Effort and Last Ends

by Brother François-Marie O.P. (Avrillé. France)

The Effort

THE DEVELOPMENT of supernatural life follows the same pattern as that of natural life: the mother, in giving birth to her child, rejoices in the fact that she has brought a man into the world, but to achieve the goal of forming an adult man, she and her husband will need a whole succession of generous efforts, labors, trials, and sufferings. That’s what education is all about.

Today’s society in which we live doesn’t make this work any easier, not only because of all the evil in it, but also because of the technical developments designed to make life easy. Why make the effort when, apparently, everything can be done so easily, so painlessly?

At a time when education is putting computers everywhere, it’s worth pondering this quote from Georges Duhamel’s Défense des lettres:

The day when teachers, who are our precious allies in this defense of civilization, stop teaching children the religion of the book, our world will be ripe for a new barbarism.

For decades, the law of convenience has governed all educational reforms. In the 1970’s-1980’s, for example, we saw the emergence of a method for learning lessons in one’s sleep! All you had to do was listen to the recorded lesson a certain number of times in your sleep, and your memory would retain it effortlessly. The lazy schoolboy’s dream had come true!

Historians have observed that, in the history of peoples, if the comfort brought by progress is not accompanied by a high moral ideal, it does not bring the flourishing of civilization, but its agony. In your families, in Catholic schools, you and your children’s teachers strive to give children the highest moral ideal possible: holiness. But, whether we like it or not, we are immersed in today’s society, and children are contaminated: we generally see a certain lightness, carelessness, superficiality, immaturity, and difficulty in taking charge of their own lives.

The important question is: how can we give children a taste for effort in education and school instruction?

It’s a long subject to cover! Let’s just highlight a few important points from Comment former des hommes by Henri PRADEL (the quotations are taken from this author).

  1. Teach children that effort is necessary for a successful life, both natural and supernatural, and that it is always possible and relatively easy.

Our will, which seems so weak to us, is capable of amazing things when it relies on obedience to accomplish God’s will in our various duties of state.

All spiritual writers agree in teaching that obedience, by identifying our will with that of God, makes us all-powerful over ourselves and makes us participants in the divine power to overcome evil. This is what made Lacordaire say:

I want to! It’s the rarest word in the world, though the most frequently usurped. But when a man has the terrible secret of it, be he poor today of everything, be sure that one day you’ll find him higher than anything.

This confirms the saying: “Nothing is impossible to a valiant heart”. Often, it’s only the first step that costs. That’s why we need to inspire children with a benevolent optimism in the face of difficulties, and not accustom them to moaning.

  1. The joy of effort.

We need to show them in concrete terms that every effort is rewarded with satisfaction, and that the struggle more than makes up for the effort.

Effort is capable of producing something beautiful: a neat assignment, a well-understood and well-learned lesson.

  1. Develop initiative.

It’s important to get children to work on their own.

At first, when the child is young, you have to want to do things for him, then, little by little, you have to obtain his cooperation by proceeding in stages:

  • Suggest a homework assignment.

  • Point out the difficulties.

  • Explain how to overcome difficulties and that victory will bring honor and joy.

  • Appeal to his valor, his taste for fighting.

  • Making sure it’s done right.

  • Encouraging success.

  • Show the shortcomings of the execution.

  1. Instilling a love of work well done.

As Goethe said, “Knowing and doing a single thing well leads to higher development than half-doing a hundred things”.

The love of a job well done is a powerful source of effort, which is why we must banish sloppy, incomplete, superficial, neglected work.

  1. Supernatural help

We have said that Catholic parents and educators strive to give the children God has entrusted to them the greatest moral ideal of all: holiness. Children are enthusiastic about this ideal, which is concretely embodied in the lives of the saints. They understand that if the saints succeeded in living well according to God and deserved to go to heaven, it’s because they believed in the truths revealed by God and summarized in the Creed, observed the commandments in an increasingly perfect manner, and succeeded in striving to overcome all obstacles. But what was the principle of their efforts? God’s grace, obtained through prayer and the sacraments.

Children, much more than adults, are aware of their weakness, and therefore of the need for prayer to ask divine omnipotence for the help they need to make the efforts required of them. They readily turn to the sacraments, especially confession and Holy Communion, to replenish their strength. For without God, nothing can be done in the supernatural order.

That’s why, our author concludes, education of effort will find in Christian faith and practice the indispensable help without which it will be doomed to failure.

The coming year is a good time for effort, so let’s encourage children to meditate on the example of Jesus and to turn to Him for the graces they need, so as to make and keep good, concrete resolutions in relation to their duty as students. We can help them do this by reading the lives of saints who have been model pupils, or by mottos such as:

  • “Nothing is impossible to a valiant heart” (Jacques Cartier).

  • “Your life will be short, it must be full” (Jacques d’Arnoux).

  • “You can only reach the summits by long and hard paths”.

The last ends

November is the month dedicated to the dead. It’s an excellent educational opportunity to get children thinking about the seriousness of life, all oriented towards our final ends, and to get them exercising the Christian virtues.

  1. Reflections on the seriousness of life and the last ends.

Nature itself helps us to reflect: at this time of year: vegetation loses its beautiful summer finery and seems to die; the days grow shorter, fog and bad weather envelop everything in grayness. So everything inclines us to go inward, to remember, to reflect. So it’s the perfect time to push open the door to the cemetery and enter.

There are the modest cemeteries of our villages, squeezed around the church, but there are also the cemeteries of our cities. If you haven’t yet been to your local cemetery, take your children! It’s a little town within a town, but what a difference! No traffic, no noise, no fuss. In this haven for the dead, only the monuments speak to us of the lives of people who, not so long ago, were alive like us.

Gravestones themselves are highly instructive. They provide information on the foliage of families, the circumstances of death, the profession of the deceased, the affection of the family of the deceased, etc. Children should be made to read the inscriptions.

After these observation “exercises”, the findings and questions will come naturally. Yes, like them, we all die one day. Where are they now? In hell? In purgatory? In heaven? Can we help them with our prayers? This is an opportunity to remind ourselves of the truths we learned in catechism. Indeed, in such a context, these truths will penetrate children’s minds more deeply.

  1. Practicing the Christian virtues.

Let’s remind our children that charity is not only exercised towards those we come into contact with, but also towards the whole Mystical Body. Yes, we can help our deceased, and they are waiting for us to do so!

St. Augustine says: “To show to the deceased, by the faithful who are dear to them, a love that remembers and prays is certainly profitable to those who, during their corporeal life, have merited such things to be useful to them after this life.”

Let us take action by reciting a De profundis or a decade of the rosary for the relief of the souls of those remembered at the grave.

In the cemetery, let’s show them the “corner of remembrance”, saying nothing, waiting for the questions to come: why isn’t there a monument? What are those little squares?

This is an excellent opportunity to talk to them about the respect due to the body, the duty to bury the dead with dignity, and therefore the virtue of gratitude as well as the virtue of faith, as Saint Augustine teaches us:

We must not despise or abandon the bodies of the deceased, especially those of the righteous and faithful, whose spirit has made holy use of them, as organs and instruments for every kind of good work.

For if the garment, the father’s ring and other such objects are all the more dear to descendants the greater their filial love, we absolutely cannot disdain the bodies themselves, united to us more intimately and more closely than any garment. They are not ornaments or instruments that we add to ourselves from the outside, but the very nature of man. […]

Everything we devote to burying a body is a duty of humanity imposed by the love that forbids hating one’s own flesh.

This is why we must be as concerned as possible for the flesh of our loved one, when the one who bore it is gone. And if those who do not believe in the resurrection do so, how much more must those who do believe in it do so: so that this duty, rendered to the body which is dead, but called to rise again and dwell eternally, may be like a testimony to this faith.

These are some excellent arguments to make those who choose cremation think again.

Perhaps a child will ask you how the dead will rise, or with what body. Answer him with these words of Saint Paul, who takes the comparison of seeds:

What you sow is not the future body, but a simple seed, for example of wheat or some other plant. But God gives this seed a body as he wills, and each seed its own body. All flesh is not the same flesh, but the flesh of men is different, the flesh of cattle is different […], the flesh of heavenly bodies is different, the flesh of earthly bodies is different […]. The body sown in corruption will rise incorruptible; sown in ignominy, it will rise in glory; sown in infirmity, it will rise in power; sown an animal body, it will rise a spiritual body (1 Co 15, 37-44).

After all these reflections, it will be easy to show children that the goal of life is to achieve this blessed resurrection. So we can’t let ourselves go. Our future depends on the conduct of our present life, and this life is passing quickly; we are not sure of tomorrow! That’s why we need to pray constantly for the graces we need to put Jesus’s teachings into practice, so that we can live truly Christian lives.


The Synod On Synodality

The Synod on Synodality

The Synod of Bishops: a change in the government of the Church

1. A New Feature of Vatican II

1.Establishment of a council of bishops by Pope Paul VI

The Synod of Bishops is a new institution, established during the Council by Pope Paul VI in the Motu Proprio Apostolica Sollicitudo of September 15, 1965.

What is it? It is a “permanent council of bishops for the universal Church, subject directly and immediately to the authority of the Supreme Pontiff”.

Its members are the patriarchs, the major archbishops and metropolitan bishops, the presidents of the episcopal conferences and a specific number of bishops elected by their peers within these conferences.

On the following October 28th, the conciliar decree Christus Dominus on the pastoral office of bishops in the Church confirmed the existence of this assembly of “bishops chosen from the various regions of the world to provide the Supreme Shepherd of the Church with more effective assistance within a council which has received the name of Synod of Bishops” (no. 5).

Its function is only consultative. It has no decision-making power unless, in specific cases, it has received this power from the Roman Pontiff, who must then ratify the Synod’s decisions.

The 1983 Code of Canon Law (C. 342-348) places this new structure just after the Pope and before the Cardinals.

2.Increasing openness to non-bishops

As early as 1965, Paul VI made provision in his Motu Proprio for the possible participation of non-bishops, limited to 15% of the membership. Those concerned were only clerics, or representatives of religious institutes, or experts appointed by the Pope.

In 2006, Benedict XVI opened the synod to lay people, but without the right to vote (Ordo Synodi episcoporum).

However, on April 26, 2023, Cardinal Grech, Secretary General of the Synod, and Cardinal Hollerich, General Reporter, announced that the percentage of lay people had risen to 21% and that they would have the right to vote. The following should be noted:

– the novelty of having provisions contrary to the law currently in force announced by members of the Synod and not by the Pope – even if he obviously consents. But Pope Francis is not very scrupulous when it comes to laws, even those of the conciliar Church; clearly, it was necessary to ‘act fast’.

