No. 22

Regnavit a ligno Deus

September 18, 2004

Dear friends and benefactors of Holy Cross Seminary,

First of all, let me remind you that the month of the Poor Souls is coming up very soon. I am enclosing a card for you to list the souls that you would like us to pray for during this month. These cards are changed every year, and so I encouraged you to return the card, even if you returned one last year. They are placed on the Seminary’s main altar throughout the month of November, and for the High Requiem Mass that is offered up for the repose of the souls of the Seminary’s deceased friends and benefactors on the first ferial day of every month.

I would also like to take the opportunity of inviting you to some special ceremonies that will be taking place for the first time here at Holy Cross Seminary. H.E. Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais will be visiting us from Switzerland, and will be ordaining our three fifth year seminarians to the major order of the Subdiaconate on All Saints’ Day, Monday November 1, with the ceremony beginning at 9:00 a.m. It will be a grace for them to make this step of perpetual commitment on a holy day of obligation and the 34th anniversary of the Society’s canonical foundation. Bishop Tissier de Mallerais will also ordain the same three seminarians to the Diaconate on Saturday November 6 at 9:00 a.m. It will also be accompanied by ordinations to the Tonsure and to the minor orders of Exorcist and Acolyte. You are also warmly invited to participate in this ceremony.


The past month has been a very constructive one for our little seminary, in more ways than one. On the great feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15, our three first year seminarians took the cassock, taking the first step in their ascent towards the altar, professing their death to the world. Many of our closer friends joined in the celebration of this special occasion. Our family weekend, just passed, was also a resounding success. On Saturday September 11, the priests, seminarians, brothers were joined by the Seminary’s friends and parishioners in renewing the consecration of the Seminary, and all its activities to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary. For we are entirely convinced that the whole work of the Seminary cannot possibly succeed, nay cannot even survive, if it is not totally consecrated into the hands of the Co-Redemptrix, outside of whose intercession no graces are received. It was our way of acknowledging that all our efforts are worthless unless united to the all-powerful prayer of the Holy Mother of God.

Meanwhile, work has advanced rapidly on the St. Joseph House. The new roof is now completed, with gutterings and downspouts. New windows have been installed throughout, including the skylights in the roof for the upstairs bedrooms. Completely new plumbing has been installed throughout. Concrete rendering of the exterior and interior walls is now complete. Work is still going on to completely the new electrical wiring of the entire building and of the fire alarm system, as well as the hydronics for the installation for the wood fired hot water boiler. It is then that the new floor can be completed downstairs, and the fire rated dry wall hung throughout, and closets can be built into the rooms. I cannot hide the fact that these are major expenses, nor do I hesitate to ask for your prayers that we receive sufficient donations to be able to complete the work in time for next year’s new intake and the 30 day Ignatian retreat in February.

Nevertheless, none of these are our greatest concern, but rather the quality of priestly perfection that our seminarians learn here at the Seminary. For their whole priestly life is to be governed, directed, inspired by the attitudes, virtues, ideals, principles that they learn to make their own at the Seminary. A small error in these beginnings produces grave defects in the priestly life, not to mention the scandal that arises from the absence of the priestly holiness that the faithful have a right to expect. The Superior General’s recent expulsion of two Society priests in France is an illustration of this. Trusting in their own talents and efforts, manipulating control of a large church property, attacking the work of other priests, in particular the formation in the Society’s seminaries, they began to foment rebellion and open disobedience, to such an extent as to refuse reassignment.


How could such a thing happen to priests who have been members of our spiritual family for many long years, and who have shared our combat during this time? The answer is given by St. Pius X, in the encyclical that he wrote in 1908 for the 50th anniversary of his own priestly ordination, Haerent animo, in which he describes the grave danger of seeking human virtue and culture, and of praising personal effort, over and above the imitation of Christ himself:

“Let us see in what sanctity of this kind, which the priest cannot lack, consists; … There are those, indeed, who think, nay even profess that the priest’s glory should be founded entirely on the fact that he gives himself wholly to others; whereby neglecting the cultivation of those virtues by which man perfects himself (and, therefore, these they call passive), they contend that all effort and study should be directed to the cultivation and exercise of active virtues. This doctrine has a strange mixture of fallacy and ruin.”

What does the Pope mean by the so-called “passive” virtues? They are the virtues by which we put on Christ and crucify the old man in us: - humility, meekness, obedience, self denial in all its forms, according to the word of Our Lord: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me”. (Mt. 16:24). These are the virtues that are most opposed to the spirit of the world, that are the least appreciated by people for they do not get things done, they are not seen or noticed, they make no impression, no splash. Yet if they are necessary for all Catholics, they are especially necessary for the priest. For in under the title of “self-abnegation”, Saint Pius X continues:

“the constancy and virtue and fruit of every priestly duty are included, and when this is neglected, there springs forth whatever may offend the eyes and hearts of the faithful in the life of the priest. For, if one acts for the sake of filthy lucre, or involves himself in worldly affairs or seeks promotions and despises others, or yields to flesh and blood, or endeavors to please men, or trusts in the fickle words of human wisdom, all these are the result of neglecting the mandate of Christ.”

