The Archbishop Speaks
To Preserve The Faith
A Sermon delivered by His Excellency
Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre Pentecost Sunday, 1974
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Dear Brethren, we are gathered here, coming from far away, coming from diverse regions, different areas, even other countries, to bring your children so that they can receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. You have the desire that the Sacrament of Confirmation be given in an authentic manner to your children. This is a desire that is certainly legitimate. Oh, I would not go so far as to say that the Sacrament of Confirmation given today [in the new rite] would not be valid. It can happen that the Sacraments are not valid. In any case it can occur that the Sacraments are doubtfully valid, that is, that they are doubtful. For the holy Chrism is the matter of the Sacrament of Confirmation, and today, unfortunately, it is heard that the holy Chrism is sometimes made with oils which, according to what the writers of theology have taught us—these are not personal feelings—these matters are doubtful. We have always been taught that not just any oil can be used to make the holy Chrism.
This is why, in the truly tragic circumstances that the Church is passing through, we well understand your desire to be certain that your children receive a valid sacrament which, if your children are well prepared, bestows the Holy Ghost in their souls, so that He can give them those gifts which are essential to the Christian life. The gifts of the Holy Ghost are not extra things beyond the necessary. Not at all! These gifts are truly necessary for all Christian life. These gifts perfect the virtues that we have in us, allow the inspirations of the Holy Ghost to come in, facilitate the action of the Holy Ghost in our souls. We need this action of the Holy Ghost. And you, my dear children, who are going to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation in a few minutes, you must know that you need the Holy Ghost, precisely because you are arriving at an age where you are becoming conscious of your Christian life, of what the Christian life is. And you are coming to realize, I think, that the Christian life is a combat. The Christian is a soldier, the Christian is a militant. We are in the Church Militant, and consequently when you arrive at the age of ten years, twelve years, you have to struggle. Struggle against whom? To fight against evil, sin, which is in the world, the sin which is manifested on all sides in the world, scandal. For what is scandal? Scandal is the act which leads to sin. And many scandals are everywhere, everywhere—in reading material, in that which can be seen, in that which can be heard. And alas! it all stirs souls up to go away from God instead of bringing them towards the Good Lord. So you will have to make decisions from now on by yourselves, and to say, "This is good. This is bad, I cannot do it." We have to make choices during our whole life. And it is precisely to make choices that you need the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. You need this help, a help quite particular, brotherly, I could almost say maternal, on the part of the Holy Ghost, who watches over your souls. See how the Holy Ghost came down on the Virgin Mary and transformed her life, the life of the Mother of Jesus. The Holy Ghost descended on the first Christians even visibly, changing their lives. He descended on the Apostles on the day of Pentecost. And behold, the Apostles, who were timid, fearful men, who feared persecution, who shut themselves in, hid themselves during the persecution of the leaders of that time—the scribes, the pharisees—the Apostles became valiant soldiers, heroes, witnesses, martyrs. They dared to confront anyone. To those who said to them, "You do not have the right to speak," St. Peter answered, "Non possumus non loqui—we cannot fail to speak. We have to speak; you will put us in prison." He was chained, St. Peter; and then St. Peter was delivered by an angel. And they have all done the same thing—the holy popes, the Apostles, all the successors of the Apostles, and those who have resolved to follow the Apostles in this testimony that they gave of their faith. Many of them have given their blood, as a consequence, to testify for their faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ. That is the Holy Ghost; without the Holy Ghost they would never have been able to do that. It is the Holy Ghost who has penetrated them, and who has given them this strength, this courage that comes from God.
Now we are convinced that receiving the gifts of the Holy Ghost, you are going to realize presently that the bishop imposes his hands on you and enumerates all those gifts of the Holy Ghost that are going to descend on you. As you have seven virtues, the three theological virtues—I hope you know them, that someone has taught them to you—faith, hope, and charity. So also you have the four moral virtues: prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance. You have seven virtues, and there are likewise seven gifts. And these seven gifts perfect, complete, the seven virtues that you have in you. The gift of wisdom, the gift of understanding, the gift of knowledge, which perfect the theological virtues; and then counsel, piety, fortitude, fear of the Lord, which perfect the four moral virtues that you have. I hope that you know all that, that someone has taught it to you, for it is very important to know that the Good Lord has given us such beautiful things. It is so nice to think that the Holy Ghost helps us to know the Good Lord. There are some people who can look at these beautiful things, these beautiful mountains that we have around us, this magnificent valley, and everything that you have been able to see today in passing through it, the beautiful nature that the Good Lord has given us, the magnificent creatures, splendid things. There are those who look at all those things and yet never think about the Good Lord. Never! They imagine that it is man who made that, that man is the master of nature; and they think only of what man can do with nature. They never think of singing the praises of the Good Lord, saying, "How beautiful it is, all these glaciers, this snow, all these colors, these clouds, these trees, these forests, these flowers, these rivers, all this that has been given us by the Good Lord." That is nothing, nothing, nothing, in comparison with what the Good Lord has put in our hearts and in our souls!
