The Useful Lesson from the Recent Trial
On Saturday, October 13, 2012, on the occasion of the “Tradition Days” in Villepreux (France), Bishop Alfonso de Galarreta gave this conference, in which he analyzes the state of the relations of the Society of Saint Pius X with Rome.
Dear confreres, dear religious, very dear faithful, dear friends,
My intention is to speak to you about the qualities of the spiritual, Christian, Catholic militia, about the conditions that the combat for the faith must assume, and obviously to tell you a few words about the situation of the Society vis-à-vis Rome.
The Book of Job says: “Militia est vita hominis super terram et sicut dies mercenarii dies ejus” (Job 7:1). Man’s life on earth is a time of military service, and his days are like those of a mercenary. This is Scripture, the Book of Job, that offers this very interesting image.
If the life of every man on earth is a combat, then much more so the life of the Catholic, of the Christian who is baptized and confirmed and therefore engaged in this combat for Christ the King. And I would say that if the life of every Christian is a combat, then the life of a Christian today is par excellence a struggle, a combat, a time of service.
In this sentence we find a statement of the necessity of combat; it is necessary, it is our human condition, and that is not something new; always and everywhere people have had to fight. There is a combat in life, but above all a combat in order to win eternity, which implies many things.
This is why a combative spirit is necessary. What is required on the part of a soldier? Certainly, that he be capable of struggling, of fighting, that he be courageous and valiant.
This very short text refers to Providence, because both a soldier and a mercenary are at the service of a master, and therefore we battle for God, we fight for Our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord Jesus Christ is our Head, He is our Master, but He is also the Lord of history, and His Providence governs all particular circumstances.
Saint John of the Cross says that everything is Providence, in the sense that everything that happens to us is sent to us in an altogether conscious and deliberate way by Providence.
A supernatural view of the combat of faith
A soldier, then, and a mercenary struggle and fight for a victory, and if life here below is a combat, that means that the victory is not on this earth. If our whole life is a combat, that means that our victory is in Eternity.
I think that we have to keep this supernatural, Faith-filled view of combat.
We struggle in this life on earth for an eternal crown. But that does not mean that you are to be demobilized, because a Christian, a Catholic knows that this combat is waged in this life, that it is very real, that one must fight. But knowing that the definitive victory is found in Eternity, we do not really need, so to speak, to have victory in this life, if God does not want it, since our victory, ultimately, is to win Eternity both for us and for those dear to us.
Moreover this short verse from Job shows us other aspects of this combat, for example: it is laborious—laborious in the etymological sense of the word. The combat for the Faith, the supernatural, spiritual combat, involves sufferings and trials, contradictions, and even defeats in this life.
Saint Teresa of Avila has one very beautiful passage in which she says that what is demanded of the Christian is not to win but to struggle, or rather she shows that fighting for the Faith is already the Christian’s victory.
And one author said: Indeed, God does not require victory of us, but He requires that we not be vanquished. This reflection is quite interesting; you see how you can apply all this very well to the crisis in the Church today.
God does not ask us to conquer; He is the one who gives the victory, if He wills, when He wills, as He wills. That costs Him absolutely nothing. But what He demands of us is to defend the good that we have and not to be conquered.
The teaching of Cardinal Pie
There is a passage by Cardinal Pie that I would like to read to you; it is filled with Faith and instruction, and it is admirably well expressed. “The wise man of Idumea said: ‘The life of man on earth is a combat’ (Job 7:1), and this truth is no less applicable to societies than to individuals. Being composed of two essentially distinct substances, every son of Adam carries within him, like Isaac’s wife, two men who contradict and fight one another (Genesis 25:22). These two men, or, if you prefer, these two natures have contrary tendencies and inclinations. Drawn by the law of the senses, the earthly man is in a perpetual uprising against the heavenly man, who is ruled by the law of the spirit (Galatians 5:17). This is a deep-seated antagonism, which could end here below only by the shameful defection of the spirit, surrendering its arms to the flesh and placing itself at the latter’s discretion.”
