The Archbishop Speaks
The Sermon of His Grace Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre Delivered to the Seminarians of Albano, Italy on their Entrance into The Society of Saint Pius X
on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, 1979
In these times when fidelity actually seems to be a fault, ... nothing is more useful to the Church and the salvation of souls than to remain faithful... to hand down faithfully the testament which Our Lord has left us . . . "Restore all things in Christ. " This is the message handed down to us by Pope Saint Pius X and with these examples before you—the Blessed Virgin Mary and Pope Saint Pius X—you, too, will be faithful.
My dear brethren:
I would like first of all to say a few words to you on the occasion of your entrance into the Society of Saint Pius X; to try and give you some kind of definition of this Society.
I refer to St. Matthew's Gospel, where the master, in the parable of the talents, says these words, so full of significance: "Euge, serve bone et fidelis, quia super pauca fuisti fidelis, super multa te constituam; intra in gaudium domini tui." "Well done, thou good and faithful servant; because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many: enter thou into the joy of thy lord."
If the Society has one feature it is precisely that of fidelity, and I think that the Society can be defined as that which will help you to remain faithful for your personal sanctity and for the sanctification of souls. This faithfulness in the Church, faithfulness in the entire history of redemption fulfilled by Our Lord Jesus Christ, is perhaps the most essential and necessary quality. How can we define faithfulness? I think it could be said to be consistency and precision in the transmission of a message—the faithful and exact handing down of a treasure, of a testimony, and of a spiritual testimony, in particular. To be faithful, therefore, is to hand down in a precise manner that which has been put at our disposal to be handed down to future generations. And I think that this is the principal role of our Society. In these times when fidelity actually seems to be a fault, there seems to be a break in the transmission of this message: nothing is more useful to the Church and the salvation of souls than to remain faithful; in other words, to hand down faithfully the testament that Our Lord has left us.
As the Old Testament also insisted on the handing down of a message which was the coming of the Messiah, so they awaited this Messiah. Since that time it is no longer a promise which we have to transmit—it is Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and we have to hand down this admirable treasure—a treasure so extraordinary that it transcends our capabilities. It is our duty to hand down this message faithfully, in imitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of St. Pius X, our patrons. If there is anyone who has handed down Our Lord Jesus Christ faithfully in this world, it is the Blessed Virgin Mary. She received Him by the grace of the Holy Ghost; she who was immaculate in her conception, which great privilege we celebrate today. Our Lord Jesus Christ was truly handed down to humanity by the Blessed Virgin Mary, until His last breath on the Cross, when she too was present; she fulfilled her role perfectly. And that is why she can truly be called Virgo Fidelis—Virgin most faithful. She was faithful to all the details of her duties as mother, of her duty to hand down Jesus to us for our Redemption. In the midst of the upheavals of history, in the midst of the errors which appeared right at the beginning of this century and which had their roots in the century which came before, a Pope also arose; God gave us an admirable Pope in the person of St. Pius X, the last Pope to be canonized. St. Pius, too, was faithful; he, too, wanted to transmit the message which Our Lord entrusted to him. And he expressed it in a wonderful manner in these words, "Instaurare omnia in Christo"—"Restore all things in Christ." This is the message handed down to us by Pope Saint Pius X, and with these examples before you—the Blessed' Virgin and Pope St. Pius X—you, too, will be faithful.
THROUGHOUT YOUR YEARS at seminary, during your entire priestly formation, you will receive Our Lord Jesus Christ in your minds, your hearts, your very souls. You will learn to know Him, to deepen your knowledge of Jesus, the knowledge of the great mystery of the Christ, of which St. Paul speaks; and you, in turn, will have to pass on this knowledge, faithfully. This is what the faithful ask of us; the souls who are seeking you are seeking Our Lord Jesus Christ, they are seeking in you a genuine transmission of the Faith.
Nowadays we see transmitters on the hills, everywhere, which relay messages and pictures throughout the entire world, and which transmit them faithfully. By these transmitters, men try to relay pictures and messages as clearly as possible. We, too, are transmitters, intelligent transmitters, who tune in to the message on the wave lengths, who receive it in our minds, and who have to relay it in as faithful a manner as possible. This is what people expect from you. Let us, therefore, be like these transmitters—receiving the message with love and devotion and endeavoring to pass it on as exactly and perfectly as possible.
How will you transmit this message faithfully? First of all, in preparing yourselves in the silence, the recollection, the prayer, the studies of the seminary; this is how you will record the message given to you as perfectly as possible. And then, you will pass it on to the faithful by preaching the Gospel as your predecessors have done; all the priests, missionaries, bishops, and godly Popes. You will also bear witness by your example and by your attitude. The message is in a way imprinted on you so that those faithful whom you meet realize that you are bringing Our Lord Jesus Christ to them. In you, they expect and want to see the image of Jesus Christ. In each of you they want to see an alter Christus—another Christ: this is what you are, this is what you will be for many, and this is proven by the experiences of those already ordained. Your predecessors in the ministry are much loved, and how many times in the past few weeks, no matter where I go—Berlin, Hamburg, Vienna, Brussels—everywhere people ask me to send them our priests. Certainly, they also love the priests who have remained faithful to the teaching of Jesus Christ, faithful to their vocation, but it seems to them that this renewal which the young priests of Ecône bring, gives them confidence, a profound confidence; a feeling of security that the message continues to be passed on. Young men are continuing the transmission of this traditional message, and this is what encourages the faithful, this is what gives them confidence that the Church cannot disappear, that the Church has to continue for the salvation of souls.
These, then, are the dispositions in which I would like you, my dear seminarians, to make your entrance, in a way which will bear fruit for yourselves and will profit your future apostolate amongst the souls of the faithful.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Translated by Bernard E. Mieux