Letter from the Dominicans of Avrillé No.32: September 2019

Letter from the Dominicans of Avrillé

No. 32: September 2019

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Profession before Fr. Prior (August 14th)



Fioretti of St. Vincent Ferrer

Even though he preached for hours, St. Vincent never tired the faithful. He frequently put them at ease with anecdotes, little stories, comparisons to nature, and even jokes! “Squash,” he said, justifying this practice, “are delicate and delicious, but in order to prevent them from burning and sticking to the pot, it’s necessary, if you want to cook them well, to keep stirring them with a spoon!”

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The unjust innkeeper

One day an innkeeper asked St. Vincent to preach on the obligation of paying debts, because several clients were behind in their bills. “Alright, I’ll explain how much those who retain the goods of others are guilty; but first, show me the wine you sell.” Once the innkeeper brought out a bottle, St. Vincent had him pour it into his scapular, which he held out in the form of a bowl. The water passed through, and the wine stayed in the scapular: a lot of water, and very little wine…!

“St. Vincent’s water”

A very loquacious woman, on bad terms with her irascible husband, asked St. Vincent for advice on how to “convert him.” “If you want to put an end to your quarrels, go to the porter of our convent and ask him to give you some water from the well in the middle of the cloister. When your husband comes home, put some of this water in your mouth right away, without swallowing, and you’ll see your husband become as gentle as a lamb.”

The woman did as she was told, and when her husband came home grumbling, she took a mouthful of the “miraculous” water. Her husband, seeing that his wife kept her peace without talking back, calmed down himself and thanked God for having changed her heart — and closed her mouth. The same scene repeated itself several times, always with the same happy success. At the end, the woman came to thank St. Vincent, who explained: “The real remedy was not the water from the well, but silence. In the future, keep silent, and you’ll live in peace.”

The hermit and the sack of gold

St. Vincent recounted the story of a saintly hermit who was walking to town one day when he came across a burse of gold coins. He fled immediately, crying out: “Death and tragedy!” A few onlookers asked what he saw, but his only answer was: “There, by the tree — flee while you can!” However, they didn’t take his advice, and taking the gold pieces, they went into town, got drunk and ended up killing each other in a violent dispute.

Community Chronicle

May 24th: Mr. Jean-Claude Marchon, benefactor of the community, passes away at the age of 91. Mr. Marchon gave up a comfortable apartment in Paris to come and spend his last years doing penance in our Friary. His good humor and edifying example will be sorely missed. (On the 29th: Solemn High Requiem Mass, and burial in the Friary’s cemetery.) R.I.P.

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May 26th: Fr. Marie-Dominique is at the Loncheray with the youth group “Friends of the Sacred Heart,” to prepare for their summer camp.

June 2nd: “Solemn Communion” ceremony and public profession of Faith for 6 young ladies of the parish (4 from the school St. Rose of Lima).

The same day, Fathers Marie-Dominique and Hyacinthe-Marie are in Paris for the Third Order.

June 8th-10th: Fr. Marie-Laurent and Br. Michel-Marie represent the Friary at the annual Pentecost pilgrimage of the Combat for the Faith, at the Puy-en-Velay. After the pilgrimage, Bishop Zendejas pays a visit to the Friary on his way back to the U.S.

June 19th: Solemn High Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart celebrated by Fr. Angelico in celebration of the 10th anniversary of his ordination.

June 20th: Fr. Marie-Dominique is in Riddes, Switzerland, at Fr. Epiney’s parish for the 25th anniversary of the ordination of his vicar, Fr. Grenon. Fr. Epiney is a legendary figure in the Fight for Catholic Tradition; it was he who received Archbishop Lefebvre in his parish for the foundation of the seminary of Écône. He has stood firm in his fidelity to the combat of the Archbishop, even at the price of now being ostracized by the superiors of the Society of St. Pius X.

June 23rd: Corpus Christi procession with the presence of Bishop Faure, and presided by Fr. Dominique Rousseau, who recently joined the Combat for the Faith.

June 26th-28th: Exams for the seminarians and our clerical brothers.

July 1st-6th: Fathers Marie-Dominique, Hyacinthe-Marie, and Fr. Ballini preach a retreat at the Friary for 22 men.

July 3rd: Fathers Prior and Louis-Marie, accompanied by Br. Alain, are at the Villeneuve (priory of Fr. Pivert) for a formation session for the “Friends of the Sacred Heart.”