So therefore the only way of attaining peace in this combat, or of practicing pacifism, is victory of the flesh, and if we do not want that peace, we are obliged to fight until our death; because the triumph is in the next world. That is indeed what Cardinal Pie means to tell us:
“Let us say it, therefore, my Brethren: man’s life on earth, the life of virtue, the life of duty, is the noble coalition, the holy crusade of all the faculties of our soul, supported by the aid of grace, its ally, against all the united forces of the flesh, the world and hell: Militia est vita hominis super terram.”
This is a combat for us, but it is also a social, public combat. “Now if you come to consider these same rival elements, these same antagonistic forces, no longer in the individual man but in that assemblage of men that is called society, then the struggle takes on grander proportions.” And the Bishop of Poitiers cited Scripture, the Book of Genesis: “‘And the Lord said to Rebecca: Two nations are in thy womb, and two peoples shall be divided out of thy womb, and one people shall overcome the other, and the elder shall serve the younger’ (Gen 25:23). So, my Brethren, the human race is made up of two peoples, the people of the spirit and the people of matter; the one which seems to be the personification of the soul with everything that is noble and exalted about it; the other represents the flesh with all that is coarse and earthly about it. The greatest misfortunate that can befall a nation is a cease-fire between these two contrary powers. This armistice was found in paganism. And the Holy Ghost, who drew for us the picture of all the social and domestic evils that followed from this monstrous capitulation (Wis 14), completes the portrait with this final stroke: the fact that men, unwittingly living in that stagnation that was a thousand times more deadly than war, deceived themselves to the point of giving the name of peace to such numerous and great evils.” That is precisely the situation nowadays, isn’t it? Peace, peace, peace!
“Fatal senselessness,” Cardinal Pie continues, “which was none other than the senselessness of death, a lugubrious peace that should be compared with the silent, calm work of the worms that gnaw at the cadaver in its tomb.”
“The human race was languishing in this state of humiliation and moral prostration, when the Son of God came to earth, bringing not peace but the sword (Mt 10:34). God the Creator had placed in man’s hands this sword of the spirit so that he might fight against the flesh, but man shamefully allowed it to fall from his hands. Jesus Christ, as others before me have said, picked it up from the ignoble dust where it had lain for a long time; then, after dipping it into His Blood, after having tested it, so to speak, on His own Body, he returned it, sharper and more penetrating than ever, to the new people that He had come to establish upon earth. And then began again within humanity the antagonism between the spirit and the flesh, never to cease again until the end of the world: Non veni pacem mittere, sed gladium [I did not come to bring peace, but a sword].”
This is a long passage from Cardinal Pie, but you see that one could say that everything is there, everything is said, and very well said. The necessity of this combat that Job speaks about, the word of God, is not just an interior, individual conflict, confined to the home or the school, it is also essentially a social, political and religious combat. And there are the two spirits, the two cities. We must engage in this unavoidable combat and we must continue it.
In my opinion, this picture allows you to understand well what the combat of the Faith consists of, the Catholic combat, the Christian combat in the city, the combat of Tradition in this horrible crisis of the Church, in this apostasy. And so I will move on now to some reflections on our recent battle, the one that we went through during this past year, which was extremely difficult—to tell the truth, not because of the enemy, who is the same as ever, but because of the differences among us, altogether logical, explicable, human differences. We don’t have to rend our garments because we discover that we are all human beings. We have the same limitations as the rest, I mean radically, ever since original sin: ignorance, malice, weakness.
That is indeed, practically speaking, the cause of all the difficulty of what happened during the past school year: the difficulties and the trials among us, which are moreover the most difficult and the most painful trials. That is why we must not take them lightly, much less resolve them carelessly. It is like a little family conflict: it must be resolved with a lot of tact, a lot of charity, a lot of prudence, a lot of shrewdness, but it certainly must be resolved!
