Decree of Pope Francis concerning the FSSP
Sanctus Pater Franciscus, omnibus et singulis sodalibus Instituti vitae consecratae “Fraternitas Sancti Petri » nuncupati, die 18 iulii 1988 erecti et a Sancta Sede pontificii iuris declarati, facultatem concedit celebrandi sacrificium Missae, sacramentorum necnon alios sacros ritus, sicut et persolvendi Officium divinum, iuxta editiones typicas librorum liturgicorum, scilicet Missalis, Ritualis, Pontificalis et Breviarii, anno 1962 vigentium.
Qua facultate uti poterunt in ecclesiis vel oratoriis propriis, alibi vero nonnisi de consensu Ordinarii loci, excepta Missae privatae celebratione.
Quibus rite servatis, Sanctus Pater etiam suadet ut sedulo cogitetur, quantum fieri potest, de statutis in litteris apostolicis motu proprio datis Traditionis Custodes.
Datum Romae, Sancti Petri, die XI mensis Februarii, in memoria Beatae Mariae Virginis de Lourdes, anno MMXXII, Pontificatus Nostri nono.
Decree of Pope Francis confirming the use of the 1962 liturgical books
[Original: Latin and Spanish]
The Holy Father Francis, grants to each and every member of the Society of Apostolic Life “Fraternity of Saint Peter”, founded on July 18, 1988 and declared of “Pontifical Right” by the Holy See, the faculty to celebrate the sacrifice of the Mass, and to carry out the sacraments and other sacred rites, as well as to fulfill the Divine Office, according to the typical editions of the liturgical books, namely the Missal, the Ritual, the Pontifical and the Roman Breviary, in force in the year 1962.
They may use this faculty in their own churches or oratories; otherwise it may only be used with the consent of the Ordinary of the place, except for the celebration of private Masses.
Without prejudice to what has been said above, the Holy Father suggests that, as far as possible, the provisions of the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes be taken into account as well.
Given in Rome, near St. Peter’s, on February 11, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, in the year 2022, the ninth year of my Pontificate.
Official Communiqué from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter
Fribourg, February 21, 2022
On Friday, February 4, 2022, two members of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, Fr. Benoît Paul-Joseph, Superior of the District of France, and Fr. Vincent Ribeton, Rector of St. Peter’s Seminary in Wigratzbad, were received in private audience by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, for nearly an hour.
During the very cordial meeting, they recalled the origins of the Fraternity in 1988, the Pope expressed that he was very impressed by the approach taken by its founders, their desire to remain faithful to the Roman Pontiff and their trust in the Church. He said that this gesture should be “preserved, protected and encouraged”.
In the course of the audience, the Pope made it clear that institutes such as the Fraternity of St. Peter are not affected by the general provisions of the Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes, since the use of the ancient liturgical books was at the origin of their existence and is provided for in their constitutions.
The Holy Father subsequently sent a decree signed by him and dated February 11, the day the Fraternity was solemnly consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, confirming for the members of the Fraternity the right to use the liturgical books in force in 1962, namely: the Missal, the Ritual, the Pontifical and the Roman Breviary.
Grateful to the Holy Father, the members of the Fraternity of St. Peter are in thanksgiving for this confirmation of their mission. They invite all the faithful who feel close to them as a spiritual family to attend or join them in prayer at the Mass tomorrow, on the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, and to pray for the Supreme Pontiff.
Source : www.fssp.org
Statement from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter
North American Provincial Headquarters
South Abington, Pennsylvania, February 21, 2022
The North American Province of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter is grateful to the Holy Father for this clarification. We also express our gratitude to the ever-glorious Mother of God, to whose Immaculate Heart the entire Fraternity of St. Peter was consecrated on February 11th, the date of the Holy Father’s decree. Finally, we express our gratitude to St. Joseph, Patron of the North American Province.
February 21, 2022
The Wax, the Wick, the Flame
by Fr. William Rock, FSSP
On February 2nd, the 40th and last day of Christmas, Our Lord’s Presentation in the Temple and Our Lady’s Purification are commemorated by the Church’s Liturgy. A unique part of this day’s Liturgy is the Solemn Blessing of Candles performed before Mass. Historically, in the Roman Rite, this Blessing of Candles was one of the three Solemn Blessings given from the Epistle Corner of the Altar with the ministers vested in violet, the other two being the Solemn Blessings of the Ashes and of the Palms.
