April 2000 - Superior General's Letter #58
The Society mourns the death of Bishop Lazo. He recognized the crisis which the Church was undergoing and sought by every means to inform the Philippine Clergy and others about it. He died a holy death in the arms of the priests of the asian district and was buried at the priory in Manila. We have established a pre-seminary, made some changes at the priory of Manila and concluded a successful medical mission. Join us for a pilgrimage to Rome!
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
Death of Bishop Lazo: A courageous soldier of Christ
A few days ago, God recalled to Himself the soul of Bishop Salvador Lazo, retired bishop of San Fernando de la Unión in the Philippines, joined in the fight for Tradition in 1995. With an admirable courage he took up the pen to try to tell the clergy of his own country, priests and bishops, what he himself had been given the grace to discover: an enormous crisis is overwhelming Mother Church, and the time has come for action. To this he gave witness as best he could all over the world, but especially by lectures in English-speaking countries.
Despite pressure brought to bear on him by his fellow-bishops and even by Rome, he faithfully continued to defend the Truth which he had re-discovered after spending a quarter of a century under the influence of the Council. He explained how for the most part bishops are buried beneath administrative paperwork and hardly have the time to think. Most of them follow orders coming down from above, from Rome, from the Episcopal Conference which makes sure to give out only news selectively screened: for example, it was only after he re-joined Catholic Tradition that Bishop Lazo learned, around 1996, that in 1984 the old Mass had been allowed again under certain conditions.
His courage was a great consolation and source of strength for all of us over the last few years, especially for our priests in Asia. His unreserved support for the work of Archbishop Lefebvre and his developing a solid and deep friendship with our priests earned him in addition the animosity of the bishops of his own land, albeit tempered by their respect for his seniority. However, he was always under pressure.
Bishop Lazo's holy death
Our priests in Manila kept watch by him day and night for the last month of his painful illness. He would give his soul back to God in the arms of our priests, in our priory. “I offer these sufferings for the conversion of bishops. I wish to go home”, he said to our priests who were faintly puzzled – “Yes, I wish to go to Heaven… My God, if you wish, you may come and fetch me. The Nuncio may come and visit me… I shall tell him that I am dying for Jesus Christ and not for men”.
In accordance with his last wishes, we had the honor of burying him in our church in Manila, named after Our Lady of Victories, a programme in itself. There he lies waiting for the resurrection of the dead and for the Last Judgment which will show forth the grandeur of soul of this upright bishop, esteemed by his fellow-bishops for “his wisdom, prudence and undeniable achievements.” Yet none of them were there to accompany him as he was buried according to the Pontifical Mass with five absolutions. No doubt they feared to be infected by Catholic Tradition, at the same time as they dare to invite pagans and idolators to enter the very Cathedral of Manila!
One of our priests dared in all simplicity to ask if the bishop thought he knew where the grace of his conversion to Tradition had come from. He replied with the same simplicity that he thought that his Holy Hour every day was partly responsible, also his devotion to the Holy Rosary.
Let us hope that his prayers and sacrifice will soon be answered, and that the day is not too far off when we see an army of bishops rejoining the ancient Tradition of the Church. What immense good would come of it!
Establishment of a pre-seminary; changes at Manila priory; medical mission
While in Manila, we took the opportunity to look at life in the priory. Since September of 1999, two priests have been taken away from Manila to look after the pre-Seminary which we have set up on another island to the South. From there, they prepare future seminarians and brothers, and also look after Catholics in the region of Cebu. So the Manila community has been somewhat reduced, to five priests, reaching from Japan to Hong Kong, not forgetting Korea. They also prepare young women who think they have a vocation to the religious life, who live together in two houses not too far away from the priory. In addition, they continue to promote parish life and the medical missions in Manila itself. The latest of these missions was a huge success: in one day more than 900 patients form poor parts of the city were treated. About three times a year doctors, dentists and parishioners of Our Lady of Victories devote one full day to this good cause. A whole street is sealed off by the township. A large tent is set up and from sunrise to sunset an uninterrupted stream of poor people comes from nearby to be treated. After a brief questioning, they are directed towards the different doctors present. One can only admire such Christian charity at work!