A short historical account of our relations with Rome
I want to tell you what I think, since in this crisis we hear a lot of different opinions, conflicting voices, and maybe there is still some fall-out, and so I said to myself that you should know my thoughts at least. I will therefore rapidly review a few facts in order to explain myself: a short historical account, starting with the end of the Rosary Crusade, our prayer campaign with the goal of offering twelve million rosaries, a campaign that ended of Pentecost of this year. After the end of this crusade we received three responses from Rome, one right after the other. At that moment the Society’s proposal (for a doctrinal declaration), which had been submitted in April, was there in Rome, and it was after Pentecost that we received a first response from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
In this response, the Roman authorities clearly told us that they rejected, that they did not accept our proposal, and they made several corrections that amounted to telling us: it is necessary to accept the Second Vatican Council, it is necessary to accept the liceity of the New Mass, it is necessary to accept the living Magisterium, in other words, those authorities that are the authentic interpreters of Tradition, and therefore they say what is Tradition and what is not Tradition; it is necessary to accept the new Code of Canon Law, etc. That was their response.
Then, and I think that this was a Providential response, there was the appointment of Archbishop Müller. They appointed him head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and also as President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission—the one that has charge of all the groups affiliated with Ecclesia Dei and that is in contact with the Society of Saint Pius X. Well! This bishop who was appointed to head that dicastery and the Ecclesia Dei Commission—besides the fact that he has called into question several truths of the Faith—is today the guardian of the Faith. This is, let us say, an old acquaintance of the Society, since he was Bishop of Regensburg, the diocese where our seminary in Zaitzkofen is located, and since we had already had difficulties, confrontations with him. Three years ago he had threatened to excommunicate the bishop who was going to perform the ordinations in Zaitzkofen, and I happened to be the one on that occasion. Thus he threatened me with excommunication as well as the deacons who were going to receive priestly ordination, the new priests. Then he backed down, but this is someone who does not respect us, who does not like us, that’s clear, and he already said that the bishops of the Society have only one thing to do: send their resignations from the episcopate to the Holy Father and go shut themselves up in a monastery. Rather cruel all the same, isn’t it? Then he quite simply said that we have only to accept that Council, and that is all. There was no longer anything more to discuss.
Just when we were waiting for the light of the Holy Ghost, we got that response.
Then, before the General Chapter, our Superior General had written to the pope to find out whether it was really his response, since a large part of the problem that we experienced was due to the fact that there were mixed messages from Rome.
Some authorities told us: the response from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is official, they are doing their job, but don’t pay attention to it, just file it; in any case we want an agreement, we want to recognize you as you are.
But the response of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the appointment of Archbishop Müller were not in keeping with this second message. And so in order to get to the bottom of the matter, Bishop Fellay wrote to the pope to find out whether that really was his response, his thought. And just before the Chapter, during the retreat that preceded it, Monseigneur received a response—this was the first time that there was a response from the pope to Bishop Fellay—and he told us at table on Sunday, at the end of the retreat: here I have received a letter from the pope in which he confirms that the response of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is indeed his response, that he approved it. And he recalls their demands, their sine qua non conditions for a canonical recognition, summing them up in three points:
1) acknowledge that the living Magisterium is the authentic interpreter of Tradition—in other words, the Roman authorities;
2) that the Second Vatican Council is in perfect agreement with Tradition, that it is necessary to accept it;
3) that we must accept the validity and the liceity of the new Mass.
They wrote “liceity”, -in French that word has probably a slightly ambiguous meaning- for them that simply means “legal”, something that has all the legal forms, but in canonical language it goes much deeper, it means that it is a true law, that it has the force of law. The Church, however, cannot have any law contrary to the Catholic faith. And we have all disputed, in that sense, the legality of the liturgical reform and of the new Mass, because it cannot have the force of law in the Church; that is impossible, because it is contrary to the Faith, because with it they are demolishing the Faith, and they really wrote “validity and liceity”.
In other words, you see that concerning everything that is essential in our combat—this combat between the two cities, the two spirits—it was necessary to give in and betray. Obviously, then, on this point, Divine Providence had traced out for us the pathway of the Chapter. Rome was the one saying: No, we will remain at the doctrinal level, and you will accept everything that you have rejected until now.
The General Chapter (July 9-14, 2012)
Then there was the Chapter. I cannot give you too many details, since we are bound by confidentiality, but Bishop Fellay himself has already revealed certain things, and some elements were specified in the Final Declaration. These are the conditions that you already know. What I can tell you is that Divine Providence helped us during the Chapter clearly and perceptibly.
