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.

Letter from the Dominicans of Avrillé # 28: May 2018

Letter from the Dominicans of Avrillé

No. 28: May 2018

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Chrismal Mass at the Friary (Holy Thursday)

Christian Vacation: a Few Tips

• God is never on vacation, because He is Pure Act. “My Father worketh until now, and I work” (John 5:17).  Therefore, there should not be any “vacation” in our relations with Him.  When one truly loves God, vacation time is not an occasion to diminish our love for Him, nor for our neighbor.

• There’s no vacation when it comes to education, either.  Parents are still charged with the task of watching over their children, helping them, and supporting them.  They must take advantage of vacations to spend more time with their children, according to their possibilities, and reinforce family life.  That means taking the time to talk, live, and pray together.

It can be beneficial to send the children on a good summer camp (when possible), provided that the parents also fulfill their duty to spend time with their children.

• Determine a schedule for rising and going to bed.

morning: Set a time for rising relatively early (rising late softens the body and weakens the will); say morning prayers as a family.

evening: banish all screens, which impede relations between family members; say night prayers together, and set a time for going to bed.

• Make a schedule. For example:

morning: a time for reading (catechism, lives of the saints, history…)

afternoon: wholesome activities such as games outside with the participation of the parents as well as the children; excursions to learn about your region, its history, its traditions (that may require a bit of preparation); long nature walks to contemplate, admire and learn more about the plants and animals of the area, observe the stars…  Stay away from beaches that are a danger for morals.

It’s important that during all these activities, the parents and children be together as much as possible.  For a mother to stay in the house in order to “get things done,” while sending the children to play outside without taking an interest in what they’re doing, can be a double fault: not supervising the children, and not making them participate in household chores.  “There’s more joy in giving than in receiving.”

Adults: beware of letting children of all ages, boys and girls mixed together, play together unsupervised, so the adults can be at peace.  Alas! How many tragedies are discovered afterwards, when it’s too late!

• Don’t forget regular confession, and going to Mass more often, when it’s possible.

Community Chronicle

January 12th: Father Reginald is in Saint-Malo-du-Bois (Vendee region) with the Knights of Our Lady for a formation session.

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Candlemas procession in the cloister

February 5th: Fathers Innocent-Marie and Terence visit Schola Nova, a school in Belgium where spoken Latin is taught successfully, from the primary grades to high school.

At the Friary, the Student Brothers and seminarians undergo three days of exams.

February 24th: Bishop Zendejas celebrates a Pontifical High Mass for the Tonsure and First Minor Orders (Porter and Lector) for several seminarians and the Second Minor Orders (Exorcist and Acolyte) for our Brother Agostinho (Brazil).  The following Sunday, His Excellency gives a conference for the faithful on the situation of Tradition in the U.S.

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Tonsure and Minor Orders : Feb. 24th

March 2nd: On the eve of the first Saturday of the month, the pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima that visited our region in 2017 is permanently installed in Saint Dominic’s Oratory (the chapel connected to the vestibule of the Friary Church).  Her presence among us will be a constant reminder of the urgency of the message of Fatima, last remedy given by Heaven to save the world, especially from the danger of communism (global socialism).  Thanks to the generosity of the faithful, a second pilgrim statue was also acquired, so that Our Lady may continue to visit the families of the parish.

March 24th: Fathers Louis-Marie and Angelico are in Paris to represent the Friary at the annual “Reality Fair” [“Fête du Pays Réel”].  This gathering organized by the Catholic nationalist organization “Civitas,” brings people from all over France to meet writers, artists, activists, clergy, and religious communities who make up the “real world.”

March 29th-April 1st: Easter Triduum.  With the help of the seminarians, a few visiting priests (and two Bishops!), the Triduum ceremonies were celebrated with particular solemnity.  For the third year in a row, we were blessed to have a Chrismal Mass.

At the same time, Father Reginald was in Brazil helping Bishop Thomas Aquinas provide the Holy Week ceremonies to the faithful.

April 2nd-8th: Father Marie-Dominique is in Saint-Malo-du-Bois (Vendee region) preaching the annual retreat for the Sisters of Our Lady Co-Redemptrix.

April 8th-14th: Annual trip to Rome for the seniors of St. Thomas Boys’ School, accompanied by Father Hyacinthe-Marie.

April 12th-16th: Trip to the U.S. for Fathers Angelico and Marie-Laurent.  After a short stop in New York visiting with Bishop Zendejas, the Fathers preach a day of recollection for the faithful at St. Joseph’s Mission in Emmet, Kansas.  On Sunday: High Mass followed by a potluck and conference, with a get-together for the tertiaries in the afternoon.

May 1st: At the end of a week-long retreat, our three postulants receive the habit of the order:  Brother Gabriel (Timothy, from Arizona), Brother Pie-Marie (Louis, from France) and Brother Marie-Thomas (Nicolas, from France, former student of St. Thomas Boys’ School).

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One of the postulants receiving his new name

News from our worksites

Thanks to the expert help of a parishioner, we were able to greatly reduce the construction costs for the new Parish Hall.  What’s more, the new blueprints are even better adapted to our needs than before.  However, that has involved a few delays…  Hopefully in the next newsletter we will finally be able to show some pictures of the progress of the worksite.  At the Priory (St. Thomas Boys’ School), the arched gate of the main entrance had to be renovated after severe damage due to age and weather.  The stones overhead had become dislodged from the mortar, and there was a risk of collapse.

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Renovation of arched entryway

Crisis in the Church:

Pope honors pro-abortion activist

The Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great was created in 1831 by Pope Gregory XVI in order to honor certain people for their personal dedication and self-sacrifice to the cause of the Holy See and the Roman Catholic Church.

It’s “surprising,” therefore, to see that last January, membership of this prestigious order was granted to Mrs. Liliane Ploumen, former Dutch minister of Commerce, who is particularly active in the worldwide propagation of abortion and LGBT associations.  She specified to the press that her pro-abortion activism was not mentioned during the ceremony of decoration, but seeing that she had been congratulated for her role in developing “resources in society,” she sees that as a “confirmation of what [she’s] doing for young women, for abortion.”  (Medias-Catholique.Info n°18 – week of January 18th, 2018)

Masonic grip on the Vatican

In February, 2017, Pope Francis named Mr. Peter Sutherland president of the International Catholic Commission on Migrations, and counselor to the Administration of the Heritage of the Holy See.

Sutherland, an active member of the directing committee of the Bilderberg Group, and of the European section of the Trilateral Commission, was also president of Goldman Sachs International from 2005 to 2015:

Goldman Sachs International is an invisible empire worth 700 billion euros (six times the annual budget of France); a money empire “over which the Sun never sets,” constituting a power over and above governments.  It doesn’t matter whether the Pope is a conscious agent or just being manipulated.  The result of these tight links with the “One World Order” is a perfect alignment between Vatican policy and the freemasonic, humanistic, globalist universalism which is working toward the dissolution of nations and cultures, to welcome migrants from all over the world with the goal of constructing a new multi-cultural, multi-religious world without boundaries: the world of the Anti-Christ. (Medias-Catholique.Info n° 16, week of January 4th, 2018)

For timely articles and spiritual reading, please go to our website:

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The message of Fatima, the last remedy given to the world

The message of Fatima, the last remedy given to the world


Mary’s Immaculate Heart’s mediation

Fatima is the salvation of the world entrusted to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Indeed, the Angel had indicated the transition in the prayer of atonement that he taught the children in the Fall: they were to ask for the conversion of sinners through the infinite merit of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

On June 13, 1917, Our Lady told Lucy:

Jesus wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. To whoever embraces this devotion, I promise salvation and these souls shall be dear to God, as flowers placed by me to adorn His throne.

That promise alone would suffice to embrace such a devotion!  But what is the Immaculate Heart of Mary?

The Immaculate Heart of Mary

One must first understand the word “heart” in its biblical sense: it is not simply the physical organ, the “muscle”, or the place of all our feelings, but in a general sense it is the human soul with all its faculties.

Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness” God said in Genesis (1,26). Immaculate in her conception, in loving correspondence with even the smallest inspirations of the Holy Spirit, Our Lady’s soul is the masterpiece, the perfect image of the Holy Trinity, and therefore the perfect model of creature.

In the prayer of the Mass of August 22nd, the Church is asking for us the grace to live according to the heart of God by celebrating the solemnity of Mary’s Immaculate Heart: “Ut ejusdem Immaculati Cordis festivitatem devota mente recolentes, secundum Cor tuum vivere valeamus.” The Church makes us understand here that the way to live according to the Heart of God is by imitation of Our Lady’s virtues. 

To have a true devotion to the Heart of Mary is therefore, though her, with her, in her and for her1, to conform always more, with love, to the will of God at the present moment.

That is the devotion to Our Lady for all times. It is now important to understand which clarifications the Virgin Mary provides for today.

The Requests of Our Lady of Fatima

At Fatima, there were two sorts of requests: those addressed to all the faithful, and those meant for the Pope. Let us examine first the requests regarding all the faithful.

A. REQUESTS CONCERNING ALL THE FAITHFUL:

5 points, which can be reduced to 2:

1) Fulfillment of daily duty

Let us listen to Sister Lucy:

The most important thing is the fulfillment of daily duty, and offering these sacrifices to fulfilment of duty for poor sinners.

