Letter to our Brother Priests

Dear Brother Priest,

Allow me to introduce myself. I am Fr. Coenraad Daniels, superior of the Society of St. Pius X in southern Africa. I am writing on behalf of the said Society. The reason for this letter, dear Father, is simply to establish some contact, a closer relationship between us and to encourage each other to be faithful to the priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. While it is true that the latest Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, of Pope Benedict XVI (7 July 2007) has sparked this desire, it is also the Caritas Christi which has urged us on.

You may have heard of us only through the press or television and have had a negative impression of us as being “disobedient” “rebels” “Lefebvrists” etc. I think it may well be time for us to be open and frank with each other. After all, should “dialogue” be one-sided? The Society of St. Pius X has never been, nor is, some kind of secret society. We have nothing to hide. We have taught and done what the Church has taught and done for 2000 years and have been labelled as disobedient and rebellious because of it. True, we have always resisted the modernist Tsunami and have adhered steadfastly to the Holy Mass as it always was offered. We have been labelled as “outside the church” and yet, it has never been our wish to create some kind of parallel Church.

May I be so bold as to make use of this last papal Motu Proprio to demonstrate our claim? For years on end we have not ceased hearing that Archbishop Lefebvre and we, the Society, were offering a Holy Mass that was forbidden and abrogated. Such arguments came even from Bishops and Cardinals. Now Pope Benedict XVI himself declares that this Mass was never abrogated and was in principle always permitted. “I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted.” (Letter to the Bishops accompanying the Moto Proprio) Where now then stands our condemnation? Obviously it was unjust!

But, I am not writing this letter in self defence. Dare I say that you too are in a mist of confusion and darkness. Were you not ordained to offer sacrifice, the Sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ? Through your ordination did you not take upon yourself the persona Christi, the person of Christ? Were you not ordained to forgive sins and to lead souls to God? Then in the name of ecumenism you are told not to proselytize. The very reason for your ordination, the sacrifice of our Lord was taken from under your feet like a rug. Why then were you ordained? To become the president of some assembly gathering around a meal table, something that any lay person could do in your stead?

Dear Father, the priesthood, is a holy institution. It is holy because it is the priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and He, being God, is holy. The Venerable Libermann, a Jewish convert and the founder of the Holy Ghost Fathers used to say; “the priest who is not a saint, is a monster in the order of grace.”

Pope Pius XII writes, (Menti nostrae of 23 Sept. 1950): Beloved sons, on the very day that you were raised to the sacerdotal dignity, the Bishop, in the name of God, solemnly pointed out to you your fundamental duty in the following words: “Understand what you do, imitate the things you deal with; and celebrating the mystery of the death of the Lord, strive to mortify in your members all vice and concupiscence. May your doctrine be the spiritual medicine for the people of God; let the fragrance of your life of virtue be an ornament of the Church of Christ; and by your preaching and example may you build the house, that is the family of God.

And, in another passage, the same Pope continues:

As the whole life of the Saviour was directed toward the sacrifice of Himself, so the life of the priest, which should reproduce in itself the image of Christ, ought also to be with Him, and through Him, and in Him, a pleasing sacrifice. (…) Consequently, he will not merely celebrate Holy Mass, but will live it out intimately in his daily life; in no other way can he obtain that supernatural vigour which will transform him and make him a sharer in the life of sacrifice of the Redeemer.

St. Peter Chrysologus writes: “Be the priest and the sacrifice of God; do not lose that which has been given to you by the authority of God. Clothe yourself with the garment of sanctity, gird yourself with the cincture of chastity; let Christ be the covering for your head… Offer Him your faith, for the chastisement of perfidy; offer Him your fasting, that gluttony may cease; offer your chastity as a sacrifice that passion may die …” Sermo CVIIIs Migne, P.L., LII, 500, 501

But with such an understanding of the holy priesthood, how can we think of the holy Mass as some banquet, some assembly or the like? The new mass as it was promulgated in 1969 leads us away from the sacrifice of Our Lord and from His true Priesthood in which we share. It is again for this reason that we rejoice in this last Motu Proprio mentioned above, since it opens wide the doors to come back to the true Sacrifice and the true Priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Everywhere we are receiving requests from Priests to help them in celebrating the Tridentine Mass. It fills us with joy to do so. We have made a film (DVD) with this purpose in mind to teach priests to celebrate this beautiful Mass again. We have a large stock of these DVDs and are ready to send you one upon your request. No charge! We are ready to help you in whatever way we possibly can. If you need anything for the celebration of the Holy Mass, we will be happy to try and help.

In these times of great trouble and confusion, it behoves us then to support and encourage one another in the true Catholic faith. This is simply the reason for this letter. We would very much like to continue to write these letters to you. Nevertheless, we do not wish to impose. If you do not wish this communication, then please be free to ask us to remove your name from our address list.

Finally, before I close, I would like to thank the bishops of South Africa for reinstituting the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a holy day of obligation in South Africa. After all, She is our Patroness. This decision, I am sure, will draw down many graces upon this country. Let us turn our eyes to our holy Mother in heaven, but, let pope Pius XII speak to you: (Menti nostrae) When you meet very serious difficulties in the path of holiness and the exercise of your ministry, turn your eyes and your mind trustfully to her who is the Mother of the Eternal Priest and therefore the loving Mother of all Catholic priests. You are well aware of the goodness of this Mother. In many regions you have been the humble instruments of the mercy of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in wonderfully reviving the faith and charity of the Christian people. Our Lady loves everyone with a most tender love, but She has a particular predilection for priests who are the living image of Jesus Christ. Take comfort in the thought of the love of the Divine Mother for each of you and you will find the labours of your sanctification and priestly ministry much easier.