– We should also note the oddity of having lay people vote in an assembly of bishops: is this still a “Synod of Bishops”?

– Finally, it should be noted that the proportion of new voters (21%) is not insignificant in an assembly that can adopt its final document by a two-thirds majority.

In addition, the Synod is mixed: 50% of the laity will be women. Many young people have also been invited 1.

All these people, no doubt hand-picked, are supposed to represent the Christian people. There is room for doubt.

3.A consultative body transformed into a governing body

It should be borne in mind that the Apostolic Constitution Episcopalis communio of September 15, 2018, restructured the Synod of Bishops.

It considerably increases the role and competences of the Secretary General of the Synod, who becomes the real driving force behind synodal activity by mandate and under the direct guidance of the Supreme Pontiff, who is no longer content to receive synodal work passively, as has been the case until now, but actively promotes, coordinates and directs it.

This raises the question of whether the Synod of Bishops remains a merely consultative body for the Pope, or whether it has become an organ of government, independent of the Curia 2.

2. The Revolution in Progress

On June 20, 2023, the Vatican presented the Instrumentum laboris – working instrument – a preparatory document for a “Synod on Synodality”, which is due to bring together 364 participants in Rome from October 4 to 29, 2023.

The document was drawn up on the basis of diocesan synods organized around the world over the last two years to consult the “people of God” on their wishes regarding the life of the Church. Summaries have been drawn up for each country and then for each continent.

So much time, energy and money wasted on talking, and this will continue for almost a month at the Vatican (think of the money it costs: travel from abroad, meals, accommodation). Meanwhile, souls are falling into Hell through ignorance of the truths that need to be believed in order to be saved.

  1. Destruction of authority

The central question posed by the Instrumentum laboris, which is present in numerous technical sheets, is: “Who decides in the Church, and how?”

The document raises the following question:

Is authority a form of power derived from models offered by the world, or is it a genuine service? […] The continental assemblies have denounced the phenomena of appropriation of power and decision-making processes that have led to the various forms of abuse – sexual, financial, spiritual and of power – that have come to light in the Church in recent decades. Is responsibility for dealing with abuse individual or systemic?

The document suggests that responsibility for “abuse” may lie with the system itself, i.e. the way in which the exercise of authority has been organised in the Church up to the present day. We can see the direction in which the Instrumentum laboris intends to steer the debate.

We will therefore have to discuss:

the manner in which the ministry of the bishop is exercised; […] on the degree of authority to be attributed to episcopal conferences. […] Changes may need to be made to Canon Law.

The following should be considered:

cases where the authority feels unable to confirm the conclusions of a community discernment process, and takes a decision in a different direction; […] in which cases a bishop might feel obliged to take a decision that differs from the considered opinion offered by the consultative bodies.

Note the qualifier “considered” given to the opinion of the consultative bodies, which discredits the bishop’s opposition in advance.

But the Synod will not only question the authority of the bishops. It must examine:

the understanding of authority in the Church at different levels, including that of the Bishop of Rome.

The Instrumentum laboris raises the (foreseeable) case of “local Churches taking different directions”. What is to be done? The Pope is asked to examine “the possible scope for a diversity of orientations in different regions”. One wonders what will remain of the unity of the Church.

* A look back at the Sauvé Report

It will be recalled that in November 2018, the French Bishops’ Conference entrusted an “independent” commission chaired by former senior civil servant Jean-Marc Sauvé with the task of resolving the “questions raised by the sexual abuse committed by French ecclesiastics”.

It is interesting to note that Jean-Marc Sauvé, a progressive Christian by family tradition, had been vice-president of the Conseil d’Etat, a member of the Socialist Party and an adviser to Badinter. Among the members of the commission he had chosen: Nathalie Bajos, director of INSERM where she is in charge of the “Gender, sexual and reproductive health” team; Sadek Belouci, chairman of the advisory board of the Fondation de l’Islam de France; Antoine Garapon, a progressive Christian judge who called for a vote for Macron in 2017; Christine Lazerges, a Protestant with a law degree and a former Socialist MP, and so on.

The commission found only 35 files on clerics convicted between 1950 and 2020 – still too many, but still not many. As the abused children or their parents did not always denounce the facts, the commission tried to survey the faithful: posters on parish doors, surveys, etc. The result was a sample of 171 victims from which, by statistical extrapolation, the commission arrived at a figure of 330,000 people abused.

However, INSEE immediately reacted, saying that the sample was not representative, while the Catholic Academy of France protested, pointing out “the implausibility of the figures and the ideological spirit that governed this work”, resulting in a “profoundly inaccurate, even erroneous” result. Jean-Marc Sauvé, a member of the said Académie, immediately resigned, as did Mgr de Moulins-Beaufort, President of the French Bishops’ Conference (also a member).

The bishops of France nevertheless took note of the “Sauvé Report” as if they were eager to humiliate themselves publicly, but they humiliated the Church: Bishop de Moulins-Beaufort asked for forgiveness on his knees in front of journalists at the annual episcopal assembly in Lourdes.

What is interesting to note here is that, in its conclusion, the Report refers to abuse as a “systemic phenomenon”, thereby accusing the system, i.e. the institution of the Church itself, of being responsible for failing to curb the crimes of its clergy 3.

However, in the Instrumentum laboris of the Synod of 2023, we note the following question, mentioned above:

Are responsibilities for dealing with abuse individual or systemic?

Everything fits together.

2.The Synodal Church’s way of proceeding:
a conversation in the Spirit

Note that the conciliar Church has changed its title. It is now called the “Synodal Church”. Archbishop Benelli had invited Archbishop Lefebvre’s seminarians to be faithful to the “Conciliar Church” 4. Are we now going to be asked, in order to be Catholics, to be faithful to the “synodal Church”? In fact, even the Pope and the bishops will be required to do so, if we refer to the guidelines set out in the Instrumentum laboris (see above).

But let’s continue reading the document:

The term “conversation in the Spirit” does not indicate a simple exchange of ideas, but that dynamic in which the word spoken and listened to generates a familiarity that enables the participants to become intimate with one another.

The precision “in the Spirit” identifies the authentic protagonist. […] Conversation between brothers and sisters in the faith opens up the space for listening to the Spirit together. […] In the final documents of the continental assemblies, this practice is described as a Pentecostal moment.

The “conversation in the Spirit” will take place in three stages:

  • First stage:

The first stage is devoted to each person speaking from his or her own personal experience. The others listen in silence.

This is the height of modernist subjectivism.

  • Second stage:

Each member of the group then takes the floor, not to react or counter what has been heard by reaffirming his or her own position, but to express what, in the course of listening, has touched him or her most deeply, and what he or she feels most challenged by.

The fact that there may be a truth, and therefore an error if we deviate from it, is of no interest here. What counts is the “feeling”.

  • Third stage:

The third stage consists of identifying the key points that have emerged, and reaching a consensus on the fruits of the joint work. […] We need to be discerning, paying attention to the marginal voices, and not overlooking the importance of the points on which we disagree.

To ensure that this process runs as smoothly as possible, it is important to have well-trained facilitators:

Given the importance of conversation in the Spirit in animating the life of the synodal Church, training in this method, and in particular the challenge of having people capable of accompanying communities in this practice, is seen as a priority at all levels of church life.

Suitable premises will also be needed:

On June 20, 2023, in the Vatican Press Room, Father Giacomo Costa S.J., consultant to the General Secretariat of the Synod, announced that the assembly would be held in the Paul VI Audience Hall:

the room can be set up with round tables around which working groups of ten or so people can be seated.

3.The icing on the cake: a discussion on the ordination of married men to the priesthood and the diaconate for women.

The Instrumentum laboris invites Synod participants to:

reflect on the ordination of married men to the priesthood and the ordination of women to the diaconate.

  • We recall that the ordination of married men is a project that Pope Francis wanted to implement on the occasion of the Amazon Synod. It seems that the work on priestly celibacy 5 published at the same time by Cardinal Sarah and co-signed by Benedict XVI temporarily halted the process.

In a book entitled “Rien d’autre que la vérité. Ma vie aux côtés de Benoît XVI6, published by Arthège in 2023 after the death of Benedict XVI, Archbishop Gänswein, who was Benedict XVI’s private secretary, explains that Benedict XVI had sent Cardinal Sarah seven pages on the priesthood, which he had written without considering publishing them, but allowing him to “use them as he wished”. Cardinal Sarah quoted them, but it is inaccurate to say that the work was as if co-authored by Cardinal Sarah and Benedict XVI, as the publisher has taken the liberty of presenting it.

Now that Benedict XVI is dead, it is not surprising to see Pope Francis bringing out the dossier again.

In any case, the candidates are ready-made: the married deacons who have been officiating every Saturday evening in parishes without priests for many years are the perfect candidates for the conciliar Church… except that they will not have done any priestly studies worthy of the name.

  • As for the “ordination of women to the diaconate”, the term is inappropriate and misleading. The diaconate is a sacrament that is a participation in the sacrament of Holy Orders, which women cannot validly receive. They cannot therefore be validly ordained deacons. At most, they can only receive a kind of blessing to distribute communion, bring it to the sick, celebrate funerals and preach, which they have been doing for a long time. But this will give them an official status that will put it in people’s minds that one day perhaps they will be able to accede to the priesthood.

We cannot object to the deaconesses of the primitive Church. Their functions were to care for the poor and sick of their own sex; to act as intermediaries between women and the leaders of the Christian community; to visit pagan families where the entry of a deacon or priest would have been difficult or inappropriate; to be present at women’s meetings with the bishop, priests or deacons; to assist the bishop in administering baptism to women, and so on. But they were expressly forbidden to perform any liturgical function such as serving at the altar or preaching 7.

In short, for this Synod, faith is now just a question of experience – which means respecting the experience of other religions – and it is the “people of God” that now takes the place of the teaching Church.

Permanent democracy, a new Protestant Pentecost, these are the characteristics of this “sSynodal Church”, which has little to do with the Catholic Church instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ, opposing its divine constitution, which gives authority to the Pope and, through him, to the bishops, successors of the Apostles, and not to the people.

The consequence can only be, in the long run, the dissolution of this conciliar Church, and its fragmentation into so many diocesan synods opposed to each other.

3. Everything Started
With the Second Vatican Council

It should be noted, however, that this outcome is not an innovation of Pope Francis. It all started with the Second Vatican Council.

