Letter from the Dominicans of Avrillé – No. 36: September 2021

Letter from the Dominicans of Avrillé

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The Tavola, one of the first paintings of Saint Dominic, surrounded by his Brothers at table.


No. 36: September 2021

Motto of the Dominican Order

For the 800th anniversary of Saint Dominic’s birth into Heaven (August 6, 1221), let us give a few explanations on the motto of his Order: VERITAS. From the very beginning our Order has been faithful to the Truth and throughout the centuries the Dominicans have considered it as their first title of nobility. In 1266, Pope Clement IV, wanting to define the Dominican vocation officially proclaimed the Order of Saint Dominic “the keeper of Truth.” This means that above all we were founded to defend and spread the truth. The Dominican apostolate is essentially doctrinal and our first work is an intellectual one.

The intellect, handmaid of man, must establish our minds in truth and enable man to practice virtue. Without the base of truth, the will can lean on nothing solid to make resolutions. Whoever despises the intellect and truth removes from man his first force against the powers of disorder. It is a great misfortune that in Catholic preaching sentiment takes the place of the idea. The result is a piety without order which produces unbalanced souls, who only ask for the sensible in the mysteries of Faith. Joseph de Maistre wrote, “Man is only worth what he believes,” and Bonald “dogmas make people.”

Thus the Dominican wants above all to be a sower of truth, and to spread light. Before stimulating men, he wants to enlighten them. Confident in the Divine sense which Baptism has planted in the Christian soul, he does not fear to expose the highest truths even to the crowds, which he endeavors to bring to the heights of Christianity. He is persuaded that he will only bring the hearts of men to Christ by revealing God as much as God has revealed Himself.

A necessary consequence is that the Dominican spirit is without mercy for error. The measure of one’s love for Truth is the measure of one’s hatred for error. History shows the Dominican Order detesting heresy and pursuing it tenaciously to the point that we could summarize these 800 years as a long combat with error. Today, however, a despicable doctrinal liberalism makes all ideas equal, giving the same rights to both truth and error. Nothing is more hateful than this false modern tolerance. Error has no rights, except to disappear.

Far from hurting the apostolate, this doctrinal intolerance fructifies it. What is the first need of modern souls, lost in the complexity of systems without harmony and unity? Doctrine! Is there such a thing as a “modern” soul? No, there are simply ruined intellects. The Dominican applies himself to restore order, bring back the exiled truth, generous and magnificent Queen. In her escort, she will bring back all our old lost Christian glories.

Saint Dominic’s Testament

“My very dear brothers, this is what I leave to you as a possession to be held by right of inheritance by you, my children. Have charity, preserve humility, and possess voluntary poverty.”

Such was the testament of Our Father St. Dominic on August 6, 1221. “Do not weep, I will be more useful after my death than I was during my life,” he added before giving his soul to God.

A little beforehand, after making his general confession to Brother Ventura, he told the Brothers around him, “The mercy of God has conserved until this day my flesh pure and stainless. If you want this same grace, avoid all suspicious occasions. The way in which this virtue is kept makes the servant agreeable to Our Lord and gives him glory and credit before people. Keep serving God in the fervor of the spirit, apply yourselves to uphold and spread this Order which has only started, be constant in holiness, in regular observance and grow in virtue.”

After 800 years we can notice that this inheritance has been transmitted from generation to generation. The Order has had to be reformed many times because of human weakness, but has never ceased to produce Saints and to preach the Sacred Truth.

More than ever the harvest is great and the laborers few. Hence to celebrate St. Dominic this year, we dare ask all our friends to storm Heaven with their prayers for Dominican vocations.

The Religion of Medicine and the credulity of skeptics

Medicine holds a high place in the society of skeptics. The more man distances himself from Christian virtues, the more he attaches himself to life. Whether he believes to return to nothing, or the thought of an afterlife comes to torment him, to live a long time is his principal affair, since his nature abhors nothing and his conscience fears eternity.

