Our Lady of the Holy Rosary holy card, Maison Bouasse-Lebel, 19th century.

I am quite unable to understand the fuss made by High Church people on this matter. To begin with, what have they got to do with it? No one asks them to use our devotions, although a great many do use them, expurgated, revised, and corrected. Our friends seem to be under the impression that every Catholic is supposed to know about, to possess, and to use, every book of prayers or meditations published by any other Catholic. One might as well assert that every Anglican is bound to buy, and use, all devotional books found in Masters’ shop in Bond-street. A great many Catholics get on very comfortably without any books at all, and this for the simple and sufficient reason that they cannot read. And a great many more cannot afford to purchase such books, and are content with one Prayer Book, such as the Garden of the Soul. I myself, outside Mass and Office, am content with it, and use the copy given to me by an Italian priest at Benares in 1861. Outsiders seem ignorant of our freedom in such matters. The late Canon Oakeley, in his reply to the Eirenicon (which was published before that of Newman), pointed this out. Dr. Pusey would stipulate, said Oakeley, exemption from the obligation of adopting certain expressions of devotion towards the Blessed Virgin, but, added the Canon, “were he [Pusey] one of ourselves, he would come to know” that “no such obligation rests upon” Catholics. “I do not think,” said Oakeley, “that those who are external to us, have any just idea of the room which is allowed us for the free play of personal preferences, which do not clash either in form or spirit with the faith of the Church. . .” And, again “. . . Nothing that I know of would involve in well-grounded suspicion of disloyalty to the Church a Catholic who, while placing no restriction on the liberty of others, should as a matter of taste prefer the more measured language of our Liturgy and Offices on the subject in question, to that in which more ardent temperaments . . . might find a more congenial expression of their devotion.” And Father Lockhart reminded Pusey that the Church tolerated any amount of bad taste. How, indeed, could an Universal Church made up of all nations, peoples, and tongues, do otherwise ? When Pusey complained of a well-known book, The Glories of Mary, Newman replied that he had never read it. I have never read, and have never seen it but once in my life. Others may derive great edification from it, hut what Catholic supposes that every Catholic is obliged to acquire it, or use it ? And with regard to a foreign writer named Oswald, from whom Pusey quoted, neither Newman nor Oakeley had ever heard his name, and it turned out that the book to which Pusey objected had been for some years on the Roman Index.

Oakeley, too, pointed out that the most customary and popular of all devotions connected with our Lady are the Angelus and the Rosary, and added: “It is on this type, rather than on that of the ‘Glories of Mary’ that the ideas of our people are formed.” Pusey found great fault with some of Faber’s writings, and, for myself; I have, possibly to my great loss, never been able to read Faber, although I know that his writings have afforded, and afford, great spiritual edification to countless numbers of Catholics. Not only so, but to many non-Catholics. One Anglican vicar, an intimate friend of my own, must by this time know all Faber’s books nearly by heart. And I recollect, many years ago, lending The Creator and the Creature to a staunch Presbyterian lady who, after a time, sent me a new copy of the book, saying she should keep the old one, as she derived so much spiritual profit from its perusal.

When I lived in Kensington, I met one day in the Cromwell-road an old Oxford friend, an Anglican clergyman. I invited him to accompany me to Benediction at the Oratory, but he declined, not because he objected to Benediction, but because he disliked the Litany of Loreto. I remarked that, if he were a Catholic, he would be quite free to say any prayers he pleased during Benediction, and if he should prefer other devotions to the Litany, when sung, he could substitute such, just as we often see people telling their beads, or clergymen saying office, while the Benediction service is going on. Once, in a country house in Yorkshire, I had as fellow-guest the late Father Jerome Vaughan, and one Sunday after Benediction someone asked him if he liked the music used? To which he replied that he had not paid attention to it, as he had been engaged in asking a particular favour from St. Joseph. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, and Catholics in Popular Devotions are not tied and bound to the frigid formalism of the excellent English of the Book of Common Prayer.

