St. John Eudes wrote to his future successor on July 23, 1659: “My dear Brother, I cannot tell you the blessings God is giving to this mission. I had not been preaching in church for a long time, for even though it was very large, it was nevertheless too small on this occasion. There were 12 confessors, but without hyperbole, 50 would have been well-employed. People came there from eight or ten leagues [3-4 kilometers] and hearts were so touched that one could see only tears, and could hear only the moans of poor penitents. We were overwhelmed. The missionaries see some who have been waiting eight days without being able to go to confession, and who throw themselves on their knees wherever they meet them, begging them to hear them. Let us pray, my very dear Brother, to the Lord of the harvest, that He will send workers and let us often say to Him with all our heart: “Lord of the harvest, send laborers into Thy harvest” (Lk. 10:2).
How should we not have the same supplications today! The disaster is much greater. Indifferentism is a searing wind that withers everything in its path and makes completely foreign to souls the only worthwhile truth: Our Lord has become man for our salvation. And what do we want? That His will be done on earth as in Heaven! But to do this, we need priests. They have this divine power to join earth to Heaven and to save souls who are being lost in great numbers. “It comes back to the priest to preach Christ, to love Christ, to communicate Christ,” preached Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.
“The Protestant naturalism from which we suffer today does not want to recognize the supernatural, nor does it want us any longer to be true sons of God—O certainly only through participation and adoption to Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself—because for them, Our Lord Jesus Christ is really not the Son of God…that is what St. Peter said, this is what the priest must preach…But he must also love Him: if we truly believe that Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God, we must show Him our love, not only say it with our words, but also fulfill His will…the priest is not a man who seeks popularity. As St. Paul said, ‘if I seek to please men, I will not please God’ (Gal. 1:10). So! The priest too must be the one who does not always please men because he asserts the truth. That is true love of neighbor…And finally, to be a priest is to communicate Christ to others. Is there anything more real or more true for a priest than to communicate Our Lord Jesus Christ? What is the most beautiful thing a priest can do? What is the most beautiful dream a priest can have? To give Our Lord Jesus Christ. There is nothing more beautiful, greater, richer, more supernatural, more divine, nothing” (Sermon of June 29, 1976 at Ecône).
This vocations crusade is a beautiful work in truth: its object has always been the principal concern of the Church. All the present tragedy is the disappearance of priests and the earth curls up upon itself in despair. The cry of good Christian people will always be the same. We know it: it is that of the Apostles in the boat. St. Mark’s account is encouraging. The Apostles took Jesus with them “in the ship…And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that the ship was filled. And He was in the hind part of the ship, sleeping upon a pillow; and they awoke Him, and said to Him: Master, doth it not concern Thee that we perish? …And He said to them: Why are you fearful?” (Mk. 36-40). But at the cry of the apostles, Our Lord calmed the tempest.
St. Augustine tells us, “Let us persevere in prayer. God may defer His gifts, but He does not refuse them.” The order is important: we must persevere and always pray, because we perish. Let us adopt the tearful accents of St. John Eudes who thus concludes his letter, “What are so many doctors and graduates doing in Paris while souls are perishing in the thousands for want of people who will stretch out a hand to draw them from perdition and preserve them from eternal fire? Indeed, if I am right in this, I should go after them to Paris crying out in the Sorbonne and other colleges: ‘Fire! Fire! Hell fire which swallows up the universe! Come, you doctors, and all you men, help to put it out!’”
So then, continue this crusade. O Lord, grant us priests; O Lord, grant us holy priests; O Lord, grant us many holy priests.
Fr. Benoît de Jorna
Lettre sur les vocations—Maison Saint-Pie X—11 rue Cluseret F-92280 Suresnes cedex