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General Chapter of the Knights of Our Lady, held this year in the Friary’s library

July 12th-15th: The Knights of Our Lady hold their 26th annual General Chapter at the Friary. This year they celebrated the 30th anniversary of the restoration of their traditional observance.

July 14th: Fr. Prior and Br. Augustin-Marie are at Saumur for a doctrinal session for a group of tertiaries.

The second half of July: As every summer, several Fathers and Brothers are busy with camps: Fathers Angelico and Hyacinthe-Marie, with Br. Agostinho at the Lion-d’Angers for Our Lady of Fatima’s Youth Group (elementary boys and girls), and the “Valliant Souls” (adolescent girls); Fr. Terence (joined later by Fr. Angelico) and Brothers Alain and Augustin-Marie in Dordogne (near the famous sanctuary of Rocamadour), with the Cadets of the Sacred Heart. Despite the heat wave, the children all went home happy, and hopefully a few steps closer to God.

July 17th: Outing in Tours for the novitiate, with a guided visit by our Greek professor, Mr. Trouillet.

July 20th: The Friary hosts the marriage of a former student of Saint Thomas Aquinas Boys’ school; Fr. Louis-Marie has the honor of celebrating and receiving the vows.

July 22nd-27th: Fathers François-Marie, Marie-Laurent, and Fr. Picot preach a retreat at the Friary for 32 women.

July 23rd-27th: Fr. Prior is in Lourdes visiting Fr. de Mérode.

August 2nd: For our table reading, we read the Friary chronicles for July-August-September 1979, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of our definitive installation here at the Friary of La Haye-aux-Bonshommes. Fond memories for the most senior members of the community, and fascinating discoveries for the younger members (many of which were not even born at the time)!

August 4th-12th: Our annual retreat was preached this year by Fr. Morgan, who inspired us with the example of Bl. Dominic Barberi (1792-1849), the Italian Passionist priest who was responsible for a wide movement of conversion to the Catholic Church in England in the 19th century.

August 14th: Vigil of the Assumption: Solemn High Mass, during which our postulant Emmanuel receives the habit of lay brother, and a new name: Brother John. The ceremony also included the first profession of Brothers Pie-Marie and Marie-Thomas, who will now start their philosophy and theology classes with the other clerical brothers.

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August 15th: Annual Assumption procession, with a large crowd of faithful from all parts of Western France: a big difference from the 6 faithful present for the first procession 40 years ago, when the Fathers just arrived!

August 22nd: Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and 25th anniversary of the perpetual vows of Brother Martin. This day is also the 25th anniversary of the profession of our very first tertiary: Sr. Catherine (Miss Ruth McQuillan, Scotland). Ad multos annos!

News from our worksites

Other than a few small maintenance projects and the preparation of a Calvary mount, we don’t have much to announce. Please pray that we may finally obtain the authorization for the construction of the new parish hall with cafeterias for our schools. The lack of space has reached a critical point.

Crisis in the Church

In 2017, The Conference of French Bishops published the latest statistics concerning the Church in France. Compared to the statistics from 1990 (let alone those from before Vat II!), they show clearly that the crisis in the Church is still raging.

1990 2015
Baptisms 472,130 262,314
Confirmations 91,281 43,627
Marriages 141,146 55,854
Priests 32,267 16,830*
Religious (female) 52,507 29,183
Religious (male) 10,652 5,490

*10 000 of which are over 65 years old…

What’s more, we have to ask ourselves what kind of formation does this “little rest” have? How many of these souls have actually kept the Catholic Faith?

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Clama ne cesses! Cry out, never cease!

(arms of St Vincent Ferrer)

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Declaration of the Order of the Knights of Our Lady

The Order and the Society of St Pius X

These past few years, the SSPX superiors have unsuccessfully tried to make our Order align itself to their new Roman policy outlined in the Doctrinal Declaration of 15th April 2012, and in the Declaration of the General Chapter of 14th July 2012.  The latter is contemplating a canonical “normalisation” under six conditions, without waiting for a doctrinal agreement or the conversion of Rome, which Archbishop Lefebvre regarded as a prerequisite:   “It is therefore a strict duty for all priests wishing to remain Catholic to separate themselves from this Conciliar Church, so long as she has not returned to the tradition of the Church Magisterium and of the Catholic Faith” (Spiritual Journey).

Our Rule declares that the Knight “serves the Faith up to its ultimate consequences and its most rigorous applications”, and that he “defends the Holy Church unto blood”, while our Constitutions add: “awaiting, in holy hope, that blessed day when [the Order] will again be able to submit entirely to […] a Rome that has finally been set free from the pernicious influence of the Modernist heresies”, like, in his 1974 Declaration, Archbishop Lefebvre insisted: “This we shall do until such time that the true light of Tradition dissipates the darkness obscuring the sky of Eternal Rome”.

