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 SSPX Letter to Friends & Benefactors - Easter 2013

Dear Friends and Benefactors,

Having recently visited Wanganui in New Zealand, recently joined again to the district with Australia, I have now had the opportunity to visit each of the six priories and four schools of the district. 

One complaint occasionally expressed wherever we have schools is that too many of our graduates fall into bad living with some giving up the practice of the Catholic Faith altogether. The first impulse is to think that something was lacking in their formation and since formation of character is the major work of education, the finger is often pointed at the school.  The school does have its part to play, and if teachers and administrators do not do their jobs properly, they could adversely affect proper character formation.  But let us not forget that the majority of the work in character formation takes place in the home.

An interesting article in an old St. Louis publication in America called the Fortnightly Review, addressed this recurring problem many years ago.

Criticisms, coming both from our own ranks and from non-Catholics, are with increasing frequency direc¬ted against the efficacy of character-training as practiced in our Catholic schools.  It is sad that children brought up in a Catholic atmosphere fall as readily into vicious habits after they have left school, as those who have had no religious training. The accusation merits investigation.

It would seem invidious to examine the antecedents of young culprits with a view to apportioning blame between the school and the home. But Juvenile Court offices, as a matter of fact, make much of “environ¬ment”; and generally look up the home-conditions of the delinquent boy and girl and their record at school. Dr. William Healy, of Boston, who has undertaken one of the most exhaustive studies of juvenile wrong¬doing in his work, “The Individual Delinquent,” refers in a large number of cases to “bad home conditions” as a contributing factor, and often the, main cause of the first false step and the beginning of a criminal career. May it not be worthwhile to enquire into our problem from this point of view?

There is no intention in this paper of shifting the failure of our efforts at character-training from the school to the home. It goes without saying that in many cases where a Catholic youth goes wrong, that is' enters deliberately upon a criminal career, neither the home nor the school is to be blamed. The cause may exist entirely in the weak will and vicious habits of the indi¬vidual. But the unreligious home, Catholic only in name, as a factor in making for juvenile delinquency, is often overlooked by those who are too ready to take a fling at the “poor methods of character-training prevalent in Catholic schools.”

In many Catholic homes the inspiring and helpful teaching given to the children at school is not only not enforced, but is ridiculed and held in contempt. Prin¬ciples and modes of action are encouraged which are directly opposed to what the child has learned while under the care of Catholic teachers. What is the result of this twofold standard, presented almost daily to the impressionable character of young persons? They will be apt to follow the example, and to adopt the views of their elders at home. After all, the youth understands quite well that it is not the school but the home, where father and mother and friends and neighbors meet, which really counts. In the minds of the young it is the home, and not the school, that presents a sample of what goes on in the great world all round. The child looks upon the school merely as an episode, something to get through with as soon as possible, in order to start ‘real life.’ The school is sometimes regarded as a neces¬sary evil which must be encountered before achieving the great privilege of living at large in the world, free from lessons and odious teachers.

Some examples will show how often home teaching and home example run counter to the ideals of the Catholic school. In the latter the youth learns, in the very first grade, the end and purpose of his existence. His first lesson in Catechism informs him that he is not created for this world, but “to praise, love, and serve God, and to save his immortal soul.” At home he often hears an entirely different philosophy of life. The gospel of success is the most frequent theme of conver¬sation. The neighbor's son, though he may be a scamp, is lauded because “he has made good” and is earning large wages. Such things the boy must listen to at table, in the evening, and at night. Money-making seems to be the big thing in the mind of his father. The acquaintance of persons with the longest purses is sedulously cultivated by the mother. The poor are quite often spoken of contemptuously. What becomes now of “the first lesson in the Catechism”?

The virtue of self-restraint or Christian mortifica¬tion is often mentioned in the school-room. The child at an early age realizes the need of practices implied by this virtue. But at home everybody takes the line of least resistance. No one ever makes any effort to get up a bit earlier to be present at Mass on week-days. “Get the most out of life” seems to be stamped all over the home. Material well-being is its watch word. The special services during Lent or Advent, presence at which might cause a little discomfort, are carefully avoided. “Let the people next door go; they are pious.”

