SOUTHERN SENTINEL

No. 44 April 2007

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

J.M.J.
March 26, 2007
Feast of the Annunciation

Dear friends and benefactors of Holy Cross Seminary,


SUBDIACONATE

Friday March 9 was a long awaited day for our three seminarians entering into fifth year, their second year of Theology. For it was on that day that our Superior General, during a quick visit, conferred upon them the first of the Majors Orders, the Subdiaconate. It was long awaited, for it was the moment at which they gave themselves irrevocably to the service of the Church by the implicit vow of perpetual chastity. Reverend Campbell from Florida, Reverend Noronha from India and Reverend Jordie Stephens from Melbourne made this monumental step towards their priestly ordination. The sacred functions conferred on the new subdeacons of preparing and purifying the chalice and the linens represent their determination to dedicate their lives to service for the Kingdom of Christ. The following week the annual retreat began the year for all the seminarians, this year being preached by Father Jules Bélisle

Three future subdeacons

Three future subdeacons make the step forward by which they promise perpetual celibacy,
during the ordination ceremony of March 9.


ENROLMENT

This year a record number of seven young men entered the Seminary, three from the Philippines, two from New Zealand, and one each from Japan and India. The absence of Australia from this list is greatly to be regretted. After a battery of tests, it was decided that four of them will pass a year of pre-Seminary, and three should enter directly into the year of Spirituality, along with the two young men, who were preparing in the pre-Seminary last year and who are now in the year of Spirituality. This gives four pre-Seminarians, five Seminarians in the year of Spirituality, three in the two year Philosophy program, and eight in the three year Theology cycle: all in all a total of 20 Major Seminarians. We thank God for the good intake, for our numbers had diminished somewhat, due to priestly ordinations and departures.

Meanwhile, work on restoring the Seminary buildings continues rapidly to progress. On Tuesday March 13 a complex five storey high scaffolding was erected over the front façade and in front of the Seminary’s main entrance. This enabled our workers to start repairing water damage to eaves, water leaks through the roof, broken and defective gutters and to strip, seal, and repaint the entire bell tower and front of the Seminary. With three full time workers, this work is advancing rapidly, thanks in part to the easy access given by the scaffolding. I would also like to mention that during the past three months we have lost two of our cars, having arrived at the end of their useful life, and being towed off to the wreckers. We are consequently looking for a replacement second hand vehicle in good working order.

The prostration of the three future subdeacons

The prostration of the three future subdeacons
during the singing of the Litany of the Saints.


SACRAMENTUM CARITATIS

You may have been encouraged to hear of an Apostolic Exhortation of the Holy Father that appeared last February 22, promoting the usage of Latin. Called Sacramentum caritatis, it is an exhortation on the Eucharist, with the purpose of implementing the October 2005 Synod of Bishops held at the Vatican “and to offer some basic directions aimed at a renewed commitment to eucharistic enthusiasm and fervor in the Church” (§5). It is certainly true that this 35 page document does have a small paragraph on the use of Latin, proposing that large scale concelebrations “could be celebrated in Latin” (§62). The Pope goes on to give a more precise direction: “Speaking more generally, I ask that future priests, from their time in the seminary, receive the preparation needed to understand and to celebrate Mass in Latin, and also to use Latin texts and execute Gregorian chant; nor should we forget that the faithful can be taught to recite the more common prayers in Latin, and also to sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian Chant” (Ib.) We can only applaud such a measure, which would mean, if ever it were implemented, a radical change in almost every modern Seminary.

Also are appreciated the recommendations for individual absolution (i.e. not collective), for the gaining of indulgences for oneself and the dead, to obtain the remission of the temporal punishment due for sins already forgiven (§21), for eucharistic adoration, either perpetual (§67) or special forms such as Corpus Christi processions for “if suitably updated and adapted to local circumstances, these forms of devotion are still worthy of being practiced today” (§68). For if this could hardly be called a strong encouragement, it is at least a mention.


SPIRIT OF VATICAN II IN THE EXHORTATION

However, these isolated recommendations will make no real impact, firstly because they are but recommendations, and secondly because the spirit of the exhortation is entirely that of the Second Vatican Council. It is explicitly denied that the terrible abuses, the loss of vocations, the destruction of the sacred, the emptying of prayer life is any way a consequence of the spirit of Vatican II. To the contrary, it “acknowledged and reaffirmed the beneficial influence on the Church’s life of the liturgical renewal which began with the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council… The difficulties and even the occasional abuses…cannot overshadow the benefits and the validity of the liturgical renewal, whose riches are yet to be fully explored” (§3). Furthermore, in note (6) Benedict XVI insists on the need for continuity with Vatican II, that he considers in no way in rupture with the past or the present: “I am referring here to the need of a hermeneutic of continuity also with regard to the correct interpretation of the liturgical development which followed the Second Vatican Council”.

