Letter from the Dominicans of Avrillé
No. 20: September 2015
The Importance of Principles
Dear friends, family, and benefactors,
Bishop Charles-Émile Freppel (1827-1891), of the diocese of Angers 1870-1891, highlights the importance of principles in the following passage:
The worst kind of disaster than can afflict an era, or a country, begins when men abandon the truth, or minimize it. It is possible to recover from any other loss, but one never recuperates from the sacrificing of principles. Men may wander from the straight path from time to time, and public morals may receive some damage from the vice and bad example of such men; but as long as the doctrines of truth are left intact, and in their integrity, nothing is lost. For, if these doctrines are not abandoned, men and institutions will recover sooner or later; and goodness will return. However, if society chooses to abandon these principles of truth, all hope of recovery is useless, because it is impossible to construct anything solid and durable without true principles. Hence the greatest service that one can render to his fellow men – even when weakness and darkness rule the age, and even when no one cares to listen – is to affirm the truth without fear, like a ray of light opening a path through the minds of men. If the voice of truth does not manage to dominate the noise of the moment, at least it will be received sometime in the future as a messenger of salvation [Bishop Charles-Émile Freppel. Panégyrique de Saint Hilaire à Poitiers. January 19, 1873. Œuvres de Mgr Charles-Émile Freppel. Paris, Roger et Chernoviz, 1881. p. 234].
Are Principles Unchangeable?
That certain principles are practical – as opposed to speculative principles, which are at the origin of the speculative sciences – does not imply that these principles are only relative. Principles, even those which are practical, remain unchangeable. Thus, the truths of the Decalogue are not relative; and the Syllabus (1864) of Pope Pius IX cannot be reformed. What is changeable, however, is the application of the principles to different circumstances.
For example, the 5th Commandment requires that we “do not kill” (the innocent). This principle applies in the case of abortion, forbidding the killing of the unborn child. However, the principle does not apply in the case of the death penalty. The convict can be judged and executed legitimately because he is not innocent.
Maintaining the Purity of Principles
When circumstances prevent the full application of Catholic principles, these principles cannot be replaced by false ones. It is characteristic of liberal Catholicism to mix truth and error together. Such is what took place at Vatican II, which affirms, in Dignitatis Humanae, that “all men are obliged to seek the truth, especially regarding God and His Church” (§1), and yet claims, in the next paragraph, that man has a right to religious liberty, which is a false principle.
The following is a citation of Pius IX’s speech in Rome to pilgrims from Nevers, France in June 1871:
Mixing principles together is the affliction of your country which prevents it from meriting God’s blessings. I will now express my thoughts and will not hold my peace. I do not fear these miserable men of the Commune of Paris… Rather, what I fear is this wretched political code – Catholic liberalism – which is the true scourge of France. This teeter-tottering between truth and error is destroying the Catholic religion. Although one must be charitable, doing all that is possible to bring our erring brethren back to the fold, it is not necessary to adopt their opinions.
…to be continued in the next newsletter
April-May-June: Fathers Marie Dominique, Angelico, Marie Laurent and Hyacinthe Marie are busy with regular tertiary meetings in Paris, Brittany, Avrillé, Alsatia, Lyons…
May 23rd: Confirmations for 42 faithful by newly consecrated Bishop Faure. Despite the inconvenience for a large number obliged to watch the ceremony on a projector screen in the vestibule (because of the crowd), all were happy to get together and meet with their fellow “combatants for the Faith” in a joyous and relaxed atmosphere after a beautiful ceremony.
May 24th: Father Angelico accompanies Bishop Faure for the Pentecost pilgrimage in Rocamadour.
June 3rd: Funeral services for one of our most edifying faithful, Mr. Jean Kerhoas. Always willing to help out, he was no less diligent in his desire for religious instruction, even taking notes during the Sunday sermon. R.I.P.
Confirmations by Bishop Faure
June 25th-30th: Fathers Marie Dominique and Angelico make a brief trip to the U.S. After two days visiting with Fr. Ringrose and the faithful at St. Athanasius Church (Vienna VA), they participated in a Confirmation ceremony with Bishop Williamson, organized by Fr. Zendejas in the Connecticut area.
