Little catechism of the Second Vatican Council (Part Eight) – The Nine Decrees (decrees 1-5)

Little catechism of the Second Vatican Council (Part Eight) – The Nine Decrees (decrees 1-5)

by Fr. Pierre-Marie, O.P.

Dominican in Avrillé

 

From Le Sel de la terre 93, Summer 2015

(continued,number 8)

 

The Nine Decrees

 

1. The three Decrees on bishops and priests

1. Christus Dominus (CD): the pastoral duty of bishops.

2. Presbyterorum ordinis (PO): the ministry and life of priests.

3. Optatam totius Ecclesiæ renovationem (OT): the formation of priests.

 

How does Christus Dominus (CD) describe the bishop?

[Note from editor:  reminder from a previous article that LG=”Lumen Gentium”]

CD, conforming to LG (especially its chapter 3), views the bishop above all as a pastor (exercising the power to govern) to the detriment of his two other aspects of doctor and pontiff (having the powers of teaching and sanctifying) (§ 1, 2, 9, 11, 16).

Did CD change the doctrine concerning the episcopacy?

The principal change concerns the power given by the consecration.  According to traditional doctrine, only the power of orders is given by the episcopal consecration, with an aptitude to receive jurisdiction1.  But CD, in its § 3, affirms that the bishops receive their “episcopal office” through the “episcopal consecration”, referring to LG § 21: “Episcopal consecration, together with the office of sanctifying, also confers the office of teaching and of governing“.

 

What remarks do you make on Presbyterorum ordinis (PO)?

§ 2 (in accordance with LG § 2, 4, and 17) speaks first of the priesthood of all the baptized (“all the faithful are made a holy and royal priesthood“) and then of the ministerial priesthood (“The same Lord, however, has established ministers among his faithful“), as if the latter emanates from the former, a Protestant idea.

§ 9 encourages priests to share the ecumenical attitude of the Council: “Mindful of the prescripts on ecumenism [a note refers to UR], let them not forget their brothers who do not enjoy full ecclesiastical communion with us.”

Finally, § 12 encourages the priests to be “consistently better instruments in the service of the whole People of God” “to fulfill its pastoral desires of an internal renewal of the Church [understood: the formation of a new Conciliar Church], of the spread of the Gospel in every land [the new evangelization], and of a dialogue with the world of today” [dialogue replacing missionary work]”.  As can be seen, PO expresses, between the lines, a new conception of the priest and his mission.

What remarks do you make on Optatam totius (OT)?

This decree’s aim is to add “new elements…which correspond to the constitutions and decrees of this sacred council and to the changed conditions of our times” (preamble) and “forming the future priests of Christ in the spirit of the renewal promoted by this sacred synod“.  It thus concerns forming priests having the spirit of Vatican II.

In particular, they must be formed for dialogue (§ 15 and 19), a term “completely unknown and unused in the Church’s teaching before the council2OT refers to the encyclical Ecclesiam suam of Paul VI (6 August 1964), which introduced the new conception of dialogue, to the detriment of the missionary spirit.  Before the Council, priests were formed to be missionaries.  Now they are formed for dialogue.

§ 15 is very insufficient regarding what concerns philosophical studies.  There is no mention of Saint Thomas Aquinas, but only of “relying on a philosophical patrimony which is perennially valid” (with a reference to Ecclesiam suam of Paul VI); “taking into account the philosophical investigations of later ages” is recommended.  Now, the current crisis in the Church essentially adheres to the introduction of a false subjective philosophy to the detriment of the realist philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas.  This is why Saint Pius X proposed as the primary remedy of modernism “the scholastic philosophy…which the Angelic Doctor has bequeathed to us” (Pascendi, § 45) and vigorously insisted in his last Motu proprio, Doctoris angelici (29 June 1914): “if they [‘teachers of philosophy and sacred theology’] deviated so much as a step, in metaphysics especially, from Thomas Aquinas, they exposed themselves to grave risk“.

§ 16 asks to draw one’s inspiration from LG and SC, whose differences we have seen3.

Did not Msgr. Lefebvre rely on OT for the formation of his priests?

