error in whatever form of disguise it conceals itself.”

Lastly, yet most importantly there is needed goodness of character, both due to the fact that the priest must become the guide of others in the way of holiness, and, most of all, because he stands in the very Holy of Holies and holds the Body of Christ in his very hands, consecrated for this sole purpose. Thus not only his hands but his whole soul must be consecrated and set apart for god, which the Church sums up in a most beautiful phrase in the ordination rite, “Imitamini quod tractatis” Imitate what you handle; that is, Sacrifice yourself as Christ sacrifices himself for the glory of God and salvation of souls. Live the Mass.

Now please don’t misunderstand. These are the qualities needed to be ordained. Yet in he who has only begun to discern, these qualities will be present in a true but seminal / undeveloped fashion. For it takes many, many years in the seminary to form a priest. In the one just discerning, these qualities will be seen in the desire to give oneself to God, in the desire to know and teach the faith, in the desire to be holy, even despite one’s past and present failings, which may serve well to humble the soul.

And again here we do well not to lean on our own understanding, but to ask a priest and expose our soul to him and receive his guidance. For, quite honestly it can be overwhelming to consider the sanctity of the office, which sanctity the Fathers and Doctors say in sum, should be greater than that of the upright man’s as heaven is greater than earth. Yet if you find yourself humbled and filled with holy fear of the sacerdotal office, this is exactly the kind of soul that God wants, for his priests. As St. Pius X, says “Do we imagine that God is influenced by any inborn or acquired excellence of ours, to make use of our help for the extension of his glory? By no means; for it is written: God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things of the world God has chosen to confound the strong… the humble and contemptible things of the world God has chosen…” So do not lose heart, as St. Augustine says, “God commands not impossibilities, but, by commanding, both admonishes thee to do what thou art able, and to pray for what thou are not able (to do), and aids thee that thou mayest be able.” For “Our sufficiency is from God who also hath made us fit ministers of the New Testament.” For by ourselves we can do nothing. But with Christ all things are possible. And thus St. Thomas says “God does not destine men to such or such a vocation without favoring them with gifts at the same time, and preparing them in such a way as to render them capable of fulfilling the duties of their vocation.” Of this we are sure, if we only correspond to these graces. For we must have great generosity toward God, and a prompt obedience to his calling, especially in our day for as St. Pius X said “to bring about the reign of Jesus Christ in the world, nothing is more essential than a saintly clergy who, by their example, their preaching and their learning will be the guides of the faithful; an old proverb says that the people will always be like their priests: Sicut sacerdos, sic populus.”

Now since holy priestly vocations are the life of the Church, and salvation of the world it falls to each one of us to do what we can to promote them, and for young men to be generous in discerning this call. It behooves parents, especially the father, to encourage such vocations by the holiness with which they live, as one can notably observe the great benefit in formation that seminarians have received who enter the seminary from holy families. The priestly vocation must be something held in great esteem as well, and seen as the greatest honor for a family. And to the contrary, it is my obligation to inform you, that if parents discourage a priestly vocation in their son (or a religious vocation in their daughter), when they appear truly interested in it, it is a mortal sin, according to St. Alphonsus and the common teaching. St. Bernard goes so far as to call such parents murderers. The Council of Trent also condemned the opinion of Luther, who held that one should obey parents who object to their religious calling, as we must obey God before men. Yet I know that this does not apply to most of you. May you rather be inspired by the very moving tradition in which a newly ordained priest gives to his mother the cloth with which his anointed hands were wrapped, and to his Father the stole of his first confession, which are placed on them at their death, that they may appear before God as the blessed parents of a priest for all eternity. (My classmate Rev. Mr. Gordon will be the third of his brothers to be ordained for us, and we joke that his mom will look like a mummy when she meets St. Peter. A happy mummy indeed, shall she be.)

Lastly for the young man discerning this call, the Church most highly recommends above all else for The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, which are most profitably done on retreat, but can even be done amidst one’s daily life if they set aside some time for prayer each day to consider them. They simply focus the mind on what reality truly is; that you have been created for the praise and service of God alone, and by this means to save your soul. Everything else passes away, and only has value with reference to this. St. Ignatius converted his roommate Francis Xavier, by awakening him every morning with this consideration- what would it profit you if you gained the whole world, but lost your own soul. You then consider all of your sins in their true horror as a rebellion against the good God, who has freely created you and sustains you so as to serve Him and to be happy with Him for ever, and how an eternity in hell, will not compare with the dishonor shown to the infinitely good God by sin, in which we prefer created goods to eternal goodness itself. In short, these considerations and those which follow, put everything into perspective, so that you may then make a choice about your vocation in life, according to what is simply most reasonable, for the attainment of your end- the service of God and the salvation of your soul. And thus whatever choice a man makes in this state, it will be a supernatural one, and if it is to have a family it will be for supernatural motives as well, to manifest the fruitful love between Christ and the Church, and not based on attractions to fading beauty, money, power, etc., which will all pass away and may well be the greatest obstacles to growing in sanctity and saving your soul, as they are truly good things. But the good is the enemy of the best, when it is sought as an end and not a means towards it.

So let us spend this brief time dedicated to the Ascension, mediating on our calling in life. And to do so with the utmost generosity of spirit, as the salvation of the world indeed depends on our generosity in whatever state we are in. A generosity, which is simply a response to the generosity of God, who freely chooses to save man, and to choose men to participate in his very own divine work. AS the Father sent me (the Son of God!) so I send you, for the salvation of the world, the ONLY end, which matters after this so-called life, which lasts but for the blink of an eye. Christ came down from heaven and died the most shameful death for love of you. What have you done for Christ, what are you doing for Christ, what will you do for Christ.

Holy Mary Mother of the Saviour: Pray for us.