June 27th: End of the year ceremonies for St. Philomena Elementary School, and St. Thomas Aquinas Boys’ School. With the Solemn High Mass, buffet lunch with the families, a student play recounting the life of Garcia Moreno, and the graduation award ceremony – complete with musical interludes by the students – it was a very full day for Fathers François Marie, Innocent Marie, Louis Marie, Reginald and Terence, who had the consolation of seeing all their hard work throughout the year come to a wonderful conclusion.
July 11th– 13th: “True and False Counter-Revolutions” was the theme of our yearly doctrinal seminar dedicated to studying the enemies of the Church and their tactics. The Friary was honored with the presence of ecclesiastics from many different communities (and continents!), as well as a good crowd of heads of family with a serious desire to study the problems affecting Church and society.
Boys’ summer camp in Brittany
July 14th-29th: Fathers Reginald and Terence find themselves once again with the high school students for the summer camp in the countryside near Tours. The summer camps for the middle school boys (in Brittany) and the Our Lady of Fatima Patronage (in Anjou) were also in July.
July 13th –August 1st: Three retreats were preached at the Friary for men, women, and couples. Fathers de Mérode and Salenave, as well as Fr. Bruno O.S.B. were also there to help out for confessions and retreat instructions.
August 4th-13th: As every year, all the Fathers and Brothers are back at the Friary for our annual spiritual retreat, placed between the feast of Our Holy Father St. Dominic and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Fr. Pinaud of the Priestly Union Marcel Lefebvre nourished us for ten days with the profound doctrine of Cardinal Pie (1815-1880), the Bishop of Poitiers whose writings had a great influence on St. Pius X.
August 14th-18th: “The Dominican Friendship Days” brought once again to the Friary a large group of tertiairies from all over France (and beyond), for several days of Catholic camaraderie and instruction.
September: The Friary gets back into its normal rhythm of studies, as the school year starts up again for our three clerical brothers (14th September), as well as the Boys’ School and Primary School (7th September). On October 5th, it will be the turn of our three postulants, who will be joined by several seminarians from Bishop Faure’s seminary located nearby in Avrillé.
News from our work sites:
Mr. Maertens, father of Br. Jan Maria, built us 2 magnificent chests of drawers for the storage of priestly vestments. Until now, these vestments had to be folded when put away, which was damaging the fragile fabric.
Delivery of the new tractor
For a bit over a year now, the Friary has a tractor, generously donated by a retired farmer, and refurbished by a mechanic friend. With another donation of equipment for cutting hay and splitting logs, this has allowed us to save much on property maintenance expenses, and fill up our reserve of wood for heating in winter.
The classification and moving of books into the new library is continuing at a regular pace. We succeeded in acquiring a few metal carts and rails necessary for the installation of moving book shelves (which allow for a more economic use of space). A blacksmith, friend of the Friary, adapted them to the required dimensions, which enabled us to install a dozen shelves. We now only need about 20 more to finish the installation.
A picture says a thousand words
During a papal visit to Bolivia in early July, the President Evo Morales offered a blasphemous “hammer and sickle” crucifix to Pope Francis, who accepted it joyfully (contrary to certain rumors). Morales is a socialist internationally known for his campaign to legalize the trade of coca [used in the production of cocaine]. One of his slogans is “long live coca – death to the Yankees!” While in Bolivia, Pope Francis publically praised Morales for his “reforms”. We need to pray now more than ever! Not only do these recent Popes refuse to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, but they actively participate in the spreading of “Russia’s errors” against which Our Lady of Fatima warned us so emphatically.
“November Dead Lists”
Several of you have asked if we accept “November dead lists”. This pious custom consists in giving a list of deceased loved ones to a priest, who will then keep the list on the altar each time he celebrates Mass throughout the month of November. If you send us such a list (on paper in a neat, small format), we will be happy to perform this duty to the Poor Souls. Prayer for the souls in Purgatory is a devotion that has always been in honor in the Dominican Order. (Please send them directly to Avrillé, France. However, any donations should still be sent to the Newman Lake address.)
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Couvent de la Haye-aux-Bonshommes
49240 Avrillé, France