The Archbishop Speaks
The Sermon of His Excellency Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre
at Martigny, Switzerland
9 December 1984
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
My dear brethren,
Before giving you a few words of edification on this day which is still under the halo of the Immaculate Conception and of St. Pius X, may I make an allusion to the few lines which were published these last days by the local bishop, Mgr. Schwery. You were asked not to come to this Holy Mass; you were told that by coming here, you were disobeying the local bishop and that you were disobeying the Supreme Pontiff. These are very grievous utterances and absolutely without foundation. It is true that we have been undergoing a persecution, but this persecution has no foundation; it is inspired by a spirit which is not Catholic, a spirit of novelties, a spirit which is more like Luther's than like the spirit of the Catholic Faith. It is because we faithfully and integrally hold on to the Tradition of the Church that we are persecuted.
So I ask you: is it right that you be persecuted in such a way? Is it right that we be chased by such hostility? As proof of the error of those who continue to persecute us, I have but one example to give you: You have just seen, just a while ago, all these seminarians and priests in procession; if this is not of the Church, then there has never been a Catholic Church! What else are we doing than praying as we have been asked to pray for all our life? I am celebrating nothing else than the Mass of my ordination, and yourselves, you are assisting at the Mass at which you have been assisting all your life! This Mass is the same at which your parents, your grandparents, your ancestors, assisted, and now they have been sanctified and are in heaven. All the saints have been sanctified by this holy Mass, by these sacraments, by the predication which we are preaching.
We are obliged to conclude that those who are persecuting in such a way have no longer a Catholic spirit; they have given up the Catholic spirit because they persecute not so much ourselves but all that we represent. Now, we represent the holy Tradition of the Church of twenty centuries—twenty centuries of Christianity, twenty centuries of the sanctification of souls. Those who criticize twenty centuries of Catholicism no longer have a Catholic spirit! I wanted to say that because the utterances of the local bishop are so injurious, so unjust, that I could not be silent in the face of such an injustice—an injustice which reaches not only my own person—that would not be much—but reaches also all our priests, all our seminarians, and yourselves. Therefore we protest, and we say: "Let us be judged! Let it be judged whether we are like those Catholics who have gone before us, especially like St. Pius X, for instance, the last Pope canonized whom we celebrate today, or not!" If St. Pius X were living today, he would heartily approve us, he would bless us, he would encourage us, he would hold us up as an example to be followed! But since some innovators, who are more protestant than Catholic, have invaded the Church, they have, of course, been condemning those who maintain Tradition. But let us be faithful, my dear brethren. Let us have no fear at all. Let us pray for those who persecute us. Let us ask God to open their eyes that they may become aware of the subversion which reigns in the Church today, so that they also may find again the way of Tradition and the way of the reconstruction of the Church as we wish to do, under the protection of the Virgin Mary and of St. Pius X.
Yesterday, during Vespers, we sang the antiphon of the Magnificat: "hodie, sine ulla peccati labe concepta est Maria, hodie contritum est ab ea caput sepentis antiqui: today, without any sin, without any stain of sin, the Virgin Mary was conceived; today the serpent's, the devil's, head was crushed by Mary!" My dear brethren, these are truths which we must always have before our eyes, which are as the foundation of our faith. They are the expression of two essential dogmas of our Christian life.
That the Most Blessed Virgin Mary was immaculate in her conception, that she had not the stain of Original Sin, and that we celebrate the Immaculate Conception as a great hope, an immense hope, a light coming from heaven and which will lead us who were in darkness to heaven, is because all of us have the stain of Original Sin and all its consequences. Thanks to the Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, thanks to the merits of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we received the Sacrament of Baptism and by Baptism, the guilt of Original Sin was cleansed from our souls; however, we remain sick. We remain with the influences of Original Sin. We are sick persons. We admit this just before receiving Holy Communion; you will repeat it three times in a few minutes: "Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, but just say the word and my soul shall be healed," and you will repeat three times: ". . . and my soul shall be healed." Why healed? It is because it is sick. Yes, we are sick persons, the consequences of Original Sin are our sickness, they do remain. We are sick in our soul because we have all the bad tendencies which push us to sin. St. Thomas calls that "fomes peccati"—there are these tendencies to sin which are still in us, though we received the grace of baptism, though we struggle, though we receive the Sacrament of Penance and the Sacrament of Holy Communion, we remain with this tendency to sin. Therefore we need the Doctor of our soul! The consequences of Original Sin are present. They are also manifested by sickness . . . if we would not have Original Sin, if we would not be one with our first parents by the flesh which we received from our parents, then we would not be sick, there would be no illness. Our Lord was never ill during His life; the Most Blessed Virgin Mary did not suffer from any sickness during her life, but He chose to die, to die for our Redemption, and the Virgin Mary chose to die to imitate her Divine Son, but she was not subject to death because she did not have the stain of Original Sin; this is why she was assumed into heaven with her body. She rose from the dead because she did not have the consequences of Original Sin.
