Volume 3, Chapter
Extract from a Sermon pronounced by
His Excellency Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre
on the Pardon1 at Lanvallay
27 July 1980
My dear friends,
It was with
great joy and great satisfaction that a few minutes ago we blessed
this chapel dedicated to Saint Anne. We thank God that we are able
to provide these places for Catholic worship, and to place this
chapel under the protection of St. Anne, heavenly patroness of Brittany.
We thank all who have had a part in the establishment of this chapel,
in making such places as this truly worthy of the Holy Sacrifice
and of the Holy Mysteries which are to be celebrated here, making
them worthy of St. Anne.
Since we are
honoring St. Anne, Patroness of Brittany, let me say a few words
which the occasion calls to mind. It seems to me that St. Anne,
by her example, gives us three great lessons: she asks those who
are joined in the bonds of matrimony to live as Christians and to
have Christian families. St. Anne has set us an example, as we are
told in the Gospel. She lived with St. Joachim sine querela
(without quarreling) for many years in peaceful marriage. St. Anne
and St. Joachim lived in the faith. Where Christian marriage is
concerned, they are models for Christian spouses. This is the first
important lesson that St. Anne gives us by her example.
And by her
example she also shows how Providence blesses Christian homes. Although
she was barren, look how God gave her a child in her old age: Mary,
who would be the mother of Jesus. This is why St. Anne is often
represented, as you see her in this statue here, pointing out in
a Bible the passages referring to Mary. She was no doubt inspired
by the Holy Ghost to do this: a virgin will have a son. So Mary
herself received a profoundly Christian education.
lesson that St. Anne gives us is Christian education of children
– Christian homes, Christian education.
a third point: St. Anne gives true priests. For let us not forget
that Mary was born and chosen by God to give birth to the Eternal
High Priest. St. Anne also had the great privilege, at an advanced
age, of having a child who would become the mother of the great
High Priest. She was therefore the grandmother of Jesus –
Jesus the Eternal High Priest. So St. Anne’s message for us
is that, in Christian homes, there are vocations – holy vocations,
vocations to the priesthood, to the religious life. This, I think,
is the great thing St. Anne teaches us and spreads her blessings
been many good and saintly homes in this Catholic land of Brittany,
where education has been given – a little rough sometimes,
but a Christian education. The women of this area, especially on
the coast, whose husbands went down to the sea in ships –
these women remained at home with their children and taught them.
In their faith, in their Christian families, they found a spiritual
strength and courage to raise their children – sometimes all
alone – at home and to give these children a Christian education.
thousands of priests came from such homes, thousands of religious.2A
historian of this area told me that, from 1850 to 1900, there was
an average of thirty-five priests ordained per year in every diocese
! Thirty-five priests ordained every year in every diocese: this
shows what Christian families could produce, not counting men and
women who entered the religious life – their number is legion!
There is no mistake about it. In the Holy Ghost Fathers alone, while
I was Superior General, in 1962, there were listed in the directory
for the Diocese of Vannes, 120 missionary Holy Fathers, 120 missionaries
in the Holy Ghost Fathers alone, from the Diocese of Vannes ! Not
to mention the Diocese of Quimper and the Diocese of Brieuc, where
we also had many missionaries. God has given innumerable missionaries
and innumerable religious coming from Christian homes. This is what
devotion to St. Anne has brought to this area: Christian homes,
Christian education, innumerable vocations.
the Revolution, when members of religious orders were persecuted
and priests were killed, there came a renewal. After that there
was the law of separation, and more persecution of religious orders,
the exile. Wonderful stories are told of whole families who prevented
the police from going into monasteries and convents to drive out
the monks and nuns. The persecution was so harsh and painful that
many religious had to leave Brittany, and they took the Faith to
South America, and to North America and elsewhere. But this had
the result of lessening, to certain extent, the number of vocations
at the beginning of this century. Then, during the First World War,
there was another upsurge of vocations, when the numbers in the
seminaries and the numbers ordained were greater than in the preceding
And now we
find ourselves face-to-face with a persecution much more insidious,
much more serious. The public persecution by the enemies of the
Church was better. It was better for the revolutionary mobs to destroy
the convents, for the priests and religious to be martyred. It was
better than the persecution that is taking place today. Today the
priests and souls consecrated to God are not pouring out their blood,
but they are being perverted. They are being perverted by ideas
– for example, the idea of the state school, which is replacing
the Catholic school everywhere, and by all the false modern ideas
which have penetrated the seminaries, the convents, the Catholic
schools, and, as you will have noticed, my dear friends, they have
penetrated even truly Catholic homes. Thanks be to God that your
homes are truly Christian, you who are here today, but how many
others are still? How many are still Catholic? How many observe
the laws of God? By all the standards which are given, by all the
ways the devil gets into homes, families no longer have the Christian
faith, so they have no more children, and there are no more priests,
no more religious.