While candles have a venerable place in the Church’s liturgical life, they are also held in respect because of Whom they symbolize, namely Our Lord Jesus Christ, the “light to the revelation of the Gentiles” (Luk 2:32, from the day’s Gospel). Following the explanation of St. Anselm of Canterbury, (d. A.D. 1109) this article will examine each part of the blessed candles in turn.
According to St. Anselm, the wax of the candle represents the Flesh, the Body, of Our Lord. As the first prayer of the Solemn Blessing states, these candles are composed of “perfect wax” which was created “by the labor of bees.” Traditionally, the body, or at least the greater part of the body, of the candles used in the Mass is made of beeswax.1 This is because, in their hierarchy, the bees who produce wax are female and have a perpetual virginity. This is the nature of bees.2 There is a fittingness that female bees, possessing a perpetual virginity, should produce the wax used in the body of the candle representing Christ for out of the Blessed and Ever Virgin Mary was formed the Sacred Body of Our Lord (Gal 4:43).
Just as the faithful can touch the body of a blessed candle, so too can Our Lord’s Body be touched, for it is a true Body (1 Joh 1:1). Some heretics, called Docetists, denied that Our Lord had a real, human body, claiming that it only appeared to be so.4 Against these, St. John in his First Epistle wrote: “By this is the spirit of God known. Every spirit which confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that dissolveth Jesus,” that is, anyone who denies the reality of the Our Lord’s Body, “is not of God. And this is Antichrist, of whom you have heard that he cometh: and he is now already in the world” (4:2-3). In his Second Epistle, St. John warns that “many seducers are gone out into the world who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh” (1:7).
Turning to the wick, St. Anselm sees symbolized the soul of Our Lord. The soul makes the material component of the human person a human body. The wick makes a candle, a candle, and not just a collection of wax. But there were heretics, such as Arius, who denied that Our Lord has a human soul, claiming the Divine Nature took the place of Our Lord’s human soul. The position that Our Lord did not have a human, rational soul was condemned by the Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451), the Second Council of Constantinople (A.D. 553), and the Council of Vienne (A.D. 1311–1312), all Ecumenical Councils. As the Athanasian Creed (Symbolum Quicumque) states, Our Lord is “perfect God and perfect man, subsisting with a rational soul and human flesh.”5
In the flame, St. Anselm understands Our Lord’s Divinity, for, as St. Paul wrote in the Letter to the Hebrews, quoting Deuteronomy, “our God is a consuming fire” (Heb 12:29/Deu 4:24). As St. Thomas explains in his commentary on this passage, God is not really a fire, for He is a spirit (Joh 4:24). But God is compared to fire
on account of His clarity, because He inhabits light inaccessible (1 Tim 6:16), and because He is supremely active: you have worked all our works in us (Isa 26:12), and He is in a loftier place: the Lord is high above all nations; and His glory above the heavens (Ps 113:4). Furthermore, He cleanses, and as it were, consumes sins; hence, He says that He is a consuming fire: He is like a refining fire, and what follows, and He shall purify the sons of Levi (Mal 3:2, 3); making purgation of sins (Heb 1:3). He also consumes sinners by punishing: but a certain dreadful expectation of judgment, and the rage of a fire which shall consume the adversaries (Heb 10:27).
Therefore, because such things are promised to us: and the light of Israel shall be as a fire, and the holy one thereof as a flame (Isa 10:17); a fire shall go before them and shall burn up enemies round about (Ps 97:3), we should strive to serve and please God.6
It should be noted that in his explanation of why God is likened to a consuming fire, St. Thomas quotes from the third chapter of the Book of the Prophet Malachias. The first four verses of this chapter, which includes the text quoted by St. Thomas, are used by the Roman Church as the Epistle for the Feast of the Purification.
It is in this manner that St. Anselm invites us to see Our Lord symbolized in blessed candles: “The wax, he says, which is the product of the virginal bee, is the Flesh of our Lord; the wick, which is within, is his Soul; the flame, which burns on the top, is his Divinity.”7
William Rock, FSSP was ordained in the fall of 2019 and is currently assigned to Regina Caeli Parish in Houston, TX.
- See Matters Liturgical , 154.
