No. 52February 2008

Regnavit a ligno Deus

February 2, 2008
Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Dear friends & benefactors of Holy Cross Seminary,

As we prepare to launch into another year here at the Seminary, I would like to thank you for your ongoing prayers and support, so necessary to the continuation of our work of forming good and holy priests for the future. Right now we are preparing to launch into three major projects with the Seminary buildings. The quickest will be the painting of the main chapel, a labor intensive effort, but really required. The second is the repairing of large cracks in some internal and external walls, by cementing in place meter long helix screws through the cracks. The third is the stabilizing of the foundations of the buildings, especially under the kitchen and under the refectory, by the injection under the foundations of a special substance that hardens in the clay and prevents any further movement. Finances oblige us to place this last project on hold, until such time as we receive additional help, although long term it is the most important to the structural integrity of the Seminary buildings.


The main chapel entirely emptied for repainting.
This is looking backwards from the altar area to the main door,
workers preparing the walls on both sides.

The use of scaffolding to patch the many cracks in the walls
with plaster, following by sanding.

You will notice that there has been a change in some of the retreat dates, the number being slightly reduced on account of the reduced attendance this summer. The men’s Marian retreat has been pushed back until January 2009, allowing the September women’s retreat to be brought forward one week.


The “crisis of vocations” is not something new, for this is the term given already in 1952 by Pope Pius XII to the diminishing number of vocations (Sept. 15). He would come back to it again in his 1954 encyclical on Consecrated Virginity, in which he explained how this decrease is due, at least in part, to errors diminishing the esteem and honor due to the consecrated state of celibacy, and to the supernatural instinct that draws generous souls to consecrate themselves to God in this way. The Angelic Pastor clearly exposed the Church’s teaching: “This doctrine, which gives the palm to virginity and celibacy and recognizes their superiority over marriage, was proclaimed, as We have said, by the Divine Redeemer and the Apostle of the Gentiles. Moreover, the holy Council of Trent solemnly defined it as a dogma of divine faith…But since in recent times there have not been wanting those who have attacked this traditional teaching of the Church, and they have done so in such a way as to gravely imperil and harm the faithful…We have many times exposed it and strongly insisted upon it.”

I fear that this reminder of the superiority of the consecrated life might be more relevant to us now than we think. After all, who has not heard (or thought) that the religious or priestly life is boring, repetitive, over-controlled, restrictive of freedom and initiative, melancholic, sad and lonely, separated from normal human contact, emotionally dead, and that it does not allow for the full experience of life, warmth and love, of the fulfillment of the desire for another person, for sharing and affection, kindness and thoughtfulness, for the happiness for which God made us. Such a way of thinking is more common than we would like to admit, and this not only amongst the modernists who embrace John-Paul II’s theology of the body, in which he presents marriage as if it were in some way necessary for the fulfillment of the human personality. It is in fact endemic, as a consequence of the sentimentality of our modern, unreal, Hollywood-style society, that romanticizes marriage, as if it could be a source of earthly bliss.

Pope Pius XII in fact condemned with sadness writers or preachers “who, for years now, in spite of the warnings of the Church and contrary to her thought, accord to marriage a preference in principle over virginity; who even go so far as to present it as the sole means capable of ensuring the development and natural perfection of the human person”. (Ib.)

I wonder if our young people really believe this, and if perhaps they fail to realize that there is:

  • no more real treasure than the gift of oneself, in the likeness of the Cross
  • no greater challenge than the struggle for perfection
  • no greater excitement than to seek after the greatest stake of all - the salvation of souls
  • nothing less repetitive than the always-new meditation on the person and works of our Divine Saviour
  • nothing less boring than the imitation of Christ
  • nothing less subject to the stifling of human control than docility to the Holy Ghost, the true director of interior souls
  • nothing that requires initiative so much as the striving to overcome our faults
  • nothing freer than the liberty of the children of God in giving themselves to His service, following a strict rule of life
  • nothing more full of life, warmth and love than the daily fervent reception of the Way, the Truth and the Life, God Himself, Love made Incarnate
  • nothing more truly human than to vanquish and mortify disordered passions by the evangelical counsels and to live Christ’s divine life in a community of like-minded men or women
  • nothing more filled with sharing and supernatural affection than to retain nothing for oneself, but to give everything for the community
  • no life more replete with kindness and thoughtfulness than that lived in silence and self-sacrifice
  • no life further removed from loneliness and sadness than a community consecrated life
  • nothing more meaningful than perfect detachment from dissatisfying earthly pleasures, seeking God alone
  • all in all, no greater happiness possible to man than to “suffer the loss of all things”, “counting as dung” (Phil 3:8) all the passing inconsequential material trivialities of daily life, and to think only of pleasing, loving, serving and adoring God, “unto the praise of the glory of His grace” (Eph 1:6).

Three seminarians were also on the work team of eight men
to repaint the chapel. Here two of them are seen stripping the baseboard of its multiple coats of paint. Good quality oregon
hard wood was discovered underneath.

Patching and sanding the wall behind the altar.

The ceiling had apparently never been sanded previously.
Here the sanding is being done, to give the smooth finish necessary
for a good quality job. Nothing is too good for the house of God.


If the above be true, then who would not long for, desire after, a vocation? Yet then comes the great scruple. How do I know it is the will of God? Unlike St. Paul, I have not seen a light from heaven saying ”I am Jesus…it is hard for thee to kick against the goad” (Act 9:6). Although I have often said to Our Lord “what is yet wanting to me?”, I have never heard the response given to the rich young man: “If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.“ (Mt 19:21) After all, most people are not only not called, but quite “happy“ not to seek after perfection. What is different about me? How do I know I have a vocation? Who am I to pretend to follow a state of perfection?


