Mr Dear Faithful,
The feast of the Purification of Our Lady, which we celebrated on 2nd February, was the feast day chosen by Archbishop Lefebvre for his seminarians to take the cassock. When celebrating this feast of Our Lady we also remember another event which is related to Our Lord, that of His Presentation to the Temple. This is the reason why this day of 2nd February is appropriate for a candidate to the priesthood to take the cassock. This Presentation of Our Lord to the Temple is indeed a model of ‘gift of self’ to God for the remission of sins. This gift of self is first and foremost an interior self- denial which on that particular day is showed exteriorly by exchanging civil clothing for ecclesiastical clothing.
This change of clothing shows obviously that the priest, and already a seminarian aiming at receiving the priesthood, is making the sacrifice of His life to follow Our Lord in a particular manner, which is to have a life fully dedicated to the Will of Almighty God by caring for souls. The priest is ordained especially for offering the Sacrifice of the Mass, and he shows this by wearing a black garment which represents his detachment from the world.
It should be apparent that the faithful also need this Sacrifice. They need the Mass so that they may offer up their own hardships and unite them to the Sacrifice of Our Lord. Hence the need of priests to give you Mass. What is more, we must atone for our sins. Later this month we will have Septuagesima Sunday, which will indicate that Lent is not far away and therefore that we must prepare well for this special period of the year. We get ready for this time only if we really understand its benefit. Yes, we must remember that we are poor sinners and this is why priests offer the Mass daily since it is for the remission of sins which we all commit often, even daily.
We are sinners but God wants us to improve our spiritual life by being more virtuous, and Lent is the perfect time for this. Lent is not here yet but if we don’t think about it today, if we do not prepare our minds and hearts for it, as too often happens to us all, Lent will be upon us and we will not have prepared sufficiently to do well. Lent is not a mere question of depriving ourselves of a few things, but well and truly of practising the virtues. For the best way to avoid sin is to practise virtue. Our Lady never committed any sin because she was virtuous and we see her virtue in the feast of the Purification. By accepting this ceremony for herself, Our Lady humbly obeyed a law to which she was not subject. This is a good lesson for us who too easily try to avoid some good actions by all kinds of pretexts: “I’m not obliged to,” or “I’ve done this or that already today,” or “I won’t get anything in return...” Let us never forget that an act of virtue, if done with the right intention, is always beneficial and God will reward it.
Let us thanks God that we have vocations from our District and let us pray for these young men. One of them is from our area of Apostolate that is the North West of England. Let us pray for the perseverance of all seminarians of the SSPX so that they may become holy priests who will offer the Sacrifice of the Mass daily for the honour of God and the salvation of many souls.
Rev. Vianney Vandendaele (Prior)