Spiritual Journey is not another book on spirituality; rather, it is the Last Will & Testament of Archbishop Lefebvre addressed to the priests and seminarians of the Priestly Society of St Pius X.
The Archbishop goes straight to the heart of the matter in the Preface. He wants “…to transmit, before the progressive degradation of the priestly ideal, in all of its doctrinal purity and in all of its missionary charity, the Catholic Priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, just as He conferred it on His Apostles, just as the Roman Church always transmitted it until the middle of the twentieth century” (iii). He continues: “…there appeared to me already the need, not only to confer the authentic priesthood, to teach not only the sana doctrina approved by the Church, but also to transmit the profound and unchanging spirit of the Catholic priesthood and of the Christian spirit essentially bound to the great prayer of Our Lord which His Sacrifice on the Cross expresses eternally” (iii).
Spiritual Journey is more than a pious reading; it is a call to arms for the defense of the Faith. What follows is a Thomistic treatise on Catholic spirituality with a special focus on the current apostasy within the Church specifically intended for the priests and seminarians. The Archbishop summarizes the situation: “The current Pope and bishops no longer hand down Our Lord Jesus Christ, but rather a sentimental, superficial, charismatic religiosity, through which, as a general rule, the true grace of the Holy Ghost no longer passes. This new religion is not the Catholic religion; it is sterile, incapable of sanctifying society and the family” (ix).
The Archbishop aptly labels this “religiosity” and identifies what lies behind it: “This “Conciliar Church” is imbued with the principles of 1789. These are Masonic principles with respect to religion and religions in general and with respect to civil society. Its foundation was an imposture inspired by Hell for the destruction of the Catholic religion, of its Magisterium, of its priesthood, and of the Sacrifice of Our Lord” (p 6).
The Archbishop warns his sons not to get poisoned by proximity to this “new religion”: “For as long as this Secretariat keeps the false ecumenism as its orientation and Roman ecclesiastical authorities approve it, we can affirm that they remain in open, official rupture with all the past of the Church and with its official Magisterium. It is, therefore, a strict duty for every priest wanting to remain Catholic to separate himself from this Conciliar Church for as long as it does not rediscover the Tradition of the Church and of the Catholic Faith” (p 13).
The Archbishop recognizes the grave responsibility on the part of the hierarchy and the far-reaching consequences: “This apostasy [of popes and bishops] makes its members adulterers, schismatics opposed to all Tradition, separated from the past of the Church, and thus separated from the Church of today…”
The Archbishop offers a sober warning: “We will never fully understand the struggle between the good and the wicked throughout history, as long as we do not see it as the personal and unyielding battle for all time between Satan and Jesus Christ” (p 37). The Archbishop then asks: “What duty befalls upon every man because of this fundamental and unyielding battle…?” And he answers: “It is the duty never to compromise, on whatever it may be, with that which is of Satan or his followers, and to enlist ourselves beneath the standard of Jesus Christ, and there to remain always and fight valiantly” (p 37).
What practical tools does the Archbishop offer to his priests? The love of Our Lord and His Mother, solid prayer life, faithfulness to Tradition and the return to Thomistic studies: “St. Thomas shines among [the Church Fathers] like a light. His Summa Theologica is a chef d’oeuvre of collaboration between faith and reason, to establish Revelation on irrefutable bases. It clearly shows that these two are of divine origin and thus cannot help but mutually confirm one another. Faith remains nevertheless the surest source of the knowledge of God and of divine things. It remains the golden rule of wisdom” (p 65).
And he adds: “The Summa can be summarized thus: to come from God, to return to God, by the means of God – such is man’s destiny” (p 65).
And, like a good father, he concludes his treatise with words from St Paul speaking to Timothy: “…keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding the profane novelties of words… Fight the good fight of Faith; lay hold on eternal life” (p 68).
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Since the Archbishop’s death in 1991, the apostasy he had warned against has infected his own SSPX. Was he then a failure?
Was Moses a failure for not preventing the Jews from falling into apostasy?
Was St Thomas More a failure for failing to prevent England from falling into Protestantism?
Was the Archbishop wrong when he warned his priests that they will meet with obstacles and persecutions? He told them: “Some will believe and others will turn away”. And he added: “Some will persecute us, as they did Our Lord and the apostles” (p 67-68).
Was he wrong to conclude with this solemn warning? “Let us keep the Faith above all else. It is for this that Our Lord died, because He affirmed His divinity. It is for this that all the martyrs died. Let us flee from those who make us lose the Faith or diminish it” (p 68).
Spiritual Journey is the Last Will & Testament of the Archbishop; it is also his adieu to all who keep the Faith.
Spiritual Journey, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Angelus Press, June 1991, 73 pp
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Sr Constance (TOSF)