OT was prepared by a commission presided over by Cardinal Giuseppe Pizzardo, who was Prefect of the Congregation for Seminaries since 1937 and who held offices in the Curia since 1908, under the reign of St. Pius X. It is not surprising to find there some good passages.  A paragraph of OT (§ 16), which concerned the place of Saint Thomas Aquinas in a course of theology, inspired Msgr. Lefebvre for his seminary; he also drew from this decree the idea of a year of spirituality (§ 12).

2.  The two Decrees on the religious and the laity4

1. Perfectæ caritatis (PC): the renovation and adaptation of religious life.

2. Apostolicam actuositatem (AA): the apostolate of the laity.

What adaptation did Perfectæ caritatis (PC) accomplish?

PC adapts the religious life… to the spirit of the world.

The Church has always honored religious life, which it considers as a state of perfection superior to the ordinary state of Christians, aiming at more easily acquiring sanctity, i.e., the heroic exercise of Christian virtues.

From the preamble, the religious life is presented not as a state of perfection but as “a splendid sign of the heavenly kingdom“.  PC does not speak of state of life, avoids the expression “state of perfection“, and mentions heroic virtues only incidentally to the search for perfection or sanctity5.

Another remarkable absence in this Decree: the virtue of religion (the word does not appear), which nevertheless characterizes religious life to the point of having given it its name.  It is by the assiduous practice of this virtue that the religious easily and rapidly achieve the perfection of Christian life.

In the name of the new “virtue” of equality, PC erases the hierarchy between the Christians of the world and the religious6, between the lay religious and choir religious7.

Thus, the Decree satisfied the objections of the Protestants who did not want to hear talk about a superiority of the religious life over the life in the world, nor of clerics over the laity.

Finally, while encouraging the religious to preserve “their withdrawal from the world” (§ 7), PCurges them to adjust their way of life to modern needs” (§ 10), “to the needs of our time” (§ 18), “to the requirements of time and…to modern conditions” (§ 20).  And in fact the adaptation “with the needs of our age” (§ 2) will be more applied than the “separation from the world” that characterized the religious life and spirit in the past.

It is no surprise that by revising the constitutions of the religious orders8 after the Council, the religious life in all the Church was destroyed in a few years.  The few religious who remain today –  apart from the resistors who try, against the winds and tides, to conserve the ancient conception of religious life – hardly distinguish themselves from the laity, and not only by the fact that they do not wear a habit!  (Moreover, as an aside, PC also allowed for the adaption of the religious habit9.)

What are the deficiencies of Apostolicam actuositatem (AA)?

This Decree tends to promote the laity unduly, the autonomy of the natural order ambiguously, Catholic action imprudently, false ecumenism, and is silent on the scourge of laicism.

How does AA promote the laity?

The promotion of the laity is done under the pretext of battling against what the progressives call “clericalism” and which, in reality, is only the divine will of a hierarchy between clerics and the laity10.

Without explicitly suppressing this hierarchy, this Decree opens doors that will largely serve, after the Council, to allow the laity into the government of the Church.

Some examples of ambiguous phrases exaggerate the role of the laity:

The Christian vocation by its very nature is also a vocation to the apostolate” (§ 2): one should recall that the apostolate of the laity is by nature different from the apostolate of the hierarchy, and that – except in particular cases – the laity first are sanctified by the good exercise of their duty of state: the primary mission of a family mother is to raise her children well, and not to go perform an apostolate outside her home!

But the laity likewise share in the priestly, prophetic, and royal office of Christ and therefore have their own share in the mission of the whole people of God in the Church and in the world.” (§ 2): exaggeration of the “priesthood” of the laity.  For the lay Christian, this “priesthood” consists in offering himself in sacrifice as a holy host (Rom. 12:1), not in exercising an apostolate “in the Church and in the world“.

Can one speak of an autonomy of the natural order?

The Council, in several of its texts, opens the way toward a form of naturalism in insisting on the autonomy of the natural order (§ 7 11).  AA also speaks of the “many areas of human life [that] have become increasingly autonomous” (§ 2), the “autonomy of the family” (§ 11), and the “autonomy of…various lay associations and enterprises” (§ 26).