It went very well, I tell you quite frankly; we were able to speak calmly, freely, openly; we were able to address the crucial problems, even though we had to omit other questions that had been on the initial agenda. We took all the time necessary to debate and we compared points of view, as is fitting among members of the same congregation, of the same army. That causes no problem; the Society is not a girls’ school, right? Then if from time to time there are debates among us, one should not make a big thing out of it either. Read Cardinal Pie when he supports public debate with the bishops, in France, in the nineteenth century. He justifies them, he explains why, he says that it is a combat, and so there you have it! That is to say, one should not make a tragedy out of it either. The tragedy would be to abandon the Faith, but it is normal that there are debates on questions of prudential judgment about one thing or another. There are different aspects, there are temperaments, there are situations…. It is extremely complicated, and one cannot draw a sword to cut the Gordian knot by saying: “There, I resolve the question in one fell swoop.” No! The Chapter took place, as I told you, and I think that we really drew some useful lessons from the trials that we have had, even though it is not perfect, which is another aspect to keep in mind. In our life, everything happens in imperfect circumstances; read the history of the Church! We must not demand a perfection that is not of this world, but we must have our eyes fixed on the essentials, on what counts; afterward you can let a lot of things slide. Don’t you do that in your family life? Yes, you do that. Otherwise nothing stands in this world, in this life, and even among us.
Some people worry: “Oh, yes, but…!” It is necessary to see the complexity of the problem, of the situation. And don’t forget that there is also the part played by the passions. They exist even among us. All this is to say that in my opinion we must not carp about these questions. We have to see whether the essentials are there or not.
As I see it, we have truly overcome the crisis, we got through it, and in the way that we were supposed to, especially in the practical measures, thanks to the debates that allowed us to clarify some points face to face, to weigh the arguments well, under all their aspects, to sort through them, to arrive at a more perfect insight and clarity about the situation, which is the good thing about trials if you learn from them. Based on these extremely important and productive discussions, we have established some conditions that could allow us to envisage hypothetically a canonical normalization. In this regard, if you really reflect on it, what was accomplished amounted to taking the whole doctrinal and liturgical question so as to make of it a practical condition.
The conditions for a possible canonical normalization
Now certainly, as I said to you, it is not perfect, and we ourselves saw rather quickly afterward that the distinction between sine qua non conditions and desirable conditions was not very accurate, nor … desirable. In fact, as far as we are concerned, among the conditions that we indicated as desirable, there are some sine qua non conditions, but rather in the practical, canonical, concrete order. The General House of the Society had already demanded these conditions of Rome, and for the most part—after repeated quarrels, and a lot of back-and-forth—Rome was ready to concede them, even at the present moment. But the purpose of the Chapter, its concern was to define clearly not the consequence, i.e. what will ensue, but rather the essential prerequisite that we had not clearly defined until now. To put it differently, in the case in point of a pope, a future pope who would really like to reach an agreement with the Society, what are the conditions of a doctrinal order, which concern doctrine, fidelity to the Faith, to Tradition, to the public profession of the Faith, and even to public resistance against those who spread errors, even when they are ecclesiastical authorities. This is the point on which we defined with great precision the first two sine qua non conditions.
And it is obvious that everything is there. I can reread them for you.
The first: “The freedom to keep, transmit and teach the sacred doctrine of the constant Magisterium of the Church and of the unchangeable Truth of divine Tradition”. No doubt this language seems to you a bit difficult, while in fact it is extremely precise. “To keep” means that we have a guarantee of it in any normalization on the part of the pope who would recognize us. To put it differently: to assure us in a written agreement that we can keep, transmit and teach the sacred doctrine, the sacred doctrine of the constant Magisterium. Because the Roman authorities have an evolving notion of the Magisterium, and if we say “Magisterium” that is not enough; if we say “the Magisterium of all ages” that is still ambiguous in their language, and so we specified “unchangeable Truth of the divine Tradition”. Why “unchangeable Truth”? Because for them the tradition is living…. And so you see that it is very precise, by virtue of the experience of the discussions that we had for almost a year and a half with the Roman commission. Let us continue with this first point: “The freedom to defend the truth, to correct and reprove even publicly those who promote the Second Vatican Council’s errors or novelties of modernism, of liberalism, and their consequences”. I think that it would be difficult to add anything. Everything is there. This is about a freedom to acknowledge errors and to attack them publicly, a freedom to teach publicly the truths that have been denied or diluted, but also for us to oppose publicly those who spread the errors, even ecclesiastical authorities.