Allow me to list some examples of how the spirit of Vatican II has  produced what could barely be deemed even half measures:

  • whilst acknowledging the abuses in the kiss of peace (§49) and the distribution of communion (§50), it does not do away with the former, nor abolish Communion in the hand, nor lay ministers of the Eucharist;
  • whilst limiting somewhat the practice of administering Holy Communion to non-Catholics and expressing “the intrinsic link between the Eucharist and the Church’s unity”, it proceeds to make this  preposterously contradictory statement: “Yet it remains true that, for the sake of their eternal salvation, individual non-Catholic Christians can be admitted to the Eucharist, the sacrament of Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick” (§56), as if conversion and membership in the true Church were no long necessary for salvation;
  • whilst admitting abuses in inculturation, it continues to promote the injection of pagan culture even into the Mass itself: “A more effective participation of the faithful in the holy mysteries will thus benefit from the continued inculturation of the eucharistic celebration” (§54);
  • whilst admitting that “it is appropriate” to still locate the tabernacle on the main altar where it still exists (§69), it makes no effort to undo the destruction of the altars, and still maintains the general desacralizing rule of the separation of tabernacle and altar, preferring that it be located in a separate chapel, and only “where this is not possible, it is preferable to locate the tabernacle in the sanctuary”;
  • whilst admitting the importance of “concrete outward signs of reverence…such as kneeling during the central moments of the Eucharistic Prayer” (§65), it prescribes absolutely nothing to promote reverence, except that “everyone should be able to  experience…the legitimate diversity of signs used in the context of different cultures” (Ib.);
  • whilst admitting the danger of the denial of Catholic doctrine on the  priesthood, it still accepts that there be Sunday assemblies in the absence of a priest (§75).

touching the empty chalice

Reverend Mr. Noronha touches the empty chalice
to receive the power of the subdeacon to serve on the altar.


“TRUE HUMANISM”

However, most revealing is Pope Benedict XVI’s personal statement of purpose: “I wish to set the present Exhortation along side my first Encyclical letter, ‘Deus caritas est’, in which I frequently mentioned the sacrament of the Eucharist and stressed its relationship to Christian love…” (§5) For the Pope’s first encyclical, on love, deliberately attempted a fusion of self-love and self-sacrificing love, of human love and divine love, of eros and agape, of nature and grace, proclaiming the New Law to be a “true humanism” (Deus, §9) “in the service of man” (Op. Cit. §30). The effect of this conception is seen in the Holy Father’s concluding recommendation for development of “a profound eucharistic spirituality” (Sacramentum caritatis, §92), culminating as it does in “the justified concern about threats to the environment” (Ib.), i.e. the cosmos! “During the presentation of the gifts, the priest raises to God a prayer of blessing and petition over the bread and wine, ‘fruit of the earth’, ‘fruit of the vine’ and ‘work of human hands’. With these words the rite not only includes in our offering to God all human efforts and activity, but also leads us to see the world as God’s creation, which brings forth everything we need for our sustenance.” The Pope’s conclusion demonstrates perfectly this parallelism, falsely uniting the supernatural to the natural order as to reduce the former to the latter: “The relationship between the Eucharist and the cosmos helps us to see the unity of God’s plan and to grasp the profound relationship between creation and the ‘new creation’ inaugurated in the resurrection of Christ, the new Adam.” (Ib.)

If we would like to understand how radically the traditional Mass contrasts with this naturalistic concept, expressing the unchanging Faith, we have only to re-read the corresponding prayers from the traditional Mass, so sacred, divine, and filled with supernatural hope:

Receive, O Holy Father, Almighty and Eternal God, this spotless host, which I thine unworthy servant, offer unto Thee, my living and true God, for mine own countless sins, transgressions and failing; for all here present and for all faithful Christians, living and dead, that it may avail both me and them unto salvation in everlasting  life.

We offer Thee the chalice of salvation, O Lord, beseeching Thy mercy that it may be as a sweet fragrance before Thy divine Majesty for the salvation of us and of the whole world. Amen.

The three new subdeaconsThe three new subdeacons

      The three new subdeacons together with Bishop Fellay and the ministers after the ceremony of ordination.


DIVINE WORSHIP

It is in the context of his humanism that Benedict XVI’s remarks concerning worship can be understood, in utter opposition to the traditional concept. For the primary purpose of the Church’s public worship, as taught by Saint Pius X (Tra le sollecitudini) is the greater glory of Almighty God, and not the instruction of or, sharing or communication among the people. For in a truly theocentric manner, it continues Christ’s act of glorification of His Father (Cf. Jn 8:49, & 17:1, 4), by adoration surrendering us completely to the Almighty, by thanksgiving recognizing our entire dependence upon Him and his grace (as we say in the Gloria. “We give thanks to Thee for Thy great glory”), by expiation, making up for the innumerable sins by which we have offended Him, and by petition obtaining the supernatural graces without which we could not glorify Him. This worship of the Most Holy Trinity is summed up at the end of the Canon of the Mass by these words: “By Him and with Him and in Him are ever given to Thee, God the Father Almighty, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, all honor and glory, world without end. Amen”.

