No. 21

Regnavit a ligno Deus

August 4, 2004

Dear friends and benefactors of Holy Cross Seminary,

            I am happy to report that the discipline of serious study has characterized the life of the Seminary over these last weeks of preparation for our First Semester examinations, to take place next week. Over the past couple of weeks work has finally advanced rapidly in the remodeling of the St. Joseph House. Plumbers and electricians have been very busy in the interior of the building, whilst carpenters and plasterers have been busy with the exterior. The back roof is finished, as well as the eaves all round, and most of the exterior concrete rendering over the brickwork has now been completed. May God provide the means to make at least some of these additional 22 rooms ready by next February.


            In his spiritual classic, The Soul of the Apostolate, Dom. Chautard quotes the following exchange between St. Pius X and a group of Cardinals (p.165):

“What is the thing we most need, today, to save society?” the Pope asked them.
“Build Catholic schools”, one said. “No”, he replied.
“More churches”, said another. “Still no”.
“Speed up the recruiting of priests”, said a third.
“No no”, said the Pope. “The most necessary thing of all, at this time, is for every parish to possess a group of laymen who will be at the same time virtuous, enlightened, resolute, and truly apostolic”.

            These words ring just as true in our entirely secularized society as they did a century ago. In fact, they are but the expression of the Pope’s determined will to promote Catholic Action among the laity. He began this from his very first encyclical E supremi apostolatus, in which he explained that organizations and associations of the laity must “aim first and chiefly at the constant maintenance of Christian life among those who belong to them…The times we live in demand action – but action which consists entirely in the observing with fidelity and zeal the divine laws and the precepts of the Church, in the frank and open profession of religion, in the exercise of every kind of charitable works, without regard to self-interest or worldly advantage.” (§14)


            A more precise definition of the purpose of the Third Order of the Society of Saint Pius X could scarcely be found. Some people say that it is not at all necessary to join a Third Order, let alone the Society’s Third Order, in order to save one’s soul. They are perfectly correct. Nor could the Society insist that those faithful who attend its churches, chapels and missions would become in any way affiliated with the Society of Saint Pius X. They are simply true Catholics, exercising their baptismal rights for the true sacraments, Mass and integral preaching of Catholic doctrine. They are not members of the Society as some people are wont, falsely, to state.

            However, this does not mean that the faithful who attend our Masses cannot become truly members of the Society, and that they cannot derive much spiritual benefit from doing so. Much to the contrary. The success of our churches, schools, missions and other apostolates depends upon it. The one greatest secret to the pastoral success of the priests of the Society is no different from that of the time of St. Pius X: it is for the priest to form and surround himself with a group of elite, shock troops as it were, determined to live the Catholic life to the full. When this is done, the example of their fervent lives will lead the other parishioners along, will maintain unity in each chapel congregation, as well as in its organizations and activities, will exclude liberal influences from undermining the priests’ activity, and will enable the building up of an in-depth, profoundly supernatural, altogether unworldly parish life.

            It was the recognition of this crucial role of a nucleus of fervent laymen that inspired Archbishop Lefebvre to found the Society’s Third Order in 1980. For by this means he gave the laity the possibility of not just assisting at the true Masses celebrated by the Society’s priests, and receiving the sacraments, but of being closely affiliated with them, members like the priests of a community committed to restoring all things in Christ, truly an extension of the priests by their spirituality as also by their outward activity. In this way, by their prayers and sacrifices, the Third Order members support and encourage their priests in a special way, earn many graces for them, and contribute to the pool of merits that is shared amongst the members of a community.

            However, the extraordinary grace of a Third Order consists in the possibility for the faithful to embrace the special spirituality, graces and inspiration of the First (priests and brothers) and Second (sisters) orders. In the Society this means the militant desire to restore the Social Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ in a secularized world, by the means of the attachment to the Magisterium of the Roman Church, to Her unchanging Faith and to all of Her Tradition. It is the living of the Mass, a true propitiatory sacrifice and unbloody renewal of Calvary. It is the penetration into the mind of the Church as manifested in Her teachings, and into Her spirit through the liturgy. Here lies all our strength in overcoming the modern liberal errors. Archbishop Lefebvre rightly considered that we cannot sanctify ourselves in the present times without such a well-informed, anti-liberal spirituality, one characterized by the submission, fidelity and obedience that flow from the Cross, which is why he wrote in the Third Order rule: “Sanctity today must be attained in a world which opposes it by errors and subtle heresies, introduced into all Catholic milieux under the name of Modernism.”


