18 July 1982
For the visit
of His Grace Archbishop Lefebvre on Sunday, July 18, the chapel
of the priory of St. Irenaeus in Lyons was full to overflowing
with faithful of all ages and types, united in fidelity to the
immemorial Church. The chapel was tastefully decorated with flowers
and sparkled with a divine radiance and a Mary like freshness.
Such peace and Christian joy!
and peace to a degree no longer discernible in Modernist ceremonies
stripped of all sense of the sacred. This sense of the sacred
was manifest throughout the blessing of the chapel, which included
the Litany of the Saints, and a sung Mass in honor of St. Irenaeus.
homily was full of truth and charity. It went right to the heart
and soul of everyone present and seemed to breathe into them the
power of the Holy Ghost. We were struck by the immediacy of the
Epistle of St. Paul to Timothy, which spoke to celebrant and faithful
across the centuries: "Preach the word, be urgent in season
and out of season, convince, rebuke, exhort, with all patience
and teaching, because a time is coming when men will not endure
sound doctrine... as for you, fulfill your ministry."
was a disciple of St. Polycarp and second bishop of Lyons, apostle
of eastern Gaul, defender of the Truth against the Gnostic heresy.
St. Irenaeus died a martyr's death, and his spirit inspired all
at these ceremonies with a strong and profound confidence that
Catholic Tradition would return.
of hope represented by the priories of the Priestly Society of
St. Pius X are witnesses of the timelessness of the Faith. The
souls they reach will be more and more numerous. The Blessed Virgin
Mary, whom we honored by singing the Magnificat at the
close of the services, will carry these beacons to the Heart of
her Divine Son. Deo gratias!
Bourdon introduced and welcomed His Grace, Archbishop Lefebvre,
who then gave the following homily:
for the warm reception that you were kind enough to give me. Indeed
I have long wanted to make the acquaintance of this center of
prayer and faith in Lyons, but with so many other commitments
and travels, I have not been able to come until now.
like to join Father Bourdon in thanking those who, through their
own generosity and dedication, made it possible for us to acquire
and to transform this building into such a beautiful chapel. I
shall not mention any names, but I think you know all those of
whom I am thinking.
is being blessed in the name of and under the patronage of St.
Irenaeus and is, as the Scripture puts it, a house of prayer.
"My house is a house of prayer," says God Himself. "This
is the house of the Lord." Today, alas, as you well know,
they are changing the house of the Lord into a house of the People
Now we need
houses of prayer. For that very reason Our Lord encouraged the
Jewish people to build the Temple of Jerusalem, because there
was no house of prayer.
to describe briefly for you what a house of prayer should be.
To make a comparison, we may call prayer the breath of the soul.
Our catechism says that prayer is the lifting up of the soul to
God. It is something like the flower which opens up and in opening
gives off a pleasant fragrance. So with us as we open up and become
souls fully conscious of ourselves, of what we are and what we
owe to our Creator, to our Redeemner, our souls should give off
a fragrance pleasing to God, which is prayer.
A soul which
does not pray is no longer human. It is no longer worthy of being
called a creature; it no longer knows what it is or why it exists.
Scripture tell us about prayer? The purposes of prayer are four
all, adoration of our Creator, Almighty, Infinite, of limitless
goodness, Who has placed us here below. This spirit of adoration,
of interior humility before Him Who is everything, while we are
nothing, should be a spirit of profound, complete and total reverence,
a bowing down of our entire being before God. It should be the
most natural impulse of our souls. A child from the moment he
is aware of himself, should have this spirit of adoration of God
his Creator, Who has given him everything: his parents, his family,
the world around him.
comes thanksgiving: to thank God. We do not thank Hint enough
for His blessings, especially when we realize the truths of the
Faith. We know that this Faith revolves around the love of God
for us, His mercy, His goodness. He sent us His own Son Who died
on the Cross to redeem us. So how can we not thank Him? Sic
nos amantem quis non redamaret: How could we not love Him
in return, Who loved us so much?
As St. Paul
says, we should always be singing hymns of thanksgiving to God,
even in tribulation, even in misfortune, because everything comes
from God, everything is for God, everything is for the glory of
purpose of prayer is propitiation, that is to say, to ask forgiveness.
Forgive us for forgetting You. Forgive us for not praying enough.
Forgive us for adoring You too little. Forgive us for not thanking
You. You have done so much far us, and we sometimes go for days
an end without thinking of You, without lifting our thoughts to
us all our sins this too. This is why we ask for penance, before
receiving absolution from the priest, who represents Our Lord
Jesus Christ Himself and who gives us the grace to regain the
friendship of God.
The final purpose of prayer is petition. We have much to ask for
from God and the first thing we ask for is our eternal salvation.