He fears sickness not only because it is the privation of pleasure, the only happiness to which he looks for, not only because it causes pain, of which he ignores the price and against which his soul is powerless, but because it is the announcement or threat of this death which will either destroy him completely like an animal or perhaps deliver him to perish in the hands of the Supreme Justice. As long as he is well, he is voluntarily skeptical, and irreverent towards the art of healing, at the first sign of sickness, medicine becomes his only hope. He delivers himself to medicine docile to the point of cowardice, gullible to the point of stupidity.

The Religion of medicine knows no atheist among those who deny the rest. How often do we not see these people, mocking religious practices and abstinence, who as soon as they have a real or imaginary disease become sober, chaste, flee the world and its seductions, make a retreat to the countryside, and pilgrimages far off […]. There is nothing that medicine cannot obtain from them. Their body which gives them so many worries is submitted to penances without number. They pay and swallow without complaining the worst drugs, they stay in prison, and they walk vigorously through the countryside, whip themselves, exile themselves, or even go into icy or putrid waters. What will they not do?

If the doctor told them to spend every day two hours kneeling on a kneeler before a lighted candle, certainly they would fill our churches and force the State to build new ones.

-Louis Veuillot (1813-1883)

Community Chronicle

February 14th: Our senior class leaves for their pilgrimage to Rome accompanied by Father Terence. Because of the present circumstances the churches are rather empty, which thus allows a greater recollection for prayer.

February 27th: His Excellency Bishop Faure confers the tonsure on our Brothers Pie-Marie and Marie-Thomas as well as the second minor orders upon Brother Augustine-Marie.

April 21st: All the brothers available are called on to help plant 2500 potato seedlings in our garden.

May 23rd: Several of our Fathers are absent to accompany pilgrimages for the feast of Pentecost, for example at Ile Bouchard or Vézelay.

June 3rd: Father Prior represents the community at Riddes in Switzerland for the 60th anniversary of Father Epiney’s priestly ordination. Father Epiney is the priest who “welcomed” Archbishop Lefebvre to Ecône when the seminary was founded because Ecône is geographically in the parish of Riddes. Father has remained faithful despite many persecutions and trials over these 60 years.

June 19th: Part of the community assists at the ordinations conferred by His Excellency Bishop Faure at Morannes (about 45 minutes from our friary). Rev. Fr. Chirico (from Italy) was ordained to the priesthood and Rev. Mr. Nass (from Brazil) was ordained to the diaconate. Both of them followed their studies at our friary.

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July 4th: Fathers Innocent-Marie, Marie-Dominique and Emmanuel-Marie participate at the 50th anniversary celebration of the MJCF (a French Catholic youth movement for apostolate). Many conversions and vocations have come from this movement. The first members of our Dominican community also come from this youth group.

July: Among our summer apostolate there are two retreats (one men’s and one ladies’) and also several camps for young boys and young girls. It is an example of the Dominican life that preaches in all circumstances (from a Sunday sermon to classes in a school, from a spiritual retreat to two weeks in the mountains for a summer camp).

August 4th: This year it is the 800th anniversary of our Holy Father Saint Dominic’s entrance into Heaven (August 6th, 1221). His Excellency Bishop Faure honors us with his presence to help celebrate the occasion with a Pontifical High Mass and a conference on the present day crisis. In the evening our annual retreat begins preached by Father Dominique Rousseau on the mystery of the Transfiguration.

August 14th: For the Vigil of the Assumption our Brother Vincent makes his first vows while Brother Augustine-Marie renews his. As for Brother Jean, he makes his perpetual profession in the Third Order as an oblate brother.

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August 15th: Procession in honor of Our Lady through the streets of the neighborhood.

August 18th: Father Marie-Laurent leaves for a few days of apostolate in Prague and its surroundings.

August 19th: Father Alain accompanies our tertiaries on a pilgrimage in the footsteps of Saint Dominic at Fanjeaux.