Yes, we are sick, and we must convince ourselves of this, in order to have an immense desire in our soul to be healed, to come back into the Divine Order, to do the Lord's will. The remedy is Our Lord Jesus Christ, it is His Cross, it is His Blood, it is His Passion, it is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, it is the Holy Victim immolated on the Cross which we receive in Holy Communion and which heals our soul. In the prayer just before Communion, we admit this: "ad medelam percipiendam—may we receive it as a remedy: O Lord, come in us so that we may receive the remedy which we need for our souls." Such is the teaching of the Church. Thus, knowing this, we must accept sufferings, penance, to make reparation for our sins, for our faults, in order to put our soul back in the order willed by God. And we are reminded of this by the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. O how blessed the Virgin Mary is! Without any stain! Without any stain! "Sine macula!"
The second dogma to which the Antiphon of the Magnificat makes allusion is that the Virgin Mary has crushed the serpent's head, has crushed Satan's head! This truth is recalled in an admirable way by St. John in the Apocalypse. In the twelfth chapter of the Apocalypse, St. John described the signs of heaven: "And behold a sign, a woman shining as the sun, with the moon under her feet, and with a crown of twelve stars, appeared in heaven." It was the Virgin Mary described in the Apocalypse. And immediately after another sign appeared to St. John: the dragon! The red dragon, horrible to see with his horns, his many heads, and it strove to devour the child who was to be born of the woman and it ran after her trying to devour this child. Then, at this moment, St. John described the battle which occurred in heaven, between St. Michael and his Angels, those who followed him, and the Dragon with those who followed the Dragon; and he said that the Dragon drew with him, by his tail, the third part of the stars, probably signifying that a third of the angels unfortunately followed the revolt of the Dragon who, said St. John, is called the Devil, Satan. Then a frightful war was waged in heaven and St. Michael triumphed "by the Blood of the Lamb." By the Blood of the Lamb; it was the Blood of the Lamb which gave victory to St. Michael and his Angels over the Dragon, who was thrown down to earth. Then a canticle arose: "Blessed be the heavens, blessed are the elect of heaven who henceforth are delivered from Satan and from all his followers! But woe to the earth and to the sea which received Satan, because Satan is in an enormous fury, because he has been thrown from the heights of heaven down to earth" and he knows, said the Apocalypse, that he has but a short time, "modicum tempus," a very short time is left to him. Therefore, he will work and strive to destroy the child of the woman. He ran after Mary and from his mouth a filthy river came and inundated the earth so that the woman and child disappear in these filthy waters. But the earth came to Mary's aid, and an abyss was opened and this filthy river was absorbed by the earth. Then Mary and Jesus were saved. But now Satan's rage is turned against the children of the Virgin and against those who observe the Commandments of God and the Commandments of Jesus. This is what the Apocalypse says.
Now, my dear brethren, we are constantly witnessing this struggle, this action continues. Yes, the Devil is working here below and Mary continues crushing his head. Unfortunately, the powers of Hell being loosed have a considerable influence here below. If the Devil would lead astray only enemies of the Church! But, alas, he succeeds in penetrating into the very heart of the flock of Our Lord; he succeeds in penetrating into the interior of the Church, as St. Pius X said. And thus members of the Church, and often members of the clergy, let themselves be corrupted by the false ideas which Satan spreads in the world. This is what we witness today, my dear brethren! The false ideas of the world destroying the Church from within, corrupting the realization of Catholicism; these false ideas being spread in the Church. And one of these false modern ideas is ecumenism, it is religious freedom, it is the Rights of Man, it is the revolt of man against God: freedom of thought, freedom to choose one's religion, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience—"liberties" which have been condemned many, many times by all the Popes—by Pius IX, by Leo XIII, by St. Pius X, by Pius XI and by Pius XII. They warned the faithful, and all the bishops, against these ideas: "Beware!" Leo XIII called this "the New Right," a New Right which rose against the Right of the Church, a right of secularism, a right of atheism, a right to forget God, to persecute God, Our Lord Jesus Christ. All this has been condemned by the Popes and now we are witnessing these ideas rising again since Vatican II.
