Dear Friends and Benefactors,
Many of you have had to wait for the arrival of our May mailing from the offices of the "Angelus" in Dickinson, Texas, but I doubt if many of you were disappointed after the long wait. The "Angelus" team did magnificent work to get out the commemorative issue on Archbishop Lefebvre. It is a keepsake which will no doubt be treasured in many a Catholic home for years to come.
The "Angelus" team also did tremendous extra work to collate and get into the mail copies for the entire Seminary mailing-list (currently about 12,500 names). Well done, ladies, and thank you very much. You did the Archbishop proud! Extra copies, as many as you like, can be ordered either from the Seminary or from the Angelus at $10 each, with 10% discount for bulk orders. The "Angelus" will also have 8" x 10" or 11" x 14" colour reproductions available of the picture of the Archbishop an the cover of the commemorative Angelus.
It is the same picture as the card enclosed, of which you can also order from the Seminary here as many as you like. We have had tens of thousands of them made up. No fixed price. Donations not refused!
Also enclosed is the complete letter of Archbishop Lefebvre to Bishop de Castro Mayer from which you read the first two paragraphs in last month's Seminary letter. The complete letter shows the Archbishop's concern for the future of Catholic Tradition in the Diocese of Campos in Brazil, together with his complete respect for the independence of the Catholics of Campos. At no time since the founding of the Society of St. Pius X did Archbishop Lefebvre seek to pull into or under the Society, priests from outside the Society, unless they asked of their own free will to join the Society, and even then he was reticent.
This was, – and I think remains, despite what many of the Traditional laity think, doubly or triply wise. The laity, bless them, long to see Traditional priests all getting together, because their Catholic instinct is that priests who share the same true Faith should all be united, and what they see amongst their various Traditional priests is – I do not wish to exaggerate – a certain amount of division. Now the largest single body of such priests that they can see is the Society of St. Pius X, so friends especially of the Society are liable to wish that all independent priests would join the Society. Under normal circumstances such a wish is entirely correct, but it surely mistakes the will of God in today's particular circumstances, firstly as to the Church, secondly as to the Society, thirdly as to the priests concerned.
First and foremost, there is one man and one man alone who has from God the mission and the faculties to pull the Catholic Church together in unity, in fact to make the unity of the Church, and that is the Pope. If the Pope does not or will not unify the Church, nobody else can, because that is how Our Lord Jesus Christ designed his Church, and there is no other way upon earth in which it can be built, unless one wants to build some other "church", which for Catholics God forbid. Now the present Pope has such uncatholic notions in half of his head (like the curate's egg, it is good in parts) that he has no idea how to pull the Church together in the Faith, even if he wished to, so that for the moment the Church cannot be united. Hence the lack of unity amongst priests cannot for the moment be cured, so it must be endured. Instead of lamenting this lack of unity by hierarchy. Traditionalists might be wise to thank God for the remarkable degree of unity by Faith amongst their priests. They will be wise also to keep praying for the Pope who is so bitterly attacked by the radicals that he must be doing something right.
Secondly, these who wish independent priests would join the Society surely mistake the mission of the Society which is to preserve the Faith, the priesthood and the Mass for better times, but not to replace Rome. To be Roman Catholics, all Catholic priests must be somehow attached to Rome, but they need not be attached to the Society which has a particular origin and a particular character making particular demands, capable of wide but not of universal extension. True, a Catholic priest should normally be under a bishop and the Society has bishops, but these bishops are expressly not hierarchical, and if a priest is without bishops through no fault of his own, God clearly can give emergency graces of guidance to leaderless priests. Of course priests must be attached to the Faith to which the Society is attached, but that is a different matter. While it brings many a faithful priest alongside the Society, it does not put him into or under it. Again, rather than lament how few priests jump on board the Society train, Traditionalists might well thank God for each of those galloping alongside, and pray for more – there are many priestly Nicodemuses.
Thirdly, it is, humanly speaking, expecting a great deal of priests with maybe long diocesan or religious experience to put themselves, within the Society, under the orders of relatively young superiors. Of course inexperience is, as they say, a disease which is cured each day with another 24 hours' worth of experience, and many an old man's responsibilities resting on young men's shoulders is making the youngsters of the Society learn fast (how swiftly some lose the youthful expression and waistline they had as seminarians!). Nevertheless, with all the good will in the world an older man can hardly unlearn what he reckons it has cost him hard knocks to learn. As old Father Barrielle used to say at Ecône, there are as many standing miracles in the Society as it has houses still standing, for there is not one mistake the youngsters miss! "Eppur si muove," as Galileo is meant to have said: and yet it moves. Despite all, the Society works, a major reason again to thank God. For we face trials. Listen to this forecast –
"Rome will make full use of the occasion of the Archbishop's death to try to entice the sheep out of the fold. They will do it so kindly and so deviously that they will pull some of the shepherds away also ... However, we must not be dismayed in the least, regardless of the defections. It is the hand of the Good Shepherd separating more intensely the sheep from the goats. There are yet many half-breeds in the flock, neither sheep nor goat (and consequently goat!) ... they will not be allowed to remain.
"The 'troops' who reach the final stages of 'battle-readiness' must be totally committed, fully trained and firmly convinced, body, mind, heart and soul, of the cause for which they fight. Anything less is a danger to the forces of Good.
"The Superiors must warn of the dangers from Rome, and from within, but they must not anxiously try to hold back those who would leave, nor be disheartened at the numbers lost. Our strength is not in numbers, but in each soul's full surrender to God. Many who are with us now will not soon; and many that are scorned and looked down upon by the Traditionalists now, will be the strongest members in the future. Any who have sought out the Tridentine Mass and Sacraments and then lay back, smug in their 'Catholicity', will not come through the test.
"Truly, these are glorious days, and a person burns to prepare for battle – more prayer, penance and careful attention to daily duty, thus ever closer union with God and more battle-readiness... May she who prepared Christ for His sacrifice, prepare us also for ours."
Foreboding words, but plausible. A first-class means of prayer, penance and preparation for spiritual warfare is always the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Sign up on the yellow flyers. Time is certainly running out. May Jesus bless each of you persevering.
Sincerely yours in His Sacred Heart,
Bishop Richard Williamson