The secondary requests are the Rosary and the Scapular, and perhaps ever more specifically the things which those two devotions demand: prayerful meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary, and consecration to the Immaculate Heart 2.

Let us briefly explain these few points, and first what is the most important: fulfilment of daily duties.

Over and over again, during those precious hours I was in her company [says sister Lucy] Our Lady emphasized that it is the fulfillment of one’s daily duty, according to one’s state in life, and the sanctification of this effort in reparation for our sins and for the conversion of sinners, which is the primary condition for the turning back of the tide of evil which threatens today’s world 3.

The following words of Sister Lucy also show us that in today’s world, devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary – as well as devotion to the Sacred Heart- is meant for reparation:

In front of the palm of Our Lady’s right hand was a heart encircled by thorns which pierced it.  We understood that this was the Immaculate Heart of Mary, outraged by the sins of humanity, and seeking reparation. (apparition of June 13, 1917)

Today, times are bad.  Sins have become like a wave submerging the world and, since Our Lord, the number of souls being damned has never been so great: that is why Our Lady showed the children Hell on July 13.

The Blessed Virgin Mary invites us to save souls by offering the sacrifices necessary for the accomplishment of our daily duties to her Immaculate Heart, first for our own sins – let’s not forget this! – and for the conversion of sinners.  That is how we will bring back to God the modern man who doesn’t fulfill his duties towards God, towards himself, or towards his neighbor, because he only thinks about claiming his own rights.

Every day, when we get up, we could recite the prayer taught by Our Lady on July 13:

O Jesus, it is for the love of you, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

That morning consecration will affect all our actions of the day, becoming thus offerings in reparation for the Immaculate Heart of Mary, even if we don’t think about it at the time.  But it is also good, of course, to renew this offering during the day as an aspiration, especially whenever a sacrifice is to be offered.

2) Consecration to Our Lady

This offering of all our actions comes back to and leads to the consecration of our life to Our Lord through the Virgin Mary.  It’s the spiritual oblation, the interior sacrifice, shown by the exterior practice of virtues.  We have already spoken of this in connection with the apparitions of the angel – from the summer of 1916 – and which is now being fulfilled by the mediation of Our Lady.

3) The wearing of the scapular of Mount Carmel

In the spirit of Fatima, the scapular which the three children were shown by Our Lady on 13th October, while the crowd was seeing the miracle of the sun, this scapular is both the sign of our consecration to Mary, and a pledge of her very special protection.

4) Daily recitation of the Rosary

The main means given by Our Lady to accomplish this ideal is the Rosary.

Sister Lucy continues :

But (The Virgin Mary) also stressed that the Rosary is indeed important, because it is one of Our Lady’s principal aids given to us to facilitate the sanctification of our daily duty4.

Let us remember here that in his Encyclical Laetitiae Sanctae, Pope Leo XIII saw the Rosary as the best remedy to the present evils in society:

The distaste for a simple and laborious life can be remedied by meditating on the joyful mysteries. (…)

Repugnance to suffering of any kind is healed by meditating on the sorrowful mysteries which teach us patience. (…)

And finally, the forgetfulness of future rewards can be remedied by meditating on the glorious mysteries5.

The Rosary is therefore the most effective means of escaping the indoctrination and conditioning of our spirits organized by the globalists.

Moreover, the request to say the Rosary every day is so important to the Virgin Mary that she keeps coming back to it – like a refrain – in every one of her apparitions from May to October 1917, and on 13th October, when she had promised to tell us her name, she called herself ‘Our Lady of he Rosary’. 

In the recitation of the Rosary it is of course a matter of keeping oneself in the presence of Our Lady, and of meditating or contemplating the different mysteries one after the other. It might be helpful to use some of the numerous little Rosary meditation booklets which are available to us for this purpose.

5) Communion in reparation on the five first Saturdays

This life of reparation to which Our Lady calls all of us should culminate in Eucharistic communion – let’s remember the apparition of the Angel of Portugal in Autumn 1916, and let’s think of the magnificent Trinitarian vision at Tuy in 1929 (13 June), which sums up the whole spirituality of Fatima.

It’s the communion of reparation of the five first Saturdays of the month, announced on 13th July6, and which Our Lady also came to ask for at Pontevedra on 10th December 1925:

I promise to assist at the moment of death, with all the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months shall receive the sacrament of Confession, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep Me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to My Immaculate Heart7.

If the purpose of the preceding requests was the reparation of all sins in general, and to obtain in this way the conversion of sinners, the goal of the devotion of the five first Saturdays is to make reparation for the sins committed especially against the Immaculate Heart of Mary and to save those who committed these sins.

Let us quote here brother Francis of Mary of the Angels:

Ever since God decided to show his design of love, which is to give out his graces to men through the mediation of the Immaculate Virgin, it seems that their refusal to willingly submit to this wish has been the fault which especially wounds His heart, and for which he no longer finds in himself any inclination to forgive. That sin seems to be irremissible; ‘It is a sin that the Gospels call the sin against the Holy Ghost,’says sister Lucy8, ‘A sin that will not be remitted in this world or the next’ (Mt 12,31-32), for there is no crime more unpardonable for our Saviour than the scorning of His most holy Mother and outraging her Immaculate Heart which is the sanctuary of the Holy Ghost9.

And so the Virgin Mary, who is the Queen of Mercy, being unable to bear that souls should be damned because of sins committed against her, has obtained from her Son that this little practice may obtain the saving of many of these souls:

That is the reason why the Immaculate Heart of Mary has inspired Me to ask for this little reparation, says Our Lord; and in consideration of this, to evoke my Mercy to forgive those souls that have had the misfortune of offending her10.

Our Lord will bring to it several precisions, and in the first place, confession can be anticipated:

Confession within eight days is valid, and even beyond that, provided that souls are in a state of grace on the first Saturday when they receive me, and that, in this prior confession, they had the intention of thus making reparation to the Sacred heart of Mary.

Those who forget to formulate this intention, can do so at their next confession, taking advantage of their first opportunity to go to confession11.

The practice of this devotion will be equally acceptable on the Sunday following the first Saturday when priests, for just cause, allow it to souls12.

As to the reason for the number of five Saturdays, Our Lord explained to sister Lucy on 29th May 1930 in Tuy:

There are five kinds of offenses and blasphemies uttered against the Immaculate Heart of Mary:

1. Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception,

2. Blasphemies against Her Virginity,

3. Blasphemies against Her divine Maternity,

4. The blasphemies of those who publicly seek to place in the hearts of children Indifference or scorn, or even hatred towards this Immaculate Mother,

5. The offenses of those who outrage Her directly in Her holy images13.

**

— Thus we now have the five key points of devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the spirit of Fatima:

  1. The fulfillment of our daily duties, offered to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in reparation for our sins and for the conversion of sinners;
  2. Consecration to Our Lady;
  3. Wearing the scapular as a sign of this consecration;
  4. Daily recitation of the Rosary;
  5. The communion of reparation on “Five First Saturdays”

— These five components can be brought down to two:

  • Consecration of our whole life to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in reparation for sins in general, and to obtain the conversion of sinners;
  • Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays, which is an expression of love towards Our Lady, in reparation especially for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart, and to save this category of sinners whom the Queen of Mercy wishes (particularly) to snatch from the abyss.

B. REQUESTS OR OUR LADY OF FATIMA

ADDRESSED TO THE POPE

In May, 1930, when sister Lucy was in Tuy, she wrote to Fr. Goncalves:

The good Lord promises to end the persecution in Russia if the Holy Father deigns to make a solemn and public act of reparation, announces the consecration of Russia to the Most Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and commands his bishops throughout the Catholic world to do likewise – with His Holiness promising, that in return for the end of this persecution, he will approve and recommend the practice of the devotion of reparation outlined above (the five First Saturdays)14.

The practice of the communion of reparation (the five First Saturdays) was not spread by the Popes, and the consecration of Russia has not been done yet.

The result has been not only the spreading of Russia’s errors throughout the entire world, with its millions of corpses, but the infiltration of the Church, which is certainly the greatest victory of communism: accomplished in two great waves of infiltration: under Pius XI and then under Pius XII with the Pax movement15; and then the seizing of power at the Second Vatican Council. The plan of the “Alta Vendita” denounced by Pius IX has thus been completed: a revolution in tiara and cope marching under the cross and [papal] banner16.

Our Lord had predicted:

given that they follow the example of the King of France17 in delaying the execution of My requests, they will likewise follow him into misfortune18.

Here lies, no doubt, the entire question of the Third Secret of Fatima : the present crisis in the Church must be seen within the framework of the apparitions of Fatima as the chastisement of the Church for not having responded to the requests of Our Lady.

And this must also guide our Marian piety today.  True devotion to the Blessed Virgin must make us love and imitate her as she is.  Archbishop Lefebvre stated:

The Virgin Mary is neither a liberal, nor a modernist, nor an ecumenist.  She is allergic to all errors, and even more so to apostasy19.

Can we do something?  YES!   Sister Lucy tells us:

Russia will be converted when a sufficient number are offering their sacrifices and fulfilling Our Lady’s requests20.

This amounts to saying that the conversion of Russia will take place when a sufficient number of souls, in the eyes of God, have consecrated their entire lives to the Virgin Mary.  It is this that will obtain the grace for the Pope to convert and to consecrate Russia, which will then unleash the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady, and so also that of the Sacred Heart.