- About Honey Bees – Types, Races, and Anatomy from the University of Arkansas System, Division of Agricultural.
- Ott, Ludwig, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. Baronius Press, 2018, p. 155.
- Ibid., p. 152.
- Ibid., pp. 153-154.
- St. Thomas Aquinas’ Commentary on Hebrews, 725.
- Prosper, Guéranger. The Liturgical Year – Volume III – Christmas, Book II. Fitzwilliam: Loreto Publications, 2000, p. 474.
February 8, 2022
Preserve the Latin Mass Petition
We are happy to support an online petition in favor of the Traditional Latin Mass and Sacraments.
This petition to the Holy Father is respectful and charitable in tone and will no doubt be seen by many bishops, priests, and laity from around the world. We encourage you to go the website to sign the petition. To do more, you can ask ten of your friends, family members, and fellow parishioners to do the same!
The website may be found here: https://preservethelatinmass.org/
February 4, 2022
Message from the Confraternity of St. Peter Chaplain
Fr. James Fryar, English-speaking chaplain of the Confraternity of St. Peter, passes along this letter from the Confraternity’s General Chaplain, Fr. Stefan Reiner. It concerns the upcoming Marian consecration of the FSSP priests, and we encourage the members of the Confraternity especially to participate in this great initiative of prayer. The Novena begins on Candlemas, February 2nd, and ends with the Consecration itself on February 11th.–ed.
Dear Chaplains of the Confraternity,
With this short message I would like to address you regarding the upcoming novena and Marian consecration. Please do not forget to invite your members of the Confraternity especially to this novena and Marian consecration. I have received quite a few letters assuring me of personal prayers and offering to do everything possible so that the Fraternity may emerge strengthened from these difficulties. We should therefore invite in a special way the members of the Confraternity who, along with the FSSP confreres, belong to the closest family circle of the Fraternity, to make this novena and consecration with us.
Therefore, it would not be bad to put a few explanations about the Marian consecration in general or at least the text of the novena and consecration on your local homepage or to refer to the texts of the general homepage of the Fraternity:
Chers chapelains de la Confraternité,
Par ce bref message, je souhaite m’adresser à vous concernant la prochaine neuvaine et la consécration mariale. N’oubliez pas d’inviter tout particulièrement les membres de la Confraternité à cette neuvaine et à la consécration. J’ai reçu de nombreuses lettres de personnes qui m’ont assuré de leur prière personnelle et qui se sont proposées de faire tout ce qui est en leur pouvoir pour que la Confraternité sorte renforcée de ces difficultés. Nous devrions donc inviter tout particulièrement les membres de la Confraternité qui, avec les confrères de la FSSP, font partie du cercle familial le plus proche de la Fraternité, à accomplir avec nous cette neuvaine et cette consécration.
Il ne serait donc pas mauvais de mettre quelques explications sur la consécration mariale en général ou au moins le texte de la neuvaine et de la consécration sur votre site local ou de renvoyer aux textes du site général de la Fraternité :
P. Stefan Reiner
January 31, 2022
A Greek Start to the New Year
by Fr. William Rock, FSSP
The Roman Liturgy has never been afraid to borrow from other Apostolic Liturgical traditions in order to enrich her own. Such a borrowing occurs on the Octave Day of Christmas, January 1st, where the Benedictus Antiphon at Lauds is extracted from a hymn of the Greek Church which is sung on December 26th, a day the Greeks consecrate to the celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Latin of this Antiphon is as follows:
Mirábile mystérium declarátur hódie: innovántur natúræ, Deus homo factus est: id quod fuit permánsit, et quod non erat assúmpsit; non commixtiónem passus, neque divisiónem.
Which can be translated as:
An admirable mystery is this day revealed: the two Natures are united in a new way, God is made Man: He remained what He was, and He assumed what He was not, suffering neither confusion nor division.1
The subject matter of this Antiphon is one of the central mysteries of the Christian Faith and a focus of the Christmas season: the Incarnation. Unfortunately, various heresies have arisen over the course of the history of Christianity regarding this truth. Succinctly do the various parts of the Antiphon declare the Catholic and Apostolic Faith on the matter. Each will be treated in turn.