The Constitution Lumen Gentium of November 21, 1964 introduced a new definition of the Church, now called the “People of God”.

The expression came from the new theology condemned by Pope Pius XII in the encyclical Humani Generis, represented in particular by the Dominican fathers Chenu and Congar, whom Pope John XXIII had appointed as experts at the Council.

Archbishop Lefebvre considered this new conception to be extremely serious:

There is a new ecclesiology, that’s clear. […] In my opinion, it is exceptionally serious: just to be able to say that there could be a new ecclesiology. We are not the ones who make the Church, we did not make her, not the Pope, not the bishops, not history, not the councils. It was made by Our Lord. […] It does not depend on us. So how can we suddenly say: “Now, since Vatican II, there is a new ecclesiology”, and this is said by the Pope himself. It’s unbelievable 8.

The Constitution Lumen Gentium also insisted on the common priesthood of priests and faithful, a notion emphasised in the New Mass; while the rites of ordination of priests and consecration of bishops were modified to make it clearer that these ceremonies transmit a particular power 9.

The 1983 Code of Canon Law promulgated by John Paul II put all this into law, inverting the pyramid of the Church by placing lay people before clerics, and even allowing them – men and women – to enter the sanctuary during liturgical ceremonies:

The new Code of Canon Law, continued Archbishop Lefebvre, is an enterprise aimed at destroying the distinction between the priest and the layman. […] This is extremely serious. It is the ruin of the Church 10.

4. Reductive Groups and Governing Cores

Is the Holy Ghost really at work in this kind of synod? We may well doubt it. Not only because He cannot be present in an undertaking that seeks to overturn the divine structure of the Church, but also because his modus operandi bears a striking resemblance to the techniques of manipulation perfected by the Revolution and analysed in the 19th century by Augustin Cochin.

Adrien Loubier wrote a book about them in 1975, with a preface by Marcel de Corte, entitled Groupes réducteurs et noyaux dirigeants (Reductive groups and governing cores) 11. The book is useful for studying methods of revolutionary action in any environment (political, trade union, religious, etc.).

For example, get twelve people around a table to understand the need for change in the structure to which they belong.

Two basic principles will guide the discussions:

  • firstly, absolute freedom for the participants to say and think what they want. To each his own truth, his own convictions, his own opinion.

  • secondly is the equality of the deliberators. If one of them could impose his idea, his point of view or his experience, there would be no more freedom. It follows that there is no objective truth, only opinions.

The meeting naturally becomes a series of divergent presentations, of contradictory statements. This is generally referred to as a “round table” discussion.

How are we going to get through this jumble? It will be the role of the (experienced) facilitator to convince the group, in the name of fraternity, of the need to unite to form an average opinion, the result of opinions that are all equal. To achieve this, everyone must be prepared to give up something of their personal opinion. But if everyone has the common will to unite around this common opinion, the group will be that much stronger.

Around the table, the deliberators are now united by the (fictitious) need to draft their joint motion. The result is a mishmash of ideas and differing opinions, leading to a great deal of confusion. But unity is the order of the day. It is therefore necessary to agree on a basis that is likely to attract votes. Given the differences of opinion, the joint motion can only be a common minimum. This is what Augustin Cochin calls “the law of reduction”.

The participants are then led to abandon convictions that they now relegate to the rank of opinions.

And the process continues.

At the next meeting, some of the participants pointed out that certain points needed to be reconsidered, posing difficulties of application that complicate the problem. The confusion continued to grow. While further cuts were being made, a selection process was beginning to take place among the men:

  • the weakest personalities – the most numerous – will be completely disorientated, and ready for any reform or questioning, as long as a leader makes them believe that they are the expression of the general will; or else, disgusted, they will take refuge in absolute relativism. They are recycled.

  • a strong personality may refuse to get involved, defending the truth. If they don’t leave by slamming the door – a departure that the moderator will then comment on with scorn or mockery – they will be asked more or less politely to leave the group if they persist in staying and defending their position.

Rid of those who might block the system, the presenter will leave the floor to the servile talkers, devoid of convictions and doctrine, who will inevitably come forward. The system has its hacks. Together with the moderator, they will form the core group, the governing core, that will drive the group forward in the direction decided by the organisers from the outset. The final motion will be unproblematic and met with enthusiasm.

The system will have performed a veritable sociological brainwashing.

Is this how the Synodal discussions went?

In any case, we will see that the conclusions of the Synod were exactly what the Instrumentum laboris wanted them to be. The moderators worked well.

The democratic aspect seems to be nothing more than an appearance to make it easier to accept the revolutionary reforms decided in advance by Pope Francis.

5. Review of the October 2023 Synod

At the end of the Synod, a “Summary Report” was published. The various proposals that make up this Report were voted on by the members.

The ordination of married men and the diaconate of women did not attract enough votes for the moment.

But it is important to understand that the current text is not final. It will serve as a working instrument (Instrumentum laboris) for the Synod of October 2024, which itself will still need papal approval to have authority.

The text of the Report allows us to see where we are in the transformation of the Church.

  1. Changing structures

During the Synod, there was constant talk of “changing” structures.

This can be seen, for example, in proposal I, 1, e, which states that we must “tackle the structural conditions that have allowed abuses to occur”. This is mainly an allusion to pedophilia, which is used as a pretext to attack the hierarchical constitution of the Church as if it had something to do with it.

Let us quote II, 9, g:

The synodal process shows that it is necessary to renew relationships and make structural changes to welcome the participation and contribution of all.

It is the dissolution of the hierarchy in the “people of God”. The rest makes this clear.

2.Distribute the powers of the hierarchy
among all the members of the Church
3. Necessary reminder of Catholic doctrine

We quote from the 1917 Code of Canon Law, an expression of the centuries-old wisdom of the Church assisted by the Holy Spirit 12.

4.Divine origin of a clergy distinct from the laity (C. 107)

Of divine institution, there are clerics in the Church who are distinct from the laity, even if not all the ranks of the clergy are of divine institution.

5.Definition of clerkship (C. 108)

Those vowed to the sacred functions, at least by the first tonsure, are called clerics.

The word cleric comes from the Greek “cleros”, which means first “lot” and then “share obtained by lot, inheritance”. Clerics are so called because they are “the Lord’s portion”, or because “the Lord is their portion”. At the tonsure ceremony, the psalm “Dominus pars hereditatis meae” is sung.

6.Notion of the sacred hierarchy (C. 108 § 3)

Of divine institution, the sacred hierarchy:

as founded on the power of order, is composed of bishops, priests and ministers;

as founded on the power of jurisdiction, is made up of all those who have received the power to govern the faithful. It comprises the supreme pontificate and the subordinate episcopate. Other levels have been added to the ecclesiastical institution.

The hierarchy of order is made up of all the clerics who are vested with the power to celebrate the holy mysteries of religion.

The hierarchy of jurisdiction is made up of all those who have been given the power to govern the faithful, either by teaching them or by enacting or applying laws or precepts.

Magisterium is a part of jurisdiction because it is founded not only on knowledge of doctrine, but also on the authority to teach, which is not possessed by all indiscriminately, but was given by Our Lord to the Apostles and their successors: “Go and teach all nations” (Mt 28:19); “O Timothy, guard the deposit” (I Tim 6:20).

7.Differences between the power to order and the power of jurisdiction

– The power of order is primarily a sacramental power.

Its object is above all the sacrament of the Eucharist, then the other sacraments by way of consequence; secondarily it refers to the acts of worship themselves and to the sacramentals (Summa Theologica of Saint Thomas, II-II q. 39, a. 3).

– The power of jurisdiction is concerned with government and teaching.


– The power of order comes from God.

– The power of jurisdiction comes from the ecclesiastical superior (except the power of the Supreme Pontiff).

10.Method of conferral

– Order is conferred by ordination.

– Except for the jurisdiction of the Supreme Pontiff, which comes from Our Lord, jurisdiction comes from the ecclesiastical superior. This is known as the ‘canonical mission’. By canonical mission we mean the deputation given to govern the faithful, in the name of the authority, with the assignment of specific flocks and territory. This is known as ordinary jurisdiction.

In the current crisis, because of the state of necessity in which souls find themselves, there is a jurisdiction without an assigned territory, which is given by the Code on a case-by-case basis according to the needs of the souls of the faithful. This is known as “supplied jurisdiction”. It is based on the General Norms of Canon Law, which state that the first law in the Church, to which all other laws are ordered, is the salvation of souls.

In order to acquire ecclesiastical jurisdiction, it is necessary 1) by divine law to be baptised; 2) by ecclesiastical law, to be of the male sex, enrolled in the clergy, at least as a general rule, and not to be subject to any censure by the Church.

It is not impossible for the Supreme Pontiff to entrust some ecclesiastical jurisdiction to a lay person. However, it is certain that today women cannot validly acquire ecclesiastical jurisdiction, as the Pope never grants such a dispensation. This incapacity is at least of ecclesiastical law; several authors maintain that it is of divine law.


The power of order cannot, in substance, be taken away or limited (a priest always remains a priest, even in Hell, because his soul has received an indelible character); but in its exercise it can be suspended or limited by the ecclesiastical authorities.


– The power of order can never be communicated to another person in its substance (C. 210): one must have been ordained to be a priest!

– Jurisdiction can be communicated to another, either in its exercise, or sometimes even in its initial grant.

13.Admission to the hierarchy (C. 109)

Those who are admitted to the ecclesiastical hierarchy are not admitted by the people or by civil authority, but by sacred ordination for the power of order, and by canonical mission for the power of jurisdiction.

14.The Bergoglian revolution, the culmination of Vatican II

Let us now look at the conclusions of the Synod 13:

  1. Magisterial power

The consensus of the faithful constitutes a sure criterion for determining whether a particular doctrine or practice belongs to the apostolic faith (I, 3, c).

This is the “people of God” that becomes the teaching Church.

In his address to the Synod on October 26th, during the 18th General Congregation, Pope Francis made a point of expressing his full support for this proposal:

I like to think of the Church as that simple and humble people who walk in the presence of the Lord, the faithful people of God. […] One of the characteristics of this faithful people is its infallibility; yes, it is infallible in credendo, (“In credendo falli nequit”, says Lumen Gentium nr. 12) infaillibilitas in credendo. […]

An image comes to mind: the faithful people gathered at the entrance to Ephesus Cathedral. History, or legend, tells us that the people on either side of the street towards the cathedral, as the bishops entered in procession, repeated in chorus ‘Mother of God’, asking the hierarchy to declare dogma this truth that they already possessed as the people of God. Some say that they had sticks in their hands and showed them to the bishops. I don’t know if this is a story or a legend, but the image is good. […] We, members of the hierarchy, come from this people and have received the faith of this people, generally from their mothers and grandmothers, “your mother and your grandmother”, says Paul to Timothy, a faith transmitted in the female dialect 14.