— I asked Our Lord why He would not convert Russia without the Holy Father making that consecration, wrote sister Lucy.

— Because I want My whole Church to acknowledge that consecration as a triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” Our Lord replied, so that it may defend her cult later on, and place devotion to this Immaculate Heart beside the devotion to My Sacred Heart21.

Should we see an announcement of this triumph in these words of Our Lady at La Salette?

Jesus Christ will be served, adored and glorified; Charity will flourish everywhere. The new kings will be the right arm of Holy Church, which will be strong, humble, pious, poor, zealous and imitative of the virtues of Jesus Christ. The Gospel will be preached everywhere, and men will make great strides in the faith, because there will be unity among Jesus Christ’s workers and men will live in the fear of God. This peace among men will be short-lived22 : 25 years of abundant harvests will make them forget that the sins of men are the cause of all the woes which happen on earth23.

As for us personally, united in devotion to the Sacred Heart, the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary will allow us to reach salvation; and should difficult times come, we will come through and keep our souls, and even obtain the grace of martyrdom if necessary.

Personal Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

composed by sister Lucy

Oh, Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our Mother. I consecrate myself entirely to your Immaculate Heart with all that I am and all that I possess.

Take me under your motherly protection, defend me against dangers, help me overcome temptations, watch over the purity of my body and my soul.

May your Immaculate Heart be my refuge and the path that leads me to God.

Give me the grace to pray and sacrifice myself for love of Jesus, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against your Immaculate Heart.

In entrusting myself to you, and in union with the Heart of your divine Son, I want to live for the Very Holy Trinity in whom I believe, whom I adore, in whom I hope, and whom I love.  Amen!


The Agony of Our Lord in the Garden (By Fr Charles Hyacinth McKenna O.P.)

The Agony of Our Lord in the Garden

By Fr Charles Hyacinth McKenna O.P.

Then Jesus came with His disciples into a country place which is called Gethsemani; and said to them: Sit you here till I go yonder and pray; and taking with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to grow sorrowful and to be sad.  Then He said to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death; stay you here, and watch with Me.—Matt, xxvii. 36.

WE NOW COME TO THE SCHOOL OF JESUS CRUCIFIED.  We come now to study in the book of His sacred Passion.  It was in this blessed book that God’s greatest servants learned their most salutary lessons; for here they found the most saving truths, the most sublime wisdom. In this school, for nearly two thousand years, heroic souls have been trained to fight on the world’s great battlefield in the cause of the Master:

— Here, weak women and tender virgins have become strong and brave: and triumphing gloriously over their enemies, have won for themselves imperishable crowns.

— Here have been formed valiant soldiers, noble generals, leaders in the army of God.

— Here theologians have acquired their profoundest knowledge of Christian mysteries: and have drunk, as from an unfailing fountain, the greatest truths of mystical theology.  The Teacher is our Lord Jesus Christ, and He gives us His first lesson in the Garden of Gethsemani.

It is the First Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary.

St. Alphonsus Liguori asks: “Who can deny that, of all devotions, the devotion to the Passion of Jesus Christ is the most useful, the most tender, and the most pleasing to God?  It affords the greatest consolation to sinners, and is the most powerful means of enkindling in the heart an ardent love for God.”

From the Passion and death of Our Lord, all graces and blessings have come to us.  Through its serious and prayerful consideration we are brought face to face with the manifestation of God’s infinite love for us.  We behold in His mangled body the indisputable proof of that love, as well as the evidence of the enormity of our sins, which required so great an atonement.  At the foot of the cross, the worst of sinners can find mercy.  There they can obtain the grace of true contrition, without which reconciliation with God were impossible.  There they are strengthened in their resolutions to suffer all things, even death itself, rather than again crucify the Son of God by returning to their sins.  The cross of their Redeemer is their shelter, their protection, their chief ground of confidence, their glory.  St. Paul, that ardent lover of Jesus Christ, cried out: “God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world.”

In the institution of the Blessed Sacrament, on the night before His Passion, Our Lord gave us the final and most tender proof of His love.  Then it was that He raised His beloved disciples to the sublime dignity of the priesthood, and commanded them to offer the adorable sacrifice of the Mass.  Then it was that He fed them with the Bread of Heaven, to support them through the trial which awaited them.

After the conclusion of that solemn and touching ceremony, He went forth from the supper chamber with His disciples, and passing over the Valley of Josaphat, and the brook Cedron, ascended the mountainside leading to the Garden of Gethsemani.

Bidding the rest of the disciples to wait, He took with Him Peter, James, and John, and entered the depths of Gethsemani, there to prepare Himself for the sacrifice.  And presently, fear and sadness came upon Him, and He began to be exceedingly sorrowful.  Withdrawing even from the three whom He had chosen, He went a little farther into the shadow of the garden, and falling upon His face, prayed: “Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Mt 26, 39).

There is a mystery in this abyss of agonizing grief so deep that God alone can fathom it.  From eternity Christ knew, as God, all that would happen in time; and as man He had seen clearly from the moment of His Incarnation the price He would pay for our Redemption; and yet, notwithstanding this clear prevision of His suffering, it was only in the Garden of Gethsemani that, by an act of His divine will, the floodgates of fear and sorrow opened and overwhelmed His soul.

As God, He was able to lay down His life and take it up again.

As man, He was prepared to take upon Himself the crimes of a sinful world, and, so laden, to offer Himself as an atoning Victim to the inexorable justice of His heavenly Father.  This is what was meant by the chalice which was prepared for Him, and which He was to drink to its very dregs.  And what a bitter, revolting chalice this was!  It contained the sins of the whole human race, from the beginning until the end of time—all the murders, all the impurities, the sacrileges, the blasphemies, all the idolatries and outrages that ever had been offered, all that ever would be offered to His eternal Father! And for all, He, the innocent Lamb of God, must make atonement!  He was to assume the sins of all humanity—to suffer as if He alone were guilty!  As St. Paul says: “He put on iniquity as a garment,” since He, who is Infinite Sanctity, saw Himself enveloped, defiled, as it were, with the corruption of the whole human race.  Thus covered with our crimes, He presented Himself in fear and trembling before the justice of His heavenly Father.  No wonder that His soul was sorrowful even unto death!  No wonder that He fell into an agony so frightful that the precious Blood oozed from every pore of His body, and ran in great drops to the ground!

Christ’s virginal human nature endured in anticipation all the shame and suffering of His Passion—the betrayal by Judas, the blows, the insults, the abandonment by His trusted disciples, the scourging, the crowning with thorns, the reviling and rejection by His ungrateful people, the painful journey to Calvary, the cruel crucifixion, with its prolonged and unspeakable torments-all were present to Him.

In those hours of agonizing prevision were condensed all the sufferings of His many martyrs and confessors, including the dolors of His Blessed Mother, all the heartfelt contrition ever felt by poor penitents for their sins.

Added to this was the torturing knowledge that countless souls would be lost, notwithstanding all the excruciating anguish that He was about to endure for their salvation.  His soul was torn with unspeakable grief: and a conflict raged between His higher and His lower nature, the one urging Him to accomplish the will of His Father, the other “rebelling” against the extremity of complete satisfaction demanded by the divine justice.  This conflict enables us to understand that agonizing, oft-repeated prayer: “Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me.”  But the bitter cup was not destined to pass; both Father and Son had willed that it should be drained to the dregs.  Perhaps the most grievous element in that draught, and the one which weighed most heavily upon the desolate heart of Our Lord, was the withdrawal of all the supporting consolations of the Godhead.  Apparently deserted by His Father, His afflicted humanity was left to struggle unaided with the besetting powers of darkness. […]

It was then, in Gethsemani’s hour of desolation and abandonment, that Jesus sought consolation from His disciples.  He, the Comforter of the afflicted, sought the help of His creatures! His lonely, overburdened heart yearned for their sympathy.

But He found them asleep, unmindful of all that He had done for them, and of what He was then enduring for the love of them.  Alas, how little can we rely upon human comfort in the hour of affliction!  Finding the chosen three asleep (“for their eyes were heavy” says the text), Our Lord returned again to His solitary prayer; thus teaching us that when our souls are plunged in an abyss of sorrow and suffering, we must look to God alone for relief and strength.

The Evangelist tells us that an angel now descended from Heaven to comfort our desolate Lord; and that, through that heavenly visitation, His sacred humanity was invigorated and His courage renewed to continue the dreadful conflict.  Ascetic writers still further inform us that:

— the angel represented to the Redeemer the infinite glory which would be given to the Father by His sufferings and death.  He placed before Him the countless multitudes who would glorify His mercy forever in heaven;

— he reminded Him that even the lost would be forced to glorify the divine justice throughout all eternity.

Let us in like manner, when we stand face to face with some supreme trial, remember the words of saint Paul: “The sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come.”

It was through suffering that God’s most illustrious servants attained their highest perfection.  The Way of the Cross is the way of salvation, and the humble resignation of our souls into the hands of God in the time of affliction will not only obtain for us strength to drink the chalice even to its dregs, but increase our merits in the kingdom of Heaven.  Let us learn from Our Lord submissively to accept whatever our heavenly Father may send us, whether it be mental suffering, physical pain, loss of property, the betrayal of friends, the tarnishing of our good name through the breath of calumny,— whatever it be, let us cry, ” Lord, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me”; but let us also add, after the example of Our Lord, in meek resignation, “Nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done.”  God knows what is best for our purification and sanctification.  He will lead us to everlasting life, if we but follow Him in confidence and holy patience.