“The two Natures are united in a new way” – Prior to the Incarnation, the only union of the Divine and Human Natures, the two natures referred to by this portion of Antiphon, was when God brought those who believed in Him into a State of Sanctifying Grace, making them “partakers of the Divine Nature” (2 Pet 1:4).2 But, even though a man thus sanctified participated in the Divine Life and was elevated supernaturally, he still remained a human person, he still only possessed human nature. An elevated human nature to be sure, one united to and participating in the Divine Nature, but still only a human nature. In the case of Our Lord, the unity between His Divine and Human Natures was something completely new and unique to Him. He was not a Divine Person participating in human nature, nor was He a human person participating in the Divine Nature – as is possibly the case for all human persons. Rather, in the case of the Our Lord, the Divine and Human Natures were united personally. He is One Person in Two Natures. He is both God and Man.
“God is made man” – The Arian heresy claimed that “the Word (Logos) does not exist from all eternity. He is not generated from the Father, but is a creature of the Father, created by Him from nothing before all other creatures.”3 The Arians would hold, then, that the Word which was made man was only a creature and not God. Contrary to this, the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) taught that the One Who became Incarnate was “God from God, light from light, true God from true God…consubstantial with the Father”4 and the Creed Quicumque Vult (also known as the Athanasian Creed) declares the Son, the Word, to be “uncreated,” “eternal,” and that the “Son is God,”5 just as the Father is. This portion of the Antiphon excludes the Arian position that a creature, even the greatest of creatures, was made man by declaring that “God,” and nothing other than God, “is made man.” “God” meaning here, of course, the Person of the Son and “man” meaning, as explained in the just mentioned Creed, “perfect man, consisting of a rational soul and a human body.”6
“He remained what He was” – It is tempting to think that when the Son became Man, He underwent some sort of change, with something either being added to or taken away from His Divine Nature which allowed for its union with His Human Nature. But the Council of Nicaea anathemized in its Creed the position that the Son is “changeable or mutable,”7 for the Divine Nature is incapable of change. In the same vein, the Fathers of the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus (A.D. 431) proclaimed, “We do not say that the nature of the Word was changed” in the Incarnation (The Epistle of Cyril to Nestorius).8 And so, in the Incarnation, the Son remained what He was. His Divine Nature did not undergo any change whatsoever nor did it somehow suffer loss or a lessening in the Incarnation.
“He assumed what He was not” – While the Son, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father, was, is, and always will be God, in the Incarnation, He became man. He, being God and remaining God, became what He was not: Man. As the Creed Quicumque Vult explains, the Incarnation occurred “not by the conversion of the Divinity into a human body [which would be a change of the Divinity], but by the assumption of the humanity in the Godhead.”9 That the Word assumed a Human Nature is the language of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451) and The Tome of St. Leo (A.D. 499).10
“Suffering neither confusion” – The heresy of Monophysitism claimed that Christ is One Person and one nature. Some Monotheists “assumed a confusion or mixture of the Two Natures into one new third nature.”11 Contrary to this position, the Council of Chalcedon defined: “that one and the same Christ, the Son, the Lord, the Only-begotten is to be recognized in two natures without confusion…The distinction between the natures was never abolished by their union but rather the character proper to each of the two natures was preserved as they came together.”12 The One Person of the Son is preserved as well as the integrity of both the Divine and the Human Nature – for Our Lord is truly God and truly man, not some strange third thing.
“Nor division” – While the Monophysites combined the two Natures of Christ into one, those who followed the Nestorian heresy divide the Two Natures into two persons who are united morally. Nestorianism was condemned by the early Ecumenical Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon. The Council of Chalcedon “declared that the two natures of Christ are joined ‘in one Person…’”13 To partially fill in the ellipse from the preceding paragraph, the same Council taught “that one and the same Christ, the Son, the Lord, the Only-begotten is to be recognized in two natures without confusion…without division or separation.”
And thus, in only a few phrases, the Roman Benedictus Antiphon for the Feast of the Circumcision summarizes the main teachings of the Catholic Church regarding the Incarnation. By the prayers of her liturgy, the Church protects and declares the true faith.
Pondering all of what has just been said in our hearts, we clearly see that the opening of the Antiphon rings true, “an admirable mystery is this day revealed!”
William Rock, FSSP was ordained in the fall of 2019 and is currently assigned to Regina Caeli Parish in Houston, TX.