Pope Francis is rewriting history to suit him. It was not before the proclamation of the dogma of the divine motherhood that the people of Ephesus went to the cathedral to persuade the bishops (with sticks?) to define this article of faith; but after they had learned the definition, and to acclaim them. This can be found in any history of the Church. There is no shortage of books in the Vatican 15.

As for the sense of faith, sensus fidei, it does exist in the faithful, caused both by the light of faith itself (II-II q. 1, a. 4, ad. 3) and by the Holy Ghost, by the gift of knowledge, when the faithful are in a state of grace (II-II q. 9, a. 1, ad. 1). This sense of faith enables him to recognise whether or not a doctrine conforms to the teaching of the magisterium. But it is not he who dictates to the magisterium what it should teach!

2.Power of jurisdiction

During the Synod, clericalism was repeatedly presented as the cause of all the evil that is happening in the Church. Pope Francis condemned it in his address on 26 October 26th:

When ministers exaggerate in their service and mistreat the people of God, they disfigure the face of the Church with macho and dictatorial behaviour. […] Clericalism is a scourge, it is a plague, it is a form of worldliness that soils and damages the face of the Lord’s spouse.

The Synod makes it responsible for “abuses” (II, 9, f and II, 11, c). The remedy, for him, is therefore co-responsibility:

Co-responsibility is an essential element for synodality at all levels of the Church. […]

Structures and processes must be put in place, in forms to be legally defined, for the regular verification of the work of the bishop, with regard to the style of his authority, the financial administration of the goods of the diocese, the functioning of participative bodies and protection against all types of abuse (II, 12, j).

Usually, a bishop reports only to the Pope, or to the Superior General of a priestly institute that includes bishops (such as the Congregation of the Fathers of the Holy Spirit: Archbishop Lefebvre had 60 bishops under his authority).

But even the Pope must be controlled:

An in-depth study is needed of how a renewed understanding of episcopacy within a synodal Church affects the ministry of the Bishop of Rome and the role of the Roman Curia. This question has significant implications for the way in which co-responsibility is lived in the Church (II, 12, j).

As the Synod included women, the following claim is made in the final document:

There is an urgent need to ensure that women are able to participate in the decision-making process, and to take on roles of responsibility in pastoral work and ministry (II, 9, m).

We propose that properly trained women should be able to serve as judges in all canonical processes’ (II, 9, r) 16.

3.Order Power: new encroachments

+ The new Code of Canon Law had already limited the exercise of the power of Order 17:

– tonsure, minor orders and the subdiaconate have been abolished, the minor orders having been replaced by ‘ministries’ that lay people can exercise;

– lay men and women may preach in churches and distribute Holy Communion, and women may serve Mass.

+ But the Synod still limits the power of Order, within the jurisdiction hitherto attributed to it by the Church. It was normal for the power of government and teaching to be entrusted to those who, through the clerical state and above all the priesthood, are placed above the faithful. From then on, everything changed:

Baptism is the principle of synodality” (1, 7, b), which means that “all the baptised are co-responsible for the mission, each according to his or her vocation, experience and competence: all therefore contribute to imagining and deciding the stages of reform of Christian communities and of the Church as a whole” (III, 18, a), “even non-Catholics” [i.e. Protestants!] (1, 7, b).

This is the consequence of the confusion between clerics and laity, the promotion of the laity, and indifferentist ecumenism, introduced by the Council and enacted by the 1983 Code.


It is no more and no less than a “reformation” of the Catholic Church in the Protestant way which is a destruction of the divine constitution of the Church.

1ORLF, 27 April 2023, p. 1.

2 — Father Réginald-Marie Rivoire, Le motu proprio Traditionis custodes, Poitiers, DMM, 2022, p. 93.

3 — A very well-documented study of this affair, with all the sources and references, appeared in Rivarol, n° 3499 to 3503, article by T-A Lechevalier.

4 — “If the seminarians at Ecône are of good will and seriously prepared for a priestly ministry in true fidelity to the conciliar Church, we will then find the best solution for them” (Letter to Archbishop Lefebvre, 25 June 1976).

5 — ‘Des profondeurs de nos cœurs ’, published by Fayard in January 2020.

6Nothing but the truth. My life with Benedict XVI.

7 — See the article “Deaconesses” in the Dictionary of Catholic Theology.

8 — Archbishop Lefebvre, Spiritual Conference of 17 March 1986 at Ecône (in CD no. 2 “La sainte Eglise”, published by Ecône. See the article ‘ Vatican II mis en code de lois: le nouveau Code de 1983 ’ published in Le Sel de la terre 120, Spring 2022, in particular pages 39 to 49.

9 — See the article “La validité des sacrements réformés par Paul VI”, in Sel de la terre 124, Spring 2023, especially pages 133 to 136.

10 — Archbishop Lefebvre, Spiritual Conference at Ecône, 4 March 1984. You can read the article “Vatican II mis en code de lois : le nouveau Code de 1983” published in two parts in Le Sel de la terre 120, spring 2022, and 123, winter 2022-2023.

11 — The book is published by Editions Sainte-Jeanne d’Arc, and has been reprinted several times.

12 — See Raoul Naz’s Traité de Droit canonique, Paris, Letouzey et Ané, 1946, vol. 1, pp. 260 ff.

13 — We have consulted the references given by fsspx.news on 14 November 2023.

14ORLF 44, of Tuesday 31 October 2023, p. 4.

15 — An account of the popular enthusiasm can be found in Dom Guéranger’s L’Année liturgique, on 9 February 9th, the feast of Saint Cyril of Alexandria.

16 — Compare this with the traditional canonical discipline referred to above.

17 — For further details, see the article “Vatican II put into a code of laws, The new Code of Canon Law (1983)”, Le Sel de la terre 124, Spring 2023, p. 66 ff.

Epidemic: The Solution!


the Solution!

by Cardinal Schuster OSB

Commentary on the Prayers of the Votive Mass in Times of Epidemic

Great calamities or public misfortunes are generally inflicted by God as punishments for the sins of the nation. The individual will expiate his faults in the next world, but nations and states cannot do so, and therefore the Lord punishes their social sins here. He desires, by these public scourges, to bring them to repentance, and the surest means to avert the divine justice is the conversion of the people and their return to God.

St. Gregory had this object in view when he instituted the famous Litania Septiformis with the procession to the Vatican Basilica, in order to stop the plague desolating Rome in 590. This thought inspires the following Collect:

God, who desirest not the death but the repentance of sinners, mercifully look upon thy people who return to thee; and grant that they, being devoted to thee, may by thy mercy be delivered from the scourges of thine anger. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son…

[…] The plague was raging throughout the kingdom of David, and slew seventy thousand victims in three days. The angelic minister of the sanctity of God was sent to punish the sin of vainglory committed by the king, when he ordered the census of the nation to be taken. The people suffered for his sin on the principle of solidarity so strongly felt by the ancients, who regarded the sins or the virtues of parents and rulers as drawing down punishment or blessings upon their children and subjects.

By permitting this, God commits no injustice, for it is merely a question of temporal goods which he is in no way bound to bestow, and if he deprives certain individuals of these advantages, it is for their eternal welfare. For instance, the plague was in reality ordered to the greater good of the Israelites, for God, who does not punish the same sin twice, allowed them to expiate their sins by that death, and the poor victims were carried away by the pestilence at the moment when it was to the greater advantage of their souls. Even those who by the inscrutable judgement of God were not saved, were spared from adding to their guilt, and their eternal punishment was less terrible in consequence.

David propitiated the Lord by erecting a votive altar on the spot where he had beheld the angel with the drawn sword; that altar is a symbol of our Redeemer who reconciles all humanity to God through the merits of His Precious Blood.

[…] When confronted with some great catastrophe such as an earthquake or a pestilence, the pride of man is brought low; all his discoveries and his exalted wisdom are powerless before God, whose touch can wither and dissolve the earth.

— Man raises his towers of Babel, his palaces and monuments, as though they were to endure for ever, but an earthquake of the duration of a few seconds is sufficient to make of a populous city a heap of ruins.

— Science performs miracles; man thinks that he has penetrated all the secrets of nature, he boasts that he has mastered creation and has now no need of God. An epidemic breaks out: a mysterious bacillus slays thousands and thousands of victims, and upsets all the calculations of the learned. It is a microbe, an almost invisible organism, which annihilates human pride. Such is our life, the span of which can be shortened by such microscopic enemies.

God alone is strong, wise, and good. In him only can we trust, for he alone will never fail us. All other things, science, art, glory, health, and strength, are but vanity.

[…] When the Word took flesh he conferred upon that flesh the power to bestow health, grace, and holiness. The saints, especially in early Christian times, regarded the Holy Eucharist as a remedy not only of the soul but for the body. The Fathers of the Church relate many cases of bodily cures effected by Holy Communion.

St. John Chrysostom tells us that many sick people were restored to health after having been anointed with the oil from the lamps which burnt before the altar. […] since the second century the bishop always blessed the oils for the sick at the Sunday Mass. When, subsequently, the performance of this rite was limited to the Missa Chrismalis of Maundy Thursday, the faithful of Rome in the Middle Ages used to bring their own phials of oil to be blessed by the Pope or the clergy celebrating with him. This Oleum Infirmorum was reverently preserved in every house as holy water is now.

A great change has taken place since those days in the mind of Christians, some of whom now appear to have a great fear of Extreme Unction.

[…] the Book of Numbers (xvi, 48) […] tells how the people of Israel rebelled against Moses, and how fourteen thousand were destroyed by fire from heaven. The great legislator commanded Aaron his brother to place himself as mediator between the bodies of the dead and the living, and the justice of God. The prayers of Aaron ascended like incense and God was placated.

This is the place and the vocation assigned to the clergy. The priest is called away from the multitude to be a mediator between God and man. Among all the ministries and offices he is chosen to fulfil, there is no office more worthy, none more essential, than the offering up of the Eucharistic Sacrifice and liturgical meditation, the psalmody in loco sancto, in quo orat sacerdos pro delictis et peccatis populi. The priest makes prayer and intercession for the sins of others, for it is understood that he must be holy and pure from every sin, or else si non placet, non placat, as St. Bernard wisely says. St. Jerome, too, when speaking of the legal purifications of the Jews, remarks: “Does any man among the people fall into sin? The priest prays for the culprit and his sin is forgiven. But should the priest sin, who shall make intercession for him?