There is one lesson especially that Our Lord would teach us by His prayer in the Garden.  It is humble perseverance in the same petition.  Here we have divine warrant for repeating so often the “Hail Mary” and the “Holy Mary” in the Rosary.  The Evangelist tells us that Our Lord repeated the selfsame words, again and again: “Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me.”  Let us then persevere in our petitions, continually making known our needs, whether temporal or spiritual, to our heavenly Father.  It is His wish that we should continue to importune Him, not that He may know our wants, but that we may pay Him the homage of prayer which is His due, and acknowledge that all blessings must come to us through His adorable hands.

There are many instances of the reward of perseverance in prayer:

* The following was told the author by a priest who (for several years) had been his companion on the missions.  “My mother,” he said, “was a Catholic, but was unfortunately married out of the Church. My father was a bigoted Protestant, and soon after her marriage he forbade her the practice of her religion.  She consulted her confessor, and he enjoined on her as a penance to recite every day a third part of the Rosary for her husband’s conversion.  Further, he counseled her to bear patiently with her trials, and faithfully persevere in practicing her religion, no matter what she might have to suffer for it.”  Years passed on with this worthy woman, and as her children were born to her, she carried them by stealth to her saintly pastor and had them baptized.  As soon as they were able to lisp the “Hail Mary,” she had them unite with her in saying the Rosary for their father.  After five years, she doubled her penance; and after five years more, she offered up daily the fifteen mysteries for that husband’s conversion.  The change came unexpectedly in the end, as the priest had foretold.  The husband became a convert, and lived and died a fervent Catholic and an ardent lover of Our Lady of the Rosary.  The mother had the happiness of seeing her son a priest, and her daughter consecrated to the service of God among the Sisters of Loretto.

* We have another beautiful example of the power of prayer, accompanied by resignation to the will of God, in the life of the pious wife of King Louis XV of France, Maria Leckzinska of Poland.  The court of Louis was most corrupt; but the pious Queen did all in her power to save her children from its evil influences.  Her care was especially centered upon her son, the Dauphin, over whom she watched with unceasing vigilance.  On one occasion, she learned that certain vile young men had determined to destroy the innocence of the young Prince, and for that purpose had laid a snare to entrap him.  This news was as a dagger to the heart of the pious mother.  She hastened to her oratory, and closing the door, prostrated herself before the image of the Blessed Mother, imploring her to save her son from the danger that threatened him.  “It is to you, O Queen of Heaven,” she prayed, “that after God, I owe my son!  From his youth you have protected him.  I conjure you now to obtain from your divine Son his deliverance from his enemies; and, if it be necessary for me to weep for him, beg Our Lord that I may weep over his death, rather than over the loss of his innocence!”  Noble sacrifice of the Queen mother, worthy to be recorded with the sacrifice of Abraham!  In the midst of her ardent prayers and tears, an anonymous note was handed to her, containing these words: “Madame, be in peace.  Your petitions for the Dauphin are heard.”  She never discovered the writer of the note.  The young Prince almost miraculously escaped the snares so maliciously laid for him, and remained faithful to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  But that grace was purchased for him by his mother’s sacrifice.  Shortly afterwards the Prince became dangerously ill, and at the same time another anonymous letter was received by the Queen, which read as follows: “Remember, Madame, the request you made, and adore the mercy of God in behalf of your son.”  Recognizing in the sickness of the Prince the answer to her prayer, the mother accepted the decree with true Christian resignation and prepared for the worst.  When she saw her son expire, she had the inexpressible consolation of knowing that he had been received undefiled into the arms of his God.  Addressing her family, she said: “Oh, my children, seek no longer to know the cause of your brother’s death.  I prayed that he might die sooner than commit sin, and God has heard my prayer.”

What noble incentives to perseverance in prayer are thus given us in the life of our Saviour and His saints!  Should we, too, not pray without ceasing in all our difficulties and trials, and under the pressure of the cross humbly resign ourselves continually to God’s holy will?  Let us ever present our petitions through the hands of our immaculate Mother Mary.  O Virgin Mother of God! teach us to repeat again and again that sublime prayer, the “Hail Mary!”  Obtain for us the grace to persevere in prayer during our lives, that, at the hour of our death, we may be worthy to behold the blessed fruit of thy womb Jesus!

(From The Treasures of the Rosary, by Fr Charles Hyacinth McKenna O.P., written 1835; edited by P.J. Kenedy and Sons, New York, 1917.)

Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274): Feast: March 7

Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

 

Feast: March 7

Thomas the Apostle challenged the story that the Lord was risen, and his unbelief brought forth a glowing testimony of the reality of the Resurrection.

Twelve centuries later, his namesake, Thomas of Aquino, questioned—without doubting—the great truths of faith, and demonstrated for all time the rela­tionship of faith and reason.  As the first Thomas found by experiment (“Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side”) that the Man who stood in the midst of them was none other than Jesus Christ, so Thomas, the Angelic Doctor, proved for all time that there is no quarrel between reason and revelation.

Thomas, son of the count of Aquino, was first trained at the Benedictine abbey of Montecassino, and here, even in childhood, his great mind was wrestling with theological problems.  His passion for truth is expressed in his constant question, “Master, tell me—what is God?”

Better to train the boy’s mind, his father sent him at an early age to the University of Naples.  Here he studied under Peter of Ireland and, undisturbed by the noise and wickedness of the great university city, proceeded rapidly on his quest for God.

Meeting the Dominicans, he was strongly attracted by their apostolic life and petitioned to be received as one of them.  While recognizing the gifts of the young student, the friars refused him admittance to the Order until he was eighteen.  Acting deliberately, without a backward glance at the power and wealth he was leaving, Thomas, at eighteen, joyfully put on the habit of the new Order.

Like many a gifted young man, Thomas was bitterly opposed by his family when he attempted to become a religious.  Both threats and persuasion failing, he was kidnapped by his brothers and locked in a tower for more than a year.  His sisters were sent in to influence him, and he proceeded to convert them to his own way of thinking.  A woman was sent in to tempt him; he drove her from the room with a burning brand from the fire; afterwards, angels came to gird him with the cincture of perpetual chastity.  The captivity having failed to break the determination, his brothers relaxed their guard, and Thomas, with the help of his sisters, escaped from the tower and hurried back to his convent.

Given the finest education that his time could offer, Thomas studied first in Cologne (Germany), and later at Paris, under Master Albert the Great.  This outstanding Dominican teacher and saint became his lifelong friend and loyal defender.  They taught together at Cologne and became a mutual influence for good in one of the most beautiful friendships in Dominican history.

For the rest of his life, Thomas was to teach and preach with scarcely a day of rest.  He traveled continually, which makes all the more remarkable the amount of writing he did.  Death found him in a familiar place – on the road – where he was bound for the Council of Lyons in obedience to the pope’s command.  He died at the Cistercian abbey of Fossanova, in a borrowed bed – obscurity hardly fitting the intellectual light of the Order, but perfectly suited to the humble friar that Thomas had always been.

Overheard in a colloquy with the Master he served so well, with heart and mind and pen, Thomas was heard to ask as his reward, “Thyself, O Lord, none but Thyself!”

From the book, Saint Dominic’s family,

By sister Mary-Jean Dorcy O.P.

Dominican sister of the Holy Cross

Dubuque (Iowa), The Priory Press, 1964

Also see the article Saint Thomas Aquinas in today’s combat for the faith  on this website

Letter from the Dominicans of Avrillé # 27: January, 2018

Letter from the Dominicans of Avrillé

No. 27: January 2018

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St. Thomas Boys’ School in the frost

A Canonical Recognition?

When Archbishop Lefebvre founded the Society of Saint Pius X in 1970, he had obtained its canonical erection as a “pious union” from Bishop Charrière of Fribourg, Switzerland.  The Archbishop’s work remained canonically recog­nized for five years.

However, on November 21st, 1974, after a canonical visit of Ecône by two envoys from Rome, Archbishop Lefebvre published a declaration manifesting his refusal “to follow the Rome of neo-Modernist and neo-Protestant tendencies which were clearly evident in the Second Vatican Council and, after the Council, in all the reforms which issued from it.”

From that point forward, the dividing line between the two “churches” was drawn.  Shortly after, the “Rome of neo-Modernist and neo-Protestant tendencies” was given the name of the “conciliar church” by Bishop Benelli [letter addressed to the Archbishop on behalf of Pope Paul VI].  It has kept this name ever since.

The canonical “suppression” of the SSPX was decreed by Bishop Mamie, on May 6th, 1975.  Archbishop Lefebvre rightly stated that it was “irregular, and in any case, unjust.”

This “suppression” was therefore consid­ered as null and void by Archbishop Lefebvre and all those who follow the rules of the Catholic Church, whereas it was deemed valid by the representatives of the conciliar church.

Recently, however, there has been more and more talk of a “canonical recognition” of the SSPX from the present authorities in the Vatican.  Can such recognition be accepted?

Per se, canonical regularity in the Catho­lic Church is something that is good, and even necessary.  Archbishop Lefebvre sought this reg­ularity in 1970, and obtained it.  Nevertheless, today, if a canonical recognition were to be ac­corded, it would be in the framework of the new Code of Canon Law.  It is in this framework that the Pope has granted jurisdiction for marriages celebrated by priests of the SSPX.