1. Prosper, Guéranger. The Liturgical Year – Volume II – Christmas, Book I. Fitzwilliam: Loreto Publications, 2000, p. 388. The antiphon can be variously translated. The Divinum Officium Project provides the following translation: “This day is set forth a wonderful mystery, a new thing hath been created in the earth: God is made man. That which He was, He remaineth; and that which He was not, He taketh; suffering therein neither confusion nor division.” For the purpose of this article, however, the translation from The Liturgical Year was used.
2. See Ott, Ludwig, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. Baronius Press, 2018, p. 276.
3. Ibid., p. 57.
4. Denzinger, Henry, The Sources of Catholic Dogma . Fitzwilliam: Loreto Publications, 2010, §54.
5. Ibid., §§39-40.
7. Ibid., §54.
8. Ibid., §111a.
9. Ibid., §§39-40.
10. Ibid., §143.
11. Ott, p. 159.
13. Ibid., p. 157.
January 18, 2022
OLG Seminary featured in Liturgical Arts Journal
Earlier this week, Liturgical Arts Journal ran a wonderfully extensive article on Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton Nebraska, featuring dozens of photographs of the interior and exterior and lots of great information on the historical foundation of the seminary, its architecture, and its academic and spiritual programs.
Read all about it on LAJ’s site here:
January 14, 2022
Thank You and Merry Christmas!
December 23, 2021
Do You Hear What I Hear?
By Fr. William Rock, FSSP
The Liturgical Year, with all of its seasons and feasts of the temporal cycle, is a whole. While this is hard to see as the faithful progress from one season to another, from one feast to another, it is nevertheless true and can be seen when examined with this view in mind. Holy Mother Church, for her part, leaves little hints here and there to lift the minds of the faithful to such considerations. One of the ways she does is by her use of chant and this from nearly the beginning of the Liturgical Year.
During the Office of Prime, the Martyrology1 entry for the following day is sung, when the Office is fully chanted, in the Prophecy Tone. This tone is also used for all the pre-Epistle Lessons sung at Mass, such as on Ember Days, during the ceremonies of the Triduum, and other such occasions. But during Prime of the Vigil of Christmas, Christmas Eve Day, something unique happens. After the usual introduction (which indicates the day of the Moon), the reading of the Martyrology commences with the Christmas Proclamation which details the lapse of time from various historical events to the Nativity of the Lord. There is a fittingness that these historical events leading up to the coming of the Lord should be sung in a Tone called Prophecy as at those times there was only a promise of a Redeemer yet to come.
But then, when the chanter reaches the phrase “in Bethlehem of Juda, is born of the Virgin, Mary, being made Man,” he raises the pitch of the chant a fourth,2 marking, perhaps, with excitement, the end of the time of promise, of expectation, and the start of something new, while all kneel, reverencing the Mystery of the Incarnation as during the Angelus, the Credo, and the Last Gospel of St. John’s Prologue. Then, exceptionally, the last line of the Proclamation – “The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the Flesh!” – is sung in tone which is similar to that used by the narrator during the Passions in Holy Week. In this way, the Liturgy links the celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord and His Passion and Death as presented during the liturgies of Holy Week and brings to mind that Christ came into this world to suffer and to die for our salvation.
As an aside, but still in keeping with the broader subject matter of this article, this is not the only instance during Advent which points forward to the Passion of Christ. During Vespers on the Sundays and Ferias of Advent, the Church sings in her hymn Creator alme siderum the following:
Who, that thou mightst our ransom pay
And wash the stains of sin away,
Wouldst from a Virgin’s womb proceed
And on the cross a victim bleed.3
Thus, from the First Vespers of the First Sunday of Advent, the Church is looking forward to the Passion. A similar tone is taken in the Advent Lauds Hymn, En clara vox redarguit:
Lo, the Lamb, so long expected,
Comes with pardon down from heaven;
Let us haste, with tears of sorrow,
One and all to be forgiven.4
The Lamb, referring to Christ, is an animal of sacrifice.