In time of plague when the chief need is to find the cause and the remedy for the disease, the Church is indeed wise to point out the true source of all evil, sin. When this is removed by a sincere return to God, the epidemic will disappear, God will be placated, and will restore his grace, which will purify the body, too, from every contagion.

Cardinal Schuster O.S.B., Liber Sacramentorum, volume 9

Vromant et Cie, Bruxelles, 1933

p. 247-253

For a more complete look at this topic, read the following article on Fatima found on our website:

The Message of Fatima, the last remedy given to the world

Sanctification of Sunday in Times of Crisis and Persecution

Sanctification of Sunday

in Times of Crisis and Persecution 

In these days when attendance at Mass is impossible for many of the faithful, remember that we must distinguish:

The Command of God, which is general (You will sanctify the day of the Lord)

— And the Command of the Church which clarifies the command of God by obligating one to assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Normally, both are obligatory, under pain grave fault, on all baptized persons who have reached the age of reason, but circumstances can dispense one from the command of the Church (attendance at Mass) without this dispensing from the command of God.

When attendance at Mass is impossible, it is necessary to sanctify Sunday in another way, giving time to prayer and catholic instruction (at least the equivalent of a Low Sunday Mass, which normally includes a sermon).

One can, for this, read the texts of the Mass and pray a rosary (5 or 15 decades), if possible as a family.

It’s advised to make a spiritual communion (for that, one can read in the missal or in a prayer book the prayers before communion to excite in us a great desire for union with Our Lord, then we can read the prayers after communion).

St. Thomas Aquinas says: “the effect of the sacrament can be secured by every man if he receives it in desire, though not in reality. […] so likewise some eat this sacrament spiritually before they receive it sacramentally” (III q. 80, a. 1, ad. 3).

The Catechism of the Council of Trent says those “are said to receive the Eucharist in spirit only […] who, inflamed with a lively faith which worketh by charity (Gal. 5:6), partake in wish and desire of that celestial Bread offered to them”.

If it is difficult to get to confession as often as before, one should also arouse in his soul acts of perfect contrition, regretting our sins for the suffering they have caused to Our Lord during His Passion, and having the firm purpose to go to confession with a priest as soon as possible. The Way of the Cross (which you can do at home) is a great way to achieve this perfect contrition. Just kneel at each station, then get up to go to the next station.

These principles apply to Sundays and to Holy Days of obligation.

Prayers taken from the Mass in time of epidemic


O God, who wiliest not the death of the sinner but that he should repent: welcome with pardon Thy people’s return to Thee: and so long as they are faithful in Thy service, do Thou in Thy clemency withdraw the scourge of Thy wrath. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son…


Let the sacrifice which we now offer succor us, O Lord; may it wholly release us from sin and deliver us from all ruin and destruction. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son…


Graciously hear us, O God our Savior: deliver Thy people from the terrors of Thy wrath, and assure them of that safety which is the gift of Thy mercy. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son…

Letter from the Dominicans of Avrillé No. 31: May 2019

Letter from the Dominicans of Avrillé

No. 31: May 2019

St Vincent Ferrer

2019: Year of St. Vincent Ferrer

St. Vincent Ferrer: 1350-1419

The apostolate of St. Vincent Ferrer was as international as the Dominican Order itself. Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Switzerland (some even say England, but proof is lacking)… received his visit, and all of Europe felt the power of his message.

He traveled on foot – or, at the end of his life, riding on a donkey – accompanied by a group of confessors and a flock of penitents who would follow for a time the preacher that converted them. Arriving in town, he would kneel down on the ground, not wanting to penetrate any further into the city without imploring for it the divine blessing. After which, the mission commenced.

He himself would rise each morning at 2 o’clock, in order to recite the Breviary and say his private prayers. A few hours later, the mission would start with a Solemn High Mass, celebrated by St. Vincent, with deacon, sub-deacon, and a highly-trained schola — with musical instruments! The saint placed great importance on the beauty of the liturgy, which for him was the first way to preach.

The Mass was generally celebrated outdoors, as no church could contain the crowds of faithful. Next came the sermon, which easily lasted three hours (sometimes longer), the blessing of the sick (and the resulting miracles), and the reconciliation of enemies.

The Angel of the Last Judgment

In the eyes of the faithful, Saint Vincent Ferrer was above all — as he said himself — the “Angel of the Last Judgment”, he who came to cry out to the world: “Fear God, and give Him glory, for the hour of His judgment is come” (Apoc. 14:7). Born in 1350, two years after the start of the terrible bubonic plague that decimated Europe, he preached to a Christendom ravaged by the Hundred Years War, natural catastrophes (such as the earthquakes shaking even St. John Lateran and St. Peter’s), and the Great Western Schism. If that wasn’t the end of the world, it was at least a striking prefiguration. Throughout Church history, just as there have regularly been precursors of the Antichrist, God has sent precursors of the intrepid preachers who will be his direct adversaries at the end of the world.

A hundred years ago, the review La Vie spirituelle underlined the significance of St. Vincent’s mission, for his epoch and ours:

God gave him the mission to speak to all the people of Europe, to repeat during 30 years, without tiring, the importance of salvation, the blinding light of the final judgment, the eternity of Hell. […] The whole of St. Vincent’s preaching consists in boldly confronting his listeners with the most frightening and the most certain of all realities: Hell is the punishment for sin. Unless you convert, you will all perish.

The Angel of the Judgment is thus [always] a “Saint for today”.

The Problem of Evil

If God exists, where does evil come from? This is a common objection, but which actually turns against atheism and leads to religion.

And yet, evil exists, doesn’t it? Evil (for example, deafness, blindness…) does not have its own proper existence: it’s an absence, a lack, a disorder, that doesn’t exist all by itself, but only in something else that it damages. Evil is a privation of being — a privation of the normal order.

What does that prove? A privation does not have a proper cause. The shadow of a tree (privation of light) is not positively produced by the tree (which only limits the action of the Sun), and much less by the Sun itself! In a way, one could say that evil is to God what shadows are to the Sun.

But if God is all-powerful, what could limit His action? God, being all-powerful, is free to manifest His goodness as He wishes. Instead of an egalitarian universe (with millions of identical beings), His wisdom preferred a diversified creation, reflecting His goodness in a multiple fashion (in varying degrees). In this hierarchy, certain beings cast shadows on others: animals eat other animals, which eat plants, which assimilate minerals, etc. Each creature, with its limits, contributes to the general order of things.

Doesn’t the presence of evil inside humanity itself (wars, crimes, injustice…) argue against the existence of God? False notes in a concert do not in any way rule out the existence of the symphony, nor the existence of a composer. It’s actually the opposite which is true: it would be impossible to discern the false notes if the melody and harmony of the whole did not exist. Similarly, the presence of evil in the world does not in any way raise doubts as to the existence of God: to the contrary, we could not discern what is evil without having first recognized a general order of the universe.

Evil remains a scandal! Evil is a scandal for those who are more or less pantheistic (thinking that the universe itself is God), or who adore Mankind. The imperfections of our world prove first and foremost that the world is not God; it is not the Supreme Being, and so we must therefore search for something higher. Every man has a thirst for happiness which cannot be completely satisfied by things here below. This is just one more proof of the existence of God: true happiness is over and above this world!

But if God is good, couldn’t he eliminate all evil? Evil will always be a mystery for our limited human reason. We can understand that evil is permitted by God for a greater good, but it remains difficult to discern what this greater good actually is. The mystery of evil calls upon other mysteries which alone can shed light upon it: the mystery of eternal life (our life on earth is only a temporary trial, before our real life), the mystery of final judgment (one day, everyone must render an account of their actions), the mystery of original sin (man used his liberty to “thwart” God’s plan), and the mystery of Jesus Christ, who made reparation for sin in a manner even more beautiful than if sin had never existed (God’s goodness is revealed better by Jesus taking on human nature in order to make reparation and suffer in our place). To all those who suffer and are tempted to revolt, only Jesus (who suffered even more, but who leads us to happiness), provides the true answer.

Community Chronicle

January 31st: Mrs. Miriam CARROLL (Sr. Claire Gambacorta t.o.p.) passed away in Kansas, fortified by the sacraments of the Church and assisted by her fellow tertiaries. According to the constitutions of the Third Order and her personal wishes, she was buried wearing the Dominican habit.

Mirriam Carroll (coffin)

February 1st: At Montagnac-la-Crempse (Périgord), Fathers Marie-Dominique and Angelico represent the community at the funeral services for Mother Marie-Emmanuel, the first Prioress of the contemplative Dominican sisters of Avrillé.

February 9th: Brothers Michel-Marie and Augustin-Marie receive the tonsure during a Pontifical High Mass celebrated by Bishop Zendejas. Several seminarians receive the cassock, tonsure and minor orders on the same occasion.

February 10th: The Third Order Fraternity of “Saint Dominic and Saint Francis” (which gathered together all our tertiaries of Southeastern France) having become too big, Fathers Angelico and Marie-Laurent preside the erection of a new Fraternity for our tertiaries of Auvergne: the Fraternity “Saint Vincent Ferrer.” The fledgling Fraternity will be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on May 5th, feast of St. Pius V.

February 17th: Third Order meeting for Fathers Marie-Dominique and Hyacinthe-Marie at “Saint Joseph’s Domain” (Convent of the Sisters of Mary Coredemptrix, near Rennes, Brittany).

March 9th/10th: Weekend recollection for the faithful near Bordeaux, with Fathers Marie-Laurent and Hyacinthe-Marie.

March 17th: Annual pilgrimage in honor of St. Joseph for the families of St. Philomena School, with Fathers François-Marie and Angelico. Fathers Marie-Dominique and Hyacinthe-Marie are in Chartres for a conference, then to Paris for the Third Order.

March 30th/31st: For the 600th anniversary of St. Vincent Ferrer’s entry into Heaven, Father Louis-Marie leads a group of tertiaries on a pilgrimage to his tomb in Vannes (Brittany).

March 24th: Arrival of Bishop Thomas Aquinas, who will stay several weeks in France.

March 28th: Father Prior is in Rennes (Brittany), where Bishop Thomas Aquinas presides over the ceremony of the final vows of Sr. Marie-Liesse, and the temporary vows of Sister Marie-Joseph (Sisters of Mary Coredemptrix).

March 30th-April 6th: Annual pilgrimage to Rome for the graduating class of St. Thomas Aquinas Boys’ School, accompanied by Fr. Marie-Dominique.