But what becomes in the meantime of the child's thoughts on penance and his ideals as regards imitation of the lives of the saints who were distinguished for the spirit of mortification? These things are scarcely ever mentioned. Of course in such a family there will never be question or talk of the child's vocation to the service of God in the priesthood or in the religious life. The writer knows of a case where a young man, who had a strong desire for the religious life, was urged by a worldly-minded father to keep up correspondence with a girl during a temporary absence from home. Money, the world, pleasure, “having a good time,” society, “taking it easy” — these are some of the chief themes that absorb attention.

In the school the pupil beholds objects of piety—the crucifix, pictures of the saints, statues, etc. Many a so-called Catholic home is without any exterior mark of its “Catholicity.” In vain you will look for a pious picture or an image of the Cross. Worldliness is written all over the walls. You see perhaps representations which are more becoming in a pagan temple than in a dwelling of Christians. There are all kinds of orna-ments and decorations, but there is no room for a picture of Christ or His saints. The child, if he thinks at all, must be puzzled by the contrast, and may ask himself whether, after all, the way of his parents is not the best. For surely they ought to know; they have been through life. The school, with its reminders of Christ, the Blessed Virgin, etc., is soon looked down upon as “out of date” by the child brought up in this worldly atmosphere.

In school the child is warned against injuring the reputation of others by lying and calumny, or by exag¬gerating faults or making them known without neces¬sity. At home the shortcomings of the neighbors are rehearsed, and perhaps even the pastor, or others in authority, come in for their share of biting criticism. How can we expect the young to grow up in reverence for authority when they see the fine ideals set up by their teachers during school hours ruthlessly smashed by their elders at home?

The importance of exterior worship, of giving due honor to God our Creator by prayer, is emphasized at school. But at home the grown-ups neglect morning and evening prayers. There is no grace said at meals. Will the young not find it hard to reconcile this divergence in practice and begin to look upon “praying” as useless?

During the years he was at school the child usually began his day's work with presence at Mass. At home, from one end of the year to the other, no one thinks of hearing Mass on week-days. There is never any time for being present at the Benediction of the Blessed Sacra¬ment on Sunday evenings or at Vespers. These hours must be devoted to idle talk and to visiting friends. Here again, there is a marked contrast between what a child learns at school and what is practiced at home. Membership in the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin, an interest in Catholic missions and charities, are generally encouraged at school. These things are often studi¬ously avoided at home by their elders, who hardly know of the existence of Catholic missions in foreign lands, or are not at all interested in them. Whereas the young are taught that it is proper and wholesome to make little sacrifices for the benefit of the missions, the parents never mention the subject in the home circle.

A taste for good reading is fostered in the Catholic school, and the pupils are told to beware of bad books and papers and shun them as poison. Many a Catholic family possesses no devotional works whatever, but the illustrated Sunday papers are spread over the table and carefully perused. While Catholic magazines are excluded, you may occasionally find pernicious litera¬ture. Under such circumstances the young mind will find it difficult to develop a taste for sound reading. At an early age the child will be led to be curious about things which, according to Saint Paul, should not even be mentioned among Christians. And this curiosity prematurely and viciously aroused and not legitimately satisfied, may prove the first step on the path to ruin.

At school the pupil generally associates with those of his own kind. He is taught to beware of evil company because it 'corrupts good manners.' But only too often the home-folk welcome those not of the Faith and make much of those Catholics who are the least distinguished for their religious spirit. In fact, the grown-up sons and daughters frankly prefer the society of non-Catholics. Not to speak of one extremely evil result of this practice—mixed-marriages—the child is at once lifted out of the Catholic atmosphere, in which he spends a few hours daily at school, to move and live and have his being for the greater part of the time in a practically non-Catholic atmosphere, a place where religious indifference holds sway and where the Catholic life is at an extremely low ebb, if not entirely dead.

Now in all these ways many Catholic homes, instead of co-operating with the teachings and principles of the school, directly oppose them. The very existence of this incompatibility between the work of the school and the practice of the home is of itself sufficient to cause untold harm to the impressionable mind of the child—and that precisely in the years when he is preparing for the grim battle of life after the completion of school.

Let those, then, who are so ready to criticize our schools, first give the system of character-training there¬in in vogue a fair trial.  Let them give the principles taught in the classroom opportunity to thrive well in the family circle, instead of stifling them, ridiculing them and opposing to them the shallow maxims of a selfish world, which regards everything from the standpoint of “success.”  There are, of course, thousands of homes where the parents enforce the teachings imparted to their children in the Catholic school. It is from these homes that comes the great army of youths who are the pride of the Church and the hope of the country. But their number would be greatly increased were all parents equally careful in emphasizing these teachings at the fireside.

