The Grace of the Priesthood (2017)
Fr. Martin Fuchs´s sermon on 16th July 2017, Prague, Czech republic
In the book “Why I became a priest“ Fr. Jude Senieur tells us how God has called him to the priesthood. He says: “When I sat in my room after my ordination administered by Bishop John McNamara, my eyes looked at my hands. Suddenly I was aware of the great grace of that day. These two hands – my hands – were the hands of a priest. When I imagined that – thirteen years ago – I was selling newspapers as an ordinary boy in the streets of Charleston (West Virginia) and playing football with the West Side Trojans! At that time, the same hands also turned red because the teacher had hit my fingers with the ruler when I was talking without being asked.
With these hands I drove a truck during my holidays and often they were black when I changed the oil at the petrol station. These hands were the hands of a boy who suffered from homesickness in the seminary and who had his struggle with Latin grammar and Greek translations.
And now they were the hands of a priest! These hands could give absolution to sinners and give the Extreme Unction to sick persons in danger of their life. These hands could bless and baptize many people and give them the God’s grace.
And the most beautiful thing: These hands could hold Body of Christ.
These hands – my hands! Nothing could fill me with greater joy! And I knew it would be permanent joy!”
This was written by a new priest nearly twenty years before the Second Vatican Council. These thoughts shortly explain the big grace of becoming a priest. But nowadays almost nobody would understand these thoughts.
In the meantime, the priesthood had been redefined – like many other things in Church such as the Holy Mass, the Papacy, Church itself. The priest has become a social worker, an entertainer or a specialist for life coaching.
Already in Dakar, Archbishop Lefebvre had a dream in which he saw the cause of today’s Church crisis: the identity crisis of the priesthood .
To counter this, he founded the Society of Saint Pius X in 1970.
He clearly realized that the Second Vatican Council was a break with tradition. He could not and did not want to collaborate with the Church destroyers. Soon his work had been persecuted. And this persecution lasted until his death.
The Roman authorities always demanded that the Society must accept the decisions of the Second Vatican Council and the new way of providing the sacraments.
But shortly after the death of the founder, the superiors started to have new relations with the Vatican. Although after the episcopal consecrations in 1988 Archbishop Lefebvre had set conditions for dealing with neomodernist Rome (first the conversion of Rome and only afterwards some canonical solution), the General House did choose another way.
In the meantime, the Society received various “graces” such as the permission to say the “old” Mass under certain circumstances, lifting of the “excommunication” penalty, judicial powers, jurisdiction to hear confessions.
The Society of Saint Pius X is now hardly different from other Ecclesia Dei communities which all accept the decisions of the Second Vatican Council and the new sacraments. They in full accept the Code of canon law of 1983. “The new Mass”, as Fr. Gerstle recently said, “is valid and legitimate.” So what does prevent them from saying the new Mass?
The experiment of Tradition which had been Pope Paul VI asked for by Archbishop Lefebvre, and which had not been granted, was later offered to several priestly groups after 1988: To the Society of saint Peter, the Institute of Christ the King, the Institute of the Good Shepherd, the Institute of Philipp Neri.
They are all integrated by the modern church, ready for compromises which Archbishop would have never accepted. And now this experiment is also offered to the Society of saint Pius X. The general superior, Bishop Fellay, said: “It is absolutely necessary for the Society to make this experiment.” (Information of the Society for the German speaking countries, March 2017, page 20)
If, however, the Society of St. Pius X received the personal prelature, it would be subordinated to Rome and had to obey the instructions given by the modern authorities of the church.
The recent events in France (see the Open letter of the French priests and of the three religious superiors concerning the recognition of the marriages held by the Society) have shown again the deep division within the Society of saint Pius X.
It is sure that the process of integration goes on!
I thank the Lord that I knew Archbishop Lefebvre. He passed us the Catholic faith as he received it from his ancestors and professors in the seminary of Rome.
I thank the Lord that he called me to the priesthood.
But it is precisely for this reason that I don’t want to be responsible for the destruction of the Society of saint Pius X as it was founded by Archbishop Lefebvre.
I want to remain a priest as they were formed by the Catholic Church till the Second Vatican Council.
When I had seen that I hadn´t had this guarantee in the Society of saint Pius X any longer, I left it – like other priests, older priests – in 2014.
The priest is “another Christ”. He has a priestly character by which he takes part in the priesthood of Jesus Christ. This gives him a dignity which far surpasses all the other dignities of this world, so that – at least in earlier times – when people saw him in the street, they greeted him: “Laudetur Jesus Christus!”
They called him so because they expressed: I met Jesus Christ in the street.
In some countries the faithful kiss the hands of the priest because they were consecrated for the Holy Mass.
Like Jesus Christ the priest has the order to bless, to offer the holy Sacrifice and to give absolution in the holy confession.
The prayers of the priestly ordination express this order very beautifully:
“May you consecrate and sanctify, O Lord, these hands by this anointing and our blessing so that whatever they will bless may be blessed, and what they will consecrate, may be consecrated and sanctified, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“Receive the power to offer the sacrifice to God and to say Masses, both for the living and the dead; in the name of the Lord.”
“Receive the Holy Spirit; when you forgive men’s sins, they are forgiven; when you hold them bound, they are held bound.”
On the 27th June, I could celebrate the 25th anniversary of my priestly ordination. I did it in great gratitude and joy for all the graces which I received during this time and which I was allowed to pass on to the faithful.
I would like to thank you for all your prayers and sacrifices with which you have supported my priestly ministry and I ask you to continue your prayers! Amen.