Moreover, none of the conditions set by the 2012 Chapter specifically excludes the Oath & Profession of Faith of Cardinal Ratzinger, which the Superior General has himself already implicitly accepted in a footnote of his Doctrinal Declaration, and which, for the past fifteen years, the Vatican has requested as a non-negotiable condition for any canonical recognition. Now, the Knights of Our Lady, who have pledged the Tridentine Profession of Faith and the Anti-Modernist Oath before the Holy Altars, together with Archbishop Lefebvre1, regard it as morally impossible for them to accept this post-conciliar oath, and consequently to bind themselves to clerics who would consider pledging it.

Our fidelity to principles has irked some, and various blackmailing attempts and sanctions have been carried out to make us give in. On October 13th, then on November 29th, 2012, we were requested to change our Constitutions, which fully endorse Archbishop Lefebvre’s 1974 Declaration, since, we were told, there would no longer be a need to wait for the conversion of Rome.

Then, on July 15th, 2013, the Superior General’s representatives informed us at the French District House, that instead of having a Bishop Protector –a position which Bishop de Galarreta had accepted since 1996–, we should have an Ecclesiastical Superior, who could overrule the decisions made by the hierarchy of the Order. This was quite the opposite of what Archbishop Lefebvre had insisted upon, i.e. that the bishops he had consecrated had no direct jurisdiction, and that it was up to the laity to call on faithful priests in case of necessity.2.   We politely declined their proposal.

On September 2nd, 2013, the Prior of Manila proposed to our Visitor for the Philippines to disregard the Magistry of the Order, and report directly to the District of Asia: the latter bravely replied that he would not be the one to introduce division in the Order. After we refused to take him as our local “ecclesiastical superior”, and hearing accusations from Menzingen, the Asian District Superior, asked us to no longer meet in their priories and chapels.3

Finally, on September 18th, 2014, French District Superior Fr. Christian Bouchacourt wrote to the Master: “Given the public positions which you have taken, as Master of the Order of the Knights of Our Lady, supporting those dissident priests of the Society, who have followed Bishop Williamson, the General House, with good reason, is asking me to inform you that no Knight will be allowed to participate in this pilgrimage in uniform”. He was referring to the Lourdes pilgrimage to which our Knights had officially been invited to serve for the past sixteen years. As for the so-called “public positions” taken “as Master of the Order of the Knights of Our Lady”, neither the French District Superior, nor the Superior General in his subsequent correspondence, were able to substantiate them.

During another meeting at the French District House on January 13th, 2015, we proposed that a priest be in charge of contacts with our Order within the French District, but this was not heard, and the French District Superior informed us: “I will send you a Declaration –that will be my text– and you will sign”. By this Declaration, we would have pledged to never criticise Menzingen’s new orientations in our meetings or correspondence, and to never attend, even in private, Masses said by priests he would not have approved. These two commitments were in fact as good as amending our Constitutions, which, with the approval of the SSPX Canonical Commission dated 22nd September 1995, make it a duty for us to wait for the conversion of Rome, and give us the liberty to call on all the “faithful members of the Clergy”.

Since we refused to yield to this abuse of power, Fr. Bouchacourt notified us, by a letter dated May 26th, 2015, that he was suspending “the support of the District of France to the Knights of the Order of Our Lady”, and announced that he had “requested that some lay people would organise themselves to found a new structure”, which would allow those Knights who would disagree with their superiors “to follow the same ideal”. On June 4th, he confirmed this double decision in a fax to the French priories and some religious communities.

Following St Pius X, the Knights of Our Lady know that the worst enemies of the Church are hidden in Her very bosom.4.  They will consequently remain faithful to their Constitutions, and Archbishop Lefebvre’s 1974 Declaration, as well as to the Tridentine Profession of Faith, and the Anti- Modernist Oath, without siding with anything else than Catholic Tradition, pursuing the good combat of the Faith opportune, importune, as they have fought it for the past seventy years, and, with Archbishop Lefebvre’s encouragements, since 1969. Furthermore, they wish to express their heartfelt gratitude to the many good priests who continue to support them, and to renew their determination to remain at their service.

The Knights of Our Lady meeting at Salérans for their 22nd General Chapter, and the 70th anniversary of the founding of their Order