On the Occasion of the First Anniversary of the Foundation
Pope Benedict XVI Encourages the Confraternities
What an amazing spectacle in Rome, St. Peter Square on Saturday, November 10th 2007, during the papal audience for thousands of members of so numerous Italian confraternities! Each one apparently was represented with embroidered banners, hoods, various scapulars and emblems, reflecting the diversity of gifts and charismas inspired by the Holy Spirit in the Mystical Body of Christ, attesting also to the value and timeliness of the bond contracted over the last 12 months by nearly 1,700 Catholics, now members of the Confraternity of Saint Peter.
Indeed, on today’s Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter (February 22, 2008), it is one year since our little Confraternity of Saint Peter was founded. The superiors of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) had as their objective to offer, to all those who desire, a more particular bond of spiritual association with our institute. This initiative met the aspirations of many faithful throughout the world who support the FSSP with their prayers, their donations and their sacrifices and who wanted to formalize their commitment to our community, to its members and to its works.
Workers for the Harvest
The FSSP is indeed a priestly institute numbering 317 priests and seminarians, all sharing a traditional view of the priesthood. We thank God that we have been able to ordain an average of 13 new priests per year since 2000. This represents one new priest every 28 days over the last eight years. Now, if a priestly vocation is above all a gift from the Master of the Harvest, it is certainly encouraged and nurtured through the intercession of many families, parishes, Catholic associations, schools, etc. who pray the Lord for holy priests, so urgently needed nowadays.
Dear reader: you are certainly not missing on the list of these intercessors! The members of the FSSP are well aware of what they owe to your support, to your trust and loyalty. Please accept our heartfelt thanks and our sincere appreciation.
Some of you, who, due to age, distance or for other reasons, are prevented from a regular access to our chapels, nonetheless can find in the Confraternity a simple way to participate in the labor of sanctification which is conducted by our institute. Among the members of the Confraternity there are also people who, without usually resorting to our traditional charisma, appreciate its value and want to encourage it as a precious asset for the evangelization of our times. These various situations show a common attachment to our traditional ministry in the service of the whole Church. In return, our priests and seminarians pray for the members of the Confraternity of St. Peter and for their families, particularly during the Masses that the members ask to offer each year, and more generally, because of the confraternal bond they have contracted with us: “Institutes which have associations of Christ’s faithful joined to them are to have a special care that these associations are imbued with the genuine spirit of their family.” (cf Code of Canon Law, Can. 677§2).
Communion of Saints
By combining our respective needs and aspirations, the Confraternity of St. Peter characterizes this universal exchange of merits and suffrages professed in the Creed as “communion of saints”. By becoming a member of the Confraternity of St. Peter, each person of 14 years or older (whether secular or consecrated: religious and clergy are definitely welcome) indicates his or her desire for a prayer made more ardent and fruitful when applied to this particular family, which is our traditional priestly Fraternity. This choice does not restrict the effectiveness of prayers and sacrifices, but rather it concentrates and stimulates them for the benefit of the Mystical Body of Christ as a whole, i.e. the universal Church.
The members of the Confraternity not only pray for our priests and seminarians: they also pray for the other members of the Confraternity of St. Peter. To date we count 1,700 members of all ages and walks of life, in Europe, in Africa, in America, in Asia and Oceania. Every day they recite a decade of their Rosary for the intentions of the Confraternity, followed by the Prayer of the Confraternity for vocations.
What solace this is for each member who can, amid the small and big daily worries, say to him- or herself that every 24 hours all other members of the Confraternity have prayed for her or him! What a joy it is to know, when we feel lonely or helpless, that in the space of the same day, from so many places on the globe, we have sent to Heaven with the same words such a powerful fraternal intercession! What a wonder when, already here on earth, we may witness what relief God might generously have deigned to procure to a priest, to a seminarian, to a mother, to a teenager through the merit of this daily prayer! Finally, how grateful we shall be when, at the twilight of our lives, we will learn that our poor soul, if imperfect and if tepid, could not have obtained such success against temptation, made such a progress in virtue without the prayers of the other members of the Confraternity of St. Peter!
We receive all graces indeed from Christ through Mary, brought to our soul through the channels of his Body, which is the Church. By offering each year the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the daily prayers, to which the members are committed (Prayer for the vocations and one decade of the Rosary), the Confraternity draws our intellects and hearts every day closer to Christ the High Priest and to his Mother Immaculate. Such spiritual progress, although obtained by other souls through different means, is sought by our members within the Confraternity, which has proved a reliable answer to their needs, not preventing them either from using additional devotions which the Spirit of Wisdom and Love might inspire them.
“Follow their footsteps!”
Let us conclude by quoting our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, in his address to the Italian Confraternities three months ago: “[…] I encourage you to multiply the initiatives and activities of each of your Confraternities. I ask you above all to take care of your spiritual formation and to tend to holiness, following the examples of authentic Christian perfection who are not absent from your Confraternities’ history. Not a few of your brethren, with courage and great faith, have distinguished themselves in the course of the centuries as sincere and generous labourers of the Gospel, sometimes even to the sacrifice of their life. Follow in their footsteps! Today, it is still most necessary to cultivate a true ascetical and missionary impetus in order to face the many challenges of the modern age. May the Holy Virgin protect and guide you, and may your Patron Saints assist you from Heaven! […]”.
Rev. Fr. Armand de Malleray, FSSP
General Chaplain of the Confraternity of St. Peter
On Friday 22 February 2008, at the FSSP motherhouse in Wigratzbad.
February 22, 2008