What errors? The modernist, liberal errors: those of the Second Vatican Council and of the reforms that resulted from it or of its consequences in the doctrinal, liturgical or canonical order. Everything is there. Even public resistance, up to a certain point, to the new Code of Canon Law, to the extent that it is imbued with the collegial, ecumenical, personalist spirit, etc. Everything is there.
Next, the second point: “To use the 1962 liturgy exclusively”, and therefore the whole liturgy of 1962, not just the Mass: everything, even the Pontifical. To preserve the sacramental practice that we have presently, including what concerns Holy Orders, Confirmation and Matrimony. You see here that we have included some aspects of sacramental and canonical practice that are necessary in order for us truly to have, in the event of an agreement or a recognition, real practical freedom in a situation that would continue to be more or less modernist. We re-ordain, if necessary, we re-confirm, and then [as for] marriages, we obviously do not accept some new causes for nullity.
Then, still within the sine qua non conditions: the guarantee of at least one bishop. You see, I told you that this is not perfect, for we all agree in the Society about the fact that we have to demand several auxiliary bishops, a prelature. We all agree, there is no problem. That was not the problem before and it is not a problem now. Therefore one should not nitpick about that.
On the other hand, we did define what was a problem, because in fact that was not clearly defined on our side, and also because there was a mixed message on Rome’s part.
It was also decided in this Chapter that if ever the General House attained something valuable and interesting with these conditions, there would be a deliberative Chapter, which means that its decision is necessarily binding (on the members of the Society). When there is a consultative Chapter, the authority asks for advice but then decides freely. A deliberative Chapter means that the decision made by the absolute majority—one half of the votes plus one, which seemed reasonable to us—that decision will be followed by the Society.
As the recent Chapter proved, on the day when we were able to speak face to face, as it should be, we overcame the problem of the misunderstandings that we had experienced. It is evident that a deliberative Chapter is a very wise and sufficient measure for possibly approving what will have been obtained from Rome. For it is almost impossible that with the majority the Superior of the Society… [starting the sentence over:]—after a frank discussion, an in-depth analysis of all the aspects, of all the ins and outs—it is unthinkable that the majority could be wrong in a prudential matter.
In this life there is no absolute guarantee, because no individual—starting with oneself—has every possible guarantee as to what he will do tomorrow. And so a Chapter is broadly adequate to break the deadlock in which we found ourselves, for if you carefully examine it, our last Chapter set exactly the same conditions as Rome did, but in reverse: they require this of us, and we demand the contrary. Obviously the possibility of an agreement becomes more distant, but most importantly the risk of a bad agreement is, in my opinion, definitively removed. “Definitively” means not forever, but for this time.
We also avoided a division among us, and that is no mean feat. Nevertheless it was necessary to think about it and to understand that we were going to divide all of us, in the Society, in the [affiliated religious] Congregations, in the families, and since we are rather formidable in combat, we would have torn each other apart vehemently and persistently, as you can imagine! That was indeed the reality. But thanks to that understanding among us, thanks to this decision, even though it is imperfect, we overcame a division that would have been a form of dishonor for what we are defending, for the true Faith, for our combat, for those who preceded us, Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop de Castro Mayer.
Conditions in View of the Good That We Could Do in the Church
Next, as I said, thanks to our experience, to the trials, discussions and sometimes the contradictions that we have gone through, we have come to a better understanding, and a better definition of the reality. The Society’s position is much more precise and clear now than it was six months ago; it is much better, for we do not exclude the possibility of Providence choosing to bring about a return to the Faith through a conversion first of all: through the return of the Pope and some of the cardinals to the true doctrine; we do not exclude this. It is no more difficult than the other way, the practical way. We have simply said: if there is not firstly a return on the part of Rome or of the next Pope to Tradition in theology, in principles, in the Faith, in their teaching, but if this Pope wishes simply to allow Tradition; what are the conditions that would allow us to accept a canonical normalization, in view of the good that we could do in the Church and this good is considerable? – we must not deny this possibility.