August 22nd: For the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Miss Juniper Figueroa (from St. Mary’s, Kansas) received the Dominican habit in the young community of teaching sisters just five minutes from our friary. Her name is now Sister Catherine-Marie (in honor of St. Catherine of Ricci).

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September 7th: Father François-Marie celebrates the funeral of his two parents, who died three days apart shortly after their 70th wedding anniversary.

September 13th: The school year begins once again for both our grade school and our boarding school.

News from our worksites

The Covidian Crisis brings along with it many delays. Among others, the construction companies are taking much longer to respond to our bidding invitations.

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Parish Hall Project

We are also considering enclosing the woods of our property with a real fence. Yet, it remains to be decided before God which worksites are the most important, taking into account our present means.

“Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.” (Mt. 25, 40)

Sermon of Bishop Gerardo Zendejas in Avrillé – February 9, 2019

Sermon of Bishop Gerardo Zendejas in Avrillé for taking of Cassocks, Tonsures, First and Second Minor Orders for Saint-Louis Grignion-de-Montfort Seminary and the Dominicans

Saturday February 9, 2019

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+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Ghost

Dear Bishop Faure, Father Prior, Priests, Brothers, Sister, my dear Brethren….

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Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, our venerable Founder, has always encouraged us with his 1974 doctrinal declaration, like a testament for preserving Catholic Tradition as essential element in Catholicism. Here are some exerts of his words…

Even though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema.” (Gal. 1;8)…

“… The lex orandi cannot be profoundly changed without changing the lex credendi. The New Mass is in line with the new catechism, the new priesthood, new seminaries, new universities, and the charismatic or Pentecostal church, all of which are in opposition to orthodoxy and to the all time Magisterium.

This reform, since it has issued from Liberalism and Modernism, entirely is corrupt. It comes from heresy and results in heresy, even if all its acts are not formally heretical. It is thus impossible for any faithful Catholic who is aware of these things to adopt this reform, or to submit to it in any way at all. To ensure our salvation, the only attitude of fidelity to the Church and to Catholic doctrine, is a categorical refusal to accept the reform.

It is for this reason that, without any rebellion, bitterness or resentment, we pursue our work of the formation of priests under the star of all times Magisterium, in the conviction that we can thus do no greater service to the holy Catholic Church, to the Sovereign Pontiff, and to future generations….”

My dear brethren, let us give thanks to Our Lord Jesus Christ, Lord of Lords and King of Kings, Who allows us to meet here once again at Avrillé to participate together in this ceremony of Tonsure and Minor Orders, which are ascending steps for the continuation of the Catholic Priesthood according to the Traditional Roman Rite of Ordination, as Archbishop Lefebvre has transmitted to us the Deposit of the Faith so that we should continue to do likewise for future generations.

Dear Seminarians and Dominican Brothers, God willing, you might be future priests; and you, dear faithful, should pray for religious vocations to come out from your young families. Therefore, let’s summarize, as it seems to me, in two points these words “for future generations.”

1) The preservation of the Catholic Priesthood

2) The Royalty of Our Lord Jesus Christ professed by Episcopal Ministry

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1) The Catholic Priesthood

As Archbishop Lefebvre constantly insisted, the raison d’être for a Catholic priest is the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the continuation of His Cross on Calvary through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The priest must necessarily live the precepts of the Gospel, namely, poverty-obedience-chastity through prayer and abnegation, in order to preserve his raison d’être. If a priest neglects the Cross of Jesus Christ, he is certainly losing the essential element for the eternal salvation of his soul and of many others.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass should certainly keep up that grace which we have received at our baptism. When our godparents have said we renounce Satan, his works and allurements, the priest has also said to us “serva mandata; Keep the Commandments of God.” Then he put the white veil on our head, and in giving out a candle to us through the intermediary of our godparents he has said – “Keep intact the purity of your soul as this linen with which you are covered, and then you shall have eternal life.” We must therefore fulfill our baptismal promises so that we could enter in the Kingdom of heaven.