Death of St. Vincent at Vannes (Brittany)

News from our worksites


In order to have a spotless church in time for Holy Week and Easter, a 5-day cleaning operation, under the di­rection of our Br. An­dré-Joseph, was ac­complished in late Feb­ruary. The height of the vaulted ceiling and the fragility of the murals (dating from the 14th century) made it neces­sary to rent a crane for the delicate procedure.

church cleaning 2

The construction permit for the future Parish Hall was rejected due to a change in zoning laws… The architect is now revising the blue prints in conformity with the new requirements, and we’re hoping to get the project under way in 2020. We’re also counting on your prayers to remove all the administrative and financial obstacles!

Crisis in the Church

February 4th, 2019: “The pluralism and the diversity of religions, color, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom.” (Declaration on Human Fraternity signed by Pope Francis in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.)

March 30th, 2019: Rabat, Morocco: the Pope visits the “Mohamed IV Institute for the Formation of Muslim Preachers,” thereby giving formal encouragement to spread a false religion fiercely opposed to Our Lord!

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Saint Thomas Aquinas in today’s combat for the faith

Saint Thomas Aquinas in today’s combat for the faith

A Sermon given in the Dominican Monastery of Avrillé (France)

“Thomas Aquinas was a light placed by Me over the Mystical Body of the Church in order to disperse the darkness of error.” 1

1. Saint Thomas, celestial patron of Catholic studies

On the feast of Saint Dominic, on August 4, 1880, and after having consulted the Sacred Congregation of Rites, Pope Leo III published the Brief, Cum hoc sit, designating St. Thomas the patron of universities, academies, Catholic colleges and schools. The feast was fixed on the 13th of November.2

The motives justifying the patronage of Saint Thomas for Catholic studies

This decision of the Pope, designating Saint Thomas patron of Catholic studies came immediately after his encyclical Aeterni Patris, dealing with the restoration of Catholic philosophy according to the principles of Saint Thomas Aquinas, written one year before, on August 4, 1879.  This patronage should have been its crowning point, and Leo XIII assigned three reasons for it.    Let us quote the Pope:

  1. The doctrine of Saint Thomas is so vast that it embraces, like an ocean, the entire wisdom of Antiquity.  Everything said in the past that was true, everything that was wisely discussed by the pagan philosophers and by the Fathers and Doctors of the Church as well as those superior individuals who existed before him; not only did he completely understand it, but he developed, completed and classified it with such an insight, with such methodical precision and with such a precise terminology, that he seems to have only left to his followers the ability to imitate him, while at the same time taking away their possibility of equaling him!”
  2. “There is yet a more important matter to consider: it is that his doctrine being formed and armed with principles containing a vast breadth of application corresponds to the necessities not only of one historical period but rather of all times and periods of history and is therefore very well suited to conquer the continually re-emerging errors.  Sustaining itself by its own strength, it remains invincible and causes a profound fear to its adversaries.  The perfect agreement between faith and reason [in the works of St. Thomas] must not be neglected, especially in regards to the judgment of Catholics.”
  3. “Finally, the Angelic Doctor, though great because of his doctrine, is no less great because of his virtue and holiness.  Consequently virtue is the best preparation for the work of the mind and the acquisition of knowledge; those who neglect virtue falsely imagine having acquired a solid and fruitful knowledge because ‘Wisdom will not enter into a malicious soul, nor dwell in a body subject to sins’ (Wisdom 1:4).”

Furthermore, Pope Pius XI dedicated a very beautiful encyclical; Studiorum Ducem3, in order to demonstrate the link between ecclesiastical studies and holiness as exemplified by Saint Thomas.

Saint Thomas enjoyed a wisdom proportioned to his sanctity; furthermore he enjoyed a superior degree of sanctity which was especially true from the moment when the Angels bound his loins with the cincture of chastity.  The enlightenment of the intellect is, indeed, the special fruit of chastity while the result of impurity is to darken the mind.  Saint Thomas was so free from the fires of concupiscence that he was able to enjoy an understanding of divine things similar to that of the Angels who do not have a body.  That is why he is called the Angelic Doctor.

Saint Thomas is the fruit of the Dominican Order

At the same time, St. Thomas must not be separated from the religious order to which he belonged.  It was the soil of the Order of Preachers where he was allowed to show his true worth.  The necessary balance between the practice of the vows of religion, monastic observances, the choral singing of the divine office, and the contemplative study ordered to preaching for the salvation of souls: it is this entire wonderful ensemble that permitted him to develop his Angelic doctrine.  But, since a religious acts only out of obedience, Saint Thomas’ superiors must also be mentioned:

“Must we not acknowledge that they directed him as perfectly as possible in his scientific vocation?   For he was a superior intellect, a genius who during his period of development was not inhibited by his own brethren.   This is a

phenomenon rare enough throughout history even in Religious Orders to deserve to be mentioned and held up as an example.” 4

The Masters General under whose direction he lived his religious life5, and the great saint, Albert-the-Great (1206-1280) who directed him at Cologne are a few superiors of Saint Thomas who must be honored.

We can certainly claim that Saint Thomas is the most beautiful flower, the most beautiful fruit of the Order of Saint Dominic:  the Order whose mission in the Church is to spread the light of truth and combat error in order to save souls.

2. Saint Thomas Aquinas in today’s combat for the faith

Therefore, it is clear from all that has been said how important Saint Thomas is in the contemporary battle for the Faith.  Let us quote Archbishop Lefebvre:

“We do not have the right to contradict the spirit of the Church which has always relied on Saint Thomas throughout its history.  God, Himself, raised up this admirable Doctor and the Church and the Popes have confirmed it, always proclaiming the power of Saint Thomas in rejecting error and heresy.  Since our contemporary age is one replete with heresy, error and paganism, we do not have the right to neglect papal directives. […]  It is very unfortunate that in today’s Roman Universities every possible and imaginable theory is floated without any correction from the authorities.  This is unfortunately due to the infiltration of ecumenism into philosophy as well as the idea of the equality of every theory.  Thomism is considered like everything else – relative – it was a system that was good during a certain period of time but, now we need something else more suited to the needs of the time.  (Archbishop Lefebvre)”6


Saint Thomas is the remedy for the malicious illness of our time – which is Modernism

None other than Saint Pius X, in his encyclical Pascendi, written on the 8th of September, 1907, declares that the primary remediation for Modernism is the study of the philosophy and theology of Saint Thomas:

“Concerning the question of studies, We wish and order that Scholastic philosophy form the basis for the Sacred Studies. […] And when we prescribe Scholastic philosophy, We want to make it clear the We especially mean the philosophy left us by the Angelic Doctor. This is of paramount importance.”

Saint Pius X will again clarify his thought in his Motu Proprio Doctoris Angelici of June 29, 1914, concerning the study of the doctrine of Saint Thomas Aquinas:

“It happened that since We said that the philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas especially had to be followed without indicating that it had to be exclusively followed, a number of teachers convinced themselves that they were obeying Our desire, or at the very least, that it was not contradictory if they were to adopt indiscriminately what other scholastics taught about philosophy, even though it was directly in opposition to the principles of Saint Thomas.   But in doing this they were greatly deceived.  When we gave Our seminarians Saint Thomas as the sole leader of Scholastic Philosophy, it goes without saying, that we were talking especially about his principles upon which, as on its foundation, this philosophy rests. […] It is certainly not difficult to understand that if the doctrine of some author or some saint was ever recommended by Us or by Our predecessors with particular enthusiasm, […] it is not difficult to understand that they were recommended in so far as they were in agreement with the principles of Thomas Aquinas or at least they did not oppose his principles in the very least.”

Again, it is Saint Pius X who gives the reason for this:

We wanted to state to all those dedicated to teaching philosophy and sacred theology to be alerted that if they alienated themselves from Thomas Aquinas, in the slightest degree, especially in matters of metaphysics they would experience a tragic loss.”

Furthermore, the Church had taken precise measures concerning this matter.  The 1917 Code of Canon Law obliges seminary professors, as well as their students, to “adhere both in philosophy and theology to the method, doctrine and principles of Saint Thomas.” (C. 1366 # 2).  The Dominican Constitution even required professors, the Master of novices and the brothers during their course of study to take an oath to maintain that doctrine.   The doctrine of Saint Thomas is the Church’s doctrine, and the Church is suspicious of anyone straying from it.

The shipwreck of the Conciliar Church

Alienated from the Tradition of the Church, the intellect has no point of reference; it just wanders around (or it loses its way).  This is precisely the spectacle given by the Conciliar Church.

The new Code of Canon Law issued in 1983, does not even explicitly mention Saint Thomas when it comes to philosophical studies in the seminaries!   It only says:

“The philosophical formation ought to always relate to Tradition while at the same time keeping aware of on going philosophical research” (C. 251).

One cannot be more vague.

Let us also quote the incredible declaration of Cardinal Ratzinger/Benedict XVI:

“I had difficulty in understanding Saint Thomas Aquinas whose crystalline logic appeared much too enclosed on itself, too impersonal and too stereotyped.”7

At any other time in history, he would not have been ordained a priest.  And in our times, he became the Pope!

One must read the text of Saint Thomas

Following the thought of Saint Pius X we readily see that he insists on reading the text of Saint Thomas itself:

“It is absolutely necessary to return to the ancient custom which, should have never been abandoned, that there be courses taught on the Summa Theologica itself, for the obvious reason that this highly reasoned book renders the Solemn Decrees of the teaching Church and its Acts that naturally follow more easily intelligible.  Because in the wake of the most blessed saintly Doctor, the Church has never held a Council in which he himself were not present with all the richness of his doctrine.  It daily becomes clearer and the experience of so many centuries has made it known, how true the affirmation of Our predecessor John XXII8is right on: [Thomas] enlightened the Church more clearly than all the Doctors, and, in his books, man profits more in one year than if he spent his entire life span studying all the others.”

In addition to the necessity of reading the text of St. Thomas itself, two cogent things should be retained:

  • The Second Vatican Council is the only council which did not rely on the doctrine of the Angelic Doctor; hence the disaster that flows from this omission.
  • Saint Pius X links the study of St. Thomas, in our times, to none other than the Acts of the Holy See.  This is something that was sadly lacking to the Thomists in our times.  Leaning on the principles of the Angelic Doctor, the Popes – up to Pius XII included – assiduously studied modern errors and condemned them.  These lessons were too often ignored and the lack of knowledge of the pontifical texts is an important cause for the lack of reaction against these errors in the Church:  hence their triumph on the occasion of Vatican II.

