No. 18

Regnavit a ligno Deus

April 8, 2004

Dear friends and benefactors of Holy Cross Seminary,

            Allow me on this Holy Thursday, feast of the institution of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to give you an update on life at at the Seminary.


            The month of March at Holy Cross marked the return of all of last year’s Major Seminarians, and the arrival of five new ones (three in first year, and two Redemptorists from Scotland who are studying in second year). Our ranks are now comfortably filled. All together we now have a total of 39 students, 17 Major Seminarians, 2 pre-seminarians and 20 Seminarians. Their nationalities are as follows: Australia 15; U.S. & India 5 each; Malaysia 4; Philippines & N.Z. 3; South Africa 2; Mexico and France one each. Together with four brothers and six priests and five lay workers, we presently have a community of 54 members. The cells are all occupied, some seminarians having to double up with bunk beds, the refectory is full, and the chapel filled with generous young souls bowing their heads and knees in adoration of the Divine Majesty. For the beginning of the school year, it was first of all the turn of the returning seminarians to enjoy the spiritual pleasures of a retreat, and then that of the first year seminarians and pre-seminarians, and then finally that of the Brothers. How we must thank God for all these blessings. Now all are settled down to a full load of studies.

Minor Seminarians

Seminarians and their teachers
in front of the St. Joseph House, in the midst of reconstruction.

            Work has rapidly progressed in St. Joseph’s House over the past few weeks. The addition on the rear for the extra rooms is well advanced, thanks to both voluntary and paid help, and the contractors have begun the new plumbing for the entire building and the new electrical service and wiring which are the first step in the remodeling process. Your generous donations are much appreciated, and are the only way for our efforts to enlarge the Seminary capacity to come to fruition.

            I would also like to mention the overwhelming response to the Ignatian retreats preached here at the Seminary. After being full in January, we are already overbooked for the June retreat, and so we have decided to add an additional 5 day men’s Ignatian retreat to the schedule, so that all those men who desire to attend a retreat can do so. Men consequently have the choice between two retreats, one starting on June 14 and a second starting on June 21.


Holy Cross Seminary Community 2004Holy Cross Seminary Community 2004

The entire community –seminarians, priests, bothers and workers – gathered together in the Sacred Heart courtyard.


            However, the real work to be accomplished here at the Seminary, is the work in souls, the rising from the self-centered, indulgent indifference to perfection that we are all too familiar with. It is the living of our baptism as a total consecration to the Most Holy Trinity and renunciation of Satan, his pomps and his works, a radical turning away from the spirit of the world. It is following Christ, the Light that “shineth in darkness”, that “is come into the world” (Jn 3:19), that we might “walk in newness of life” as St. Paul says, and “mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth, for you are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col 3:2,3).

            If Holy Cross Seminary is to be the house of spiritual formation that it is called to be, it cannot be defined any differently. The Cross, the daily dying to ourselves and to our self will, would be empty and meaningless if it were not the all-powerful means to lift up our hearts, to a constant Sursum corda. If every Catholic life must be penetrated by Faith, so as to think constantly of our final goal, heaven, how much more is this the case in the Seminary, in which all the ardor of our youthful souls must strive constantly to mount ever higher towards the supreme and everlasting Truth, Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

            Archbishop Lefebvre understood this better than any of us when he wrote that the one single thing necessary for the continuation of the Catholic Church is fully Catholic bishops who found Catholic seminaries (Spiritual Journey, p. ix). He then continued to define a Catholic seminary: “where young candidates for the priesthood can nourish themselves with the milk of true doctrine, placing Our Lord Jesus Christ at the center of their intellects, of their wills, of their hearts; who have a living faith, profound charity, a devotion without bounds, uniting them to Our Lord.” Such is our goal, the living of the supernatural life of the imitation of Christ in all its fullness. May our seminarians not take it for granted. Our whole life fills our hearts with this desire, that we might lay up treasures in heaven, for “where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also” (Mt. 6:21).

           Thus it is that the seminarians make their own the following sentence of Archbishop Lefebvre’s: “They will ask, as did St. Paul, that we pray for them, that they advance in understanding and wisdom of the ‘Mysterium Christi’, of the mystery of Christ, where they will discover all of the divine treasures.” (Ib.) Our founder wanted this principle to be included in the Seminary rule, which states that “seminarians must seek above all to increase their faith, their knowledge of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the work of Redemption which He came to accomplish, and in which they will have an intimate share by their priesthood.” (§4).