Though some of the criticism in this article represents extreme cases—certainly most homes have at least one religious image; most of us exert some effort toward self-mortification—how many of us are fully free of the defects noted therein?  It is worth taking some time to examine ourselves, in light of the above observations, as individuals, families, and a community: members of the Mystical Body striving toward a common goal. 

May God grant us all, especially as we head into Passion time, the grace to turn more fully toward the most necessary element in anyone’s character formation: imitation of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary.  For it is only in doing this that we can truly share in the joy of the Resurrection.

Sincerely in Christ through Mary,

Rev. Fr. John D. Fullerton

12 March 2013




SSPX Letter to Friends & Benefactors - Christmas 2011

Dear Friends and Benefactors,

In a few days we will celebrate the happy coming of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  The holy liturgy of Advent and the Christmas season is filled with faith in the divinity of Our Lord.  Citing above all the Old Testament passages where His coming is foretold, it imbues our minds and hearts with the infinite grandeur of the prerogatives and the rights of the newborn Child.

He who from all eternity is born of a Father without a mother, is born in time of a Mother without a father! (Profession of faith of the 11th Council of Toledo)

Receiving His human nature from the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, His Mother, whose Virginity He preserves, He thereby proves that He has lost nothing of His Divinity.  “In the burning bush that Moses saw and that was not consumed, we recognize your praiseworthy Virginity that was preserved.”  (Antiphon at Lauds, January 1).  The Church is pleased to welcome the Savior Jesus, true God and true man, honoring Him with the title of King.

The King of peace, Rex pacificus.  Here we would like to elaborate somewhat on this truth, which is so to speak at the heart of the crisis that is shaking the Church and affects the relations of the Society of Saint Pius X with the Holy See.

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Indeed, it seems to us that the basis for the current problem can be summed up as a loss of faith in the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Oh!  Of course many people protest that they believe that Jesus is God, but very few are ready to draw the practical consequences of that truth which will manifest itself in the sight of the whole world at the end of time.  At that moment, He will finally allow his glory to shine forth in all its perfection.  The extent of His powers over every creature will be such that all human beings—pagans, Christians, atheists, infidels, bandits and believers—all will be prostrate before Him, for at the mention of His Name every knee shall bend on earth as in heaven (cf. Phil 2:10).

For the short space of His earthly life, during which He was pleased to be among us, He partially hid His sovereignty.  But that was only the time of testing, the time to accomplish His redemptive mission:  “He died for our sins” (1 Cor 15:3).

But during that time when He hid His omnipotence from our eyes, He lost none of it.  “All power is given to me in heaven and in earth” (Mt 28:18) is a statement to be taken literally;  He is the one who created all things, for whom all was created, without whom was created nothing that was made (cf. Jn 1:3).

The practical rejection of the divinity of Our Lord is often manifested in human history by the rejection of His Kingship;  this was already the title and reason for His death sentence:  “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (Jn 19:19).

And very often in history the rejection of God is manifested in the refusal to submit to Our Lord Jesus Christ.

It was not until the mid-twentieth century that mankind witnessed that unbelievable event that let us see a Council which, supposedly in the name of adapting to the concrete situation of human society, which was thoroughly decadent, changed the perennial proclamation:  “For He must reign” (1 Cor 15:25).  People claim that this way of acting would be in harmony with the Gospels, whereas it is quite the contrary.

The sophists of liberalism have sent out the word that the State, human society, which is also a creature of God, ought to treat the one true religion on a par with all the false religions, granting equally to each the right to exist, to develop without restrictions and to conduct its worship.

It was claimed that this was in opposition to the abuses of the totalitarian State which unjustly crushes human beings and oppresses the conscience of each individual.  The Freemasons themselves expressed their joy upon hearing these theses, which are their own, resound beneath the cupola of St. Peter’s Basilica (cf. Yves Marsaudon, L’oecuménisme vu par un franc-maçon de tradition, 1964).

Quite obviously, there is an element of truth in the evil that is denounced.  But the remedy is the one that the Church has always pointed out:  tolerance.  The right to religious liberty, as proclaimed at Vatican II, is something else.  That is one of the points over which we come to grief with the Holy See.