That is why Archbishop Lefebvre, in order “to transmit in its entire doctrinal purity, as well as in all his missionary charity, just as Our Lord transmitted it to His Apostles as also the Roman Church transmitted it up until the middle of the XXth century,”9 inserted in the first year course on spirituality for the seminarians, courses on the Acts of the Magisterium concerning modern errors which he himself gave in the beginning10.


The study of the doctrine of St. Thomas, in itself, ought to be the principal inspiration for preaching for priests.  It is very important to nourish the souls with this doctrine in order to sustain their contemplation and love of God.

Saint Thomas himself, as a true son of Saint Dominic, had consecrated himself to the salvation of souls.  Furthermore, it is Thomas himself who developed the logo for the Order of Preachers: “Contemplari, et contemplate aliis tradere,”:  to contemplate and transmit to others that which you have contemplated.

It would be a grave error and detriment for the faithful to think that Saint Thomas is only reserved for priestsIt would also be wrong to think that, for the faithful, it is only necessary to give moral exhortations or, what is worse, considerations that appeal only to feelings.

Let us quote again the Archbishop:

Let us not think that Saint Thomas is too much for the faithful and that he is distant from their faith, for this is not true and damaging to the faithful.  The philosophy and theology of Saint Thomas are truth.  Therefore let us not say that the truth explained in all its simplicity, and clarity, in addition to its profound logic, cannot be understood by the faithful.  That would be condescension on our part.  This would amount to abandoning and despairing of communicating to the faithful – a profound tragedy.  It goes without saying that one must know how to express and expose these admirable principles.”11

Father Garrigou-Lagrange O.P. tells of having known a little lay sister, who was a contemplative, and who did not possess any human culture to speak of but who had been interiorly enlightened by interior trials:

“She had discovered among the saints two great friends: Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Albert the Great.  In spite of the fact that she lacked any philosophical or theological culture, she, nevertheless, loved to read how these saints prayed and furthermore, addressed them saying: “They are great Doctors of the Church and they enlighten the souls of those who entreat them for help.”  As a matter of fact, Father Garrigou-Lagrange continues to explain that it was St. Thomas who showed her where the obscure tunnel she was crossing would lead her!  And Saint Thomas enlightened many souls, as he had done to the little lay sister, if these poor souls appealed to him.”12

It was well known at Econe, that Msgr. Lefebvre came for a spiritual conference with a single volume of Saint Thomas, and he gave a commentary on an article of the Summa.  These formed the most pleasing lectures experienced by the Seminarians, and especially by the brothers!

It was not something rare, at the Monastery of Avrille, to be surprised to find our (now deceased) brother Marie-Joseph O.P. plunged into one of these same volumes.  He was particularly in love with the treatise on charity.


Let us ask of Our Lord what the Church makes us specially ask for in the Collect and the Postcommunion for the feast of Saint Thomas:

Da nobis et quae docuit, intellectu conspicere:

give us the grace to contemplate what he taught – that is, to nourish ourselves with his doctrine,

et quae egit imitatione complere; ut actus exterius piae operationis excrescent:

give us the grace to resemble him, in order that there may be an increase in our good works,

knowing that the first work of spiritual mercy consists in teaching souls the truth:

Docere ignorantes.

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

a text of Fr Garrigou-Lagrange O.P.


1. What is meant by the Assumption ?

The whole Church understands by the term that the Blessed Virgin Mary, soon after her death and glorious resurrection, was taken up body and soul to Heaven to be forever enthroned above the angels and saints.

The term Assumption is used rather than Ascension since, unlike Jesus who ascended to Heaven by his own power, Mary was lifted up by God to the degree of glory for which she had been predestined. […]

2. Was the Assumption revealed ?

Without a divine revelation, the Assumption would not be capable of being defined a dogma of faith, since the motive of faith is the authority of God in revelation. […]

Hence, that the Assumption should have been known as certain and capable of being proposed to the whole Church for acceptance, a public revelation must have been made to the Apostles, or at least to one of them – Saint John, for example.  Note that this revelation must have been made to an apostle since the deposit of common and public revelation was completed with the death of the last apostle [Saint John].  It may have been made explicitly or implicitly. […]

3. Was the privilege of the Assumption explicitly revealed ?

Everything tends to indicate that the privilege of the Assumption was explicitly revealed to the Apostles, or at least to one of them ; and this was transmitted subsequently by the oral Tradition of the liturgy ; otherwise there is no explanation of the universal Feast of the Assumption, found so clearly from the 7th century on, by which time the Assumption itself was already the object of the ordinary magisterium of the Church. […]

4. Is the Assumption implicitly revealed in the Holy Scripture ?

— From the words of Gabriel the Archangel at the Annunciation and from St Elisabeth at the Visitation :

* « Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee ; blessed art thou amongst women » (Lc 1, 28) ;

* « Blessed art thou amongst women » (Lc 1, 42).

we can conclude that the Assumption was implicitly revealed in the Holy Scripture :

Mary received fullness of grace and was blessed by God among women in an exceptional way.  But this exceptional blessing negatives the divine malediction to bring forth children in pain and to return to dust (Gen 3, 16-19).   Mary was therefore preserved through it from corruption in her body: her body would not return to dust but would be restored to life in an anticipated resurrection. […]

— « Thanks be to God, who hath given us the victory through Our Lord Jesus-Christ » (1 Co 15, 57) ; « Through death, [Jesus-Christ] might destroy him who had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil »   5 Hebr 2, 14).

Christ ‘s perfect victory over Satan included victory over sin and death.  But Mary, the Mother of God, was most intimately associated with Jesus on Calvary in His victory over Satan.  Hence she was associated with Him in His victory over death by her anticipated resurrection and her Assumption.

5. What are the consequences of this dogma for our soul ?

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin along with the Ascension of Our Blessed Lord, crowns our faith in the objective completion of the work of the Redemption, and gives our hope a new guarantee.

Finally, the just man lives by his faith.  Hence he finds in the solemn definition of a revealed truth a form of spiritual nourishment which increases his faith, strengthens his hope, and makes his charity more fervent.

(Fr Garrigou-Lagrange O.P., The Mother of the Saviour and Our Interior Life ; St-Louis, Missouri ; B. Herder Book Company ; 1948 ; Part one, Chapter IV, Article II, « The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin », extracts.)

A Treatise on Prayer

A treatise on prayer

by Fr. Wilberforce O.P.

– I –

Prayer in general

The whole spiritual life consists essentially in two grand duties, both of which, but especially the first, must be constant and unintermitting: prayer and mortification. These are the two wings by which we are to fly to Heaven, and without both, progress is IMPOSSIBLE.

Of these two, the first is now to be treated of and examined.

Prayer is the most noble and divine instrument of perfection or union with God, and by prayer alone we can attain to the end of our Creation and Redemption : union of spirit with God, our Creator and Redeemer.

The prayer chiefly to be discussed at present is that known as affective prayer, by which our souls offer and give and consecrate themselves and all they have and all they owe to God, giving him all love, obedience, submission, thanksgiving, etc.

What is prayer ?

Prayer is defined to be « an elevation of the mind to God ». By lifting or elevating the mind we mean making acts by which the soul moves and expresses, or at least implies :

1. An entire dependance on God as the Author and Fountain of all good.

2. A will and readiness to give Him His due, viz all love, obedience, adoration, glory and worship, by humbling an annihilating herself and all created things in His Presence.

3. A desire and intention to aspire to union of spirit with Him.

These things are included in all real prayer.

Prayer, then, is the most perfect and divine action of which man is capable. It is the only principal action the soul was created to accomplish, because the soul was created for union with God, and prayer is the only means to that union. Without prayer, no other means is effective. Therefore, of all other duties and good works that can be done, prayer is above all indispensably necessary.

The necessity of prayer

The following considerations, five in number, suffice to prove the necessity of prayer:

1. By prayer only, through which charity is aroused, strengthened and increased, can we be united to God. In this all good consists. Separated from God, we have only ourselves, viz, corruption, nothingness, misery.

2. By prayer only, all grace – our only good – is a) obtained, b) preserved, c) recovered if unhappily lost. The reason is: to obtain grace, we must have recourse to the Fountain of grace and good. God is that fountain. But recourse can only be had to Him by prayer.

3. By prayer alone can we make external things holy so as to render them means of uniting us to God. Works of zeal, charity, ordinary actions of daily life can only be made [supernaturally] good and acceptable to God so far as they are vivified by internal prayer. Because a good action is only meritorious inasmuch as it is raised and directed to God by an interior motion of the soul, and this interior motion is prayer. To be drawn interiorly to offer up an action to God by charity is therefore an act of prayer.

4. True prayer is incompatible with [mortal] sin in a way nothing else is or can be. A soul remaining with the will attached to sin may perform all other actions, e. g. fasting, almsgiving, joining in choral offices, keeping silence, visiting the sick, obeying superiors, hearing or saying Mass etc., but true prayer of the spirit and an affection to sin are absolutely incompatible and mutually destructive. The reason of this is that :

— internal prayer is the converting and uniting of the will to God;

— sin is averting and separating the will from God.

The two, therefore, being contradictory, cannot dwell together, but one must destroy the other.

5. Prayer is the one sovereign remedy and comfort in all kinds of miseries:

— wether of soul, as afflictions, guilt, remorse, fear, etc.,

— or of body, as pain, poverty, death, etc.

Because the only remedy and comfort for these ills is to rise above them, but this can only be done by union of spirit with God, a union brought by pure prayer.


Three consequences follow from these truths:

1. Regarding God; 2. regarding the devil; 3. Regarding ourselves.

1. God gives us special commands about prayer in a way He does about no other duty except charity, which is the object of prayer. We are commanded always to pray as the one necessary thing. « We ought always to pray and not to faint » (Luke 18, 1).

2. The devil desiring our destruction directs all his efforts to make us undervalue prayer ; to disgust us with it ; to persuade us it is useless, too difficult, impossible, unnecessary – for if he can induce us to neglect and abandon internal prayer, by so much he does actually separate us from God.

3. We ourselves must see that prayer is the one thing that at all times and under all circumstances we must always cultivate, energetically pursue, determinately persevere in, because all our hope, all our good is found in prayer alone. We ought to have one aim and business in life, viz: to exercize and increase charity by internal prayer; or in other words to increase within ourselves the quiet but firm determination to please God by constantly an with ever increasing earnestness, raising our spirits to Him; will to will, mind to mind, heart to heart.

Prayer has been described by Father Baker as « an affectuous actuation of an intellective soul to God ».