I believe that this, too, is an improvement. We have clearly defined the conditions that will be able to protect us completely in the Faith and in the complete combat for the Faith. But guessing the future is for prophets or fortune tellers; we do not know what God will send us. I am presenting you with an example, a hypothesis; imagine that tomorrow there is a pope in the same situation as at present, but he is not modernist in his mind, as is the case today; imagine that he is not modernist in his theology either, nor in his mind, nor heart, and that he wishes truly to return to Tradition; but he lacks the conviction to resist in the true Faith and to persevere; it takes a truly heroic conviction to confront all the modernism that infests the Church. Imagine that he does not have this conviction, or that he is fairly convinced, but weak, fearful, conditioned by those around him: the example I give you exists in the history of the Church; there have been bishops and popes like this. There have been popes who were very good as far as doctrine goes, but who had very bad morals, and vice versa very weak popes; and there have been popes who made mistakes; we say now that they were mistaken in certain historical decisions that had enormous consequences.
So, in the eventuality of a pope who lacks conviction, strength or the means to solve on his own the present situation in the Church, he could very well use us as the blade of his lance in this crisis of the Faith; he could very well accord us the conditions necessary for us to be able to be the blade of his lance against this abscess. Besides, if we think about it, if a pope one day grants us these conditions, he is the one who will be dealing the first blow to the edifice of Vatican Council II and the conciliar Church, for he would be admitting by this very act that the Council contains errors, that we can refuse it, and that a return to Tradition is necessary. As soon as a Pope takes into consideration these demanding conditions, all but impossible from a human point of view, there would be war in the conciliar Church. The so-called conciliar Church would be blown up, that is for sure. And that is why the canonical question is nothing but a little detail in our eyes. For if a pope decides to grant us the first two points, that means that he is ready to grant us everything, including on the canonical level; and we are of course going to ask for it.
The Necessity and Usefulness of Trials
I obviously had many more things to say; I think I have told you the most interesting things. Just a thought to end with, concerning the necessity and usefulness of trials; it is a Catholic and traditional teaching, contained in Holy Scripture, when the angel says to Tobias: “Because you are pleasing to God, it was necessary that you undergo a trial,” (Tobias 12:13) for much good comes of trials.
And St. Augustine says that the worst thing that can happen, the worst misfortune, is that of those who draw no lesson, no profit from their misfortunes; so the most miserable man in the world is the one who draws no lesson from his misfortune, nor the good that could come of it, and so his trial is worse than before. Be careful! If a trial is useful, that means that we must seek its utility and harvest its fruits.
Now we always tend to draw lessons for others from their calamities, sufferings and trials: “See! I was right, you sure got a heavy blow there.” But there are many lessons in a trial, and we might say that it is all our own weaknesses and defects that are revealed through trials. So each one must draw from them a lesson for oneself, in order to correct oneself and avoid committing the same error again, for often, even when we are defending a good cause, we do it very poorly. There are lessons of humility to be learned, and it is just as well, for that reminds us to be vigilant. Maybe we are sleeping, maybe we are not passing on well enough to future generations the spirit of the combat, maybe we must depend more on God, maybe we must have more patience, fortitude, hope in the combat. It all goes together: fortitude, courage, and patience. The virtue of fortitude has two acts: sustinere et aggredi. This means that we must suffer, undergo, endure, but also undertake and attack – not aggress; aggredi does not mean to aggress, it means to attack and undertake.
Magnanimity is also a part of the virtue of fortitude. And patience, says St. Paul, engenders hope, patience in the combat, in trials. Let us pay attention to hope today, for we can fall by lack of Faith, by lack of charity, but also by lack of hope. We become pessimistic or defeatist, and that is a form of surrender. When we no longer have hope, we are no longer committed, and we are conquered.
Trials are also a means of merit, of expiation, and often they are a vaccination. Indeed, maybe we had just the flu today, but it will spare us catching pneumonia tomorrow. And I think that is the case. Often trials are a preparation for other combats, to make us more lucid, more decisive, more vigilant for what is to come. Who knows?
