Sermon of His Grace, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre
the Occasion of Ordinations,
at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary, May 1985
Translation from the French
17 May 1985
Ordinations to the Subdiaconate
My very dear friends,
The occasion which is given us to confer the subdiaconate to two of your colleagues is a happy circumstance to meditate for a few moments on the love that the Good Lord had in a particular manner for you for you, future priests. The subdiaconate is an important step in the ascent to ordination: Tonsure, Minor Orders, Subdiaconate, Diaconate, priesthood. The subdiaconate is considered as a major order; major because the subdeacon touches the ciborium, the chalice which holds and touches the Body of Our Lord. And St. Thomas said, "The orders are distinguished by the powers and the proximity of the action that the ordained realize towards the Eucharist."
And this important step marks a gift, a total gift to God of that person will be ordained. God has chosen you, "Ego elegi vos," says Our Lord. Our Lord has chosen you, and He has chosen you in giving you very particular graces: the grace of Baptism, the grace of Confirmation, the grace of Holy Communion, the grace of the Sacrament of Penance, and now, the grace of Ordination. Now this grace of Ordination, if one considers it in all its richness and in all its extension, it is a really special grace. It is truly a choice; even among those who are chosen. God selected the Apostles, disciples that He will unite with Himself in a special manner in making them participate in His own priesthood, His own priesthood which is given to Him by grace of the Hypostatic Union. In effect, it is of this grace of the Hypostatic Union which flows the three great privileges of Our Lord: He is the Savior, He is the Priest, He is the King, because He is united directly to the Person of the Word, to the Person of the Word which assumes all His operations. And He is prepared to make you participate in this grace that He has received, this grace of the priesthood that He has received by the Hypostatic Union, and in a certain way, that He has given Himself, since the Word is God. And this is a great privilege, an immense privilege, a testimony of love really special: He has loved you more than the others to have chosen you in this manner.
Then you can say with the liturgy: "Sic nos amantem, quis non redamaret - He Who has loved us so much, how will we not love Him also?" It is therefore that by a return, by a recognition of this love that the Good Lord has for you, you wish to give yourselves totally. It is what the Church has always desired of her priests; even if celibacy is not always obligatory in every case let us say, it is the exception, those who don't guard celibacy in the Oriental rites in the Oriental rites are exceptions. By this extraordinary choice that the Good Lord has made of His Apostles, of His disciples, and by all the gifts that He has given them and particularly this gift of the power to celebrate the Holy Mass, to pronounce the words of consecration, to have a power over Himself, on His own Body, on His soul, on His divinity, Jesus selected His creatures in an extraordinary manner. And this love, you wish to render it and the Church demands that priests render it, to manifest this love, to no longer have as love, as an object of your love but Jesus Christ, Our Lord Jesus Christ! And you will manifest this love by the promise of celibacy, not to share this love with another creature, but to be whole for God. Then make today this resolution, when you step before the bishop, make the resolution: "Lord, I want to be all for You, that all my life be consecrated to You, that I may not have another love but Yours, that I love only You! And that I love all creatures for You; that I not have another love but Yours. Even in loving my neighbor in my apostolate, that the love is because of You, for You, for the love of You." That is the resolution that you will make; the resolution to be chaste, to not love yourself, to not seek forbidden satisfactions, to remain truly whole for God.
That is the subdiaconate: the gift of self to God, because God gave Himself to us specially, a return of love, a normal return which is consecrated by this vow of chastity that you will make in a few moments and that you yourself will strive to practice in the most perfect manner during your entire priestly life.
The attachment to Our Lord Jesus Christ will be for you an occasion of very special sanctification. It is necessary that you manifest this sanctification, that you manifest it in your apostolate, everywhere that you will go; that the persons around you, whoever they are, feel that your heart is for God; that souls feel that your heart does not attach itself to creatures; that your heart is with Our Lord; that you love Him more than all creatures and that you only love creatures for Him. This will be the secret of your good apostolate. The souls demand that of you; even if they would wish perhaps love from you in a special way, they would not understand it if you would do it because Christian souls know that the priest belongs to God. Make the resolution on the occasion of this ordination to the subdiaconate to live entirely for Our Lord and to keep this promise during your entire priestly life. This will be your joy, your strength, your consolation, your hope.