The Tablet, 1 January 1898, p. 9.

The Great Action

Nuptial Mass, St. George’s, Sudbury (London), mid-20th century.

“These are such difficult questions,” answered Willis; “must I speak? Such difficult questions,” he continued, rising into a more animated manner, and kindling as he went on; “I mean, people view them so differently: it is so difficult to convey to one person the idea of another. The idea of worship is different in the Catholic Church from the idea of it in your Church; for, in truth, the religions are different. Don’t deceive yourself, my dear Bateman,” he said tenderly, “it is not that ours is your religion carried a little farther,—a little too far, as you would say. No, they differ in kind, not in degree; ours is one religion, yours another. And when the time comes, and come it will, for you, alien as you are now, to submit yourself to the gracious yoke of Christ, then, my dearest Bateman, it will be faith which will enable you to bear the ways and usages of Catholics, which else might perhaps startle you. Else, the habits of years, the associations in your mind of a certain outward behaviour with real inward acts of devotion, might embarrass you, when you had to conform yourself to other habits, and to create for yourself other associations. But this faith, of which I speak, the great gift of God, will enable you in that day to overcome yourself, and to submit, as your judgment, your will, your reason, your affections, so your tastes and likings, to the rule and usage of the Church. Ah, that faith should be necessary in such a matter, and that what is so natural and becoming under the circumstances, should have need of an explanation! I declare, to me,” he said, and he clasped his hands on his knees, and looked forward as if soliloquising,—”to me nothing is so consoling, so piercing, so thrilling, so overcoming, as the Mass, said as it is among us. I could attend Masses for ever and not be tired. It is not a mere form of words,—it is a great action, the greatest action that can be on earth. It is, not the invocation merely, but, if I dare use the word, the evocation of the Eternal. He becomes present on the altar in flesh and blood, before whom angels bow and devils tremble. This is that awful event which is the scope, and is the interpretation, of every part of the solemnity. Words are necessary, but as means, not as ends; they are not mere addresses to the throne of grace, they are instruments of what is far higher, of consecration, of sacrifice. They hurry on as if impatient to fulfil their mission. Quickly they go, the whole is quick; for they are all parts of one integral action. Quickly they go; for they are awful words of sacrifice, they are a work too great to delay upon; as when it was said in the beginning: ‘What thou doest, do quickly’. Quickly they pass; for the Lord Jesus goes with them, as He passed along the lake in the days of His flesh, quickly calling first one and then another. Quickly they pass; because as the lightning which shineth from one part of heaven unto the other, so is the coming of the Son of Man. Quickly they pass; for they are as the words of Moses, when the Lord came down in the cloud, calling on the Name of the Lord as He passed by, ‘the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth’. And as Moses on the mountain, so we too ‘make haste and bow our heads to the earth, and adore’. So we, all around, each in his place, look out for the great Advent, ‘waiting for the moving of the water’. Each in his place, with his own heart, with his own wants, with his own thoughts, with his own intention, with his own prayers, separate but concordant, watching what is going on, watching its progress, uniting in its consummation;—not painfully and hopelessly following a hard form of prayer from beginning to end, but, like a concert of musical instruments, each different, but concurring in a sweet harmony, we take our part with God’s priest, supporting him, yet guided by him. There are little children there, and old men, and simple labourers, and students in seminaries, priests preparing for Mass, priests making their thanksgiving; there are innocent maidens, and there are penitent sinners; but out of these many minds rises one eucharistic hymn, and the great Action is the measure and scope of it. And oh, my dear Bateman,” he added, turning to him, “you ask me whether this is not a formal, unreasonable service—it is wonderful!” he cried, rising up, “quite wonderful. When will these dear good people be enlightened? O Sapientia, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia, O Adonai, O Clavis David et Exspectatio gentium, veni ad salvandum nos, Domine Deus noster.”