The facts are before our eyes: these dialogues with error. They would like to have the same place given to error as to Truth, the same honor given to error as to Truth, the same honor given to vice as to virtue. We see it in the laws; all the laws of the states, especially the atheistic and socialist states, put vice and virtue on the same level. We could say they only praise vice and legalize it: abortions, divorces, who knows what else? We can quote many laws which are contrary to the law of the Good Lord. This revolt of the world against God is a terrible thing, supported by Satan—supported by the Dragon and by all his disciples.
Now, instead of doing as the Virgin Mary, crushing Satan's head—not dialoguing with him!—what was it that lost Eve? It was dialogue with Satan! She held a dialogue with Satan, and she was lost! When one dialogues with Satan, when one dialogues with evil, when one dialogues with error, one is lost! And this is what we are witnessing today. One must fight against error; one must proclaim the Truth; one must fight against vice and practice virtue; one must crush Satan's head at the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary!
But, today, dialogue is in vogue in the world. I will give you an example. I just came back from South America. Well, the president of Colombia who is supposedly a Catholic president, and who was elected by the Conservatives, by what could be called the "right," well, this conservative president, for the two years that he has been president of his country has himself established a dialogue with the enemies of his country, with those whom they call guerillas. And what good results have come from two years of dialogue? The ten to fifteen thousand armed men who were in the guerilla movement two years ago now number seventy thousand! The guerilla movement now possesses 70,000 armed men who are linked to Moscow, China and Cuba. Here is a country which can pass to the domination of Communism because of the dialogue of a man of the right! Here is the result of this dialogue: he [the president] has permitted the young guerillas to attend the universities, even granting them scholarships to attend. As a result the universities are communist. I don't know if you realize the danger the modern world is running of communist implantation. Colombia is a base from which the communists would be able to have a command upon the Pacific, on the Gulf of Mexico and on the Sea of Antilles, and on all of South America. They know very well that if they take this country, they have all of South America before them, as they have done in Ethiopia—it is a similar situation.
So, these are the consequences of dialogue! One cannot dialogue with communism; one must fight them. This is what Pius XI said: "Communism is intrinsically evil." One does not discuss anything with something intrinsically evil.
The Blessed Virgin Mary gives us the example; St. Pius X gives us the example. St. Pius X fought against modern errors, fought against Modernism, fought against "Le Sillon," fought against all the errors which cause decay in the Church.
We have two examples, my dear brethren: the Most Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Pius X. I think both had the same desire: could the Blessed Virgin Mary desire anything other than the Kingdom of her Divine Son? "Instaurare omnia in Christo—to restore all things in Christ"—this was the desire of St. Pius X, to put everything in the hands of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This, my dear brethren, must be our desire. You were singing it a few minutes ago when we came into this wonderful assembly hall where so many have come; where you have prayed so much during this holy night of vigil. Yes, you were singing: "Let the Kingdom of Jesus Christ Our Lord come! Let Him reign over us!"
While the world proclaims its errors, let us pray that Jesus Christ Our Lord reign. Let this be our ideal; let us continue our fight; let us be firm in the restoration of the Kingdom of Our Lord Jesus Christ, first within ourselves, in our families, in our cities. Let us be courageous and undertake a crusade! At a time when we see the situation of the world truly under a light which could lead to pessimism if we do not look at it supernaturally, at the same time we are witnessing that everywhere some wonderful resistance is arising. Souls are understanding the danger, gathering themselves, uniting themselves to pray and to pray especially to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is what will save us! So, today, let us make the resolution, with St. Pius X, to go to the Virgin Mary and beg her to come down to us and crush the Serpent's head so that her Divine Son may reign.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.