As the Liturgical Year transitions from Advent to Christmas, and then from Christmastide to the Feast of the Epiphany, another instance emerges. After the chanting of the Gospel on the feast of the Epiphany, the Noveritis (named from the first word of the text) is traditionally chanted at principal churches. This proclamation makes known to the faithful that year’s dates of Easter, Septuagesima, Ash Wednesday, Ascension, Pentecost, Corpus Christi, and the First Sunday of Advent (which are all moveable). As Dom Guéranger wrote in his Liturgical Year, “this custom…shows both the mysterious connection which unites the great Solemnities of the year one with another,” echoing the current general theme, “and the importance the faithful ought to attach to the celebration of the greatest one of all,”5 Easter. As the faithful are honoring the manifestations of Christ on the Epiphany, they will also celebrate Him, on the announced date of Easter, as the Conqueror of Death. But it is not just in the announcing of the Feast of Easter that this connection is made, for the chant of the Noveritis is nearly the same as the Exsultet of the Easter Vigil. As such, this chant gives a taste of Paschal joy and expectation to this publication of the date of Easter.
If these aforementioned chants can be used to point future events in the Liturgical Year, then their later use must necessarily point backwards. For would not hearing the Narrator of the Passions during Passion Week bring the faithful back in mind to the start of the Liturgical Year when it first resounded through the sacred edifice? And would not the strains of the Exsultet harken the listeners back to the proclamation which followed so quickly on the Lord’s Nativity? And just as Easter Sunday could not exist without Good Friday, so neither could the Exsultet be sung if it were not proceeded by the Passions. Nor could there be a Passion if there were no Incarnation and no public manifestations (epiphanies) of the Incarnate One.
This wholeness of Our Lord’s life, then, is not neglected by His Spouse, Holy Mother Church, for when she makes present to the faithful, through the sacred signs of the liturgy, what must necessarily be expressed in distinct observances by her children, time-bound, material creatures, she expresses that such observances are parts of a greater whole, connecting them in ways which reveal both her maternal solicitude for her children and her liturgical ingenuity.
William Rock, FSSP was ordained in the fall of 2019 and is currently assigned to Regina Caeli Parish in Houston, TX.
1. A book which contains many of the Saints and liturgical events associated with each given day.
2. Johner, Dominic. A New School of Gregorian Chant. New York: Fr. Pustet & Co., 1925, p 325. The notation for the Christmas Proclamation shown in the image is taken from here also, while the notation for the Passion, slightly modified, is taken from Cantus Passionis Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Secundum Matthaeum, Marcum, Lucam et Joannem. Ex Editione Vaticana, 1953, p. 7.
3. Britt, Matthew. The Hymns of The Breviary and Missal. New York: Benziger Brothers, 1936, pp. 95-97. This hymn is from the 7th century and is from the Ambrosian school. A more literal translation of the above is: “To expiate the common guilt of mankind, Thou, a spotless Victim, didst go forth to the Cross from the sacred womb of a Virgin.”
4. Ibid., pp 99-100. This hymn is from the 5th century and is from Ambrosian school. A more literal translation of the above is: “Behold, the Lamb is sent to us, to pay our debt gratuitously: together, let us all with tears pray for pardon.”
5. Prosper, Guéranger. The Liturgical Year – Volume III – Christmas, Book II. Fitzwilliam: Loreto Publications, 2000, p. 124. The translation of the Christmas Proclamation is taken from the same work, volume I, p. 511. The notation for the Noveritis shown in the image, as well as the image from the Pontificale is taken from Schola Sainte Cécile’s and the notation for the Exsultet is taken from the Roman Missal.
December 15, 2021
St. John Neumann on the Immaculate Conception
In 1854, St. John Neumann, bishop of Philadelphia, was invited to Rome to attend the promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Before he set sail, he issued an edifying Pastoral letter to his flock where he touched on this privilege of Our Lady. In joyous celebration today of the patroness of the USA, we are pleased to print an excerpt of this letter below. –ed.
“Although the Church has not yet declared the Immaculate Conception to be an article of faith, nevertheless it is evident she cherishes this most just and pious belief with a loving constancy second only to that infallible certainty with which she maintains the truth of all those doctrines the acceptance of which is necessary for salvation. With a zeal probably never surpassed in former ages, the subject has been investigated by many of the most gifted and holy men now living; and with such a munificent outlay of ancient and modern learning, of profound argument and soul-stirring eloquence have they treated it, as to leave not only the more devout clients of Mary, but every unbiassed mind convinced beyond the possibility of doubt, that if there be anything certainly true, next to the defined doctrines of faith, it is this apostolic and therefore ancient and beautiful belief.