From this two consequences follow :

1. Prayer of words only is not prayer. Prayer requires an inward attention and affection of soul, though by no means necessarily to the sense of the words uttered. In other words: vocal prayer that is not also mental is no prayer!

2. This most important consequence follows, that thinking, exercising the mind, reasoning, discoursing to oneself about a sacred truth, or meditation on a subject is not itself prayer but only a preparation for prayer, an incitement to pray: for prayer is only immediately exercised by the will, or affections adhering to, and being united to God.

There is, then, no such thing as merely vocal prayer, so that no one must be misled into this error by the division of prayer into vocal and mental. Merely vocal prayer is that pretence of prayer of which God says: « This people honoureth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. In vain do they honour Me » (Mt 15, 8).

But the distinction has a right meaning, for though all prayer must be mental to be prayer at all, some prayer is vocal also, some merely mental without any form of word, and, further than this, prayer may be made with blind elevation of the will to God without any express internal words or definite thoughts.

– 2 –

Vocal prayer

Sometimes vocal prayer can be an instrument conducting a soul to contemplation.

In ancient times many arrived at contemplation by means of vocal prayer, joining to it: 1) extreme abstraction and solitude, 2) rigorous abstinence, 3) immense diligence in prayer.

But we, not having these conditions, must supply them by daily set exercices of mental recollection, to bring about habitual recollectedness.

If God calls a soul to contemplation through vocal prayer, she must:

1. Practise still greater abstraction and mortification than is necessary by the road of mental prayer. Because vocal prayer is not so profound and inward, and does not give such light for regulating the affections.

2. Spend more time in it, for its efficacy is less.

3. If God draws her to internal prayer of aspirations, be ready to follow at once.

If a soul should be drawn (it is most uncommon) by the way of vocal prayer only, it is a secure way, less open to illusions, and less likely to hurt the head, etc.

But as this is a way nowadays almost unknown, mental prayer is necessary. Souls, therefore, must not be tempted to abandon mental prayer for vocal prayer, even if vocal prayers were « clear and undistracted », and the mentel recollections « painful and disturbed ». Persevere, and this will change. Little less than a miracle will make the vocal prayer of imperfect souls to become contemplation. Sudden apparent contemplation, then, must be vehemently suspected.

In the beginning of a spiritual course, vocal prayer is good :

1. For those who cannot manage discursive prayer.

2. For others, if it raise and better their attention to God, provided it yield to internal prayer when they are disposed for it.

3. Vocal prayer of obligation, public or private, must always be attended to.

Three kinds of attention in vocal prayer

Some kind of attention is necessary for all prayer :

1. Attention of mind to the sense of the words uttered, varying with each verse, etc. This is the lowest kind ; and the more imperfect the soul is, the easier it is.

2. To come to vocal prayer – viz, the Divine Office – with some efficacious affection of soul to God, or letting the vocal prayer raise the heart, and remaining in it as deep recollection as possible, without reference to the changing sense. This is far more perfect, being attention to God and union of affection with Him, which is the object of all prayer. No one should quit this for the first attention.

3. Certain souls in close union with God are able to be profoundly recollected and united to God, and yet to follow the sense without injuring, nay, increasing and simplifying their internal union. This is not before the soul has arrived at contemplation and habitual close union. This is by far the most perfect and uncommon.

– 3 –

Internal affective prayer

Mental or internal prayer is either :

1. Imperfect and acquired ; or

2. Perfect and infused.

The perfect and infused prayer is contemplation ; the imperfect, acquired and active is the preparation for contemplation, which is the end and object of all spiritual exercises.

Necessity of internal and affective prayer

Internal and affective prayer is the only efficacious instrument of perfect union of spirit with God, i.e. of contemplation.

Cardinal Bellarmine says: « This, I believe, I may most truly and confidently affirm, that without a diligent pursuit of internal prayer, none will ever become truly spiritual, nor attain to any degree of perfection. Many go often to the sacraments, and yet remain as imperfect as before. Nay, many religious and priests read Scripture, receive and celebrate often, perhaps daily, and yet are devoid of devotion and the Spirit of God, cold in love, earnest in love of vanities, full of impatience, envy and inordinate desires. Why ? Because they never seriously enter into their own hearts by exercises of introversion and true internal prayer. »

The same must be said of some religious who ought to be more contemplative, who, by profession, ought to aspire to contemplation, but who mistake the way. For they imagine, or act as if they imagined, that they can reach union by exact performance of outward observances, solemn offices, etc. joined to internal discursive prayer. These things are good as inferior and imperfect preparations to true prayer. But if religious rest in them, in external observance and meditation, or discursive prayer, little interior reformation or simplification of soul will result. For these active exercises shortly lose all power, if the soul does not go on from them to truly enlightening exercises of internal affective prayer. This prayer is a prayer of the heart and will, quietly and calmly produced, but by good affections, not by the understanding.

Internal affective prayer excels vocal and discursively mental prayer in many ways

1. Because by it alone, is our union in spirit with God perfectly obtained ; because by it, the will, with all the powers and affections of the soul, is fixed on God.

2. Because by it, the soul enters far more deeply into God, and is far more enlightened by Him, the Fountain of Light. She thus detects her imperfections, impurities of intention, and inordinate affections.

3. Because grace and strength to practice all we see to be God’s Will is obtained by this kind of prayer:

* by way of impetration, according to God’s promises;

* by the direct efficacy of this prayer itself. For, rightly understood, this prayer includes the habits of all virtues. Why ? Because first the virtue and merit of all external things comes from the interior soul exercising herself in charity and purity of intention, and this is done by internal affective prayer : further all internal exercise of virtue is, and become direct prayer of the spirit, e.g., internal humility is the soul seeing its nothingness, and adhering to God, its only good. Thus, as habits are formed by repeated acts, so constant internal affection will form the habits of all virtues.

4. To persevere in this prayer is universal mortification of a profound and perfect kind. Fot the will forces nature and the iferior powers to leave whatever pleases them, and give the affections to God, whatever disgust they may feel in this exercise. Saint John Chrysostom says: « It is impossible that whoever with due care and diligence prays can ever sin. »

5. Because this internal affective prayer is the only exercise that cannot lack purity of intention. Fasting, obediences, choir, etc., may come from impulse of nature. In fact, then, all virtue comes from internal affective prayer, that is, the will being fixed on God by charity. Now if any oblique or selfish intention should intrude itself into prayer of the will, it woud be observed, and unless expelled, no progress could be made in that prayer.

6. Because internal affective prayer is what makes all other things to be prayer at all. For without it, vocal prayer is mere sound, and meditation a mere intellectual exercise. God desires our wills, affections, hearts, and without them neither our tongues or our brains are of any value in His sight: « Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, etc. »; « Son, give me thy heart »; « This people honoureth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. » The only profitable attention to prayer is that of the heart, taking the heart as the seat of love. The attention of the mind only is nothing, otherwise study of holy things would be prayer.

Attention cannot be wanting to internal affective prayer, for the attention itself is the very prayer. As soon as the mind wanders, prayer ceases.

Considering these six excellences of internal affective prayer, two things follow :

1. A right minded soul of good will must see that no exertion should be spared to acquire so invaluable treasure.

2. Religious superiors must acknowledge that nothing can more essentially belong to their office than to see that their subjects are thoroughly well instructed in it, and habituated to its use.

Saint Bernard says: « Let beginners be taught to pray spiritually, and to withdraw as far as may be from all bodies and bodily images when they think of God. »

— So also Abbot Nilus, a disciple of saint John Chrysostom, says: « Happy is the soul who, when she prays, empties herself entirely of all images and forms; happy is the soul that prays fervently and without distractions; such a soul increases daily in the love and desire of God ; happy is the soul who, when praying, altogether quits the use and exercise of her senses, and loses interest in all things but God. »

But much struggle and long endeavour is necessary to attain this purity of prayer, to overcome the obstacles from the world, self, and the devil of whom Abbot Nilus says: « The whole war between us and the demons is about nothing else than prayer. »

Fruits of affective prayer

Many and various are the effects of affective prayer in the soul :

1. Great love of God, showing itself in many acts of love of preference, complacence and benevolence

— The love of preference is that by which we prefer God above all things. « What have I in heaven? and besides Thee what do I desire upon earth? … Thou art the God of my heart, and the God who is my portion for ever » (Psalm 72, 25-26).

— The love of complacence, by which we rejoice that God is what He is.

— The love of benevolence ; wishing all good to God. And as God is wanting in nothing, we can make acts of the love of benevolence :

* by desiring Him to be loved by all,

* by desiring all good in an infinite degree for Him, even if He had not it already.

But desires must be completed by deed; love must be effective as well as affective:

— Love of preference. If I would prefer God to all, I must not offend Him to please a friend, I must not despise His Will to do my own.

— If I possess the love of complacency, I shall devote myself to Him.

— If I desire good to Him, and rejoice by the love of benevolence that He is so great, I shall work for Him and try to promote His glory.

2. A true desire to do the will of God in all things

« But yet not my will, but Thine be done » (Luke 22, 42).

This makes us consult, not our own lights and inclinations, but God’s Will; act from a motive of pleasing God, not self.

But how are we to know God’s will?

It is expressed by the law of God, by the Church, of the Order, or of Superiors. In matters neither commanded nor forbidden, we must consider what is best in itself for us. If we doubt, then, in matters of importance, seek light; in matters of small importance, avoid two extremes : one extreme is to take no pains to think which would please God more, the other to be too long doubting. Enter into yourself and consult God, and then decide at once. We do not weigh the lesser coins, neither should we waste time in weighing small actions that present themselves to be done. We should not serve a master well if we took as much pains and time in considering what we were to do, as in doing what was necessary.

3. Burning zeal for God’s glory. This desire must show itself in acts as Saint Dominic, Saint Vincent Ferrer, Saint Teresa, who vowed always to do the better or more perfect thing.

4. Great desire of Holy Communion. Saint Catherine of Siena burned with this desire, and Blessed Imelda also.

5. Great desire to bear in body and soul the mortification of Jesus-Christ. Directors have to keep souls in prayer of affection back rather than urge them forward. Exterior and interior advantage. Mortification of life and not mere external religion.

6. A true and practical desire to be united with God for His sake and because He wills it. This desire, in order to be true, and not an illusion, must be practical, by taking the means of union, dying to self in order to live to God.

« As the hart panteth after the fountains of water, so my soul panteth after Thee, O God. When shall I come and appear before the Face of God? » (Psalm 41, 1-2)

But the hart runs actually towards the water.