            The priest is most assuredly bound to strive for perfection, that he might as worthily as possible offer the Holy Sacrifice and administer the sacraments, that the words of Scripture be fulfilled in him who is another Christ “For he that hath, to him shall be given, and he shall abound” (Mt. 13:12). Pope Pius XII expressed this in his encyclical on the sanctity of priestly life: “The first striving of a priestly soul should be towards the closest union with the Divine Redeemer, towards the complete and humble acceptance of the precepts of Christian doctrine, and towards such a diligent application of those precepts at every moment of his life that his faith will illumine his conduct and his conduct will be a reflection of his faith” (Menti nostrae, §13).


            This formation of priestly souls necessarily means a constant effort to purify our intentions, to be honest with ourselves, to strive for rectitude and single-mindedness, to be attentive to the movements of grace, to respond to the invitations of the Holy Ghost, that we might make God’s will, eternal truths, the salvation of our souls, starting with our own, our only preoccupation. For this there is no more powerful means for overcoming the resistance of our hearts than prayer itself. The silence and discipline of Seminary life, the sacredness of one’s cell, as also the proximity of the chapel for visits to the Blessed Sacrament, are all invitations to prayer, in which this life of Faith grows into a burning desire for perfection.

Pope Pius XII acknowledged this in his discourse to seminarians soon after his election as Pope in 1939: “It is your divine calling to pave the way in men’s souls for the love and grace of Jesus Christ. To do it you must yourselves first be enkindled with that love. And this you must do by union with Christ in prayer and sacrifice. Union in prayer: indeed if you ask Us what is Our message to priests at the beginning of Our Pontificate, We answer: Pray! Pray more, and more earnestly. And union in sacrifice: in the sacrifice of the Eucharist; yet not in that alone, but also in the sacrifice of self.”

Archbishop Lefebvre’s statement in the Seminary Rule is no different, explaining the union of prayer and sacrifice that achieves its culmination in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: “Prayers during the day and their meditation will express their desire to offer themselves to God with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, to take part in His expiatory sufferings, to join in His praise and thanksgiving. They will strive to lead this life of prayer from their seminary days onwards, being persuaded that it will be the soul of their apostolate.” (§8). Such is the spirit of constant prayer that gives life to our studies and to our endeavors, that enables us to triumph little by little over ourselves, our disordered affections and attachments, the resistance of our self-love. Such is the prayer that is the basis of humility, of knowing ourselves, our insignificance, the crucial importance of the Holy Mass, and the value of our feeble role in the Catholic Church, in the restoration of all things in Christ.


            Here lies all the difference between our combat and the sectarian and fanatical spirit that characterizes various political and religious groups who follow their own agenda. Their zeal is for an idea, a platform, a plan of action. It is natural. Their vision of reality is narrowed down to their preoccupation. Such is not at all the zeal of the members of the Society of Saint Pius X. It is essentially the love of a Person, a divine Person, who was made man. It is the longing to imitate the life, virtues, sacrifice of God in the flesh. Our zeal is primarily not for the Mass, nor for the work of Tradition, nor to make our chapels grow, nor to convince souls that the new post-conciliar church is destroying the Faith, nor to fight against ecumenism, nor to enter into conflict with modernist bishops and priests, nor even for vocations to the Society. Our zeal is not narrowed down to the small dimensions of our own endeavors.

            No, our zeal is centered entirely on the Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and it is a direct effect of the love that we bear towards Him. This infused virtue of charity is what enables us to first and foremost rejoice in the mystery of Christ Himself, of His divinity and yet His human birth, life, passion, death and resurrection, and that He has chosen to be the source of divine life for us: “I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10). It is that entirely spiritual joy of reflecting often on the fact that it is through Our Divine Savior, that we can share in the life of God Himself, and that as wretched and miserable as we have so often been, we can now imitate Christ, follow the example of the God-man, embrace His virtues, direct our steps towards everlasting life, mind the things of heaven. Other joys immediately derive from this: those of contemplating the mystery of the Catholic Church, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the sacraments and the Divine Office, devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to the Holy Rosary.

           It is from these joys that flow the supernatural desires that fill the Catholic heart: the longing for heaven, the desire to embrace the Cross and sacrifice, the yearning to perform the temporal and especially the spiritual works of mercy, the aching of a heart to find peace in prayer, the begging for the salvation of souls. It is finally from these desires that a supernatural zeal is engendered, for the greater glory of the Holy Trinity, and the accomplishment of God’s will in all things, for the glorification of Our Divine Savior, and for the reverence and honor due to Holy Mother Church and to her sacraments and Holy Sacrifice.