Hence it is not surprising that, wherever enlightened piety exists, hardly a moment’s hesitation on this subject will be entertained. — Caro Jesu! Caro Mariæ ! –“The flesh of Jesus is the flesh of Mary!” they will at once exclaim with the great St. Augustine.
How can it be that the God of all purity, to whom even the least shadow of sin is an object of eternal abhorrence, should have suffered His Virgin Mother to be, even for an instant, such an object in His sight? From her He received that flesh and blood-that human nature in which, made one with the Divinity, He redeemed the world: and can we believe that the same in Mary’s person, in any possible degree, was ever sullied by the demon’s breath, dishonored by the taint of guilt? Or, again, with St. Cyril the pious Catholic will ask, “Who hath ever heard that an architect built a glorious dwelling for himself and at once gave it over to be possessed by his most cruel and hated enemy?’
If there were no other words of Holy Writ on this topic than these: “Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ’ (St. Matt. i. 16.)—they would be amply sufficient. Behold the divine fact that overthrows every difficulty, the inspired oracle that sweeps away every objection!
Never, Christian brethren, never can we admit that she was for one moment the slave of the devil;—the Virgin who was destined to be the Mother of God, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, the Ark of the New Covenant, the Mediatrix of Mankind, the Terror of the Powers of Darkness, the Queen of all the Heavenly Hosts.
Purer than heaven’s purest angel, brighter than its brightest seraph, Mary, after her Creator, God, –who made and gave her all–is the most perfect of beings, the masterpiece of Infinite Wisdom, Almighty Power, and Eternal Love.
To such a being we cannot reasonably suppose that a perfection was denied which had been already gratuitously bestowed on inferior creatures–on the Angelic Spirits, for example, some of whom afterward fell away from God and are lost forever. And again, the first man and the first woman were created sinless–pure as the virgin world on which the Almighty had just looked down with infinite delight and declared it to be “valde bona!”-exceeding good!
How just and natural, therefore,–may we not add, how unavoidable?–is the conclusion that this sublime privilege was not withheld from Mary, set apart as she was from all eternity for an office and for honors in the kingdom of God, to which no other created being ever will or can be exalted! The more so since profound divines do not hesitate to assert that, rather than be without the grace conferred upon her in her Immaculate Conception, and thus, though only for an instant, an object of God’s displeasure, Mary would have preferred to forfeit forever the infinite dignity of being the Mother of Jesus Christ.
Gladly would we dwell more at length on the subject, but as you may yourselves observe the occasion does not allow it. The few thoughts we have uttered are but the echo of Christian antiquity, of the faith, the filial love, the confidence in Mary, when apostles and evangelists were still on earth and revered her name.
How profound should be our gratitude in being able to say, that name we also reverence, their confidence in Mary we cherish, their filial love we share, their faith is ours! Could the Martyrs and Virgins, the heroic confessors of the faith, the renowned Fathers and Doctors of the Church, “beloved of God and men, and whose memory is in benediction” (Eccles. xlv.)–could these arise and unite their voices to those of their successors now around the Chair of Peter, what would be their testimony?
They would point to their immortal writings, and in the language of St. Augustine, so worthy a representative of the genius, wisdom, and piety of the primitive Church, they would remind us that when they speak of the law by which all the children of Adam are born children of wrath, “they speak not of Mary,” with regard to whom, on account of the honor due to our Lord, when they discourse of sin they wish to raise no question whatsoever. (Lib. de nat, et grat.) Nay, with an Amen, loud as that which St. Jerome tells us rolled through the magnificent churches of Rome like the thunder of heaven, they would respond to the following declaration of the Council of Trent (Sess. V.): ‘This Holy Synod declares that it is not its intention to include in this decree, where original sin is spoken of, the Blessed and Immaculate Mother of God.’
May the day soon dawn upon the world–whether it be in our unhappy times or not–when with one mind and heart Christendom will acknowledge and proclaim this her most honorable privilege!”
December 8, 2021
Extraordinary Thoughts Liturgical Guides
As we begin another liturgical year, help get in the spirit of the liturgy with Fr. William Rock’s Extraordinary Thoughts series, which Father has kindly made available on the FSSP website. Print them out for yourselves and your loved ones to make each of your liturgical seasons extraordinary.
November 24, 2021