No. 7

Regnavit a ligno Deus

March 2003

Dear friends and benefactors of Holy Cross Seminary,

As we enter into Lent, with recent falls of rain symbolizing the dew of divine grace, it would be easy for us to forget that last month’s bushfires gave every indication of being a punishment from God, especially for the nation’s capital, the hardest hit by the bushfires. For it was last August 21, that the Australian Capital Territory adopted the most liberal abortion laws in Australia. The legislation passed without commentary from any other quarter than the ACT Right to Life. It is, however, of great gravity, since the A.C.T. then became the first state or territory to remove abortion from the criminal code for doctors and women. However, if abortionists are no longer to be considered as criminals, the same is not true for Catholics nurses, health workers and counselors, who no longer have the legislative right to refuse to refer women for abortions because of a conscientious objection.

Furthermore, the 72 hour cooling off period formerly required has been repealed, and although an ethics panel must review abortions performed after 12 weeks, there is no legal restraint or limitation to prevent late term abortions being performed at any time in the pregnancy, up until the moment of birth, at which time the baby has already been viable outside the womb for nigh on three months. This is nothing short of publicly approved infanticide. This disgusting perversion of the most basic premise of the natural law – thou shalt not kill – is officially broken in that which is most precious to us, our children. The concern is not just for the A.C.T., but for the entire country, for this is manifestly a pilot law, and if accepted by the people will be implemented elsewhere. Where are the Catholics, who for all their proclamation of the rights of the human person are ineffective at stopping this perversion of the divine law? The problem is that once the sense of the natural law has been lost, and the rights of God the Creator and author of life have been despised, there remain neither absolutes nor principles. The dignity of the human person has always been a totally ineffective response, for it is not man who is the principle and purpose of human existence and human life, but God Himself and God alone. Let us pray that this experiment be not extended elsewhere. Surely also it is not forbidden for a Catholic to take the initiative and to express his horror to his local representatives.

Nevertheless, there can be no doubt that our combat is a spiritual one, “against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places” (Eph 6:12), and that consequently, the only true answer is a supernatural one, namely that of reparation. Reparation does not just mean offering up a few prayers. Reparation is making up to the divine honor that has been so greatly offended by the sins of men. It is a work of love by which we strive to make good the disorder of man’s rebellion, by which we commit ourselves to restore the order disrupted by man’s sins, by which we ring additional graces of conversion from the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Separating the goodness of God from His justice, and thus denying His true holiness, the modernists have come to despise all the Catholic means to purify our souls; such as frequent confession, penitential prayers, acknowledging our unworthiness of and infidelity to so many graces we have received, pilgrimages, holy hours and prayers for the repose of the souls of the faithful departed. However, most essential to all these practices are acts of reparation. The true Mass is just that: a propitiatory sacrifice, by which Christ Himself, the Son of God made man, renews in an unbloody manner the infinite reparation of the Cross. If the modernists have denied the importance of reparation in the Mass, reducing it to being simply a manifestation of God’s goodness, the banquet that expresses His love, the sign of His mercy; if the New Mass is no longer considered to be an act that makes perfect restitution for the insults that we sinners have directed against the divine Majesty; then it behooves to us make special efforts to unite ourselves to the expiation so clearly expressed in the Tridentine Mass.

Living the Mass means necessarily to unite ourselves to Christ’s sacrifice, to the divine victim, who is “the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (I Jn 2:2). We cannot afford to stand by passively, nor will we receive the full effect of the Holy Mass if we do, as Pope Pius XII pointed out in his 1947 encyclical on the Sacred Liturgy: “In order that the oblation by which the faithful offer the divine Victim in this Sacrifice to the Heavenly Father may have its full effect, it is necessary that the people add something else, namely the offering of themselves as a victim.” (Mediator Dei, §98). He goes on to explain that true purity of soul is only obtained by our union with Christ in his holocaust, his expiation for sin, and only inasmuch as we are in union with the Divine Victim in his reparation for sin: “While we stand before the altar, then, it is our duty so to transform our hearts that every trace of sin may be completely blotted out, while whatever promotes supernatural life through Christ, may be zealously fostered and strengthened even to the extent that, in union with the Immaculate Victim, we become a victim acceptable to the Eternal Father.” (Ib. §100).