It is true that there are laws (“law” is called “nomos” in Greek) proper to the natural order, to the family, and to the various human activities, but it is dangerous to speak of  autonomy in an age so distinguished by the spirit of independence and difficulty in submitting to a hierarchy.

It cannot be a coincidence that the “May 1968″ [riots in France] took place three years after the end of the Council, and that today all intervention of the Church in the temporal and lay domain is easily interpreted as clericalism.

What does AA say about Catholic action?

An entire paragraph (§ 20) of AA praises Catholic action understood according to Pius XI as a “collaboration of the laity in the apostolate of the hierarchy“.  “The most holy Council earnestly recommends these associations [of Catholic action] … which…produced excellent results for Christ’s kingdom.  These societies were deservedly recommended and promoted by the popes and many bishops“.

But it is known how Catholic action, initially conceived by St. Pius X as a movement of Catholics aiming to restore a Catholic society, later became a progressive movement, a so-called apostolate “for the environment“, in fact a center of agitation and protest in the Church.

How does AA sacrifice to ecumenism?

Vatican II having an ecumenical aim, it was necessary that it appear in the decree AA: “The quasi-common heritage of the Gospel and the common duty of Christian witness resulting from it recommend and frequently require the cooperation of Catholics with other Christians … common human values not infrequently call for cooperation between Christians pursuing apostolic aims and those who do not profess Christ’s name but acknowledge these values.  By this…cooperation…the laity bear witness to Christ, the Savior of the world, as well as to the unity of the human family.” (§ 27).

Unfortunately, as will be seen with the decree UR, the ecumenism promoted by the Council is a false ecumenism aiming not for the conversion of non-Catholics, but for the Masonic promotion of the unity of mankind: that thereafter led to the horrors of the various “Assisi” reunions and of post-conciliar interreligious dialogue.

(To be continued)


The Consecration of Families to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

The Consecration of Families to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

by Fr Gabriel-Marie Jacquier (1906-1942) of the Congregation of the brothers of Saint-Vincent de Paul

Preparation

We should choose a feast day of Our Lady’s, a Saturday or Sunday, or an important family anniversary.  You could make a novena together, before this solemnity, perhaps of the Rosary or Litanies.

During the preparation days, our hearts and spirits should be turned towards the Queen who is to come, and whose coming we should ardently desire.  Each one, separately, will consecrate himself or herself to the service of the Immaculate Heart according to the individual formula.

On the actual day of the consecration, it would be good to go to Holy Communion together, so that Jesus may give to our souls his filial spirit towards Mary.

In the main room where the family normally gathers together, we should have a statue or a picture of the Blessed Virgin, placed as if on a throne of glory with flowers and candles.

If at all possible, we should invite a priest to preside as a representative of Jesus and Mary.

The Ceremony of Consecration

1.  The recitation of three decades of the Rosary

  • The first, in honour of the mutual love of the eternal Father and His well-beloved daughter and to join ourselves spiritually in this love.
  • The second, in honour of the mutual love of the incarnate Word and his tender Mother, and to join ourselves spiritually in this love.
  • The third, in honour of the mutual love of the Holy Ghost and His virginal Spouse, and to join ourselves spiritually in that love.

2.  A Canticle in honour of the Blessed Virgin, if possible

3.  The formal blessing of the statue or picture by the priest , unless it has already been blessed

4.  A talk by the priest to explain the profound meaning of this consecration, the obligations that come with it, and the graces it promises.

(If there is no priest, then the head of the family can give this explanation.)

5.  The head of the family says the act of consecration, with everyone kneeling around him

Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of MaryIn the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.

Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, and tender Mother of men / to fulfil the desires of the Sacred Heart, / we consecrate ourselves to thee, and to thy Immaculate Heart, / and recommend to thee / all the families of our nation and of all the world.

Please accept our consecration, dearest Mother, / and use us and all families as thou wishest, / to accomplish thy designs upon the world.

