On the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Dear Members of the Confraternity of Saint Peter,
Fraternal greetings in Our Lord and in St Peter our Patron.
Introduction: This letter is to thank you. In exactly three weeks, we will celebrate the 5th anniversary of the foundation of the Confraternity of Saint Peter. [N.B. Ash Wednesday taking precedence as a universal feria of the 1st class, our particular 1st class feast of the Chair of St Peter is transferred this year to the following day, i.e. Thursday 23 February 2012. On that day then, rather than on the 22nd February, you can gain the plenary indulgence at the usual conditions.] In that perspective I am writing to you to express the gratitude of our priests and seminarians for your lasting commitment and for your generous support to our vocations and to our ministry.
History: Following a resolution by the last General Chapter (2006) of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter, the Confraternity of Saint Peter was founded on 22 February 2007 as an answer to the petitions of fellow Catholics desiring to be more closely associated to the ministry of our Fraternity. Not being a religious order, we do not run a third order as such, but we could offer our faithful the support of a sodality. From medieval times sodalities had proved a deeply traditional and efficient way of sanctification for the laity and for the clergy: such time-proofed instruments are not obsolete in the current dechristianisation. This is to our mutual advantage, as CSP members and FSSP members pray for each other and support each other according to our respective vocations.
Commitments: Five years later the Confraternity numbers 3,750 worldwide. As members (Catholic with minimum age fourteen) you commit to: every day: 1) pray one decade of the Holy Rosary for the sanctification of our priests and for our priestly vocations, 2) and recite the Prayer of the Confraternity; and every year: 3) have the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered once for these intentions.
Please remember to fulfill those obligations. If you find that you cannot do it anymore, please notify your chaplain of your decision, so as to avoid theoretical membership. Your commitments cease when you receive written acknowledgment from your CSP chaplain. If as expected every enrolled member does fulfill his or her daily and yearly commitments, then every day 3,750 decades of the Rosary and as many times the specific Prayer are offered for the intentions of our priests and seminarians. Every day also, at your request, over ten Holy Masses are offered in support of our priestly ministry and to foster priestly vocations to our Fraternity.
God’s holy Harvest: Dear Friends, the ‘Master of the Harvest’ hears you! Our international seminaries have been blessed with an unprecedented intake of 49 and 44 applicants in the last two years, bringing the total number of our seminarians to 162 – over 80 in each of our seminaries. Furthermore, whereas many religious and diocesan institutions undergo dramatic variations, the number of our priestly ordinations is characterised by a remarkable stability, with an average 12 priests ordained each year since 2000. Undoubtedly, your dedication and intercession as members of the Confraternity of Saint Peter are a decisive factor in those achievements. Thankfully, even more people outside the Confraternity pray for us daily: but the 3,750 of you do so with the intention of fulfilling a formal commitment, whence increased merits and graces.
In return, you may rely on the spiritual benefits gained by you as members of the Confraternity. Your commitments place you among our most faithful benefactors, and as such, among the particular recipients of our 390 priests’ and seminarians’ daily prayers. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered each month for the members of the Confraternity in each area. According to our abilities and to your expectations, recollections and instructions in the faith are also offered. I would like on your behalf to thank the regional CSP chaplains who, as well as taking care of their local apostolate, spur efforts to provide for you in linguistic areas stretching across several countries: Fr James Fryar for the English-speaking Region, Fr François Pozzetto for the French-speaking Region, and Fr Stefan Reiner for the German-speaking Region.
Lay members and more: In places where there is no stable FSSP ministry yet, the Confraternity of St Peter provides a rare opportunity for people to become members of our spiritual family despite the distance. Where the FSSP is already established, CSP members are often among our most dedicated parishioners.
Please note that the Confraternity is not for lay Catholics only. From the beginning, consecrated persons, either religious or clerics, have been expected to join as well. To this date, over a hundred have. In Great Britain only, for example, already ten parish priests have joined the Confraternity. There are no extra commitments for clergy. The only difference is that priest members would offer the annual Mass for the Confraternity themselves, rather than have it said by another priest. Especially when they feel isolated and sidelined due to their courageous attachment to the Roman traditions, religious and diocesan priests (and future priests) find spiritual solace in joining the Confraternity as added members of our priestly family, even though they may not intend to join the FSSP. “12. To aid the sanctification of the clergy, the Fraternity of Saint Peter will offer priests the possibility of retreats and days of recollections. The houses of the Fraternity could host priestly fraternities, and journals could be published for the sanctification of priests. The Fraternity will be pleased to come to the aid of aged or sickly priests, or those with special needs” (emphasis ours – cf Constitutions of the FSSP, definitively approved by the Holy See on 29 June 2003). There is no canonical objection either to male and female religious fulfilling the CSP commitments, at their superiors’ discretion. I thus exhort all members to suggest to sympathetic priests, deacons and religious to join the Confraternity.
Information: Some of your acquaintances may simply not know about the Confraternity. Please kindly tell them about it and direct them to your local chaplain. An efficient way is also to hand out to them flyers about the Confraternity and enrollment forms, that they may have concrete material to consider and may ask you questions if they wish. Since the Prayer of the Confraternity refers to priestly vocations and priestly ministry in a general sense, you may also suggest to your local pastor, even though he may not be a member of the FSSP or of the CSP, that the same Prayer be recited before the Blessed Sacrament exposed, asking “the master of the harvest to send out labourers for his harvest” (Mt 9:38).
Conclusion: The Confraternity of St Peter is a light and simple way of strengthening the family ties between souls and Holy Mother Church and God, through the ministry of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter. As a special intention dear to our spiritual family, may I take the opportunity of this letter to ask for your prayers in particular for the success of our next General Chapter, to take place in our American seminary from 3rd to 18th July 2012? I thank you for your generous commitment and I assure you of my prayers for you, especially this 23rd February on the 5th anniversary of our Confraternity.
Cordially in St Peter,
Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP
General Chaplain of the Confraternity of St Peter
February 22, 2012