SOUTHERN SENTINEL

No. 5

Regnavit a ligno Deus
HOLY CROSS SEMINARY
FATHERS OF THE SOCIETY OF SAINT PIUS X

J.M.J.
January 7, 2003

Dear friends and benefactors of Holy Cross Seminary,

I would first of all like to express my gratitude, and that of the seminarians for your Christmas generosity and for your help towards the expenses of our overseas seminarians. A good effort from three continents has helped to cover a part of these expenses for the time being, for the love of souls, and the greater glory of God.

seminarians pronouncing their engagements

View of the seminarians pronouncing their engagements before the Blessed Sacrament,
in the presence of the Rector, at the main altar of the Seminary
on December 8, feast of the Immaculate Conception.

ENGAGEMENTS

The most important event during the last month of the 2002 school year was the ceremony of engagements held on December 8, feast of the Immaculate Conception. This feast is of particular importance for the Society of Saint Pius X, for it is on this day that we celebrate the Blessed Mother’s complete victory over evil, manifesting the power of the Redemption in the most perfect way, that is by anticipation, in the manner of a preventive medicine, preventing her from inheriting the least stain of original sin. If the priest is going to continue the mystery of the Redemption and apply it to souls through the Mass and the sacraments, he must consequently necessarily be devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, through whose intercession and motherly protection alone he can be protected from the onslaught of evil in his ongoing combat against the disorder of sin.

Indeed a priest’s filial attachment to the Blessed Virgin Mary is inseparable from his filial attachment to the Catholic Church. He who does the work of the Church by applying to souls the graces and merits of the Blessed Passion of our Divine Savior cannot but be attached to the Church, just as he must be attached to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is inseparably identified with the Church because she is the Mother of Divine Grace. It is for this reason that the Society’s priests and seminarians bind themselves to the Church via the Society of Saint Pius X on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

The form of the promises made before the Blessed Sacrament may not be as solemn as that used for vows, but the reality is just as binding. In the Society they are called Engagements, since by them we freely bind ourselves to the Society, as to our spiritual mother, just as we are bound to the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are also called Oblations, for by them we offer ourselves, whole and entire, with all that we have and all that we are, in the practice of perfect chastity, as well as that of obedience and poverty. The following translations taken from the ceremony of the Oblations illustrate the depth of this offering: “O Lord, … I desire to offer myself to Thee as a spontaneous oblation and to remain perpetually Thine… O Lord, I offer myself to Thee as an everlasting slave…O my Queen, O my Mother, I offer myself entirely to Thee, and that I might show myself devoted to Thee I consecrate to Thee my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, my whole self fully and entirely”.

On December 8, I had the joy of receiving these engagements on behalf of the Superior General, sign as they are of the generous gift the young seminarians are willing to make of themselves. Two seminarians in second year were granted the privilege of making their Engagements for the first time. Three others renewed. Indeed, the Engagements are such a momentous step, and such a critical predisposition for the priesthood that the seminarians are only allowed to make them temporarily at first, until they have proven their fidelity. They make them three times for one year, and then can request to be able to make them for three years.

Thereafter the seminarians or priests must renew their engagement twice for three years before being authorized to make them for life, fixing themselves forever in the state of serving the Church through the Society of Saint Pius X. The fact that they do not make them initially for life as seminarians does not mean that as priests they are not bound to observe them, or that they could in some way walk away from them when the time expires. It means that they are given a time to prove their fidelity and worthiness to be a part of the Society of Saint Pius X and its work to restore all things in Christ. A young man who did not manifest his intentions to keep these engagements for life, and who did not have a keen desire to make them for life as soon as he could, could not be ordained for the Society of Saint Pius X.

 

FIDELITY AND DEVOTION TO OUR LADY

Consequently, it is very sad to hear from time to time of a priest who thinks he can do better alone, as a wandering or vagus priest, and who abandons his engagements, although this is a denial of all that he has received, and forbidden by Canon Law. Some have carried this step to its logical conclusion and even left the priesthood altogether. Living in this unstable and rebellious world, the Society is, alas, not exempt from such human tragedies. Fidelity is a precious gift, like that of final perseverance, that none of us can presume to be worthy of. However, it is inseparable from devotion to Our Lady, and all consecrated souls must humbly and repeatedly beg the grace of fidelity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, knowing that if we were ever in our independence to escape from her motherly mantle, we would most certainly abandon God, betray the Church and defile our priesthood. Pray, consequently, that all our priests and seminarians grow daily not only in our filial love for the Blessed Mother, but also in our total consecration as slaves to her Divine Son through her.