Entirely different is the worship of the true humanism promoted by Benedict XVI. For worship itself, which we regard as entirely God-centered is for him centered so much on the community, the people, the assembly as to be incomprehensible without it, in a truly man-centered manner. Here is his definition of worship: “In a word, ‘worship’ itself, eucharistic communion, includes the reality both of being loved and loving others in turn” (§82). Worship is consequently entirely reduced to the level of moral and human virtue, and consequently is neither truly divine, nor separable from any other human activity, nor does it essentially refer to the divine Majesty.

Since Benedict XVI identifies the Eucharist with worship, he ends up by identifying the Eucharist, as well as worship, with every human activity: “Here we can see the full human import of the radical newness brought by Christ in the Eucharist: the worship of God in our lives cannot be relegated to something private and individual, but tends by its nature to permeate every aspect of our existence”. (§71) The element of truth is that he who truly worships God is transformed by grace in every aspect of his existence, but to say that worship is that transformation, or even worse to say that the Eucharist is ultimately that transformation, is to deny the transcendent object of our worship, the all holy and undivided Trinity. Another expression fully demonstrates this deliberate confusion of the Pope’s “true humanism”: “The Eucharist, since it embraces the concrete, everyday existence of the believer…there is nothing authentically human – our thoughts and affections, our words and deeds – that does not find in the sacrament of the Eucharist the form it needs to be lived to the full.” (Ib.) If this does not reduce God to the level of man, what does? If I have isolated certain quotes from their context, it is on purpose, to highlight the true principles behind the Pope’s theology of the New Mass, that would otherwise remain hidden to the casual reader amongst the verbiage of many other and sometimes attractive expressions.

The gravity of this humanism can best be seen by comparison with a traditional encyclical. It is now more than a century since Pope Leo XIII published his powerful encyclical on the same subject, the role of the Blessed Eucharist in the modern world, writing in 1902 “in an age that is bitterly hostile to justice and truth” (Mirae caritatis):

Now a remedy must be found for this wickedness on the one hand, and this sloth on the other, in a general increase amongst the faithful of fervent devotion towards the Eucharistic Sacrifice, than which nothing can give greater honor, nothing be more pleasing to God. For it is a divine Victim which is here immolated; and accordingly through this Victim we offer to the Most Blessed Trinity all that honor which the infinite dignity of the Godhead demands; infinite in value and infinitely acceptable is the gift which we present to the Father in His only-begotten Son; so that for His benefits to us we not only signify our gratitude, but actually make an adequate return…The heart is saddened when it considers what a flood of wickedness, the result – as We have said – of forgetfulness and contempt of the divine Majesty, has inundated the world…Here then is a motive whereby the faithful may be stirred to a devout and earnest endeavor to appease God, the avenger of sin, and to win from Him the help which is so needful in these calamitous times…For it is only in virtue of the death which Christ suffered that man can satisfy, and that most abundantly, the demands of God’s justice, and can obtain the plenteous gifts of His clemency. And Christ has willed that the whole virtue of His death, alike for expiation and for impetration, should abide in the Eucharist, which is no mere empty commemoration thereof, but a true and wonderful, though bloodless and mystical, renewal of it.” (Ib.)

Let these words be our inspiration as we focus all the efforts of our worship on the Divine Person of Our Lord, really present in the Most Blessed Sacrament, on our altars, “always living to make intercession for us” (Heb 7:25).

Yours faithfully in the Almighty and merciful Eucharistic Heart, for the greater glory of the divine Majesty,

Father Peter R. Scott

scaffolding erected to repair and repaint the Seminary façade

A view of the scaffolding erected to repair and repaint the Seminary façade.


IGNATIAN RETREAT DATES AT HOLY CROSS SEMINARY DURING THE UPCOMING MONTHS:

COME & BRING YOUR FRIENDS!

Men’s 5 day:             Monday June 18 – Saturday June 23
                                Monday December 31 – Saturday January 5, 2008
Women’s 5 day:        Monday September 17 – Saturday Sept. 22
                                Monday September 24 – Saturday Sept. 29

TAKING OF THE CASSOCK: Wednesday August 15: 10:30 a.m. All invited.


Men working on scaffolding
repainted elaborate decoration high up in the bell tower
A close-up of the repainted elaborate decoration
high up in the bell tower.
Tree planting
Multi-level work taking place simultaneously. Starting from the top down: first came the repairs to water damage, rotten wood, broken and damaged guttering and spouts, following by cleaning, scraping and three coats of paint.
 
Tree planting at Holy Cross Seminary during the month of March.
Here oak trees, grown from acorns over several months,
are being planted on the Seminary grounds.

 

 
Holy Cross Seminary, Goulburn, Australia