That reason alone would suffice in order to refuse this recognition:

“We cannot content ourselves with particular guidelines for the Soci­ety; we refuse this new Code of Canon Law be­cause it is contrary to the common good of the entire Church, [which is what] we want to pro­tect.” [Fr. Jean-Michel Gleize, Courrier de Rome n° 499, May 2017]

We may add that under present circum­stances, there are other disadvantages.  Just to name a few:

— It would make us enter into the con­ciliar pluralism, with Tradition being recognized on an equal footing with the Charismatic move­ments, the Focolari, Opus Dei, etc.  This would put Truth on a par with error, at least in the public opinion.

— It would bring into our chapels faith­ful who are determined to remain conciliar, modernist and liberal, along with all that this implies regarding their lifestyle (because bad ideas lead to bad morals).

— It would necessarily reduce any at­tacks against the errors professed by the authori­ties under which we would then directly find ourselves.  It’s rather easy for all to see that the superiors of the SSPX have already diminished their criticisms of the present errors coming from Rome (Year of Luther, Amoris Laetitia, etc.).

—Lastly, such a canonical recognition would place us directly under the authority of superiors who are themselves under Freemasonic influ­ence.  Indeed, various studies published in Le Sel de la Terre have shown that the conciliar church is an instrument in the hands of Freemasonry to force Catholics to work toward the establishment of the New World Order, willingly or not.  (See the editorial n° 101, summer 2017.)   Providence permitted Archbishop Lefebvre and those who followed him to be exempt from this Freema­sonic influence: it would now be a grave impru­dence to subject ourselves to it voluntarily.  Freemasonry was born exactly three centuries ago (June 24th, 1717).   After having destroyed all the Christian states (with the revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries), and subjugating the Church (with the plan of the Alta Vendita, accom­plished by Vatican II), will Freemasonry succeed in spreading its influence over the work of Arch­bishop Lefebvre?  This would certainly be its ap­parent triumph on earth.

Consequently, a “canonical solution” can only be foreseen in the case of a Rome that has converted doctrinally.  Moreover, this conversion will have to be proven by concrete efforts to work for the social reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ, while fighting against the adversaries of this reign.

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Chant of the Gospel at one of the “stations” (during the procession on November 2nd)

 

A Luciferian Religion

Last June 24th marked the 300th anniver­sary of the foundation of Freemasonry.  This sect constitutes a sort of “Counter-Church” offering worship to Satan (See especially the book by Jean-Claude Lozac’hmeur, Les Origines occultists de la Francmaçon­nerie).  Msgr. Henri Delassus, author of the mon­umental work, The Anti-Christian Conspiracy — The Masonic Temple Wanting to Build Itself upon the Ruins of the Catholic Church (1910), made a re­markable analy­sis of the progression of this Lu­ciferian cult as a preparation of the reign of the Antichrist:

Just as in pagan times there were se­cret ceremonies and an esoteric doctrine that were known only to the “initiated”, leaving to the crowd of “ordinary men” the things which they could handle, giving satisfaction to their religious instincts in a sort of natu­ral­ism, we see reborn today certain prac­tices and dogmas that constitute a properly Lu­ciferian religion for the “initiated”, whereas the public is little by little led to a purely naturalistic religion. […]

This is not the first time that Satanism has invaded Christianity.

In the 15th century, the Renaissance, which was the first manifestation of the anti-Christian conspiracy, was preceded by an extraordinary development of magic.  It grew everywhere that Protestantism took hold, and this led to an epidemic of witch­craft that throughout the 17th century was a night­mare for Germany, England and Scot­land, while the Latin countries remained practi­cally untouched.

The Revolution, as well, was preceded by a fever of Satanism.  Magnetizers, necro­mancies, as they were called, showed up everywhere. The corrupted nobles had themselves initiated in rites where Satan was invoked, and in the towns as well as in the cities people gave themselves up to all kinds of occult practices.

But never, since the times of paganism, has Satan been as alive and active as he is today, hav­ing been invited back into the domain from which the Cross of the Divine Redeemer had chased him away. (pp. 723-725)

Community Chronicle

August 16th:  After a beautiful feast of the As­sumption, with its Solemn High Mass and proces­sion, it’s time for Father Reginald and our two Brazilian Brothers to leave on a month-long mis­sion to Brazil: a total of 2,500 miles by car visit­ing the faithful of various Mass centers.

September 2nd and 3rd:  Five Fathers attend the annual Chiré-en-Montreuil book fair, in or­der to represent our community.  A conference given by Fr. Louis-Marie was a good opportunity to make known to the public some of the various books and articles published this year by Le Sel de la Terre concerning the Protestant Revolution and its disastrous effects on souls and society.  A group of several students from the Boys’ School came along to help out the organizers.

September:  Back to school for the children… and for the Fathers and Brothers who take care of the Primary school, the Boys’ school, Our Lady of Fatima youth club, etc.

September 4th:  Fr. de Mérode comes to stay for the week, for his annual retreat.

September 10th: Fr. Marie-Dominique gives a conference on Saint Dominic for about 30 mem­bers of the “Friends of the Sacred Heart,” a youth group of the Combat for the Faith.

September 11th: Three of our tertiaries from the Czech Republic are among us for several days, happy to immerse themselves in the prayerful atmosphere of the Friary, and the Dominican Liturgy.

September 14th: Father Marie-Dominique leaves to preach the start-of-the-school-year retreat for the seminarians of St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort Seminary.  It’s also the official start of the school year for our student brothers.

September 23rd/24th: Third Order meeting in Chartres/Paris.  In the weeks to follow, Brittany, Alsace, Lyons, and Avrillé will have their turn at starting up a new year of activities.

October 25th:  We have the pleasure of re­ceiving H.E. Bishop Zendejas for a few days be­fore he goes on to Fatima for the pilgrimage of Christ the King.

November 13th:  Arrival of Br. Agostinho O.S.B., from H.E. Bishop Thomas Aquinas’ mon­astery in Brazil, for two months of rest.

December 22nd – January 7th: Fathers Marie-Dominique and Angelico, accompanied by Br. Alphonse-Marie, travel to various Mass centers in North America.  It was the occasion to visit our tertiaries, friends and benefactors, as well as to help out Bishop Zendejas for the Christmas ceremonies.  On the list: South Salem, NY (NYC area);  Emmet, KS;  Houston, TX;  Northome, MN;  Newman Lake, WA;  Buffalo, NY;  Winnipeg, MA (Canada).  Congratulations to the five tertiaries who made their profession in presence of the Fathers during this trip!

News from our worksites

We don’t have much news to tell for the moment, except that our building project has been accepted by the municipality. Thanks to your help, we have already gathered a good part of the funds necessary to start building.  The preliminary work (surveys, soil tests, entry roads for the construction vehicles, etc.) should be able to start in the next few weeks. Thank You!

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Parish Hall project

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The finished Chapter room, with its new altar.

—–

For timely articles and spiritual reading, please go to our website:

www.dominicansavrille.us

To send a donation:

YOU MAY USE PAYPAL (ON OUR WEBSITE), OR SEND TO:

In the U.S.:

Dominicans of Avrillé, Inc.
P.O. Box 23, Newman Lake, WA. 99025

In Canada:

Association of St. Dominic

C I B C, 201-21 Street East

Saskatoon (SK) S7K OB8 Canada

Please specify: CAN$: acc. #40-91531

In the U.K.:

Association of St. Dominic

R B S Edinburgh, 17 Comiston Road, Edinburgh EH10 6AA

Please specify: acc. # 00105564

For more information :

Couvent de la Haye-aux-Bonshommes

49240 Avrillé, France

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Little catechism of the Second Vatican Council (Part One)

Little catechism of the Second Vatican Council (Part One)

by Fr. Pierre-Marie, O.P.

Dominican in Avrillé


From Le Sel de la terre 93, Summer 2015


Preface

Vatican II is not a council like the others. This council, which was held in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican in four sessions from 1962 until 1965 under the pontificates of Popes John XIII (1958-1963) and Paul VI (1963-1978), was the occasion, if not the principal cause, of the gravest crisis the Church has known in its history.

The studies concerning this council are numerous, but often voluminous and very technical.  We have thought that it would be useful to provide for Catholics of good will a relatively short text, explaining what Vatican II declared and what is unacceptable for Catholics who want to remain faithful to the traditional infallible teaching of the Church.

After a brief introduction on the authority of the council, we will briefly analyze each of the 16 documents, presenting them in a thematic order.

Introduction

The authority of the Second Vatican Council


What is an ecumenical council?

An ecumenical council is an assembly of bishops of the entire world convoked by the pope, who conducts its meetings (called “sessions”), whether directly or via legates, and who approves the texts, so that they have a binding value for the whole Church. There have been in the history of the Church twenty ecumenical councils since the Council of Nicaea in 325 until the First Vatican Council in 1870.

Is Vatican II a council like the others?

Vatican II is an atypical council because the popes who convoked and conducted it, John XXIII and Paul VI, declared that it was not a dogmatic council, like all the preceding councils, but a pastoral council.  In other words, its aim was not to define doctrine against errors, but to perform an updating (aggiornamento) of this doctrine to adapt it to the thinking of our contemporaries.

