ELEISON COMMENTS DCCXCVIII (October 29, 2022) : 79 SEMINARIANS – I
Some good news for what can be called the Newsociety of St Pius X is that it had this year in its four major seminaries, taken together, a record intake of 79 young men taking action to try their vocations for the traditional Catholic priesthood : Flavigny (Econe), France 21; Zaitzkofen (Germany) 21; Dillwyn (USA) 28 and La Reja (Latin America) 9. In today’s anti-traditional world this is an admirable feat, and while a number of these entrants will certainly not persevere all the way to the priesthood, nevertheless they represent a serious hope of many of them providing Catholic sacraments in, say, six years’ time.
By way of contrast, the only classical seminary of what can be called the “Resistance” movement in Morannes, France, has only one or two young men entering this year to try their vocation. At least one reader of these “Comments” is led to ask the question, should not the “Resistance”, from the moment that it started, have been structured with an organised Congregation and seminary, as was the Society of Archbishop Lefebvre, to collect and rally refugees and dissidents from that original SSPX instead of letting them just vanish into independent obscurity ? The same reader grants that the substance or content of the Newsociety is no longer what it was under the Archbishop, but he attributes that decline rather to a lack of leadership than to a maintaining of structure and organisation, so that if only the “Resistance” had not tended to give up on structure, it might have succeeded better than, so to speak, one or two to 79.
The question is serious, and it has been there since the beginning of the “Resistance”, because Our Lord instituted the Catholic Church as the monarchy of a Pope (Peter) with Apostles (bishops) and Disciples (priests) and laity organised hierarchically beneath him, with every member of that hierarchy having a lawful Superior or Superiors up to and including the Pope, who answers to God for how he governs all Catholics beneath him. This structure is already clear in the New Testament from the very beginning of the Church, and it depends on the obedience of all Catholics to their respective Superiors for the Church to hold together, and to save souls for eternity by maintaining intact Catholic truth and morals. Moreover, by His own atrocious death on the Cross Our Lord gave to Catholics the sublime example of the obedience that they would need as His followers to do the will of their Father in heaven.
However, this obedience and the Church structure that goes with it is not an end in itself. Its final end or purpose is the salvation of souls for the glory of God. Thus the last Canon in the Church’s Code of Canon Law states that “The supreme law is the salvation of souls.” But souls cannot be saved unless they please God, they cannot please God without faith (Hebrews XI, 6). Therefore a prime purpose of Church Authority is to protect Catholic Truth amongst men from the ravages that will be caused to it by their original and personal sins. In other words, Catholic Truth is purpose and substance of Catholic Authority, and not the other way round. Thus in His Passion Our Lord tells Peter that Satan will put him to the trial, but Our Lord will be praying for his “faith not to fail”, and once Peter himself has “turned again” (understand, from his triple denial in the Truth), then let him use his Authority to “strengthen his brethren”, i.e. the other Apostles. Truth is the basis of Peter’s Authority (Lk. XXII, 31).
But the heart and soul of the present crisis of the Church, unprecedented in all Church history, is that Vatican II (1962 to 1965) split Catholic Authority from Catholic Truth. From, now, six successive Popes downwards, the Catholic hierarchy has abandoned Catholic Tradition, forcing all Catholics who believe both in Truth and in Authority to become more or less schizophrenic. Had Archbishop Lefebvre not blazed the trail of returning to Tradition, i.e. Truth, never would there be these 79 vocations. But are they, in the Newsociety, going to be taught his greatest lesson ? See these “Comments” next week.
God bless young men seeking God’s will today.
But will the structures teach it ? We must pray.