A soul is so beautiful! So beautiful is a soul that is virtuous, a soul that has received the Holy Ghost, a soul that thinks of God, that is united to the Good Lord, who prays to God, who is a soul of prayer, who on entering a chapel or a church raises herself towards the Good Lord, thanks the Good Lord, sings the praises of God, even in the midst of suffering, even when going through crosses and trials. And there are so many who have been in the concentration camps, so many who have been imprisoned and who have rediscovered the faith in the concentration camps and in the prisons. The Good Lord knows what He is doing when He sends us trials. If we know how to receive them, if we know how to welcome them, the crosses, if we know how to be real fighters, the Good Lord gives us grace, gives us light. That is what the Holy Ghost does. That is what the Good Lord does for us.
And in a few moments, you are going to receive the Sacrament that confirms the graces you have received at your Baptism. For you received the Holy Ghost at Baptism, when the priest said, "Exi, immunde spiritus—go out unclean spirit!" "Immunde spiritus." "Go forth from this child!" "Et da locum Spiritui Sancto—and give place, leave place for the Holy Ghost!" The priest said that when he pronounced the words of the Sacrament of Baptism over your souls. "Exi, immunde spiritus, et da locum Spiritui Sancto." Therefore, the Holy Ghost had already taken possession of your hearts and your souls at the moment of Baptism. But now, when we grow up, Our Lord has willed that we receive Confirmation, a fullness of the Holy Ghost, in order to be able to respond to all the difficulties that we can meet with in exercising our Christian life and to arrive at last at the goal for which we are created, to reach heaven, to reach paradise, to come to eternal life. That is why we are created, that is why we have the gifts of the Holy Ghost. And in this world, we will keep the gifts of the Holy Ghost, even more. They will blossom out in such a way that we will be in astonishment at what the Good Lord has done for us.
Then we will know God face to face. Here we know Him only by faith, by our books, by our prayers, by what we can see around us. Just imagine, the Good Lord! But there we will see Him as He is, and that will be for us an eternal joy.
Give thanks, then, to the Good Lord that you are receiving today the Sacrament of Confirmation. You already know the ceremonies which are going to take place right away, among them the imposition of hands to bestow the gifts of the Holy Ghost. Then the bishop is going to sign your forehead with the holy chrism, the holy chrism which precisely signifies fortitude, and the Sign of the Cross, which should demonstrate the witness that we are not afraid to bear before the world, the Sign of the Cross, which is the sign of our faith. "We believe in Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ Crucified." That is what St. Paul said, "I preach Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ Crucified." That is what is continued on our altars, during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ Crucified. Let us not be afraid to carry the cross on our foreheads before the entire world. So that is what the bishop is going to give. Then, right away, the bishop is going to give you a little blow on the cheek which also signifies that you are capable of resisting difficulties in trials and in temptations. And finally you, yourselves, will pronounce your faith. You will proclaim your faith by reciting the Credo, the Our Father, the Hail Mary. And so you will be ready, ready to remain faithful to your promises. Be faithful, always faithful, to God, faithful to your obligations, faithful to Our Lord Jesus Christ, faithful to the most Holy Virgin Mary, faithful also to your dear parents; for they certainly have only one desire in bringing you here, and that is to see you continue to preserve the Christian life all through your life. That will be the greatest repayment that you can give them, to follow their teaching, to follow their example, to act in such a way that they will have this joy, this consolation, in the midst of this world, which is in the process of losing the faith, which is falling apart, collapsing in all the senses of the word, in all possible ways. And you, dear children, thanks to the faith of your parents, you will also uphold, you will continue the holy Church of which you are members, and to which you are attached, and to which your parents too are firmly attached.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.