Ask it of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is your model. Because she also has been chosen and has received these absolutely extraordinary privileges, privileges which no other creature has received, the Most Holy Virgin Mary has only one Love: that of Our Lord! If she loved St. Joseph, if she loved the Apostles, if she loved the Disciples, she loved them only in relation with her Divine Son, in the measure that they were united to Our Lord Jesus Christ and in the measure that she could ever attract them more to Our Lord Jesus Christ. That is the secret of friendship, of love of neighbor. St. Thomas Aquinas said: one must love the spiritual creatures which surround us "for that which is of God in them and to lead them to God." This is what the Holy Virgin Mary did: love others for that which is of God in them and to lead them to God. This is the example that she gives you for your priesthood.
May the Blessed Virgin Mary bless you today in a special manner and all those who are here present and who surround you: your priests who love you, who work for you, who pass their priestly lives to give you this love of God and of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and all those who are here present, your families. Let us pray as well and all together that you may truly be all wholly given to God and that therefore you will prepare yourselves to receive the great grace of the priesthood.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
19 May 1985 at Ridgefield
Ordination of Three Deacons and Four Priests
My dear brethren,
We are reunited here anew for this magnificent ceremony of ordination to the diaconate and the priesthood; and this in a liturgical time that coincides perfectly with these moving ceremonies. Indeed, Our Lord, after His Resurrection, spent forty days with His Apostles to prepare them for the descent of the Holy Ghost, and for the exercise of their priesthood; and then He ascended into heaven. During this time the Apostles awaited the coming of the Holy Ghost, and were united around the Virgin Mary in the Upper Room to receive the sacerdotal consecration which would make them missionaries apostles of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is in this environment also, my dear friends, that you will receive the priesthood; you will be filled anew of the Holy Ghost to preach the realm of God; because it is on this notion above all that Our Lord Jesus Christ insists: to preach the Realm of God, Regnum Dei. I would like, during these moments, to insist on the program of your priestly life which is realized in an admirable manner in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Our Lord giving us, transmitting to us His Sacrifice, wanted at the same time for us, priests, this Sacrifice to become the ideal of our priestly life, and at the same time the source of all the grace that you need to become an ideal priest.
The Apostles have said this phrase which sums up the definitive sacerdotal ideal: "Nos autem praedicatione verbi et oratione instantes erimus - we, priests of Jesus Christ, we will be particularly occupied and destined to prayer and to preaching the Word of God." And it is that which definitively represents and which is in reality the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
One may recapitulate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in three parts. The first is the preaching of the Faith, from the beginning of the Mass up to and including the Creed. The priest devotes himself to deepening his own faith and to preaching the Gospel. My dear friends, what a magnificent role, what a splendid ministry Our Lord has given us! To communicate the Faith, to believe in the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ! That is the synthesis of all our preaching: to communicate to souls this profound faith in the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ and hence in all this which has realized the Son of God on earth to save our souls, to unite us with Him.
You will preach this Faith that you have studied long and meditated upon during the six years of seminary; you will preach it to children in the catechism. You will try to communicate to these souls of children the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the veneration of Our Lord. Jesus loved the children. He loved to bless them. He loved to see them approach Him, and he even said that if one wished to enter heaven, he must be like these children. You will also love the children, to speak to them of Our Lord, to lead them on the way to heaven. And then you will preach to the adults by all the means at your disposal today. One must admit that we have more means today than in the past to make known the Word of the Gospel: by writing, and even by the radio, by all the occasions we are given, by the rapidity of our travel, speed which permits us to attend well the faithful as was not possible in the past. So the modern means can be put at our disposition to communicate the Faith, preserve in the Faith those who have received it. That is the great task, more particularly today when atheism is everywhere, when the sects spread errors on the subject of the Catholic Faith. You will preach courageously and firmly the Catholic Faith in its integrity. That is what the first part of your Holy Mass represents. And you will rely in your preaching on Tradition particularly, and the Scriptures which communicate to us Revelation, which communicates to us this fundamental revelation of the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. May God help you, May the Holy Ghost enlighten you in your preaching and in the diffusion of the Faith that you will preach so as to convince those who will hear you and to give them this desire to unite themselves to Our Lord and to better know Him.
When the Apostles said that they will give themselves to prayer, it seems to me that the two other parts of the Mass, that which goes from the Credo until after the Pater Noster, and that which follows the Pater Noster, are summed up in prayer, are a great prayer. Particularly the second part which has as its center, like its summit, the Consecration which is the re enactment of the Sacrifice of Our Lord on the Cross.