— John Henry Newman, Loss and Gain, Part II, Chapter 20.

A Poison Harmful to the Faith

Arms of Archbishop Marcel-François Lefebvre, C.S.Sp.
Arms of Archbishop Marcel-François Lefebvre, C.S.Sp.

Furthermore it can be said without any exaggeration whatsoever, that the majority of Masses celebrated without altar stones, with common vessels, leavened bread, with the introduction of profane words into the very body of the Canon, etc., are sacrilegious, and they prevent faith by diminishing it. The desacralization is such that these Masses can come to lose their supernatural character, “the mystery of faith,” and become no more than acts of natural religion.

Your perplexity takes perhaps the following form: may I assist at a sacrilegious Mass which is nevertheless valid, in the absence of any other, in order to satisfy my Sunday obligation? The answer is simple: these Masses cannot be the object of an obligation; we must moreover apply to them the rules of moral theology and canon law as regards the participation or the attendance at an action which endangers the faith or may be sacrilegious.

The New Mass, even when said with piety and respect for the liturgical rules, is subject to the same reservations since it is impregnated with the spirit of Protestantism. It bears within it a poison harmful to the faith.

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, An Open Letter to Confused Catholics.

To Confound the Druids

St. Columba, Bishop's House, Iona.
St. Columba, Bishop’s House, Iona.

By virtue of his prayer, and in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, he healed several persons suffering under various diseases; and he alone, by the assistance of God, expelled from this our island, which now has the primacy, innumerable hosts of malignant spirits, whom he saw with his bodily eyes assailing himself, and beginning to bring deadly distempers on his monastic brotherhood. Partly by mortification, and partly by a bold resistance, he subdued, with the help of Christ, the furious rage of wild beasts. The surging waves, also, at times rolling mountains high in a great tempest, became quickly at his prayer quiet and smooth, and his ship, in which he then happened to be, reached the desired haven in a perfect calm.

When returning from the country of the Picts, where he had been for some days, he hoisted his sail when the breeze was against him to confound the Druids, and made as rapid a voyage as if the wind had been favourable. On other occasions, also, contrary winds were at his prayers changed into fair. In that same country, he took a white stone from the river, and blessed it for the working of certain cures, and that stone, contrary to nature, floated like an apple when placed in water. This divine miracle was wrought in the presence of King Brude and his household. In the same country, also, he performed a still greater miracle, by raising to life the dead child of an humble believer, and restoring him in life and vigour to his father and mother. At another time, while the blessed man was yet a young deacon in Hibernia, residing with the holy bishop Findbarr, the wine required for the Sacred Mysteries failed, and he changed by his prayer pure water into true wine. An immense blaze of heavenly light was on many and wholly distinct occasions seen by some of the brethren to surround him in the light of day, as well as in the darkness of the night. He was also favoured with the sweet and most delightful society of bright hosts of the holy angels. He often saw, by the revelation of the Holy Ghost, the souls of some just men carried by angels to the highest heavens. And the reprobates too he very frequently beheld carried to hell by demons. He very often foretold the future deserts, sometimes joyful, and sometimes sad, of many persons while they were still living in mortal flesh. In the dreadful crash of wars he obtained from God, by the virtue of prayer, that some kings should be conquered, and others come off victorious. And such a grace as this he enjoyed, not only while alive in this world, but even after his departure from the flesh, as God, from whom all the saints derive their honour, has made him still a victorious and most valiant champion in battle.

— St. Adomnán’s Vita Columbæ, Book I, Chapter i.

Two Religions

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre at Ecône.
Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre at Ecône.

Sed licet nos aut angelus de cælo evangelizet vobis præterquam quod evangelizavimus vobis, anathema sit. Gal. i. 8.

