Gift of self: foolishness for Christ

Letter from the District Superior Rev. Robert Brucciani, July 2017

My Dear Brethren,

Taking of the habit

On the Feast of Sacred Heart I had the unmerited privilege and delight to be part of a ceremony in which three young ladies made their first professions—vows of poverty, chastity and obedience—and two more young ladies received the religious habit of the Consoling Sisters of the Sacred Heart. The ceremony took place in the beautiful hilltop town of Narni, which is about an hour and a half north of Rome, on a bright sunny day in the ancient parish church of St. Francesco.

The joy of the occasion was amplified for the fact that all of the young ladies were kneeling before the altar because of an orphanage more than four thousand miles away in India! One day, the complete story of how they came to be here will be set down by a more eloquent writer in a book that will tell a remarkable tale of “foolishness for Christ”. (1 Cor 4:10)

Not long ago

In 2006, a young Indian lady knocked on the door of the Consoling Sisters of the Sacred Heart in Vigne, near Narni with an outrageously daring request: “Will you take both me as a novice and my orphanage in India as a part of your apostolate?” The Consoling Sisters were a small community of eleven sisters in need of vocations and given to works of charity. They had no knowledge of India, but they did have a foolishness for Christ, and so they answered, “Bene allora!

It seemed completely mad as a project. How could an orphanage in India help a congregation in Italy? Surely it would be a millstone more than a help. Well, with the calculations of men this is true, but this story is an example of the calculus of supernatural charity: the return on the gift of self to Christ is not proportional—it is nearer to an exponential relationship: if you give twice as much, He gives four times as much; if you give three times as much, He gives nine times as much.

Within ten years there were new buildings, a flourishing school and a steady stream of volunteers who would give themselves to the apostolate for six months or a year at a time. Going to India for many of these volunteers was a life-changing experience: being taken out of one world with all its noise, worry and inanity, and entering a parallel universe in which the claims on kindness and charity simply could not be ignored, taught an invaluable lesson of self-giving. And then, living this life of self-giving among the sisters at the orphanage or the priests and brothers at the priory with daily Mass and the sacraments made many volunteers see the beauty and happiness of a life totally given to Christ.

Most young men and women, if asked to spend six months in a priory or a convent in the west, would run a mile! Put them in a place away from material comfort where their greatest consolations come from the exercise of virtue, then they will, more likely than not, wish to give themselves more and more. In the last 10 years, 13 out of 125 volunteers have pursued a priestly or religious vocation and there have been more besides...

On this feast of the Sacred Heart, two of the three sisters who made their profession were volunteers to India; the other sister, together with the novices, discovered the Consoling Sisters through reading about the Indian apostolate! The Consoling Sisters now have 17 professed sisters, two novices and two postulants.

Resolution of the crisis

The resolution of the crisis in the the Church will only come about when a goodly number of souls are prepared to make such a total gift of self. Archbishop Lefebvre saw this and then founded the Priestly Society of St. Pius X with its spiritual family: the Brothers of the Society of St. Pius X, the Sisters of the Society of St. Pius X, the Oblate Sisters and Missionary Oblate Sisters, and the Third Order. The defining act of this great work is self-giving: giving ourselves to Jesus Christ to become Him, and then giving Him to the Father in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

One can say that the cycle of self-giving begins with the sacrament of marriage which is the sacrament of self-giving to God through self-giving to one’s spouse. A marriage is made perfect in the self-giving for one’s children, not so that they become rich and famous, but so that that they may in turn give themselves to God.

And then the self-giving of a child is made manifest when he makes that conscious decision to put God first—His teaching, His laws, His sacraments—in short His Church. And this self-giving is made perfect when he gives himself to God in the vocation he has discerned in order to please Him.

Lessons to learn

The lesson for parents is simple: turn your homes into schools of self-giving! Banish the noise, the distractions and the expensive trappings of consumerist materialism, and turn your homes into a haven of charity, order, self-giving to each other in order to give all to Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The lesson for young adults is also simple: liberate yourselves from the chains of trash culture and give your time, your labour, your charity to a mission, to a school, to a priory or to a project which is for the good of the Church. Make that leap of faith, make that magnanimous act of charity and you will learn about the economy of charity.

We do need to learn this lesson because our district is in vocational deficit! We have 14 priests working in the district and only 11 priests in the Society are from the district. We have five brothers working in the district and there are only 2 religious brothers from the District. There are no brothers or sisters of the SSPX from the District.

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The fruits

In as much as we can teach and learn the lesson of self-giving, the joy of the ceremony of yesterday will be repeated again and again. In a few days' time, many shall see it repeated at the Seminaries of the Society of St. Pius X in Switzerland, Germany and USA, as 24 young men make that total act of self-giving when they receive the priesthood and 9 young men receive the diaconate.

May they be blessed with a fruitful apostolate, and may we be blessed with the grace of giving ourselves without condition for the glory of God and the spiritual prosperity of our Society.

In Jesu et Maria,

Rev. Robert Brucciani

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