I would like to take the opportunity of recommending for this Lent two devotions that can truly help us to understand the mind of the Church in this regard, that can transform our hearts by uniting them with the Divine Victim in his propitiatory sacrifice. These two devotions will encourage us to do what we are naturally afraid of, to offer ourselves together with Our Lord in reparation for our own sins and for those of the entire world. They will consequently enable us to truly live the mystery of our Holy Mass. I speak of the devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, devotions that have the ability to bring about a true transformation in the world because they start with our hearts, devotions that are of their very nature a reparation, and the most powerful one there can be.

In the encyclical that he wrote on precisely this subject, namely on the reparation that we all owe to the Sacred Heart (Miserentissimus Redemptor), Pope Pius XI explained how it “follows naturally” from devotion to the Sacred Heart, and in particular from the practice of consecration to the Sacred Heart, “whose first and principal purpose is for the creature to render to his Creator love for love” that “it must offer to uncreated Love a compensation for the indifference, forgetfulness, offenses, outrages and injuries that it endures”. He goes on to explain how “the duty of reparation and expiation is obligatory on account of even more demanding motives of justice and of love: of justice first of all, because the offense against God of our sins must be expiated, and the order thus violated must be restored by penance; but also of love, for we must suffer together with Christ suffering and overwhelmed by opprobrium…In fact this duty of expiation is incumbent upon the whole human race”.

The thought of living a life of expiation and of penance rightly frightens and overwhelms us, especially when we realize how lacking in generosity we are, and how little we are willing to do and suffer for the love of God. It is for weak souls like ours that the devotion to the Sacred Heart is especially important and helpful. If we do not have the courage of the saints to do great penances, we can certainly unite ourselves to Our Divine Lord, and to His sufferings. We can offer up the multitude of little sacrifices, insignificant inconveniences, difficulties, embarrassments, pains, sufferings, misunderstandings and humiliations of daily life in union with the Sacred Heart. In such a way we can profit from his infinite merits, and our hidden, little, ordinary lives are transformed into extraordinary lives of expiation, without us having to do anything more than unite ourselves to the Sacred Heart, and consecrate ourselves to Him every day.

Here lies the treasure of devotion to the Sacred Heart, in which “the spirit of expiation or reparation has always held the first and principal role”, as Pope Pius XI so rightly declared, and as the Sacred Heart himself said to St. Margaret Mary, showing her the Heart that has so loved men, and complaining about the innumerable outrages directed against Him and the ingratitude of men. The uniting of our days, of our little offerings, insignificant as they are in themselves, to the Sacred Heart entirely transforms them. The consecration of our thoughts, desires, intentions, works to the Sacred Heart infuses them with the infinite love of God made man, and makes them an acceptable reparation.

The Pope points out “to what extent this expiation, this reparation is necessary, especially in our time” by considering two motives: the evil into which the modern world has sunk, having overturned all divine and human rights, and the lamentable state of baptized Catholics, so far removed from the supernatural Faith and Charity to which they were initiated through baptism. When we consider how much worse these two disorders are than in 1928, these same motives must likewise inspire our devotion to the Sacred Heart, our expiatory assistance at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and our communions of reparation to the Heart of divine love. Let us offer them to make up for the horror, the perversion, the hellish emptiness of the world without God that we see all around us, as well as for the infidelity and ingratitude of so many fallen away, lax, liberal and modernist Catholics.

May these considerations motivate our Lent, that it may not just consist in a few sacrifices and penances done here and there, but that through the Sacred Heart if might become a time of spiritual transformation. Even if we cannot do great things, we can certainly love, and the small sacrifices, the little almsgiving, the pardoning of offenses, the acceptation of humiliations, the donation of our time can all be united to the infinite generosity of the Sacred Heart. We can certainly fervently renew the consecration of ourselves to the Sacred Heart every morning, and we can renew regularly the consecration of our families, that we first made when we enthroned the Sacred Heart as King of love over them.