Does Vatican II contain infallible teachings?

Here again, differently than all the preceding ecumenical councils, the Second Vatican Council does not contain any infallible teaching.  For a council to be infallible, it must pronounce solemn judgments, which this council refused to do.

Even if it is not infallible, can it not be admitted that Vatican II was assisted by the Holy Ghost?

Our Lord Jesus Christ promised the assistance of the Holy Ghost for the transmission of Revelation: “the Paraclete the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and suggest unto you all things whatsoever I shall say to you.” (Jn 14:26) [Rheims version].

But, without renouncing the transmission of Revelation, the Council proposed the aggiornamento of the Church, i.e., its adaptation to the modern world, notably by introducing into the Church “the best expressed values of two centuries of ‘liberal’ culture”24, and by working to “smooth the way toward unity of mankind.”25.


Why cannot the Holy Ghost aid the Church in acquiring the values of liberal culture, once purified and corrected26?

Liberalism is an error condemned by two centuries of teaching from the Magisterium of the Church.  Such a condemnation is infallible in virtue of the Universal Ordinary Magisterium of the Church.

As the Holy Ghost cannot contradict Himself, He cannot assist the council fathers in making these values of liberalism enter into the Church.

Why cannot the Holy Ghost aid the Church in working toward the unity of mankind?

The Church was founded to save souls and unite them to Our Lord Jesus Christ.  In so doing, the Church works indirectly for peace, propagating charity in souls: “Seek therefore first the Kingdom of God, and the justice of him [the union to Our Lord Jesus Christ by grace]: and all these things [including peace] shall be given you besides.” (Mt. 6:33) [Rheims version].

But today Freemasonry seeks to reshape the unity of mankind (“globalism”) by human means and by positively excluding Our Lord Jesus Christ in virtue of “secularism”.

As was especially seen after the Council (with the secularization of the States and inter-religious meetings), the men of the Church collaborate in this work by means of religious liberty, ecumenism, and inter-religious dialogue. The Holy Ghost cannot assist the Church in working toward an end that is not Her own.

(To be continued)


The Art of Confessing (Part 3 of 3)

The Art of Confessing

by Fr Henri-Charles Chery O.P.

(Part 3 of 3)

III

In this way, we are not likely to forget, as already mentioned several times, that in the sacrament of penance, the main merit comes from the purifying blood of Christ, not from the exhortation of the confessor, and this purification is obtained through our sorrow.

This truth affects the way in which you should bring your faults to the tribunal of confession: you should know that that it’s not just a matter of giving an account of your sins, but of truly being sorry for them.

However, every priest who hears confessions, is struck by the kind of indifference, or at least apparent indifference, with which many penitents state their faults.  They render an account of them, they make a list: and provided it’s accurately done, then it seems to them that they have done all that the Church requires of them.  All that is now needed is to receive absolution, and away they go, liberated from now on.  The formality is over and done with.

Now actually, it’s nothing of the sort.  Nothing is ‘formality’ when it comes to acts of religion – neither the Mass, which is not just a matter of our attendance, but requires our active participation, nor confession, which is essentially a sorrow for our sins, a renunciation of the evil we have done, in order to obtain forgiveness. It’s about love – a matter of the heart (that is to say of the will).  We come to admit that we have done wrong, that we have failed in the love we owe God by refusing to do His will in one way or another (His will that we should be faithful, or just, or pure, or loving, etc.).   That should come across in the way we confess our sins.

‘Confiteor…., ‘ is the formula which is recommended you say before confessing your sins: ‘I confess’, I admit, I’m sorry, it’s my fault, I am guilty, I beat my breast.  Your confession should be in line with this formula.  It’s not a matter of seeing that you’ve done wrong and bringing this observation to the priest’s attention, it’s about conveying real regret for having done wrong.

It would therefore be good (and this will be easy if we confess a limited number of sins) to repeat before confessing each fault, ‘I confess to….’.  Provided your heart is in it, this will prevent the dry indifference of those who merely recount their faults, instead of truly repenting of them.

A QUESTION: Should one confess sins from the past that have already been forgiven in previous confessions?

1) As an exercise in humility, if it doesn’t cause any turmoil or unease to your conscience, it can be good to acknowledge your guilt one more time for an old sin already absolved.  And not only as an exercise in humility;

2) but also for the grace of purification that the sacrament will bring in a special way, to the particular source of infection from which the sin originated, and which perhaps is not yet completely cleansed.

SIMILARLY, it can be good, at certain solemn times of life (before marriage, the religious life, during a retreat, etc.) to make what is called a “general confession”, bringing to it either the past year or a longer period.  But on one condition: that this is not done just for convention’s sake, but from a need;  not from being told, ‘It’s the thing to do’ – but rather because you feel interiorly drawn to doing it.  (This point is particularly relevant to confessions made during retreats.)

However, there are those who should refrain from delving back into the past: the scrupulous.  The scrupulous suffer from an illness, and their illness takes the specific form of an anxiety which makes them incapable of judging whether they’ve done something wrong or not; whether they’ve done this action well or badly.  They would like ‘to be sure’ and yet the more they seek this certitude, the more it escapes them.

In the confessional they want to be sure of having said absolutely everything, or of really having true contrition, and, never being sure, they repeat things indefinitely.  All this exhausting soul-searching aggravates their illness under the guise of soothing it.

There is only one way for them to be cured and that is to obey the confessor without any argument or discussion.  He will order them to completely shut their eyes on all the past, recent and far off.

IV

AN OBJECTION: One form of anxiety that is experienced, not only by the scrupulous, but also by the honest or sincere, has to do with the quality of their contrition, and it is expressed in this way: ‘What’s the use of confessing this sin?  I surely can’t be repentant since I know I’ll fall into it again.’

We are now talking about firm purpose of amendment.

But let us carefully distinguish between ‘predicting that we’ll sin again’ and ‘wanting to sin again.’

* Undoubtedly, the penitent who wants to sin again, who has the intention of repeating his fault at the first opportunity, is not really a penitent.  He has no contrition at all.  He is abusing the sacrament and is also under the false illusion that absolution from a sin can be obtained without the repentance of the sinner.

* But this is not, thanks be to God, the usual case.  Most penitents have a keen awareness of their weakness justified by past experience of relapses.  They believe they know that their good intention, when put to the test one more time, will not be any more effective than it was in the past.  And they conclude: ‘I do not have true contrition’.

They are wrong.  Deep down, they call ‘evil’ the evil they have done.  They really wish they hadn’t done it.  They wish they were capable of never doing it again.

But that is contrition!

God does not require, in order to forgive us, that we be sure of never sinning again!  (That kind of certitude would strongly resemble presumption).

He asks us to have the intention of doing what we can, with the promised support of his grace, to avoid sinning again.  Do we have this intention?  Then we don’t have to worry about being hypocritical or insincere.  Our gloomy predictions do not change our intention.

All the more so since they are based on a blameworthy mistrust of the grace of the sacrament.  If the sacrament of penance is a means of making progress, it is not so much achieved by the psychological effort it requires of us: it’s because it applies to our sick soul the medicine of the saving and meritorious blood of Jesus Christ.

Jesus grants us the pardon He obtained for our benefit by his Passion, but He also gives us the graces of cleansing and strength to support us in future struggles, particularly in the area of the sins we have brought to Him for absolution.  It is in these graces we should put our trust, not in the doubtful capacities for resistance of our good will.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow.  For tomorrow, tomorrow’s grace will be enough, provided that you keep trusting and praying.  For today you have today’s grace, the grace of contrition.  Wanting to imagine tomorrow’s temptations, is to want to carry a burden for which you have no help.  It’s not surprising then that it seems too heavy and overwhelms you in advance.

To say this is not, however, an invitation to heedlessness.  Confession should be finished with a resolution.  The carrying out of this resolution we entrust to God’s help, but we must also be willing to work at it.

The most efficient way of doing this is to make that resolution precise, dealing with one sin that we want to avoid, not on all the faults confessed, nor even, as a general rule, on several.

And better still, to try to anticipate, going by past experience, the circumstances which might lead us into a fall – those occasions, which, if we place ourselves into them, may sweep us along into sin again.  Let us make a resolution to avoid these occasions.

For instance, if we know:

— that this particular company drags us into malicious gossip;

— that that kind of reading turn our thoughts towards impurity;

— that this open drawer brings to mind old, barely dormant, grudges;

— that this kind of conversation gets us all worked up1.

The resolution will be:

— to flee from this type of company;

— to forbid ourselves this kind of reading;

— to keep that drawer closed, and to avoid this particular kind of conversation.

To act like this, is to realistically accept ourselves as we truly are, capable of falling where someone else would be strong in resisting.  In this way we avoid presumptuously ‘tempting God’, by laying ourselves open to temptation; it’s therefore being logical with our contrition.

Why not, from time to time, safeguard your resolution by putting it to the confessor at the end of your confession?  That will certainly help you to keep to it.

When done in this way, confession will no longer be the tedious repetition of ‘standard’ sins, which it only too often becomes, and which is sheer drudgery.  It will become one of the most powerful means of sanctification that the Church puts at our disposal.  In going to the tribunal of confession, we will be conscious of going to Christ on the Cross, who holds, in his crucified hands, the forgiveness He has obtained for our benefit; the blood with which he wants to cleanse us.

