January 2019 Print

Recollection for 4 Future Bishops

by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Sierre June 26, 1988

Here we are at the dear priory of Sierre, below the Lake of Geronde, in the beautiful, sunny canton of Valais. During this recollection, take some fresh air—you have the garden and the shade trees. Pray very much in the chapel!

Dear bishop-elect let me open my heart to you, to give you some novissima verba, some intimate confidences, before your episcopal ordination in five days at Ecône!

First of all, this morning, why your consecrations?

In order to understand this, look with faith upon the situation of the Church, or that of Rome. This perspective of faith will render you strong, as an armor, against the objections of “schism,” of “rupture of the Apostolic episcopal succession.” It is not a matter of this: this is not the problem. It is a matter of a gigantic combat between Satan and Our Lord Jesus Christ. We have engaged ourselves therein during these exceptional times, which require exceptional solutions: Rome is occupied by anti-Christs.

Your Grace, is it the Antichrist?

No, rather some (who are) “anti-Christ.” In the sense where St. John, in his first epistle, qualifies the apostates of his time, those who have abandoned the faith, by saying: “Every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God. And every spirit that dissolves Jesus, is not of God: it is that of the Antichrist (in Greek “anti-Christ”), of whom you have heard that he is coming, and he is now already in the world” (I Jn. 4: 2-3) in his precursors.

But Your Grace, what does this have to do with the Modernists of today?

It is simple: Our modern “anti-Christ” accept, theoretically, that Jesus is God, the Son of God, but they refuse that He is King, King of civil society, King of families, of schools...They thus divide Christ, they dissolve Christ.

Monseigneur, where do they do this? In the Council?

Of course, with Religious Liberty for example. According to Dignitatis Humanae, God would grant to the dignity of the human person the right to deny Him publicly, by profession and the public social cult of religion, which dictates his conscience, or to which it binds his search for the truth.

Your Grace, is it possible that a Council, assisted by the Holy Spirit, has given so many follies?

Contra factum, non fit argumentum: one is truly obliged to see the facts; the quibbles cannot do anything about it.

It is thus the denial, by the Church or of those who hold Her place, the social reign of Jesus Christ, which renders our episcopal consecrations legitimate?

Yes. In the face of this apostasy that began at the Council and has continued by the post-conciliar reforms, for us June 30 will be “operation survival of Tradition,” in order that the Church continues outside of the apostasy. Do you understand?

Yes, Your Grace, our consecration will be a survival operation of the work begun by you at Fribourg in 1969 by the founding of the priestly Society of Saint Pius X.

Oh, you know, when it became necessary for me to begin this work, I truly assure you that I had the conviction, a profound conviction, that one could not snatch me away, that in order to save the Church, to continue the Church, it was necessary to have priests, holy priests, true priests!

“And also for Christian society?” asked Father Tissier.

Yes. If we want to save souls, to save Christian society, save Christian families, save what remains of Christianity in the world and to develop what remains of it, there is not another solution than priests, true priests! But how this would be accomplished, I knew not. This was done day by day; despite all oppositions.*

Good! Now, let’s pray Sext in the chapel; let’s pray the Divine Office with the conviction that this prayer of the Church is always heard!

And after the meal, taken in silence, and a moment of rest if desired, the Archbishop continued his explanations.

Why did we begin and then break off dealings with Rome?

You know why. It was at Fatima, on August 22 of last year—1987—that we and some of the superiors present at our pilgrimage celebrating the 70th anniversary of the message of Our Lady at Fatima, decided to try everything to receive permission from Pope John Paul II for the consecrations.

But in the course of the conferences of April and May, he told us: “This bishop that you are asking, you will not have need of him, once you are recognized by the Holy See!”; and “Monseigneur, the Church is one!”; as also, “We will see that at St. Nicholas du Chardonnet, there will also be a parish Mass!” In other words, the bi-ritual Novus Ordo/Latin Mass! The atmosphere of these dealings, the reactions of our interlocutors convinced me that their aim was to lead us back to the Council, to integrate us into the fold of the “Conciliar Church.”

And then, Your Grace, did you break ties with Rome?

I stopped dealings, yes, but I didn’t break with Rome! I took care during these past years to conceive these episcopal consecrations, in order that they would not engage us in a direction that would indeed lead us into schism.