In fact, in these turbulent times in the Church and in the world, devotion to Our Lady, Health of the Sick and Refuge of Sinners, must be for every one of us the sure rock of salvation, the placid harbor in the tempest, the Ark of the new covenant. Without such a sure devotion, it would be very easy to become discouraged at the sight of the quasi-universal loss of Faith in nominal Catholics, the ever-spreading immorality and perversion that is now called by the pseudonym of “lifestyle”. Who has not seen this in their own family, and even in those who have been raised traditional? As soon as a compromise with the world is attempted, our human folly and blindness can and do lose everything in an instant. Let the New Year start with the resolution to be faithful devotees of Our Lady Help of Christians, that we might not become discouraged in the heat of the battle. 

A recent article1 had this to say: “Our combat is not only against the new modernism and those who are responsible for it. It must place itself on a higher and eminently spiritual level ‘…that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places’ (Eph 6:11 & 12)..This is why the Blessed Virgin Mary, amongst her sorrowful appeals (such as the tears that she wept before the children in La Salette) also wanted to show us the remedies to the tragic situation that was going to come about: the return to a profound and genuine spirit of mortification and prayer, fruit of an intense love of God and of our neighbor. And this for everyone, priests, religious and simple laity.” How true this is. It is our duty here at the Seminary, and it is the first responsibility of any house of formation of priests or religious, that our seminarians might be a part of the solution, and not a part of the problem.

 

LA SALETTE

Allow me to remind you of the frightening but so realistic prophesy of Our Lady of La Salette in 1846, accomplished 130 years later to the letter: “The priests, ministers of my Son, the priests, by their wicked lives, by their irreverence and their impiety in the celebration of the holy mysteries, by their love of money, their love of honors and pleasures, the priests have become cesspools of impurity. Yes, the priests are asking vengeance, and vengeance is hanging over their heads. Woe to the priests and to those dedicated to God who by their unfaithfulness and their wicked lives are crucifying my Son again!…There are no more generous souls, there is no one left worthy of offering a stainless sacrifice to the Eternal for the sake of the world…The chiefs, the leaders of the people of God have neglected prayer and penance, and the devil has bedimmed their intelligence”.

 

SOME STATISTICS

Statistics cannot express the depth of decadence into which the modern church has fallen. They can, however, reflect it in some way, as effects reflect their cause. Kenneth C. Jones recently published an Index of Leading Catholic Indicators for the United States, which is very revealing. The figures for seminarians and religious are particularly shocking. From 1965 to 2002, the number of seminarians declined more than 90%, from 49,000 to 4,700. Needless to say two-thirds of the 600 seminaries operating in 1965 have now closed. In 1965 there were 180,000 Catholic nuns. By 2002 this figure had fallen to 75,000, with a large proportion of these being very elderly. In 1965 there were 104,000 teaching nuns. In 2002 there were only 8,200, a decline of 94%. The same drop in men religious in formation is apparent. In 1965 there were in the U.S. 3,559 Jesuits in formation. In 2002 there were 389. The number for the Christian Brothers has dropped from 912 to 7, and the Franciscans and Redemptorists combined had 3,379 in formation compared with 84 in 2002. The possibility of substituting a social welfare and social justice kind of apostolate has slowed down the decline in the number of priests, from 58,000 in 1965 to 45,000 in 2002. However, this decline will keep accelerating, since there were only 450 priests ordained in the U.S. in 2002, compared to 1,575 in 1965.

If Sister Maria of the Cross’s (Melanie’s) accurate description of the Novus Ordo church is in no way to refer to use, on account of our lukewarmness, we must make a continual effort. If we do not, all our efforts for Tradition would thereby be wasted and destroyed. For this your prayers, support, mortifications and sacrifices are essential. Nothing can compare with this help that you can offer to us to persevere in our own duty for souls. Such is the mystery of the Communion of the Saints, of which the Blessed Virgin is the Queen.

Let us be convinced that it is only by giving ourselves to Jesus through the hands of Mary that we will have the longing and desire to continue the spiritual combat, and the courage to persevere in it: “Not that he who has found Mary by a true devotion will be exempt from crosses and sufferings. Far from it; he is more besieged by them than any other, because Mary, the Mother of the living, gives to all her children portions of the Tree of Life, which is the Cross of Jesus; but whilst she carves out good crosses for them, she also imparts the grace to carry them patiently and even joyfully”.2 May we all love to repeat these consoling words composed by St. Louis de Montfort: “O Mother of Mercy! Grant that I may obtain the true Wisdom of God, and for this end receive me amongst those whom thou dost love and teach, whom thou dost lead, nourish and protect as thy children and thy slaves”.

Life here at the Seminary has remained busy since the end of year exams for the seminarians in December. They were followed by the celebrations of Christmas, and by a successful retreat for 29 men. Right now a camp for 25 boys is being led by Father Bourmaud. It will be followed by three more Ignatian retreats and one Carmelite retreat. Also preparations are busily going ahead for the arrival of 15 seminarians due to start here at the beginning of February.

Yours faithfully in the Immaculate Heart of Mary,

Father Peter R. Scott

Rector


1. Courrier de Rome, Novembre 2002
2. St. Louis de Montfort, Secret of Mary, §22)

 


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