O Immaculate Heart of Mary, / Queen of Heaven and earth, and of our family, / rule over us, together with the Sacred Heart of Jesus-Christ, our King. / Save us from the spreading flood of modern paganism, / kindle in our hearts and homes the love of purity, / the practice of the Catholic life, / and an ardent zeal for souls and for the holiness of family life.

We come with confidence to thee, / O throne of grace and Mother of fair love; / inflame us with the same divine fire / which has inflamed thy own Immaculate Heart.

Make our hearts and homes thy shrine, / and through us make the Heart of Jesus / rule and triumph in every family in the world.  Amen

6. Prayer to Saint Joseph, father of every Catholic family

Prayer to Saint JosephO Glorious Saint Joseph, after having consecrated ourselves to thy Holy Spouse, we come to celebrate thy glory and to rejoice with thee over thy predestination of being the shadow of the Eternal Father for Jesus, and the chaste spouse of Mary.

Trusting in thy most powerful goodness, a living reflection of the goodness of God the Father, we humbly ask thee to extend to us the paternal providence with which thou surrounded Jesus and Mary.

Baptism plunges us into the Heart of thy Spouse, and makes us members of thy divine Son;  we therefore, like them, want to abandon ourselves totally to thy care.

Help us to live, by thy example, in intimacy with them, which will introduce us to the family life of the most Holy Trinity.

But as the difficulties of the valley of tears could distract us from this unique love, we give thee all our worries and all our preoccupations.  Be therefore for us, as thou were for Jesus and Mary, the provider of bread, of clothing, of daily shelter and medicine for our poor bodies.  Shelter us from attacks of the devil, as thou once avoided the pursuits of Herod;  but above all, be as thou were in Nazareth, the veil which screens us from the curiosity of the world, so that we can peacefully grow in pure love.

O Saint Joseph, we glorify thy paternal goodness by peacefully trusting thee and by giving thee our filial love.  We are sure that thy attentive providence will never fail thy children, and that it will bring us into an ever closer intimacy with Jesus and Mary, and through them, with the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.   Amen!

7.  Magnificat for the graces given to Mary and to this family

8.  Blessing of the priest who represents Jesus and Mary

**

Short formula for renewing the consecration at the beginning of morning and evening prayers

Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of the world, we acknowledge thy supreme dominion over our family.

We abandon ourselves to thy maternal leadership, teach us to love the Heart of Jesus, and to reproduce in our lives thy Nazareth home.

We offer thee all the merits of this day for the triumph of your Immaculate Heart, and through thee the triumph of Christ the King.  Amen!

****

After the Consecration

From now on, may the Heart of Mary be considered the centre of this family:  may her image have a place of honour, next to that of Jesus, everywhere in the house.

Her feast days and Saturdays will be celebrated communally; devotions to her, especially the Rosary, will increase in the home.  The Heart of Mary will be included in all events both happy and unhappy.

It’s before her image that we will gather together to thank her for favours received or for acceptance of crosses.  We will greet her on coming in, and on going out, and often throughout the day.  We will add an invocation to Mary at the end of blessings and grace before and after meals.  We will celebrate with the Virgin of Nazareth the main family anniversaries, baptisms, confirmations, marriages, special favours, etc.  Every year we will solemnly renew the consecration , following, as much as possible, the already indicated preparation and ceremonial.

Every day, at the start of morning and evening prayers, a brief formula will remind everyone that the whole family belongs to Mary.  Every member of this privileged family will do their best to live in intimate and habitual union with Mary, Queen and Mother of the home, always going to her as a little child goes to its mother.

In order to be worthy of the Immaculate heart of Mary, the family will put into practices the holy laws of Christian marriage, safeguarding the union of spirits and hearts, in a peaceful hierarchy, and inspiring simplicity in all things, purity and devotion to the house of Nazareth.

— Family influence

Reunions of families could be organized periodically in order to pray together to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and to receive instruction that will help them reproduce the examples of the Holy Family.

A large part will be given to education.

You will set out to win over other homes to our Mother.  With this end in mind, you will pass on apostolic experiences and study the way one should act in various different circles.

Published in Le Sel de la terre 9

(Summer 1994)

A text on the consecration of families to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is going to be published soon.