However, nobody offers the Sacred Heart as perfect reparation as does the Immaculate Mother of God. Nobody returns love for insults and indifference as Our Lady did at the foot of the Cross. Nobody is immaculate like her in her sharing of her Divine Son’s sufferings for the redemption of all mankind. This means that the soul who desires to make reparation must love to imitate the humility, docility and obedience by which the Blessed Virgin so perfectly cooperated with Almighty God in the Redemption of mankind. It means also, as a necessary consequence that he must desire to make reparation to the Blessed Mother herself, and for the insults against her own Immaculate Conception, perpetual virginity, fullness of grace, and work of Co-Redemption. It is for this reason that the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is inseparable from that to the Sacred Heart, and that it is by uniting ourselves to the Immaculate Heart, by consecrating ourselves to the Mother of God, by reminding ourselves continually that we are her children, by continually making up for the insults against her, our heavenly Mother and Queen, that our life can become a continual act of reparation and love to the Sacred Heart.

If on a regular basis the Secret prayer of the Mass expresses the desire for reparation in our offering of ourselves, I particularly admire the Secret prayer from the Mass of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (August 22). In effect, it points out that the only way to offer the immaculate Victim to Almighty God is by union with the heart of Mary at the foot of the Cross, all burning with the love of reparation: “We offer to Thy majesty, O Lord, the Lamb without spot, and beseech Thee that our hearts may be kindled by that divine fire, which in an ineffable manner inflamed the heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary…”

Let us consequently not hesitate to offer ourselves in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, knowing that thereby Our Lady’s purity, docility, obedience and humility will make even our poor offerings of reparation for the sins of the world agreeable to her Divine Son and to Almighty God. This was the entire purpose of Our Lady’s visit to mankind at Fatima. People often speak of the extraordinary things, such as the miracle and the Third Secret. However, what really matters about Our Lady of Fatima’s message is the whole concept of reparation that the modernists have tried to empty out of Fatima, as out of every other aspect of Catholic Theology. The consecration of Russia was to be an act of reparation, as also were the communions on First Saturdays. These were in fact the words of the Child Jesus to Sister Lucia in 1925: “Have pity on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother. It is covered with the thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment, and there is no one to remove them with an act of reparation”. Our Lady also spoke to her in the same vein: “My daughter, look at My Heart surrounded with the thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, try to console me…”.

Surely it is within the power of every one of us to belong to Our Lady, to consecrate ourselves to her, to offer her our humble prayers in reparation for our faults and for the sins of the world. Let that be our desire during this Lent, and let us often repeat and renew our consecration to the Blessed Mother, using, for example, these magnificent words of St. Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort: “Receive, O loving Virgin, this small offering of my service, to thy honor and in union with the subjection which the Eternal Wisdom deigned to show to thy motherhood, in homage to the power which you both possess over me, poor child of earth and miserable sinner, and in gratitude for the privileges with which the Holy Trinity has adorned thee. I swear that I, as they true slave from now on, will seek only thy honor and will obey thee in all things. O wonderful Mother, offer me as an eternal slave to thy dear Son, so that He may receive me through thee, as He redeemed me through thee.”

In this way, belonging to Jesus through Mary, and to the Sacred Heart through the Immaculate Heart, we can do what we would not have the heart to do by ourselves: we can live a life of love; we can make reparation; we can render God and His holy Mother the honor we and so many sinners have so often stolen from them in the past.

Our Seminarians are working hard, and taking a little time to adjust to the strict discipline, regular life and especially to the silence of the Seminary. Yet it is the silence that is most precious about a house of religious and spiritual formation. Our 15 young men are very appreciative of the Seminary’s interior life, and of this opportunity to receive a truly, profoundly and serious Catholic education, away from the spirit of the world. However, not all are able to pay their tuition of $3,000 per year, and so consequently, I am looking for benefactors who might be able to help them out, at least in part. During this past month, we welcomed 22 Carmelites for their Third Order retreat, and then 11 women for an Ignatian retreat, and then 6 priests from the Australian District, two from New Zealand, and one from South Africa for a priests’ retreat. Together with the four Seminary priests, that made 12 priests on retreat, preached by Father Laisney.

priests on retreat with Fr. Laisney

Please keep the Seminary in your prayers during this Lent, that it might inspire all of us to a great increase in our love of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts, and of our belonging and consecration to both of them, in whose Hearts I remain yours faithfully,

Father Peter R. Scott


Men’s 5 day: Sunday June 15 – Friday June 20
Women’s 5 day: Monday September 22 – Saturday September 27
Men’s 5 day: Friday December 26 – Wednesday December 31

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Holy Cross Seminary, Goulburn, Australia