            There is in such zeal nothing narrow, limiting or restricted; nothing to bring reality down to the petty level of our own personal concerns. It is the zeal that broadens the soul to consider in all things the greatest, the highest, the most fundamental reality that is the center of all human life: God made man. It is for this depth of love that the Seminary exists. It is this perception of reality that will make a priest, a man like others, sinner also, weak and ignorant as he is by himself, able to resolve all the greatest problems of the modern world, and of the anguished souls who struggle to find their way in the darkness. For the priest is the heir of the wisdom of the Catholic Church’s spirituality and theology, of “the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God” (Rm 11:33), and consequently has at his fingertips the tried and true answers to the problems, decisions, hardships, trials and difficulties that so plague modern souls.


            The modern world uses the word “broadminded” to indicate the liberal mind that is accepting of all opinions, that has fallen into subjectivist indifferentism. Such a frame of mind is in fact true and complete narrow-mindedness, the closing of one’s thoughts to any objective truth, to any absolute reality, to all eternal principles. To be truly broadminded is in fact entirely the contrary. It is to be able to refer all problems, all situations, all human difficulties to Our Lord Jesus Christ, to the fundamental supernatural realities that our eternity depends upon, as well as our happiness on this earth. Here lies the rôle of the priest, who is a friend of souls because he is first and foremost an intimate companion of the Divine Friend Himself, who can understand, resolve, guide through all kinds of human problems and difficulties without being immersed in them, because he views from his vantage point of eternity.

            Fanatics are those who have lost this depth perspective. They are the modernists, whose zeal for the ongoing revolution in the Church is worthy of a real cause. They are the liberals, whose zeal for tolerance and getting along belies the fact that they are fanatics of independence, and fanatics also of the contradictory principle of solidarity, in a vain attempt to remedy the evils caused by their spirit of independence. They are the conservatives, whose zeal for authority is separated from the purpose of that authority. They are the Indult Mass goers, fanatics of legalism, of a purely exterior obedience. They are Feeneyites, fanatics of one doctrine, limiting the infinite Mercy of the Almighty. They are likewise the sedevacantists, fanatics of their personal judgment, unable to comprehend the complementarity of the human and divine aspects of the mystery of the Church.

Working on St. Joseph's house

A view of Brother Joseph, our construction manager,
and the work going on at the back of St. Joseph House.

            My purpose in mentioning this is not to say that there are no Catholics outside the Society of Saint Pius X. Far from it. This would be to fall back into the same narrow-mindedness as our adversaries. Nor is it to show that we are better or holier than they are, likewise preposterous. Nor is it to pretend that we also could not fall into a similar narrow-minded fanaticism, legalism or superficiality. It is to demonstrate that we have the incredible privilege of receiving Catholic principles, untainted by the various fanaticisms that surround us on every side. It is simply to point out true spirituality, entirely focused on the person of Our Lord Jesus Christ, is the perfect and complete response, protection and defense against this danger, and consequently of the essence of Seminary life.

            St. Paul, upon whose words we meditate every First Friday, understood this particularly well, when he described our absolute need for Christ to dwell in our hearts, without whom we cannot have supernatural Faith and Charity: “That Christ may dwell by Faith in your hearts; that being rooted and founded in charity, you may be able to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth, and length, and height, and depth: To know also the charity of Christ, which surpasseth all knowledge, that you may be filled unto all the fullness of God.” (Eph 3:17-19).

            I encourage you to share in this depth charge of reality, by which all is restored in Christ. You can do this by your fidelity to your spiritual duties, and especially to your daily meditation, which is the greatest treasure and most necessary duty of the spiritual life and of the Third Order rule. However, if you really want to understand this mystery of Christ, follow the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius, and you will understand much more profoundly why the priesthood and the Seminary exist. May the joy and desires of the holy Easter season fill all of our souls with a zeal for the honor of Our Risen King.

            Yours faithfully in Christ Our Lord, Sovereign High Priest,

            Father Peter R. Scott  



Men’s 5 day:             Monday June 14 - Saturday June 19
                                Monday June 21 - Saturday June 26, 2004
Women’s 5 day:        Monday September 20 - Saturday September 25
Men’s 5 day:             Sunday December 26 - Friday December 31

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Holy Cross Seminary, Goulburn, Australia