            The key to any Third Order is the rule of life that binds the members all together, that determines the spiritual duties. The Society’s Third Order is no exception to this, and contains, amongst other things, aspects that are necessary:

  • for the maintenance of a fervent, zealous Catholic life – daily meditation, Rosary and spiritual reading, assisting at additional Masses whenever possible - 
  • for a frank and open profession of the Faith – studying the catechism,combating liberalism and modernism, abstaining from television and from worldly recreations and vacations, promoting the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in the family.

            The Third Order is not for everyone. However, if you would like your retreats to be lasting in their effects, if you want to take the means of maintaining the fervor of your interior life, if you desire to publicly stand up and be counted for the Society’s doctrinal positions, ask your priests about this extraordinary opportunity. We would not be traditional Catholics if we were not able to think for ourselves. However, we must also fight against the individualism that is endemic in modern society, and that is one of the many consequences of the liberal spirit. This becomes possible by the means of a real contact with the visible mystical body of Our Lord Jesus Christ, bringing with it the awareness of being a part of a much wider effort, attaching us to the Church. Archbishop Lefebvre used to often repeat it: “The spirit of the Society is the spirit of the Church, the spirit of Faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ and in His work of Redemption.”


            If the present crisis is a crisis in the Church, it can readily be understood how appropriate a remedy is a community that loves the spirit of the Church. For if during the 40 years since Vatican II we have been living a time of crisis, it is not just because one or other aspect of the Faith is in question: it is not just because the divinity of Christ is denied, or transsubstantiation or the centrality of the Real Presence, or the unique power of Holy Orders, or original sin, frequent Confession, or the necessity of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mediatrix of all graces, or the authority of the Magisterium. Nor is it just the desacralization of the liturgy of the sacraments and the Mass. Nor is it even just the practice of ecumenism and the promotion of indifferentism. All these things have certainly happened, and many more. However, underlying all of these is one all embracing novelty, that is the fundamental basis for all the changes, and that consequently is the root of the crisis in the Church. It is the changing of the whole notion of what the Church itself really is, it is the new ecclesiology.

            This opposition is apparent in comparing the definition of Pope Leo XIII’s 1896 encyclical on the unity of the Church (Satis cognitum) with that of the Vatican II document on the Church (Lumen gentium). Leo XIII describes the Church as a society of men “divine in its origin, supernatural in its end and in the means proximately adapted to the attainment of that end”, and consequently defines it as “a duly constituted society, formed out of the divided multitude of peoples, one in faith, one in end, one in the participation of the means adapted to the attainment of the end, and one as subject to one and the same authority”. This is a vertical notion of a society that is supernatural because it was founded by Christ, God Himself, giving to it as its principle one common Faith, fixing one common goal, everlasting life, sharing as the means of attaining this goal the same Mass and sacraments, and subject to the one supreme authority, without which none of these supernatural elements could be retained.

            At the very opening of its document on the Church, Vatican II defines the Church as being “in the nature of sacrament – a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all men” (§1). At first glance this definition appears incomprehensible, that is until its horizontal dimension becomes clear. The Church is no longer defined from above by its founder and its supernatural Faith, goal and means. It starts from below, from man. The Church is henceforth considered a symbol of mankind’s oneness with the Almighty, and its oneness in itself. The Church’s hierarchical structure, teaching and sacraments are simply a part of that symbol. They are a sign of the fundamental natural unity of mankind, and of man with his Creator, and also an instrument to bring this about. Hence the inclusion of all men – not many, nor just those who share the same Faith or just who are united with Christ through baptism. It is this horizontal, democratic conception that is essential to every aspect of the changes in the post-conciliar church, and which has produced a whole radically different way of thinking, even when the exteriors have been retained.

            Thus has been substituted a false, horizontal notion of community, without any boundaries or limits from above – without any supernatural characteristics – in the place of the vertical doctrine of the Church as the mystical body of Christ. It is this notion that hides behind the episcopal conferences, the liturgical ceremonies, the encyclicals, the ceremonies of the post-conciliar church. It is the application of the principles of liberty, fraternity and equality of the French revolution, the overturning of the divinely established order by which Christ governs the Church. It is the new teaching on Religious Liberty that corresponds to liberty, that on Ecumenism that corresponds to fraternity, and that on Collegiality that corresponds to equality. However, underlying all is the belief that the church is a grassroots level experience that the community of men has of God or of Christ.