Two religions confront each other; we are in a dramatic situation and it is impossible to avoid a choice, but the choice is not between obedience and disobedience. What is suggested to us, what we are expressly invited to do, what we are persecuted for not doing, is to choose an appearance of obedience. But even the Holy Father cannot ask us to abandon our faith.

We therefore choose to keep it and we cannot be mistaken in clinging to what the Church has taught for two thousand years. The crisis is profound, cleverly organized and directed, and by this token one can truly believe that the mastermind is not a man but Satan himself. For it is a master-stroke of Satan to get Catholics to disobey the whole of Tradition in the name of obedience. A typical example is furnished by the “aggiornamento” of the religious societies. By obedience, monks and nuns are made to disobey the laws and constitutions of their founders, which they swore to observe when they made their profession. Obedience in this case should have been a categorical refusal. Even legitimate authority cannot command a reprehensible and evil act. Nobody can oblige anyone to change his monastic vows into simple promises, just as nobody can make us become Protestants or modernists. St. Thomas Aquinas, to whom we must always refer, goes so far in the Summa Theologica as to ask whether the “fraternal correction” prescribed by Our Lord can be exercised towards our superiors. After having made all the appropriate distinctions he replies: “One can exercise fraternal correction towards superiors when it is a matter of faith.”

If we were more resolute on this subject, we would avoid coming to the point of gradually absorbing heresies. At the beginning of the sixteenth century the English underwent an experience of the kind we are living through, but with the difference that it began with a schism. In all other respects the similarities are astonishing and should give us cause to ponder. The new religion which was to take the name “Anglicanism” started with an attack on the Mass, personal confession and priestly celibacy. Henry VIII, although he had taken the enormous responsibility of separating his people from Rome, rejected the suggestions that were put to him, but a year after his death a statute authorized the use of English for the celebration of the Mass. Processions were forbidden and a new order of service was imposed, the “Communion Service” in which there was no longer an Offertory. To reassure Christians another statute forbade all sorts of changes, whereas a third allowed priests to get rid of the statues of the saints and of the Blessed Virgin in the churches. Venerable works of art were sold to traders, just as today they go to antique dealers and flea markets.

Only a few bishops pointed out that the Communion Service infringed the dogma of the Real Presence by saying that Our Lord gives us His Body and Blood spiritually. The Confiteor, translated into the vernacular,  was recited at the same time by the celebrant and the faithful and served as an absolution. The Mass was transformed into a meal or Communion. But even clear-headed bishops eventually accepted the new Prayer Book in order to maintain peace and unity. It is for exactly the same reasons that the post-Conciliar Church wants to impose on us the Novus Ordo. The English bishops in the Sixteenth Century affirmed that the Mass was a “memorial!” A sustained propaganda introduced Lutheran views into the minds of the faithful. Preachers had to be approved by the Government.

During the same period the Pope was only referred to as the “Bishop of Rome.” He was no longer the father but the brother of the other bishops and in this instance, the brother of the King of England who had made himself head of the national church. Cranmer’s Prayer Book was composed by mixing parts of the Greek liturgy with parts of Luther’s liturgy. How can we not be reminded of Mgr. Bugnini drawing up the so-called Mass of Paul VI, with the collaboration of six Protestant “observers” attached as experts to the Consilium for the reform of the liturgy? The Prayer Book begins with these words, “The Supper and Holy Communion, commonly called Mass…,” which foreshadows the notorious Article 7 of the Institutio Generalis of the New Missal, revived by the Lourdes Eucharistic Congress in 1981: “The Supper of the Lord, otherwise called the Mass.” The destruction of the sacred, to which I have already referred, also formed part of the Anglican reform. The words of the Canon were required to be spoken in a loud voice, as happens in the “Eucharists” of the present day.

The Prayer Book was also approved by the bishops “to preserve the internal unity of the Kingdom.” Priests who continued to say the “Old Mass” incurred penalties ranging from loss of income to removal pure and simple, with life imprisonment for further offences. We have to be grateful that these days they do not put traditionalist priests in prison.