Pope Pius XII answers these questions in his Apostolic Constitution of May 31, 1956, on the training of clerics, in which he points out that every vocation to the religious, sacerdotal and apostolic life “comprises two essential elements, one divine, the other ecclesiastical. In what concerns the first, the call of God, We will say that it is so necessary for embracing the religious or priestly state that if it is lacking it must be admitted that the very foundation on which the whole edifice is to be raised is missing”. How, though, is it to be discerned?

There are many signs of this divine element that must co-exist, and that the spiritual director is best able to judge. They include a sense of the emptiness of the ways of the world, a love of solitude, piety and the interior life, the regular practice of virtue, zeal for religion and the salvation of souls, and psychological and emotional equilibrium.

However, there is one sign that stands out above all the others. It is quite simply the upright intention, the will to strive for perfection, the desire to follow Christ, the longing to be amongst Our Divine Savior’s most intimate friends. Pope Pius XII calls it the willingness to “surrender one’s liberty for the love of Christ”, in his allocution on the Eternal Youth of the Religious Life: “We wish to state the reason, the principal and the true reason, for which one should knock on the cloister door…Like the choice of the priesthood, the decision to enter the religious state and perseverance in the decision made, demand a great heart and an ardent desire for self-devotedness…If the number of those who wish to enter the religious life is diminishing…this comes all too often from the fact that it seems too hard to give up one’s own will and hand over one’s liberty”. (Dec. 8, 1950). If this self-immolation is what is most difficult for fallen human nature, it is nevertheless that which the grace of a vocation inspires, which brings out the best, the most perfect in us. This is the divine element in every true vocation, which, by the way, most clearly demonstrates the difference between Catholicism and all the false religions.

Nothing can replace this divine element, and only God can plant it into our hearts. Yet, it does not require some extraordinary grace or vision. God works through our own imperfect human wills, and gives this pure intention. There, precisely, lies the miracle of every vocation, a miracle of grace that is a very frequent occurrence, especially in those who desire to live the Catholic life to its full, to cooperate with grace, and who are otherwise free.

However, the Pope points out that it is the ecclesiastical element in a vocation, which, far from being in contradiction with the divine element, best enables the discernment of a true vocation. “The divine vocation to the religious and clerical state - since it destines a man to live in public a life of holiness and to exercise a hierarchical ministry within the Church, a visible and hierarchical society - must receive confirmation, acceptance, and direction authorized by superiors…” (Ib.) Consequently, if a young person seeks a vocation with an upright intention, really longing for it for the right reasons, and is approved by his superiors, then he knows that he has a vocation.

The problem is that the supernatural intention, the will to give oneself and one’s entire life to Almighty God, often fails, and vocations are lost. This is certainly due to a lack of practical Faith, to deep-seated materialism, to a loss of esteem for consecrated celibacy, to the sentimental romanticism promoted by the media and the modern world, to the excessive comfort of modern life, to a lack of the spirit of self-sacrifice, to a failure of confidence in the Good Lord, and ultimately to a refusal to cooperate with grace.

Allow me to quote to you how a saint regarded the consecrated life. It was Saint Pius X, a third order Franciscan himself, who had this to say in an allocution to Franciscans who had come in pilgrimage to Rome in 1910:

“And as Christ is the most perfect model of all virtues, they study to become transformed into Him as far as they can. They endeavor to become like him, embracing his Cross, buried with Him, living for God alone, submitting mind and heart to the yoke of faith and obedience, crucifying their flesh so that the spirit may reign, filling up by fasts, vigils and macerations ’those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, always bearing about in their body the mortification of Jesus’, so that each one can say with St. Paul: ’I live, now not I, but Christ liveth in me’. Their lips breathe nought but Christ, their hearts beat only for him: ’in him they live and love and have their being’. And so the present life for them takes on the aspect of a novitiate and a preparation for another much more preferable life, in view of which they count death a gain, for it will finally realize that union with him who was their life, according to the words of the Apostle: ’For me, to live is Christ; and to die is gain’”

Far from being too severe, these are words of life and grace, penetrated by the sense of the Faith, and just as divinely attractive now to the soul called by God, as they were a century or even 2,000 years ago. They express an ideal of which we know we are unworthy, but to which we nevertheless aspire.

During this Lent, let us keep up our prayers that many young men and women might hear and respond to this call to the sacrifice of self, seeking the only one thing necessary, everlasting life, the “single pearl of great price”, which when a man finds “he goes and sells all that he has and buys it” (Mt. 13:46). Let us continue to add to our daily Rosary those invocations that Bishop Fellay requested soon after becoming Superior General in 1995: “O Lord, grant us priests; O Lord, grant us holy priests; O Lord, grant us many holy priests; O Lord, grant us many holy vocations; St. Pius X, pray for us”.

Yours faithfully in the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary,
Father Peter R. Scott


Workers build new fences to enlarge the paddock,
and to enclose to future plantation of eucalyptus for a wind-break. Here the wire on a new fence is being tightened.

The insertion of a new gate into the new fence line,
and the stretching of wire for the electric fence.



Menís 5 day: †           Monday June 16 - Saturday June 21, 2008
                                December 29 - Saturday January 3, 2009
                                Monday January 12 - Saturday January 17
 Womenís 5 day:†††††††Monday September 15 - Saturday September 20, 2008
                                Monday January 5 - Saturday January 10, 2009
                                Monday January 26 - Saturday January 31

Holy Cross Seminary, Goulburn, Australia