The key to this true conception of the priesthood is for the priest to see himself as but an instrument, to be used in the hands of God, through his superiors, an instrument of whose personal qualities and gifts God stands in no need, as St. Pius X points out:

“Do we think that God is moved to join our resources to the greatness of His glory by any excellence on our part, either inborn or obtained by study? By no means, for it is written: ‘The foolish things of the world has God chosen to put to shame the wise, and the weak things of the world has God chosen to put to shame the strong…’”

No truer words could be spoken of our position as traditional Catholics, insignificant as we are in number, position, influence, money and even knowledge. Our only qualification to serve the Church is that we consider ourselves as pure and simple instruments, and that in this way we hope to save our own souls, and those of many others, as did St. Paul: “Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God” (I Cor 4:1). This is certainly what our holy patron understood:

“There is one quality which indisputably links man with God and makes him the pleasing and not unworthy ‘dispenser’ of His mercy, namely, sanctity of life and morals. If this, which is but the supereminent knowledge of Jesus Christ, be lacking in a priest, all things are lacking…Sanctity alone makes us what our divine vocation demands, namely, men crucified to the world and to whom the world is crucified; men walking in the newness of life, who…seek heavenly things alone and strive in every way to lead others to them.”

There can be no doubt that all of us priests in the active apostolate are prone to the danger of insidious, insipid, insipient naturalism. Before we realize it, it creeps in, and our focus is on our own activities, our own efforts, our own talents, our projects, our buildings, our organizations, rather than on Christ’s work in souls, and all of these good things become an end in themselves, rather than a pure instrument. However, our struggle is against a radical naturalism, substituting the rights of man for the rights of God, universal dialogue for the work of grace, social justice for the sacraments, the experience of community for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is only by an equal radical dependence on the supernatural order that we will bring an effective response to bear. The natural tendency towards reliance on our own selves is particularly fatal, given the nature of our present combat.


Not infrequently, I am asked why it is that priests are not assigned to their own countries, or to their own part of the world even, or to their own language. Although there are a multitude of different factors that superiors have to take into account in assigning priests, and although these include the natural capacities of the priest, his understanding of culture, language, historical background of the people to be administered to, there is another much more profound reason according to which priestly assignments must be seen as the work of divine Providence.

This reason is precisely the maintaining of the profoundly supernatural quality of our work to restore all things in Christ. This is why it is that the assignment of priests is not uniquely, or even primarily, on account of language or natural gifts and talents. There can be no place for personal empires and endeavors in a Society like ours. Each of us must, like St. John the Baptist, “decrease” that Christ might “increase” (Jn 3:30). The priest’s willingness to accept this is the sure sign that his work is Christ’s work, the work of grace.

Likewise the willingness of the faithful to accept the transfer of priests is essential to the success of our work. Frequently, there will be no apparent reason. In fact, often times, it will simply not make sense at all according to any human calculations, on account of the difficulties of dealing with priests who may not be familiar with the language, culture, history, customs of the souls entrusted to them, or on account of the great sacrifices of self-denial required by both priests and faithful.

However, the great treasure is that it is precisely through such reassignments that the work remains profoundly and fundamentally the same, and that is maintained the supernatural unity of our Society, living its motto Cor unum et anima una, having “but one heart and one soul” (Act 4:32). Indeed for the soul who understands the Faith and spiritual things there is one common language that transcends all else, and it is that of the Faith. It is a great consolation to know that regardless of what part of the world we come from, which language we speak, what be our social, educational, economic or cultural background, we share, promote, preach, teach, live the same supernatural inheritance. It is this religious spirit that is essential to the supernatural work of our Society.

In a world in which endemic liberalism drives us all to free ourselves from the holy shackles and constraints that our souls need, it is not surprising that we will have to struggle from time to time against the assaults of naturalism. This is how it is summarized by our Superior General, Bishop Fellay:

“They detest humility, discretion, obedience, contemplative prayer, discipline, the ascetic life, Christian modesty…It is this activism condemned by Leo XIII that is rising up again, despising the so-called passive virtues that are the most delicate blossom of the Catholic life. This is the new priestly ideal that they dare to present and desire to impose upon our Society… We are suffering one of the most furious attacks of the devil against our Society… We urgently invite you to pray, that the Society might come forth from this trial strengthened and purified.”

If it is true that here at Holy Cross Seminary we are untouched by these difficulties, it is equally true that this will not always be the case. Peace and calm reigns, as all attend to their sanctification firstly, and to their studies secondly, and we are blessed that not one Major Seminarian has left in the past two years. However, this cannot remain so, and the temptations, difficulties and trials will certainly come. It is for this reason that I consider the last weekend’s renewal of the Consecration of the Seminary to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary to be of great importance. What greater assurance of the supernatural quality of our work could there be than the “perpetual donation” of ourselves, of all that we have into the hands of Our Lady as Queen of our Seminary? What greater source of confidence could there be than to proclaim the Seminary to be wholly the domain of the Queen of Apostles? What greater guarantee could then be of keeping the purity of our Faith, or laboring “until our last breath for the restoring of all things in Christ”?

Please pray for our fidelity to our title of Apostles of Jesus and Mary, that we might be true slaves of the Queen of Martyrs and Confessors.

Yours faithfully in the Immaculate Heart of Mary,

Father Peter R. Scott



Menís 5 day: ††††††††††††Sunday December 26 - Friday December 31, 2004
                   †††††††††††††Monday January 10 – Saturday January 15, 2005
Womenís 5 day:††††††† Monday September 20 - Saturday September 25, 2004
                                Monday January 3 – Saturday January 8, 2005
                                Monday January 24 – Saturday January 29, 2005


Holy Cross Seminary, Goulburn, Australia