The Church’s situation increasingly resembles a sea that is agitated in all directions. We see waves and more waves, which seem to be about to capsize the bark of Peter and drag it into the endless abyss. Since the Second Vatican Council, it seems that a wave has been trying to carry off everything into the deep, leaving only a heap of ruins, a spiritual desert, that the popes themselves have called an apostasy. We do not want to describe this harsh reality again; we have already so often done, and all of you can see that it is so. Still, to us it seems useful to comment somewhat on the events of the past months; I want to speak about the surprisingly violent and particularly well-orchestrated blows that have been dealt to the Church and the Supreme Pontiff. Why such violent attacks?
To return to our metaphor, it seems that for some time now, more or less since the beginning of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, a new wave has appeared which is much more modest than the first, yet persistent enough that it is noticeable nevertheless. Contrary to all expectations, this wave seems to be going in the opposite direction compared to the first. The indications are sufficiently varied and numerous, that we can state that this new movement of reform or renewal is quite real. We can see this especially with the younger generations, who are plainly frustrated by the spiritual ineffectiveness of the Vatican II reforms. Considering the very harsh and bitter reproaches leveled by the progressives against Benedict XVI, it is certain that they see in the very person of the present pope one of the most vigorous causes of this incipient renewal. In fact, even if we find the pope’s initiatives rather timid, they run deep and are contrary to the agenda of the revolutionary, left-leaning world, both inside and outside of the Church, and this is true at several levels.
The resulting irritation of the progressives and of the world is sensed initially in questions concerning morality. Specifically, the Left and the liberals have been irritated despite the pope’s well-pondered words about the use of condoms in dealing with AIDS in Africa. As for the life of the Church, the restoration of the Mass of All Ages to its rightful place in 2007, and then two years later the rescinding of the degrading punishment aimed at disqualifying us, provoked the rage of liberals and progressives of all stripes. Moreover-the felicitous plan of a Year for Priests, restoring the priest to a place of honor, recalling his important and indispensable role in the salvation of souls, and proposing the holy Curé of Ars as a model, is not only an invitation to the Christian people to pray for their priests, but also a call to make use of the Sacrament of Penance, which had completely sunk into oblivion in broad sectors of the Church, and also to foster Eucharistic devotion, calling to mind in particular the importance of adoring Our Lord in the Sacred Host, a clear sign of the reality of the real and substantial presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The appointment of bishops who are distinctly more conservative, some of whom were already celebrating the Tridentine Mass before, is another positive development. We could cite also, as an undeniable example of the reality of this little wave of opposition, the Letter to the Catholics of Ireland inviting them to repentance, confession, and spiritual exercises and asking also for the adoration of Jesus in the Eucharist.
Even though people in our circles rightly think that these [papal] efforts are still insufficient to stop the decay and the crisis of the Church—especially in view of certain acts along the regrettable line of his predecessor, such as the visits to the synagogue and the Protestant church—in Modernist circles however, the hour has come to report to their battle stations! The big wave is attacking the very little one with unexpected violence. It is not surprising that the meeting of these two ill-matched waves should cause a lot of backwash and turbulence and give rise to an extremely confused situation in which it is quite difficult to tell and predict which of the two will win the day. This, however, is something new that deserves to be commented. It is not a question of giving in to thoughtless enthusiasm or believing that the crisis is over. On the contrary, the aging forces that see their gains, which they thought were definitive, being called into question, will no doubt put up a large-scale battle to try to save this dream of modernity which is starting to fall apart. It is very important to remain in this regard, as realistic as possible about what is happening. Although we rejoice over all the good that is being done in the Church and the world, we nevertheless have no illusions about the seriousness of the present situation.
What should we expect to see in the coming years? Peace in the Church, or war? The victory of good and its long-awaited return, or a new tempest? Will the little wave manage to grow enough to prevail someday? The assurance that the promise of Our Lady of Fatima will be fulfilled—“in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph”—does not necessarily or directly resolve our question, because it is still quite possible that we will have to first pass through an even greater tribulation before the long-awaited triumph occurs….
A terrific challenge is also intended by our rosary crusade. We would not want to diminish in the least, the joy over the announcement of the extraordinary result of our Rosary Crusade. We boldly asked you one year ago for twelve million rosaries so as to crown our dear Heavenly Mother, the Mother of God, as if with an equal number of stars, and to surround with a magnificent crown of praise that Mother, who to the enemies of God appears “terrible as an army set in battle array” (Canticle of Canticles 6:3). You responded so generously that we can now bring to Rome a spiritual bouquet of more than nineteen million rosaries, not counting all those not directly affiliated with our priories and chapels who joined in our campaign.
Surely it is no accident that when Pius XII declared the dogma of the Assumption, he decided to change the Introit of the feast on August 15, to the passage from the Apocalypse that salutes the great sign that appeared in heaven. This excerpt from the Apocalypse ushers in the description of one of the most terrible wars that are set forth in that sacred Book: the great dragon, who with his tail will sweep away a third of the stars, comes to wage battle with the great Woman (see Apocalypse 12). Is this whole passage intended for our time? We can easily believe it, while avoiding a literal or overly specific application of those mysterious and prophetic descriptions. We have absolutely no doubt that all our prayers are important, and even of very great importance at this moment in history at which we find ourselves. However we think that we should warn you also and encourage you in these circumstances of the history of the Church.
Your great generosity shows, without the slightest doubt, your very real devotion and your love for our Holy Mother, the Roman Catholic Church, for the Successor of Saint Peter, and for the hierarchy, even though we have much to suffer from it. God is stronger than evil – good will be victorious, but perhaps not with all the pomp that you would like.
Now we must convince the authorities to accomplish the famous consecration of Russia that they say has already been made; we must recall the present relevance of what Our Lady of Fatima said, even though in the year 2000 there was manifestly an attempt to turn a new leaf and not to return to the subject again. It seems inevitable that the difficulties and obstacles will multiply so as to prevent the realization of what we are asking. That doesn’t matter; we count much more on God than on men, just as we expect from acts as simple as the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary surprising results for the Church and the world, results surpassing anything that we can imagine. It is foolishness in the sight of men, but it is really a reflection of what Saint Paul already preached to his age: what men regard as wise is foolishness in God’s sight, whereas God’s wisdom is considered absurd foolishness by the wise of this world (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:20).
As we bring to the attention of the Holy Father your remarkable efforts, along with the reason for these prayers, thus hoping to contribute, in our way, to the good of the Church, we ask you to please continue those same efforts. According to the example that Our Lord Himself invites us to follow in his very moving exhortation to prayer: “Ask, and you shall receive,” let us ask, indeed insisting on much (cf. Matthew 7:7-11). Although we do not doubt that our prayers will be answered, our persistence and perseverance must be proportioned to the magnitude of what we are asking.
Let us remember also that the essential element of the Fatima message is not just the consecration of Russia, but above all devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. May all these prayers and sacrifices lead us to increase and deepen our special devotion to the Heart of the Mother of God. For, through it God wants to be moved.
As the month of May begins, the month of Mary, may we all find ourselves even more reliant on her maternal protection; this is our fondest wish. Thanking you for your truly great generosity, we ask Our Lady to deign to bless you with the Child Jesus.
+ Bernard Fellay
May 1, 2010, Feast of Joseph the Worker