December 2005 - District Superior's Letter

A work is pleasing to God not if it's successful in human terms but if it's done according to God's will. Our founder followed God's will. People followed him because they saw that he was doing God's will; we must do the same. So-called independent priests cannot claim to be doing God's will.

Dear Faithful,

When is a work pleasing to God?
The work of God is done by the will of God.  Indeed whether a work is from God or not does not depend on the success of the human instrument.  It depends on whether or not it is done according to the will of God.  Supernatural success or failure depends on God.  Evangelical Protestants would do well to remember this.  They easily interpret their wealth and their great following as a sign of the work of God.  On the last day when they tell the Judge: “Lord, Lord have not we prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name and done many miracles in thy name? Jesus “will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.” Because in doing these works they did not the will of the Father but their own. (Matt. 7, 21-23)  Remember the beatitudes read: “Blessed are the poor…”

Our founder did God's will
What is striking in the life of Archbishop Lefebvre is that he always followed God’s will.  As he was wont to say, he preferred to follow Providence rather than precede it.  His vocation, like all true vocations was a call of God: “You have not chosen me: but I have chosen you.” (Jn. 15, 16)  He simply answered.  His going to the French seminary in Rome was not his decision.  It was the decision of God as expressed by his parents. He would have preferred to study at the local seminary.  It was to have a profound influence on him.  His going to Gabon as a missionary was the result of God’s call through his brother René who was already there.  All he wanted was to be a parish priest in his native city.  By asking and obtaining permission to leave for the missions he saw it as the will of God. It protected him against the modernist influences prevalent in France. He received different appointments as a member of the Holy Ghost fathers which he always accepted.  He was chosen to be a bishop and not only a bishop, but first archbishop of Dakar and papal delegate for all of French speaking Africa.  God was obviously preparing him for his future and real mission.

A quiet ministry wasn't God's will for him
He was appointed to the Central Preparatory Commission of the Council where he witnessed the great divisions between powerful churchmen.  In 1968, after he resigned as superior general of the Holy Ghost Fathers, rather than preside over the destruction of his order, he just wanted to remain in Rome as chaplain of a convent of sisters.  He was at the age of retirement and thought he had done his duty. 

But of course God had other plans, and we all know the rest of the story.  God sent him seminarians who were looking for a true formation which was denied them even in Rome.  He tried to find them a proper seminary.  He didn’t set out to found the Society at once.  He tried to get out of it.  It was only when he realized God was pushing him to it that he decided to go ahead.  He sought and received Church approval in the person of Mgr Charrière, bishop of Fribourg; another sign of God’s will.  Later he received the praise and approval from Rome in the person of Cardinal Wright, prefect of the congregation of the clergy.  He even received permission to incardinate members into his society.  At each step Divine Providence intervened to set up the Society with full Church approval.  So much so that we can say that the Society was not so much the work of the Archbishop as of Providence who wanted to use the Archbishop and his Society as the means of resisting the modernist destruction of the Church.  Providence guided at every step and the Archbishop simply followed along.

The faithful saw that Archbishop Lefebvre was doing God's will
This is why many faithful, not just from France, but from all over the world: Europe, North and South America, Oceania, Asia and Africa followed his lead.  Divine Providence sent him young people seeking the true priesthood and religious life pushing him into the Society.  He did not wake up one day and decide to start an order of nuns.  One day a young lady from Australia appeared at his door saying she wanted to be a nun and she was not leaving until he did something for her.  He called his sister Mother Mary Gabrielle and the Society sisters were founded.  And his influence was not only over the SSPX, it was over the whole Church.  Archbishop Sheen once said: a bishop, as a successor of the Apostles is first of all for the Church before he is for a diocese.  This was verified in Archbishop Lefebvre.  Religious men and women: the Dominicans, the Capuchins, the Benedictines, the Redemptorists, the Carmelites [1] etc., realizing he was simply following Providence decided to follow him, certain they would not be mislead.  He was almost the second founder of these orders.  It is here you see the role of a bishop in the Church. 

God provided for his Church through the instrumentality of our founder
God, who does everything with order, always provides for his Church.  It is clear he provided Archbishop Lefebvre, the prelate predicted by Our Lady of Good Success at Quito in 1634.  The Archbishop was not a self appointed defender of the Faith but a providentially appointed one.  He had done God’s will all his life; he would simply continue to do so.  It is important to remember.  If in 1976 he continued his seminary and proceeded with the ordinations despite the prohibition from Rome it was not out of stubbornness but because he saw it as God’s will to provide priests who would continue the true Mass.  If he proceeded with the Episcopal consecrations of 1988 it was clear to him God was continuing to push him in that direction because of circumstances beyond his control.

This is why the Holy Ghost chose a legitimate bishop to lead the resistance and allowed his Society to be officially approved by the Church.  This is where his legitimacy, authority and mission come from.  This is our guaranty that he was doing God’s will and that we in our turn are doing God’s will by following him.  It is not an insignificant thing.  In these times of great confusion when there are so many self appointed “doctors in Israel”, theologians, canonists who think they are experts just because they can read the books.  The self appointed sedevacantist bishops have absolutely no legitimacy, no authority or mission in the Church. All these people do is create division, confusion, leading people away from the Mass and the sacraments because of their opinions.  The sedevacantists don’t have a pope because they don’t need a pope.  They have all the infallible sedevacantists who pontificate in his place!

So-called independent priests have no guarantee that they're doing God's will
Those who have left the Society, without proper dispensation, in order to remain independent, have placed themselves out of and have lost the legitimacy, authority and mission.  I venture to say that many of those who have abandoned the SSPX have done so, not because of theological reasons but because of self will.  It almost always came down to a question of obedience.   What guarantee do we have that they are doing God’s will and not their own?  None, absolutely none! There are some who actually like the crisis because it is a convenient excuse for them to do as they please without having a bishop or superior or Church structure to oversee them.  This type of priest is not new in the Church.  At the time of the Council of Trent these unattached clerics were a source of scandal and detriment to the Church.  This is why the Sacred Council decreed that “no one hereafter be ordained who is not attached to the church or pious place for whose necessity or benefit he is received.” Hiding behind the crisis is not a justification since Our Lord did give us the solution which they abandoned.

Please contribute to St. Joseph's bursary
Please remember St Joseph’s Bursary in your almsgiving during the season of Advent.  Have a holy Advent and a blessed Christmas.

With continued prayers and my blessing,

Father Jean Violette


[1] Of the major orders only the Jesuits are missing, but we did save the Spiritual Exercises.