The Cross of Jesus was His great prayer, His offering: could He have had a prayer more pleasing to His Father than His divine Sacrifice, His total offering to His Father for the glory of His Father? All His words on the Cross are manifestations of His love: love of His Father when He said: "Father, I commend My soul into Your hands"; when He said "All is consummated"; love for his neighbor when He said to the good thief, "Today thou shalt dwell with Me in paradise"; when He gives St. John as a son to His Mother and when He gives His Mother to St. John; it is also to continue the action of His Mother near the Church, near the Apostles. All is love in Our Lord Jesus Christ upon His Cross.
You will love, my dear friends, to meditate, to contemplate the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to live the Sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ, most particularly in the contemplation of the Most Holy Trinity, in this love that you should have for God. Because it is this love which should be the love which will make you love your neighbor. Don't upset the order of ends. The end for which we should love our neighbor is the glory of God, it is love of God, and consequently, it is really the love of God. There is only a definitive love: the Love of God to which relates the love of neighbor.
Oh, be men of prayer, my dear friends; be men of meditation, be men of contemplation! Do not be among those who say: "We are not monks, we are not contemplatives because we are not enclosed in a monastery." What a grave error! Each priest - and each Christian besides should be a contemplative, should meditate on the great Truths of our holy religion, which are the realities which represent the realities of heaven, the great realities of heaven and earth. Then may this sublime part of the Mass encircled with mystery by the silence in which the liturgy envelops it may this great mystery be the object of your continual meditations.
That is the second part of the Mass: be men of prayer in loving particularly your sanctuaries. Make the sanctuaries in which you pray beautiful, uplifting to souls, conducive to prayer, may all be clean, proper, worthy of the Divine Host Who inhabits the sanctuary. Love the beautiful liturgy, love therefore to uplift souls to the Good Lord by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
By the words of consecration you realize the Sacrifice of Our Lord anew, and you realize also the Sacrament of the Eucharist. And that is the third part of your life: to give Jesus to souls. What an extraordinary mystery this union of the Sacrifice of Our Lord with the Sacrament of the Eucharist. In effect the third part of the Mass will consist of preparing souls to receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist and to give them Jesus, the Savior! Can you, my dear friends, give a gift more magnificent, more sublime, to the faithful than Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself? What dignity has the priest to make Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself descend on the altar and then take Him to the faithful, to give Him in all His reality, in all His divinity, to give Him to the faithful. And it is that which is the definitive ideal of the priest: after having preached the Faith of Our Lord Jesus Christ, after having contemplated Our Lord Jesus Christ on His Cross in his prayers, his role is to give Jesus to souls, to communicate this Victim to souls in such a way that the souls penetrated by the Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, penetrated by the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, march courageously towards heaven among all the difficulties, the pains, and the trials of this life.
The Sacrament of the Eucharist, as St. Thomas explains so well, is the center of all the sacraments. From the Sacrament of the Eucharist radiate all other sacraments: they are all made for the Eucharist, to unite us to Jesus Christ Baptism, Confirmation, the Sacrament of Penance, and the other sacraments, sacraments which sanctify the Sacrament of Marriage, the Sacrament of Holy Orders, and finally, the Sacrament of Extreme Unction which prepares us for life eternal all flow from the Eucharist. Therefore in giving the Sacrament of the Eucharist, you give this radiation of grace in souls. Prepare them these souls because they receive grace and the Holy Ghost in the measure of their good dispositions. It is, then, the role of the priest to prepare souls to receive the grace of Jesus with the most richness possible. Again, what a beautiful ministry! What beautiful functions are those of a priest! Therefore your life is all radiating the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His apostolate.
Thank God, my dear friends, that you receive this grace. You are specially chosen for that, distinguished from the laity. The priest is a man who is "assumed," which is taken for becoming a priest, for receiving the priestly consecration. So remain in the choice of Our Lord; be worthy of the choice.
Ask particularly of your good Mother in heaven to be your protectress, to lead you by the hand, she who is the Mother of the Eternal Priest, she who lived with Him, who prepared herself for His Sacrifice for thirty three years. She followed Him. May she follow you also during the years of your priesthood. May she lead you also one day to the definitive union with the Eternal Priest.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
the Sacred Priesthood by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre at St. Thomas
Ridgefield, Connecticut, on 19 May 1985
REVEREND FATHER GREGORY FOLEY
REVEREND FATHER LOREN GERSPACHER
REVEREND FATHER JOHN RIZZO