I wanted to say this because if we do not draw fruits from trials, we turn down the wrong path. For God sends us these trials precisely in order to keep us on the right path, and He makes re-examine everything in order to see where we were beginning to weaken or to deviate a little, sometimes to the left, sometimes to the right, and often downwards.
In this crisis, one of the teachings that could still be brought to light even better is the goal of trials, which is precisely to show us where the excesses and defects are, for sometimes there are both excesses and defects. In other words, to see where there is a disorder, and I mean a disorder of reason, in prudence above all, for obviously these questions of prudence are questions for the intelligence. To see where reason and measure were lacking; sometimes there are excesses in the defense of what needed to be defended; we let our excessive passions loose, look at our impatience and hurry to resolve the crisis. This can go in many directions, so we must be very careful in all these aspects. And if we have been weak in this sense, we must correct it: that is the lesson. That is why God has allowed this trial. And if we do so, the whole body will come out of the trial much stronger and ready for more, even greater combats.
Do Not Oppose the Truth of Charity
But let us always be very careful of the false dilemmas that are presented to us, and that sometimes tempt us because of the situation itself. Yes, it is inherent in our situation. They say that we have to go either against the truth or against charity, against the Faith or against mercy, against prudence or against fortitude. Well! No, not at all! We must keep them all; we must have all of the above to remain on the right path. But we tend to favor whatever is more adapted to our temperament, our character, whatever is easier for us. And we often neglect all the other aspects.
When we say that we need order, balance, measure, that does not mean that we must be mediocre everywhere. We know very well that that is not what virtue is. Moral virtue is a summit between excess and defect. And even the theological virtues, in their application to life, to works, to action, to circumstances, can have excesses and defects; not the virtue in itself, in its proper object, which is God, for we can never love God too much. But we can very well love God badly, all the while thinking we love Him well. How often do we see this, especially among ourselves!
So we have a constant double risk, and in trials, we must draw a lesson for ourselves and for all; but we must not plan too much on people and their future evolution. There is God’s grace, and we can all be bought back and redeemed.
There are also falls, and so long as the crisis is not over, we must not sum it up. Some of us who may have been a bit unprepared in the trial, may in the end have a very good reaction. And others who at first had a very good reaction may go downhill.
The Faith, the confession of the Faith, is not the only thing to be kept. There is also true charity, love, prudence, fortitude, love of the Holy Church. We are Catholics, and we tend to remain fully Catholic, and for that, it is not enough to keep the Faith.
To conclude, I think that we have three stars, three lights that have gone before us and that can guide us without the risk of misleading us in doctrine, prudence, or the Catholic spirit. These three persons are Cardinal Pie, Pope St. Pius X, and Archbishop Lefebvre; each of them was perfectly adapted to his times, and perfectly adapted to the needs of the Church, each with a different style, different qualities, but also with so many similar qualities, that are especially necessary today, in the combat for the Faith. In this way, we can draw a line from Cardinal Pie to St. Pius X to Archbishop Lefebvre, and if we continue the line, we have the path we must follow laid out. Exactly. Be it on the doctrinal level, the level of the Faith, the level of holiness of life – yet another chapter on which we could continue for a long time! – the level of prayer, of the confession of the faith, of fortitude, of prudence.
They are exemplary; we must take them as models to follow. And the path is, so to speak, laid out.
Let us ask the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, especially today, Saturday, October 13, the anniversary of the miracle of the sun in Fatima, to give us the grace to persevere in the true Faith, in the true combat for the Faith, but also in the true spirit of the Church, and to make us every day more faithful to grace, to God and to the demands for holiness of our day and age.
May Our Lady give us the grace to be worthy successors and worthy sons of these great champions of the Catholic Faith!
The spoken style has been reserved in order to preserve the character of this conference. The title and subtitles are inserted by the editor. (DICI Oct. 20, 2012)
 Eulogy on Saint Louis, King of France, preached by Cardinal Pie in the Cathedral of Blois on Sunday, August 29, 1847, and in the Cathedral of Versailles on Sunday, August, 27, 1848.
 Bishop Parisis of Langres, Pastoral Instruction on the divine authority in the Church, 1846.