"Lord, give me the grace of final perseverance. The day I
breathe my last, when I am completely Yours, may I continue to
love You forever in eternity. May I never be separated from You,
may I not die separated from You. That would be the most horrible,
the most dreadful thing that could happen, as You have loved me
the reasons for praying, in Scripture, in the Psalms, which give
them a wonderfully lyric and varied expression. This is why the
Psalms form the basis of the prayer of priests and of those consecrated
to God. The Breviary is the Psalter. Scripture is the word of
we need books to help us in saying our morning and evening prayers,
in saying our Rosary to the Blessed Virgin Mary, for whom we should
have a profound devotion, because these prayers help us to express
this spirit which I have been describing. But mental prayer, the
prayer of our souls, is much more important still. Vocal prayer
is only for the purpose of interior prayer. We must lift our souls
up to God, not just move our lips in thanking Him.
silent prayer takes place here in the presence of God. When you
come into this chapel, you come in alone to pray, and you give
yourself up to God, you look at Jesus, and you see Him, you think
of Him, you think of Him Who will transform you when you have
the joy of seeing Him in His glory in heaven. This is the mental
prayer which our souls should exhale. You may say, "Oh, but
when I pray, I have so many distractions." Well now, St.
Thomas has a very good answer for that. St. Thomas says, yes,
we are in fact very often distracted, but what counts in prayer
is not so much the attention as the intention. Of course we should
make the effort to be more attentive, but what really counts in
prayer is the intention. My real intention is to pray, to give
glory to God, to give myself, to offer myself to Him.
has been said, the great prayer, which sums everything up, which
is the great synthesis, is sacrifice. St. Thomas describes sacrifice
beautifully when he says it is the oblation of Our Lord. So you
understand that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the great prayer
of Our Lord on the Cross: Father,
into Thy hands I commend My spirit." I give You my soul,
all that I am, all my goods, all that I have, all that You have
given me, I want it to be for Your service, I want nothing which
is not pleasing to You.
is truly a sacrifice, and it is the reason we hold to our Holy
Mass, the Sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ, because in the Sacrifice,
without this oblation of Our Lord to His Father and of Our Lord
for us, without the Blood poured out from His Divine Heart, flowing
forever on our altars, there is no more prayer.
This is why, unfortunately, if we have perhaps attended the new
services in our churches, we have the impression of emptiness,
of routine, of an outwardness which is no longer the true prayer
of Our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no longer this grace which
lifts us up, the Holy Ghost which guides our souls and our hearts
in the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Our houses of prayer are
houses where Jesus lives. As I told you, in each of our churches
Jesus dwells, Jesus is present and it is through Him that we pray.
It is precisely because we are members of the Mystical Body of
Our Lord that our prayer is pleasing to God. If we want our prayer
to rise like incense to God, we must pray with Christ: Christ
should pray by means of us. This is our true prayer, this is what
this house is for, this is its importance, even if it is modest,
it is still beautiful, because Jesus is powerful, because our
souls are lifted up to God. There it is, my dear friends, that
is what it is and always shall be, this chapel dedicated to St.
Irenxus, who should be our model of faith, faith in Tradition,
the Faith which the Church has always taught.
I am to meet Cardinal Ratzinger, who is without a doubtone of
the cardinals closest to the Pope. Why am I going to Rome? Why
am I going to see Cardinal Ratzinger?
has appointed him as successor to the late Cardinal Seper. Cardinal
Ratzinger's duties include liaising with me, with the Society,
not as Prefect of the Congregation for the Faith, but as personal
delegate of the Holy Father. When someone says to us, "You're
against the Pope. You don't want to be in union with the Pope,"
they are wrong. We are working only to re establish Tradition
in Rome. All my activities have only one purpose : that the Church
may go on, that there may be no division in the Church.
can we be certain that we are the ones to help the Church carry
on? As Our Lord says, "A tree is judged by its fruit."
What are the fruits of prayer? The most beautiful fruit of prayer
is religious vocations. These souls who come to pray in our chapels
are so drawn to Our Lord Jesus Christ that they think, "I've
had enough of the world, I no longer want to live in the world,
I want to live with Our Lord Jesus Christ, I want to give myself
to Jesus forever. I will shut myself up in a convent and give
my soul to God."
the real vocations? Where do they come from? Well now, these souls
have found their vocation in traditional places of prayer, that
is, in the Catholic Church. On the other hand, in the beautiful
churches, in the grand cathedrals, there is now a sterility where
vocations cannot take root. Or if there are some that take root,
they are badly formed, they do not grow as Jesus wishes, as the
Church has always wished. Consequently, where the fruits are,
there is also the Church, the fruits of sanctity in the Church.
For this reason we are sure that the day will corne (God alone
knows when) when the Church will see that we are right and congratulate
us for maintaining Tradition.
why I am going to Rome next Tuesday. After so many visits, will
this one be more fruitful than the others? I do not know. But
I am doing it as a duty of conscience, so that, when the Good
Lord calls me, He will not say that I have done nothing to help
re establish Tradition. I am doing all that I can toward this
goal. If it is the Good Lord's will that our leaders should in
a sense desert us, well, that will be a great tribulation of the
Church. But we do not have the right to be discouraged and say,
"Since they are not listening to us, let us break with the
bishops; there is no longer a Church, it is finished." No,
the Church is still with us. If those in positions of leadership
are not doing their duty, if they are bad shepherds, that is no
reason for us to abandon them. We must trust in Providence. The
Good Lord is with His Church; we have no right to abandon the
Roman Catholic Church. And in doing everything we have a duty
to do, we can be at peace.
Let us continue
to pray, to sanctify ourselves and to entrust ourselves to the
Blessed Virgin Mary: she is our Mother in heaven who has already
overcome all heresies. She will overcome this one too. Let us