For those who have entered in religious life, they have pronounced their religious vows, engaging in a solemn way themselves even more than any faithful, devoting themselves not only to almighty God but also the whole Church. That’s why pronouncing their vows of religion, they have engaged themselves in a public and official way, acknowledged by the Church, practicing the vows of poverty, obedience and chastity. This is the raison d’être for a religious – he has made his profession to tend to perfection, and to strive for holiness.

And you, who are going to be tonsured – my dear Levites, as Archbishop Lefebvre used to called us – you are going to receive the cassock and the tonsure; but these two things are very distinct: One can receive the religious habit, yet without receiving Tonsure.

One enters into the clergy by the tonsure; this is the Tradition in the Catholic Church. In receiving the tonsure, there is already a promise to go to the Altar – to ascend to the altar. A Tonsured can be promoted by his superiors to receive Minor Orders, and in preparation to receive the Major Orders: a Sub-Deacon commits himself to his vow of chastity forever; a deacon approach closer to the altar by preaching, baptizing and giving holy communion; and then comes the priesthood – a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

As Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches, there are two signs which determine someone’s vocation, this is to say – the inclination of the person who wants to pursue a religious vocation, and the acceptation or calling from the bishop to receive step-by-step the holy Orders. As a matter of fact, many people are willing to follow their vocation but very few of them are promoted by the calling of the bishop.

To those who are receiving Minor Orders, the Bishop is about to warn you saying: “You must give example by your life; you must sanctify the faithful by the example of your life, not only by words, not only by performing your functions, but also by the example of your life.”

In fact, in every admonition he gives to the Order of Lector or Porter, as well as to the Order of Exorcist or Acolyte; the bishop reminds the exigency to engage oneself in following Our Lord Jesus Christ in order to perform the most important act, which Our Lord did – His sacrifice.

Doubtless to say that throughout the history of the church, all the disasters and misfortunes have come in general from the lukewarm clerics and religious. Why?

For clerics have befallen into sins of the flesh, or have chosen some comfort in sharing the world, or have indulged some Satan’s pride alike. Many of them have abandoned the royal way of the Holy Cross, which is scandal for the Jews and foolishness for the pagans…. Unfortunately, there are many religious souls practicing a double standard in life, in one hand a worldly private life and on the other a public tepid life.

What to do about that? The Archbishop reminds us once again that…

…This is not a human battle. We are in close fight with Satan. It is a struggle that demands all the supernatural forces which we need, in order to fight against him who wants to radically destroy the Church; he wanted to do so since Our Lord has born; and he wants to continue on abolishing and destroying the Mystical Body, wiping out His reign and all His institutions whatever they may be.

We have to be conscious of this dramatic, apocalyptic struggle in which we live, and not minimize it. To the extent of, if we minimize it, our eagerness in the battle grows less. We then become weaker and dare no more to proclaim the Truth….” (Archbishop June 29, 1987)

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2) The Royalty of Our Lord Jesus Christ professed by Episcopal ministry.

We have received the means to instruct formally with Catholic doctrine the future priests, in order to administer to them, the Sacrament of the Holy Orders according to Traditional Roman Rite. You well know that there can be no priest without a bishop. Thus, bishops by divine institution are shepherds of souls, directed for their eternal salvation through the means of the Sacred Magisterium, and of the legislative and judicial power. They are responsible to Christ for their divine commission. At their Episcopal consecration, the power of Order endows them in particular to sanctify souls by the administration of the sacrament of Confirmation and of the Holy Orders.

Indeed, Archbishop Lefebvre by consecrating bishops has formally continued the constitution of the Catholic Church in order to keep Tradition alive. In providing the Episcopal ministry descending in direct line from the Apostolic succession without doubt, the marks of One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church are being preserve through today’s crisis of the Faith and of the world.