If only today’s world could see everywhere this charity in action, seeking only to relieve, by giving without expecting anything in return. Charity comes up with all kinds of new devices! The capital city of White Russia recognized the same devotion to the welfare of men when it honored one of our priests for his humanitarian action in the city of Minsk!
Although such humanitarianism is not our primary concern, doubtless something would be missing from Catholic Tradition if such temporal works of mercy were lacking. But that is not the case. Indeed the numerous marks of fraternal charity to be found amongst our faithful, and reaching outside the boundaries of Catholic Tradition, are reason for profound gratitude to God on our part: charity will overcome our world of wickedness and lies, cowardice and deceit. We well know, God is infinitely greater than the evil of the crisis shaking our age to its roots in which we cannot help seeing a foreshadow of the terrible time of the Antichrist. Yes, God will conquer, the Church will triumph once more. What an honour to be able to take part in today’s great battle! Christ must reign, families must once more become Christian. The whole world must recongnize its Creator and Saviour and bend at last beneath His gentle yoke. Let us all set to work, each of us in his appointed place, to undertake this great task. Charity cannot be restrained.
We must maintain hope despite Rome's ecumenical scandals
For despite the incredible stunts of a Rome making us ask with an ever greater anxiety “Quo vadis?”, “Rome, where are you going?”; despite the curious and stunning spectacle of certain Jubilee ceremonies turning into a sort of masonically flavoured madness, such as the humiliating request for forgiveness of March 12 corresponding so exactly to the reproaches long flung at the Church by her enemies that it is impossible not to make the connection; despite expressions such as “the globalization of solidarity” uttered by Mr. Kofi Annan last April 7, suggesting that the global economy and whole world are about to be forced into line with the United Nations; despite Mr. Gorbachev’s inviting socialists to follow John Paul II, an invitation certainly not to be taken lightly; despite all these things and much besides, we firmly maintain our hope.
SSPX pilgrimage to Rome
And our August pilgrimage will be our proclamation that we cleave to Eternal Rome, to the Church’s immemorial Tradition, to the Catholic Faith. Come in large numbers to show your lively faith and your unshakable will to remain Catholic, cost what it may.
“In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph”, said Our Lady at Fatima. When times are so tragic, let us know how to find in Our Lord, in the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady, in the Sacred Heart, the strength, vigour and enthusiasm of the followers of Christ. The world will pass away, but God and the Word of God will not pass away.
Nonetheless our duty to pray and to make sacrifices is urgent; to pray for our salvation an fidelity, to pray for priests and bishops. So we would like to bring this letter to an end with a prayer for priests (see below), written in the last century by a priest, and which we suggest you pray from time to time. May God repay your ever ready generosity with an abundance of graces and blessings.
† Bernard Fellay
Feast of the Resurrection
April 23, 2000
Prayer for Priests
O my God, pour out in abundance Thy spirit of sacrifice upon Thy priests.
It is both their glory and duty to become victims, to be burnt up for souls,
to live without ordinary joys, to be often the objects of distrust, injustice and persecution.
The words they say every day at the altar, “This is my Body, this is my Blood”,
grant them to apply to themselves, “I am no longer myself, I am Jesus, Jesus crucified.
I am, like the bread and wine, a substance no longer itself but by consecration another”.
O my God, I burn with the desire for the sanctification of Thy priests.
I wish all the priestly hands which touch Thee
were hands whose touch is gentle and pleasing to Thee,
that all the mouths uttering such sublime words at the altar
should never descend to speaking trivialities.
Let priests in all their person stay at the level of their lofty functions,
let every man find them simple and great, like the Holy Eucharist,
accessible to all yet above the rest of men.
O my God, grant them to carry with them from the Mass of today a thirst
for the Mass of tomorrow, and grant them, laden themselves with gifts,
to share these abundantly with their fellow-men.