Tudor England, led by its pastors, slid into heresy without realizing it, by accepting change under the pretext of adapting to the historical circumstances of the time. Today the whole of Christendom is in danger of taking the same road. Have you thought that even if we who are of a certain age run a smaller risk, children and younger seminarians brought up in new catechisms, experimental psychology and sociology, without a trace of dogmatic or moral theology, canon law or Church history, are educated in a faith which is not the true one and take for granted the new Protestant notions with which they are indoctrinated? What will tomorrow’s religion be if we do not resist?

You will be tempted to say: “But what can we do about it? It is a bishop who says this or that. Look, this document comes from the Catechetical Commission or some other official commission.”

That way there is nothing left for you but to lose your faith. But you do not have the right to react in that way. St. Paul has warned us: “Even if an angel from Heaven came to tell you anything other than what I have taught you, do not listen to him.”

Such is the secret of true obedience.

— Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre’s An Open Letter to Confused Catholics.

An Image of a New Faith

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre
Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre

And we have the precise conviction that this new rite of Mass expresses a new faith, a faith which is not ours, a faith which is not the Catholic Faith. This New Mass is a symbol, is an expression, is an image of a new faith, of a Modernist faith. For if the most holy Church has wished to guard throughout the centuries this precious treasure which She has given us of the rite of Holy Mass which was canonised by Saint Pius V, it has not been without purpose. It is because this Mass contains our whole faith, the whole Catholic Faith: faith in the Most Holy Trinity, faith in the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, faith in the Redemption of Our Lord Jesus Christ, faith in the Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ which flowed for the redemption of our sins, faith in supernatural grace, which comes to us from the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which comes to us from the Cross, which comes to us through all the Sacraments. Sermon of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre for the Ordination Mass on the Feast of SS. Peter and Paul, Ecône, Switzerland, 29 June 1976.

Except Ye Taste of Death

View of Rathcroghan ( Ráth Cruachan) mound from the south.  Near Tulsk in County Roscommon, Ireland, it is identified as the site of Cruachan, the traditional capital of the Connachta.
View of Rathcroghan (Ráth Cruachan) mound from the south. Near Tulsk in County Roscommon, Ireland, it is identified as the site of Cruachan, the traditional capital of the Connachta.

It appears that King Laoghaire had two daughters, named Ethne the fair, and Fedelm the ruddy. He had sent them, for what reason is not explained, to his relatives in Connaught, and placed them under the care of two Druids or magi, named Mael and Caplit. Patrick was at Crochan, or Cruachan, the royal cemetery of the kings of Ireland of the race of Herimon, and a very antient residence of the kings of Connaught, in the county of Roscommon. There was a well or fountain called Clebach, on the side of the fort, looking towards the east. There Patrick and his attendants assembled one morning at sunrise. He selected, perhaps, the place and hour with the hope of conciliating some Pagan superstitions. Tirechan says that the virgins found Patrick at the well with a synod of bishops, senodum sanctorum episcoporum; but it is probable that by this word our author means only an assembly or company, not a synod properly so called. It will be better, however, to tell the story in the exact words of that antient historian, translated as closely as possible : —

Then St. Patrick came to the well (ad fontem) which is called Clebach, on the sides of Crochan towards the east; and before sunrise they [i.e. Patrick and his followers] sat down near the well. And lo! the two daughters of King Laoghaire, Ethne the fair (alba), and Fedelm the ruddy (rufa), came early to the well, to wash, after the manner of women, and they found near the well a synod of holy Bishops with Patrick. And they knew not whence they were, or in what form, or from what people, or from what country; but they supposed them to be Duine Sidhe (viros Sidhe) or gods of the earth, or a phantasm.

And the virgins said unto them, “Where are ye? and whence come ye?”

And Patrick said unto them, “It were better for you to confess to our true God, than to enquire concerning our race.”