More than ever, there is a major conflict between Faith and authority. The normal and ordinary situation of the Catholic Church certainly is that the pope, bishops and priests must lead an orientation according to the Catholic tenets of our Faith, which have divinely revealed to us and are exteriorly commissioned to the hierarchy, or at least they should not contradict them. At the contrary, we are in the deepest of an extraordinary crisis within the Church. It is evident for us that the New Evangelization of today’s Pope, coming as consequence of the Vatican II reforms, is diametrical opposed to the Catholic Magisterium of all time; it is a “New Gospel,” which Saint Paul has warned us to let it be an ANATHEMA!

In fact, last few years papal interventions, which are leading the dramatic crisis to desecrate the Catholic Faith, such interventions have rejected the Royalty of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, the Roman authorities have proclaimed Liberalism as the ruling principle of Religious Liberty in individual consciences and in public laws of institutions and Governments. The Vatican II document on Religious Liberty declares that no Government of any Country is competent in religious matter; therefore they cannot decide what religion is true, or what religion is false. State Laws must consequently let all religious errors – whatever they are – be spread out in their autonomous social domain, because Man is free to have his own Religion, with his own moral decisions and own ways of worship, including those ones done against nature.

For Tradition, Jesus Christ is true God and true Man, as well as a true King in all domains – yesterday, today and forever. Pontius Pilate asked to him, then are you a King? Yes, yourself have said: I am a King, for that I have born. I have come to the world in order to give testimony of the Truth…

So, instead of preaching about the Royalty of our Lord Jesus Christ the modern Roman authorities have constantly uncrowned and humiliated our King of Kings and our Lord of Lords. In the same token a large number of Traditional priests, including bishops, have been compromising the Universal Kingship of Our Lord by progressive public omission and by silent commission. It is precisely what Liberalism has silently engaged in the SSPX leadership in working for an agreement with today’s Roman authorities, promoters of Pope Francis New Evangelization. Here is a mystery of iniquity!

That’s why we should remind ourselves these words of the Archbishop Lefebvre:

It is for this reason that, without any rebellion, bitterness or resentment, we pursue our work of the formation of priests under the star of all times Magisterium, in the conviction that we can thus do no greater service to the holy Catholic Church, to the Sovereign Pontiff, and to future generations….”

With integrity and fidelity to the Traditional doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church, we resist the “novelties” preached since the Second Vatican Council, those novelties were wanted, both encouraged and imposed by the highest Roman authorities. Even though, we believe against any human appearance, and hope against any human hope, that Tradition must restore all things in Christ, and rather sooner than later, today’s chaos will go away, because the gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church.

There is no question for us of separating ourselves from Rome, either of putting ourselves under any foreign government, or of establishing a sort of parallel church as the Bishops of Palmar of Troya [Bp. Din-Thuc consecrations line] have done in Spain. They have even elected a pope, have formed a college of cardinals… It is out of the question for us to do such things. Far from us to be this miserable thought of separating ourselves from Rome! (Archbishop June 30, 1988)

God alone knows how far this apostasy can go. Indeed, we have some duties of state to keep up, as Our Lady of Fatima told us to do, if we want to remain Catholic and if we want to continue the Church. Within the Episcopal ministry, we have serious obligations urging us, primarily, to multiply the priests who believe in Our Lord Jesus Christ, and in His royalty, and in His Social Kingship according to the doctrine of the Church.

After thirty years of the 1988 Episcopal Consecrations, we really appreciate Archbishop Lefebvre’s operation survival in keeping the mark of Apostolicity in the Holy Catholic Church, conferring Episcopal consecrations with legitimate validity for the continuation of the Apostolic Traditions.

Let’s us renew our consecration to the Mother of God, as Saint Cyril of Alexandria called her Theotokos, preaching that all Our Lady’s privileges derive from her Maternity. She can only have perfect faith in the divinity of her Divine Son. And we should ask from Our Lord such faith that she had in Her King and our King, in Her Lord and Our Lord. Therefore, we should believe the incredible so that we could do even the impossible – in restoring all things in Christ.

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Viva Cristo Rey!