            Hence the teaching of the same document of Vatican II (Lumen gentium, §8) that the church of Christ is not identical to the Catholic Church, but only subsists in it, and that “many elements of sanctification and truth are found outside its visible confines. Since these are gifts belonging to the church of Christ, they are forces impelling towards Catholic unity”. What could there be about religious experience outside the Catholic Church that impels towards unity, except the lowest common denominator natural experience of community and vague oneness with God?

            One could legitimately ask if such ideas are really that far removed from this condemned opinion: “This, then, is the origin of all, even of supernatural religion. For religions are mere developments of this religious sense. Nor is the Catholic religion an exception; it is quite on a level with the rest; for it was engendered, by the process of vital immanence, and by no other way, in the consciousness of Christ, who was a man of the choicest nature, whose like has never been, nor will be.” (Pascendi, §10) Except that this opinion was roundly condemned by Saint Pius X with the following words: “In hearing these things we shudder indeed at so great an audacity of assertion and so great a sacrilege. And yet, Venerable Brethren, these are not merely the foolish babblings of unbelievers. There are Catholics, yea, and priests too, who say these things openly; and they boast that they are going to reform the Church by these ravings!” A more prophetic statement on the future concept of the church, product of religious experience, could hardly be imagined.      


            It is, then, our duty to oppose the modernist revolution in the very nature of the Church, the crux of the crisis, with the vertical, Catholic, hierarchical, submissive, obedient truth about the Catholic Church. It is not enough for us to simply ridicule the false notion of community. It is not sufficient for us to remain the individualists that our secular, protestant, success-oriented society has made us to be. For individualism is no less a product of liberalism than unrestrained horizontal community experience. They share in common the refusal of a hierarchically imposed consecration to the common good. The only answer is the spirit of the Church, the divinely constituted society, whose “end is as much higher than the end of other societies as divine grace is above nature, as immortal blessings are above the transitory things on the earth.” (Leo XIII, Ib.)

            It is here that the Third Order of the Society of Saint Pius X can be a great help to those of our faithful who are determined to live their whole lives penetrated by these supernatural principles, who long to contribute to the combat not just as individuals but as members of a hierarchically constituted society, who yearn to participate with their priests in the solution. Our strength as priests is not just in the Masses that we celebrate and the sacraments that we administer, but in our unity, our submission to our superiors, our dedication and commitment to the work of the Church, all of which express what our Masses really mean: our offering of ourselves in union with the divine victim for His Mystical Body, the Church, and for the souls that make it up. Membership in the Third Order allows the laity to share in this ideal, and make it their own, to truly live each Mass, praying for their priests, and through them for the Church, as a stepping stone towards eternity. It is an embracing of the spirit of the Church; it is to be a part of the answer to the crisis. It will be, furthermore, for our Society the sure guarantee of future vocations, and the continuing growth of our work for Holy Mother Church.

            May the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Divine Grace, obtain for all of us the enlightenment and inspiration, to pray for and contribute as God wills to the work and life of Holy Mother Church,

            Father Peter R. Scott



Men’s 5 day:             Sunday December 26 - Friday December 31, 2004
                                Monday January 10 – Saturday January 15, 2005
Women’s 5 day:        Monday September 20 - Saturday September 25, 2004
                                Monday January 3 – Saturday January 8, 2005
                                Monday January 24 – Saturday January 29, 2005


All our friends are invited to this weekend to celebrate our annual patronal feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross:

• Saturday September 11:
10:30 a.m. Solemn High Mass: Solemnity of Our Lady of Sorrows
Procession in honor of Our Lady, with renewal of the consecration of Holy Cross Seminary to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
1:00 p.m. Light lunch provided by the Seminary: Everybody invited.
3:00 p.m. Conference on the Holy Shroud of Turin, given by Father François Laisney.
5:00 p.m. Holy Hour, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and all night adoration.

• Sunday September 12: Solemnity of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
10:30 a.m. Procession with the relics of the true Cross, followed by Solemn High Mass.
Bring your own picnic lunch.
2:00 p.m. Annual soccer tournament.
5:00 p.m. Sunday Vespers.


Holy Cross Seminary, Goulburn, Australia