The first virgin said,

“Who is God?
“And where is God?
“And of what [nature] is God?
“And where is His dwelling-place?
“Has your God sons and daughters, gold and silver?
“Is He everliving?
“Is He beautiful?
“Did many foster His Son?
“Are His daughters dear and beauteous to men of the world?
“Is He in heaven or in earth?
“In the sea?
“In rivers?
“In mountainous places?
“In valleys?
“Declare unto us the knowledge of Him.
“How shall He be seen?
“How is He to be loved?
“How is He to be found?
“Is it in youth?
“Is it in old age, that He is to be found?”

But St. Patrick, full of the Holy Ghost, answered and said,

“Our God is the God of all men.
“The God of heaven and earth, of the sea and rivers.
“The God of the sun, the moon, and all stars.
“The God of the high mountains, and of the lowly valleys.
“The God who is above heaven, and in heaven, and under heaven.
“He hath a habitation in the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that are therein.
“He inspireth all things.
“He quickeneth all things.
“He is over all things.
“He sustaineth all things.
“He giveth light to the light of the sun.
“Lumen noctis et notitias valat.
“And He hath made springs in a dry ground,
“And dry islands in the sea,
“And hath appointed the stars to serve the greater lights.
“He hath a Son co-eternal and co-equal (consimilem) with Himself.
“The Son is not younger than the Father,
“Nor is the Father older than the Son,
“And the Holy Ghost breatheth in them (inflat in eis).
“The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are not divided (non separantur).
“But I desire to unite you to the Heavenly King, inasmuch as you are the daughters of an earthly King — to believe.”

And the virgins said, as with one mouth and one heart —

“Teach us most diligently how we may believe in the Heavenly King. Show us how we may see Him face to face, and whatsoever thou shalt say unto us, we will do.”

And Patrick said, “Believe ye that by baptism ye put off the sin of your father and your mother?” — They answered, “We believe.”

“Believe ye in repentance after sin?” — “We believe.”

“Believe ye in life after death? Believe ye the resurrection at the Day of Judgment?” — “We believe.”

“Believe ye the Unity of the Church?” — “We believe.”

And they were baptised; and a white garment put upon their heads.

And they asked to see the face of Christ. And the Saint said unto them, “Ye cannot see the face of Christ, except ye taste of death, and except ye receive the Sacrifice.”

And they answered, “Give us the Sacrifice, that we may behold the Son our Spouse.”

And they received the Eucharist of God, and they slept in death (dormierunt in morte).

And they were laid out on one bed, covered with garments: and [their friends] made great lamentation and weeping for them.

And the Magus Caplit, who had fostered one of them, came and wept, and Patrick preached unto him, and he believed, and the hairs of his head were taken off.

And his brother Mael came and said, “My brother hath believed in Patrick, but it shall not be so [with me]; yea, I shall bring him back to Paganism, and to Milthous.”

And he spake harsh words to Patrick, and Patrick spake to him and preached to him, and converted him to the repentance of God: and the hairs of his head were taken off — that is, the magical rule [which] was seen on his head, as is said, air bacc giunnæ†.

It was of him was spoken that most celebrated of all Scotic proverbs, “Calvus is become like Caplit.”

And they believed in God. And the days of mourning (ululationis) for the king’s daughters were accomplished, and they buried them near the well Clebach; and they made a circular ditch, like to a Ferta‡; because so the Scotic people and gentiles were used to do; but with us it is called Reliquiæ, that is, the remains of the virgins. And this Ferta was granted (immolata est) with the bones of the holy virgins to Patrick and to his heirs (heredibus) after him for ever. And he made a Church of earth in that place.

— An account from the Book of Armagh, as recounted in Dr. James Henthorn Todd’s St. Patrick Apostle of Ireland: A Memoir of His Life and Mission (1864).

Irish, “as a band (bond) of Gehenna (Hell)”
‡ a sepulchral mound of clay covered with grass