Conscious of our poverty, all the more so if we have taken a good, clear look at our daily weaknesses, and trusting in His mercy, having begged him to make us detest our sins, we will enter through the door of the confessional with the humble disposition of the prodigal child:

‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am not worthy of being called your son.’

Because of that, we will be able to go away with renewed strength, founded on the liberating assurance:

‘Go in peace, my son, your faith has saved you.’


The Art of Confessing (Part 2 of 3)

The Art of Confessing

by Fr Henri-Charles Chery O.P.

(Part 2 of 3)

II

Accusation of sins

Here I am next to the confessional, beginning my examination of conscience.  Which sins am I going to confess?

The question obviously needs to be addressed, because I can’t confess every single fault.  ‘The just man sins seven times a day’, Scripture says, and I, who am not just, how many sins slip my mind each day?  To be completely comprehensive, counting up every single possible sin is an unrealistic dream – and not even useful or helpful.  I need to choose. But what do I choose?

Obviously, first of all – all the mortal sins.

To deliberately omit confessing a mortal sin, even if you confess others that are just as serious, would be to render the confession invalid and sacrilegious.  That act by which we deliberately turned away from God, our last end (which is just like saying to him quite consciously, that we could not care less about disobeying him in a serious matter – as long as we can satisfy this or that disordered tendency) how could we come back to grace with God without renouncing it and therefore confessing itWe cannot, at the same time, be both a friend of God and hostile to him.

The difficulty for some of us is knowing when there is mortal sin:

* in theory, everyone knows it: serious matter, full knowledge, and full consent;

* but in practice, we often ask ourselves:

1)  Was the matter really a serious one?

2) And even more commonly: Did I really fully consent?

For the first question, it’s easy enough to ask the confessor’s advice.

As for the second, so long as the question is being asked in all honesty and in good conscience, and if you are really not absolutely sure, the rule is, there was not full consent.

Is this to say that there is no need to confess this ‘doubtful’ sin, or rather, this doubtfully committed sin?  Certainly not!  Because of the uncertainty, one may be permitted to approach the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and, strictly speaking, you aren’t even obliged to confess this sin; but you’d be wrong, if you wish to make progress in the spiritual life, to hide behind this non-obligation to hold on to an uneasy conscience.

Practically, the rule is quite simple.  You are not required to say, ‘I confess to having committed a mortal sin’, but rather, ‘I confess to having committed this sin, to having done this act.’  You might add, if this is the case, ‘I do not know if I fully consented.’  Then everything is in order.  In any case, we are always able to reply according to our conscience if the confessor asks us, ‘Do you believe that acting in this way, you have grievously sinned?’

What are we to think of the formula, so dear to those who use it constantly and almost automatically, ‘I confess myself as guilty as God finds me guilty.’?

Although useful and legitimate when you are uncertain of the nature of your culpability, it seems to me to be too facile, and somewhat hypocritical, when you know very well where you stand.

On the other hand let it be said that we should not (as some souls tend to do) see ‘mortal sin’ everywhere.  A sin that merits, of itself alone, separation from God for all eternity and the pains of hell – we do not commit that kind of sin without our conscience being well aware of it.  If this conscience is in need of formation, you must ask your confessor to enlighten you and then go strictly by his direction.

This formation of conscience should have been done at a young age, yet listening to the confessions of children, we are astonished by their ability to believe that their little faults – mere peccadilloes – are mortal sins.  Is there not in that – let it be said in passing – a responsibility going back to educators, who do not know how to distinguish between their grumblings or scoldings and the true moral value of childish faults?  In any case, this problem of formation of conscience in children should be looked into carefully and individually by parents and regular confessors, as it is just as dangerous to leave children to believe in the seriousness of little faults as it is to leave them to commit, as though quite unconcerned, gravely reprehensible acts.

A scrupulous and anguished conscience in youth makes for a weak adult, withdrawn, without courage, or indirectly results in an adolescent suddenly and brutally ‘liberating’ himself from an unbearable constraint.

Whether mortal or not, one would do well to get into the habit of confessing first of all, right at the beginning, the faults that weigh most heavily on the conscience, instead of slipping them, as if inadvertently, in the middle of a long list of relatively unimportant sins.  In this way you can free yourself in one fell swoop from faults that you might otherwise end up not confessing at all by giving in to foolish fear.

I would like to pay particular attention here on:

1) the examination of conscience and,

2) the confessing of venial sins.  Is it not here that a great many regular penitents fall short?

What is the most common complaint made by those who confess frequently?  ‘Confession bores me, because I always have to say the same thing.’  Or else this other complaint which is directed at the confessor: ‘He doesn’t say anything to me.’ – meaning – nothing out of the ordinary, nothing which helps me to shake off my faults.

Now these two failings, which make confession psychologically tedious, have the same cause – you do not know how to confess your sins.

How do most penitents confess?  Some (admittedly the smaller number) forget that sin is an act, not a state.  And so they reveal (or think they’re revealing) the depths of their soul by saying, ‘I am a liar, I am bad-tempered, I am impatient.  This kind of talk is not what is required.  All it does is expose a tendency of your soul, but confession is not about exposing your tendencies.  It is about admitting to specific acts – which are no doubt the outcome of your tendencies – but as different from them as the fruit is from the tree.  One can very well have a tendency to lying and yet not have committed the sin of lying in the fortnight since the last confession.  If one has told a lie, one should say, ‘I lied’, not ‘I am a liar’.

This is in fact what most penitents do say: ‘I lied, I lacked charity, I was lazy, I was vain.’  This is a more correct way, but the confession is hardly any better, meaning, it is hardly any better for your soul.  And hardly any more likely to draw out useful advice from your confessor.  Why?  Because it is bland.  You haven’t had to put any real thought into it.  You haven’t clarified.  It doesn’t give the confessor any specific indication, any clue, which might enable him to see in what way your soul differs from that of the soul he has had to judge and advise before you.  For every ten penitents following each other, at least nine of them could present the same list.  And in fact, alas! they do so.

So why (unless he already knows you from somewhere else) do you expect your confessor to give you exactly the advice you need?  Nothing specific has been revealed to him by this confession.  He hasn’t been given anything to go on.  He would have to be a marvelous psychologist and amazingly intuitive to guess, from this rapid outpouring of common faults, one after the other, through this grille where he can’t even see your face, the words he should say to reach out to you, touch your heart and encourage you into making the effort which you personally should undertake.  We can’t ask every confessor to be the Cure of Ars.  Normally, he will only be able to give you back from what you have given him.

If, as it sometimes happens through excessive scrupulousness, the penitent launches into a long list that he wants to make meticulously all-inclusive, if he intends to say every single thing and churns out just about every venial sin that it’s possible to commit (which he has, no doubt committed) and all of this made at a speedy pace that sometimes lasts several minutes, there you will have a completely overwhelmed and swamped confessor.  Is there anything personal or distinctive in all this, he’ll be wondering in vain.  And, not finding anything, all he can do is give a general exhortation which isn’t all that helpful.  Whose fault is that?

First and foremost let us emphasize that venial sin is a matter of free choice in the confessional.  We are not obliged to confess it.

A well-made act of contrition, and act of charity, a faithful and humble use of a sacramental are enough to obtain pardon [of venial sins].

A confession that is made up only of venial sins is therefore not necessary for salvation, but rather a means of sanctification.  It is a recourse to a sacrament – to the cleansing Blood of Jesus – by which we are purified and strengthened.  It is also, secondarily, an exercise in humility founded on knowledge of self, and an admission of all that is impeding our spiritual progress.

Therefore we are free to choose which of our committed venial sins to confess.  Does this mean choosing the most insignificant and forgetting about those which trouble us?  No!  Not at all!   A well-made examination of conscience will pick out, from the pile of daily faults, those which, because of their frequency or because of their malice, are the most harmful to the life of the soul.

The physiognomy of my sinful soul is no more similar to that of another soul than my face is similar to another face.  Broadly speaking, we all commit more of less the same faults, just as we all have a nose, a mouth, ears… but the importance for me of this fault, the place it holds in my spiritual life, how it influences other faults, that is what makes up my sinner’s face.  That, therefore, is what an intelligent examination of conscience will serve to pick out and highlight.

It’s useless to gather up a multitude of sins.  Five or six, well chosen, will be enough to see yourself, to show yourself as you are before God.  But as for these sins (and this remark is without doubt the most practical of all) it is a question of bringing them out in their true colors!

Examples

*  ‘I lied’: that means nothing.   ‘Omnis homo mendax,’ says the psalm.  Every man is a liar.  In what way have I lied?  To whom?  In what circumstances?  Why?

‘I lied to a sick friend who was looking forward to my visit because going to see her bored me.’  Who cannot see that this is a specific kind of lie?   ‘I lied to my boss in order to obtain some holiday leave to which I had no right‘,   ‘I lied to a client about the quality of my work so I could charge him more’ – so many different types of lies!   Therefore to just confess, ‘I lied’, would not have given any true idea of what was involved.

* ‘To fail in charity’ – the most common sin.  Why use this totally bland, colorless expression?  Better to say, ‘I said some hurtful words to someone I do not like, with the intention of upsetting him.’ ,  ‘I showed contempt towards a friend who is not very intelligent.’, ‘I refused some help that I could have given to a friend in need’,  or  ‘I made fun of a disabled sick person….’