Would you like to summarize the details of this subject for us.

Here it is. First, I tried everything to reach the pope, to persuade him of the state of necessity in the Church, of the state of necessity in which our faithful find themselves. Secondly, by this consecration, I will transmit to you the “Power of the Episcopal Order”: the power to give the Sacrament of Confirmation and to transmit the Sacrament of Holy Orders: to ordain the Major and Minor Orders and the Priesthood. But I do not pretend to confer a jurisdiction, any power of government! Only the pope can give a fold to a Shepherd, a Diocese to a bishop.

Thus, it is not a question of founding a parallel Church! With Rome, only the Fraternity matters, only its Superior General—even if not a bishop—and to him alone, the concern of relations with Rome.

And in a few years, when Rome has come back from her present wanderings, you will depose your episcopate between the hands of the pope, saying to him, “Here we are, Holy Father, at your disposal.”

Thus, I have absolutely not “broken with Rome;” in this exceptional situation that we have not created, I have estimated in all prudence to take an urgent measure, in view of my advanced age, and to present it in the form of a question to all the superiors of the priestly and religious communities who are our friends, as took place May 30th of this year, at the priory of Pointet:

“Is it not necessary before all else to preserve the family of Tradition, maintaining its strong cohesion in faith and grace; considering that the purely formal tie to Modernist Rome cannot be placed in the balance with the protection of this family which represents and in which dwells the (illegible) Catholic Church?”

Asking clearly the question, it was there to answer, wasn’t it, Your Grace?

June 30th will be “Operation Survival of Tradition.” If we had continued, placing ourselves in obedience of the present Rome, it would be “Operation Suicide of Tradition.”

Tradition does not belong to us, it is the Life of Our Lord in souls. There is not a choice. All the popes, dear friends, beg you to continue their work; they see in you their continuation, particularly St. Pius X.

A small meal was offered to the retreatants, though in silence. Archbishop Lefebvre then gave some directives, practical in fact, but full of solid principles.

Practical directives to the future bishops

Now with what dispositions should you approach your episcopacy?

  • Before all else with a spirit of faith!
  • See all in the light of Our Lord Jesus Christ. May Our Lord be the center of all your thoughts, of your life; the unique object of your meditations, the judgment you bring to all things, persons, societies. Jesus is the measure of all things: Omnia in ipso constant, By Him all things consist (Col. 1:17).
  • You will preach Our Lord Jesus Christ with all your heart. You will preach that outside of His name there is no salvation for persons or societies.
  • You will preach that obedience to the Faith has priority especially in the Church.
  • The Faith is an obedience to the Word of God. This Word is Truth; this Truth does not belong to us, we are not teachers to speak nonsense! It is a deposit confided by God to the Apostles and ends at the death of the last among them. The Church ought to simply transmit it, expose it faithfully and infallibly, as taught Pope Pius IX, along with the necessary explanations, according as he also explained in his Bull of definition of the Immaculate Conception. You will do the same in your sermons.
  • Then secondly the predication of the Faith.
  • On the occasion of ordinations and confirmations, you will fortify the Faith of the seminarians and the faithful. For this you have the power, the munus docendi, by the grace of your episcopate and the supplied jurisdiction of the Church.
  • To us as to the Apostles, Our Lord tells us, “Go, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28: 19-20).
  • Your Grace, Cardinal Pie said that the Church has never had more light from the deposit of the Faith than when it condemns the errors that destroy it.

    Yes. Read the Epistle of St. Paul to Timothy, which stands as a testament of the Apostle to all bishops to come:

    “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust! Avoid the profane novelties of words, and oppositions of knowledge falsely so called” (I Tim. 6:20).

    “Preach the word! Be instant in season and out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. For there shall be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables” (II Tim. 4: 2-4).

    Following these counsels, you will be “the recommendable doctors in the Church of God,” as the Roman Pontifical States; you will heal the wounds of lack of faith. You will be the good Samaritans of the weak and the wounded. In regard to the faithful who doubt, who are agitated, communicate to them the divine serenity, be for them a serene strength. It will be efficacious, because that which does not come from us comes from God Himself. If persecutions should strike us, we will be like the first Christians, as the martyrs. There is nothing new. It is normal. “Nolite terreri—Do not panic!” (Lk. 21:9).