And even in
the Catholic schools, what kind of education is given? The books
that are forced on them nowadays! We read recently a fine letter
from the Mother Superior of the St. Pius X School in St. Cloud (Sisters
of Pontcales), who refused the contract which the State wished to
impose upon her, and explained her reasons. Well now! We must admit
that something terrible is going on here. She explains very clearly
that the books given them, which are required in schools under this
contract of association with the State, these books undermine Christian
morality. In natural history books these poor, helpless children
are shown things that are truly pornographic. How do you think morality
can survive this sort of thing, Catholic morality, the law of God?
It is impossible! So our enemy the devil, rather than persecuting
priests and religious and their families openly, and spilling their
blood, prefers to corrupt minds and hearts in a more radical, far
more serious manner.
what can we do about it? We can fight against those who would corrupt
our souls and hearts. We must have Christian homes, we must have
large families, we must have families where the Faith is alive.
It is a great joy to see, among those who are called “traditionalist,”
who are nothing more or less than truly faithful Catholics, a great
number of children. This is where vocations will come from again.
Where do our
seminarians get their vocations, for the most part? From homes that
are faithful, faithful to the Catholic faith. It would be possible
to find numerous vocations in other ages, but in any age it is absolutely
necessary to keep the Faith, to keep the Catholic Faith and to keep
the message which St. Anne came to bring to the world, and especially
Christian education, the sanctification of priests, and an increase
in the number of priests. This is what we should learn at the hands
of St. Anne. We shall pray for this, my dear friends, shall we not?
We shall pray that there may be many Christian families, families
which keep themselves from evil, which are not afraid to remove
from their homes a television which brings things that children
should not see, which corrupt the hearts of children, to keep out
of their homes everything which may corrupt the hearts of their
children, and make of their home truly a place where Christ dwells,
where the children are uplifted by the statues and pictures all
around them, by the words they hear, which support them and train
them in the Catholic Faith.
will see to it, I am sure, that there are Christian schools again.
If we can no longer have confidence in the Catholic schools of today,
we must have others, and this is what we shall try to do. No doubt
we would need many more priests, many more Catholic teachers, but
whatever it may be, we shall bend all our efforts, I am sure, and
you will do the same, to refound Catholic schools, so that your
children, after a careful upbringing at home, may not be corrupted
in the schools and put you in a hopeless situation. How many parents
tell us this – by letter and in person! Their children are
fine until about the age of ten, or twelve or fifteen and then –
all of a sudden – they fall away from the straight and narrow
path of faith and morals.
grief-stricken at this terrible situation – the ruin of mind
So we must
have good schools, and we are happy to say we have been able to
open some. Do not hesitate to send your children, however far away
it may be, to Catholic schools. Thank God there are now some orders
of nuns – at Pontcalec, the nuns of Fanjeaux, and Brignoles,
who are conducting schools where you can send your daughters. They
also have schools for little boys.
On our side
we are making efforts to open schools for boys. We hope to open
a school near here, in the area of Nantes, and if we can, we shall
not hesitate to do so. We are absolutely committed to helping you
to raise your children in a Christian way. You know that we have
opened a university in Paris, so that your older children may take
several years of philosophy, to give them a solid foundation, a
firm grounding, so that they may do some good in the world around
them, and be able to communicate this truth to others, to share
this Catholic Faith with their children and all those they come
in contact with, and upon whom they can have an influence.
This is the
plan – a vast project – and certainly we are in a situation
such as our ancestors perhaps never knew, because, once again, it
would have been better if we have been persecuted by force of arms
rather than by this infiltration of false ideas and corruption of
morals, because this is deeper, and we will have more trouble in
swimming against the tide. But with the grace of God, the protection
of St. Anne, with the protection of the Most Holy Virgin, I am sure
we shall succeed at least in saving those souls that wish to be
saved. So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us
not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those
who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out
of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to
the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church,
remain faithful children of the Church.
So we beg you
to join your prayers to ours; let us pray together for the graces
we need from God. Without God we can do nothing, without the graces
of Christ we can do nothing. He it is Who saved us on the Cross
and gives all graces possible to us.
Let us ask
St. Anne, His grandmother, let us ask His Mother Mary to obtain
these graces for us, so that we may remain faithful children of
Our Lord, of the Blessed Virgin and St. Anne.
In the Name
of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
The “Pardons” of Brittany, unique to that reign of France,
are the feasts of the patron saint of a church or a chapel at which
an indulgence is given.
i.e., members of religious orders.
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Press, Regina Coeli House
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