* There are a hundred ways of being vain. What is yours?  Is it spending far too much time in getting dressed up?  Is it looking in the mirror every other minute?  Do you show off whenever you are in a group, trying to grab all the attention by your brilliant conversation?

* And your laziness?  How does that reveal itself in you?  By your persistent habit of staying in bed when it’s time to get up?  By your careless, half-finished duties of state?  By your could-not-care-less attitude, or your excessive love of sofas?

From these few examples (which could so easily be multiplied) you can see what we mean when we say – confess specific acts, and the circumstances in which you committed them.  Try to find the words that best put across your fault such as it was in reality, as something that was specifically yours and not just anyone’s.  This will be of great benefit to you:

— Firstly, because it will force you to see yourself as you really are, and then, because it will be a healthy and profitable humiliation.  It is more humiliating to say, ‘I spent half an hour every day putting on make up,’ than to say, ‘I was vain’.

— And lastly, because from this clear and precise information, your confessor will be able to see the state of your soul, and from that will be able to give you appropriate advice.

Having said all that, you are not invited to long-winded chatting.  To confess with precision is not the same as ‘telling stories’.  The confession should not be drowned in a flood of descriptive accounts, narration, explanations and digressions, where the penitent forgets he is confessing sins and where the confessor grasps nothing apart from the fact that you are admitting to having been sinned against.  Sometimes we hear this so-called confession changing into self-justification, or at the very least, a speech for the defense.

If you need to unburden a heart that is too weighed down and heavy, and receive some consolation, or if you would like some advice about what you must do, nothing could be more legitimate.  But do clearly separate the two intentions.  First make a proper confession, keeping strictly to your faults, and then inform the confessor that you also have something else to say.

(To be continued)

The Art of Confessing (Part 1 of 3)

The Art of Confessing – PART ONE

by Fr Chery O.P.

THESE WORDS are not addressed to the “big sinners” who come before Christ to relieve themselves of a great burden. They are not even addressed to Catholics who are making their annual Easter confession. But these lessons may be helpful for those people who have the “habit” of weekly, bimonthly or monthly confession.

“Habit” is a colorless word if it signifies only a praiseworthy regularity; it is a cold word if it signifies routine.  And sadly, everyone knows that a praiseworthy regularity easily degenerates into something routine.

The majority of penitents lament the miserable banality of their confessions, the small amount of fruit derived, and sometimes even their little interest in the exhortation that the confessor addresses to them when they come to find him.  Some have disgust for it, confess only by custom, and finally end up spacing their recourse to the sacrament of penance in a way that is prejudicial to their spiritual progress.

This disgust, and its consequences, do these not come from those who do not know how to confess?  There is a manner, an “art,” that could make this regular exercise into a serious means of sanctification.

In writing these lines, we have particularly thought of the numerous young people who seek to live a true Christianity in a generous effort of sincerity.  Not yet habituated, they suffer from a horror of routines, and they reject formalities.  They are right.  But they need to know that formalism is introduced through the fault of the ‘users,’ and I dare say, that it depends on them to keep intact, or lose, their religious vitality, for want of a personal effort.

The rites are conveyors of life, but only to the living.

The use of confession, if it is well understood, can be a serious support for the development of the spiritual life.

But first, since we are going to speak of confession, and nothing but confession [accusation of sins], it is necessary to carefully note that this is not the whole sacrament of penance, that it is not even the principal element.  This principal element consists of a regret, an accusation, an absolution, a reparation.  The sacrament is constituted essentially by an absolution effacing the fault of a heart that repents.  If a penitent, on his deathbed for example, cannot [verbally] express his accusation, the sacrament can [still] take place [even] from this [unspoken] accusation; it cannot take place without regret.  God, for His part, can effect the sacrament (in the absence of any priest qualified to give it): (but) He cannot save a soul in spite of itself, or remit a sin that someone obstinately refuses to regret.

Such people for whom the essential seems to be their accusation will do well to remember it.  The priest exhorts them to contrition, to the means to be considered so as not to fall back into their fault, but once their accusation has been made they seem not to follow him, distracted as they are by the concern to enunciate such and such other sin that did not initially come to their lips.  If it were a matter of a serious fault, it would be normal not to withdraw before expressing it; but most often it is a matter of venial faults. One mainly worries about being complete; but it is necessary above all to be contrite.

Consequently, in the few moments usually spent preparing for confession, it will be good not to give everything to the examination of conscience, but even more to implore the grace of God, in order to obtain a sincere regret for one’s faults, and to express in advance one’s contrition and the intention not to fall again.

To whom am I going to address myself when I go to confession?

First response:  to a priest.  I am deliberately using this general term to emphasize that the primordial importance in the use of the sacrament of penance must be granted not to the qualities of the man who hears confessions, but to his quality as minister of Christ. Because we lack faith, we excessively attach ourselves to the human value of the confessor, a real, objective value, or a value that attributes to him our sympathy and our confidence.

Whether this is to be taken into consideration is undeniable, but from a point of view which is, so to speak, on the margins of the sacrament.

This comes into play for the counsel that will follow the accusation and precede absolution.  But the sacrament is not constituted by this counsel; it can even do without it.  The important thing is to deal with the Christ who holds forgiveness, with the living Christ acting in his Church.  Every priest who has received from the Church the powers to absolve you validly, acts in persona Christi, in the name of Christ.  He opens for your soul the spring of pardon – which is the Blood of the Redeemer Christ – and He washes it in this Blood.

Erroneous for lack of faith is therefore the attitude of such penitents who delay liberating themselves from a serious sin or who indefinitely delay a confession which would release them from a growing malaise (by purifying the infection that spreads little by little) because “their confessor” is not there. If they had an understanding of what the sacrament is – sovereignly valuable in its purifying work, independent of the quality of the confessor who is before all else the “minister of Christ,” that is to say, the ear of Christ to hear the admissions, the wisdom of Christ to judge, and the mouth of Christ to pronounce the remission – they would attach themselves less to the human appearances and not delay at all.

It is appropriate here to mention why I must admit my faults to a priest instead of contenting myself with an admission directly expressed to God in the intimacy of my heart.  This is because I am a member of the Church.

My fault has offended God and diminished myself: it is a lack of the love that I owe to my Creator and to the virtuous love that I must show for the child of God that I am.  And it also harmed the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. “Every soul that raises itself, raises the world.”  Likewise, every Christian who sins upsets the perfection of the Christian community.  The most obscure of sins causes a wound to the tree of which I am a branch.  Whether I detach myself from the tree completely by mortal sin, or whether I separate myself only a little, the entire tree suffers.  I rise from the Church in my vitality, for God has entrusted his graces to the Church for me.  I should, therefore, also rise to escape my fault.

In the early centuries this responsibility before the Church was more obvious, since accusation was public and professed before the entire community.  Presently, the discipline has softened, but it is always before the Church that I accuse myself – through the person of the priest who hears me, and the Church from which I receive reconciliation through the ministry of the priest who absolves me.

I thus confess to the priest because he is a priest.  This does not prevent me from choosing him as humanly capable of understanding and advising me. We are not speaking here, since it is not our aim, of that which is called (a little improperly perhaps) “direction.” Even while remaining strictly on the plane of confession, it is surely better for the progress of the soul if it usually addresses itself to the same confessor.  After some time (provided we have followed the advice we shall give later concerning the manner of accusing ourselves), he (the same confessor) knows whom he is dealing with.  He knows your tendencies and your habitual weaknesses.  Even if you have little to say, he knows what points should be insisted upon in his exhortations.  Little by little you have revealed the difficulties with which you are struggling:  your particular situation.  He does not risk, as would a stranger who does not understand you, perplexing you by an untimely remark.  At a difficult moment in your life, he can stop you from making a dangerous fall.  And at any time, he is able to suggest to you appropriate decisions to get out of your torpor if you let yourself fall asleep.

How should you choose him?

Above all, he needs good sense and right judgment.   Also, holy if this is possible – this is clear – but a balanced and insightful priest will always be preferable to another of a more fervent life with less sound judgment.

Do not forget that you seek a counselor, and that as is the wisdom of the counselor, so is the value of his advice.  But as he is also one who leads, you ought to desire that he be demanding.  A good-natured confessor who merely lulls you with soothing words or sends you away with absolution and a general exhortation, would risk leaving you to languish in your sin or your serious imperfections.

This is why it is necessary, if need be, to encourage the confessor to this beneficial requirement and to humbly accept his invitations to effort.  You will recall that the first condition for him to be useful to you is that you trust him.  You can have the best confessor in the city; but if you cannot open yourself up to him frankly, he can do nothing for you.  You should thus choose him so that you do not feel paralyzed in his presence and that you readily consider him as a father, perceptive, capable of realizing your situation and to interest himself in it, open to the realities of life, sure in his diagnoses, and of firm goodness in his counsel.

If you do not find him (one such ideal priest), do not be much distressed.  Go to a priest2: he has the grace of state.  The Holy Ghost will use him anyway for your best good, provided you are listening.

If you do find the ideal priest, do not easily switch from him.  While remaining fully free from another choice, do not let yourself be “undone” by a few impressions, all the more by some crushing of self-esteem or by some of his demands.  Persevere until you have positive proof that you are making no progress in his school, despite a loyal and constant effort on your part.

(To be continued)