This religious liberty, in placing what is true and what is false on equal footing, deliberately dispenses the State and human society from their duties to honor and to serve God, their Creator.  It opens the door to all sorts of license in religious matters.  It is as though, within the Church, they had renounced the prerogative of being the unique path of salvation for all mankind.  Those who still believe this no longer say it.  Many even lead you to think the contrary.  This concession to today’s world is made at the expense of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Another consequence, which follows directly from what has just been said, can be seen in the practice of ecumenism.  On pretence of being able to be closer to our “separated brethren”, Catholics not longer proclaim these truths, which are nonetheless salvific, because they are difficult for them to hear.  Catholics no longer even deliberately seek to convert them.  Ecumenism NO LONGER WANTS TO MAKE CONVERTS.  This word has been banished;  it is still tolerated, but in the name of religious liberty!  Where, then, is the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ?  Where has the pride of Catholics gone?  And their leaders are the ones who are making them faint-hearted!  As everyone could observe recently in France, when they should have condemned some blasphemous dramas.  If similar offenses had been committed against the Moslems, the country would have been set on fire and drenched in blood!  The Christians today have become so soft that they allow anything to happen!  People are attacking the honor, not of a worldly king, but of the King of kings, the Lord of Lords, our Savior from whom we have received everything!

Quite obviously we have at heart the salvation of all those souls that are so dear to the Heart of Our Lord and their return to the fold, since He redeemed them at the price of His life!  But the current way of doing things no longer has anything in common with the concern for the unity of the Church in past centuries.  The whole world is supposed to be good and, consequently, the prospect that some of them could be eternally damned causes the wise of this world to inveigh against the scandal.  They preach that hell is empty, or nearly so.  The teaching of the Church is entirely different….

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A third stumbling block is also connected with the diminishment of authority.

Our Lord is the Head of the Church.  But since He willed that His Church should be visible, after His ascension into heaven, He gave her a visible head, who is His Vicar on earth, Peter and his successors….  To him alone did Our Lord give the power to feed the sheep and the lambs, he alone has full, sovereign, and immediate authority over each and every member of the Church.  That is why the Church has always proclaimed herself to be a monarchy, governed by one man.  Certainly, the human character of government makes it quite understandable to seek counsel and the advice of wise persons, but a form of democracy imported into the Church by collegiality and by the parliamentary parody of bishops’ conferences allows all sorts of abuses and subjects to group pressure the decrees of Divine Law that declare that each diocese has only one head, the bishop of the locality.

Authority today is seriously shaken, not only outside, through the litigation of secular leaders who claim a share in government, but also within the Church, through the addition of a number of councils and commissions which, in today’s atmosphere, prevent the just exercise of the authority delegated by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Isn’t it startling to note, with each of these stumbling blocks, that we find basically the same problem?  In order to please the world, or at least in order to adapt to it and get along with it, they sacrificed in one way or another the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ over believing Christians, over all the human beings for whom He shed His Blood, over all the nations of which they are members.

This is what is doing such harm to the Church.  In order to overcome this crisis, it is necessary to “re-establish all things in Christ” (Eph 1:10).   Everywhere and in all things to give Him first place, to Him who wants to be all in all.  As long as people are unwilling to leave this liberal atmosphere that is poisoning the Church, she will continue to waste away.

It is because of this painful reality that our relations with Rome are difficult.

This is why in the Society we speak so often about the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for it is the summary, in practice, of our recognition of His Divinity.  To put it purely and simply:  He has all rights over us.

It is to Him that all human beings, pagans or Catholics, young or old, rich or poor, powerful or weak, all, absolutely all will give an account of their life here below, to Him, their sovereign Judge and their God from whom they received everything.  Let us hope that these lines show how relevant the doctrine of the Kingship of Our Lord is, that the battle for this Kingship of Our Lord is not out-of-date but on the contrary very necessary.  Today it is an obligation if we are to survive.

May Our Lady, the Mother of Jesus, the Mother of God, deign to hear our prayers for the glory of her Son.  May she protect us, may she guard our little Society in the midst of so many perils, and may she be our guide, our advocate, our victory over ourselves and our faint-heartedness.  May she be our hope, while awaiting her triumph for which we pray constantly, so that she may be our joy here below and for eternity.

Nos cum Prole pia benedicat Virgo Maria.  [May the Virgin Mary bless us with her dear Child.]

+ Bernard Fellay

On the Feast of Saint Thomas Apostle, the 21st December 2011