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Thursday, July 31, 2008

1st August, Eve of our 20th Anniversary

1st August, Anniversary of the death of Saint Alphonsus 1787
Eve of the 20th Anniversary of our foundation

Saint Alphonsus, a Model of Hope in the Midst of Human Oppositions

Since the Son of God established His Church on earth at the price of His sufferings, He does nothing great here below without using the cross as an instrument.
Alphonsus, having been called by Him to found the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, could not escape this rule. Hence how fearfully he had to suffer in his difficult undertaking!
When his project became known, all Naples was let loose against him; he was treated as a visionary, a fanatic, a deluded person, he was even proclaimed from the pulpit as a deplorable example of the fatal illusion of a victim of pride and presumption.
The assaults he had to undergo from his family and his friends were still more bitter to him. His father, a venerable old man, held him pressed to his bosom for three whole hours, speaking most tenderly to keep him in the paternal mansion.
The Propaganda of Naples, to which he belonged, called a meeting of the members against him, and with unexampled animosity unanimously expelled him, and even deprived him of his benefice. What shocks were these to his heart! But his confidence in God supported him against all human attacks and persecutions.
To cap the climax of his humiliations, he saw himself abandoned by his first companions; and this aggravated the public feeling against him. And, indeed, did not such an event seem to justify the public opposition to his project? Did not even God seem to take sides with his adversaries? Alphonsus needed all the faith of Abraham, to keep up his hope in this circumstance. “God does not need me,” he wrote to his director, (who was then also wavering,) “but I stand in need of God.”
He did even more; at the very height of his troubles, he pushed his heroism so far as to oblige himself by vow to continue the work he had begun, were he to remain alone to do it. This was the decisive point; his confidence was soon rewarded by the arrival of new companions.

Pray for the Eve of our 20th AnniversaryO my God, through the intercession of St. Alphonsus, impart to us that strength of will, which continues to hope in Thee in apprehensions, confusion and the vain terrors of human respect. May the remembrance of Thee be our support, and alone suffice to preserve our courage and serenity amid criticisms, persecutions, derisions and calumnies. “We have hope as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm.”
The above text and prayer were composed by
The Servant of God
Fr. Louis Bronchain, C.SS.R.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A link to Bishop Von Kettler (1811 - 1877)

His Holiness Pope Leo XIII
who esteemed
Bishop Von Kettler
In the interests of giving another aspect of the traditional understanding of religious liberty, we have added this essay on Religious Freedom to our Reference Links.

Wilhelm Emmanuel Von Ketteler
Bishop of Mainz (1811-1877)

Biographical Note
Regarded as the “pioneer” of modern Catholic social teaching, Von Ketteler’s thought has found expression in the great social encyclicals since his time. Pope Leo XIII refers to Von Ketteler as: “our great predecessor from whom I have learned" (Association Catholique, October 15, 1893, 428).


We come now to the all important question whether religious opposed to the principles of the Catholic Church. May Catholics who wish to remain true to the principles of their church concede to those of other religions such a position in the state? May Catholic rulers legally permit to their subjects such freedom of conscience without violating their own consciences? Can there be situations in which rulers are even bound in conscience to grant such freedom? Would not such a position be completely opposed to the way the Church operated in the Middle Ages?..... Continued here

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Supplied Jurisdiction or Fresh Bread Through the Back Window

Confiteor: Why did Fr. Michael Mary state that "the SSPX" advised him that there is no supplied jurisdiction for religious superiors taking vows, when Bishop Fellay affirms that the SSPX would never give such advice?

Fr. Michael Mary: I am sorry that I am not very free in answering that question. I have returned to the person whom we first consulted about Jurisdiction. He now says that he considered that talking with us about the matter would have been useless and would have started an endless fruitless diuscussion. And that he was sorry that we interpreted his silence as approval.

Confiteor: Why did it take (apparently) 20 years for Fr. Michael Mary to discover that there is a "problem" with jurisdiction?

Father Michael Mary: I want to state that I do not condemn the position of the SSPX since it was our own position for 20 years. During most of these years, it is my opinion that I, personally, and traditional Catholics in general, tended to live a 'Practical Sedevacantist-Catholicism'. I want to state that this is my own personal take on the matter and that it does not reflect the ideas of others in our community. But this is my own personal understanding of the last 20 years.

Martin: What is this 'Practical Sedevacantist Catholicism'?

Father Michael Mary: This means living the Catholic faith as if there were no Pope or hierarchy to whom we were bound to be submissive and from whom we were bound to receive authorisation for our activities. It is when we accept that he is the Pope in name alone, but practically we reduce his authority over us to nearly nothing at all. For example, when the Archbishop consecrated the four bishops against the explicit will of Pope John Paul II. I think that this was 'Practical Sedevacantist Catholicism' in action. When Catholic life had come to this state, jurisdiction is not even an issue. The issue was living to survive the madness that was infesting the Church. Was 'Practical Sedevacantist Catholicism' right or wrong? I cannot answer and I do not judge it. It was the way many of us survived. There seemed to be no other viable alternatives for protecting the Faith. "We did what we had to do."

Martin: What has really changed over the last 20 years?

Father Michael Mary: Nothing really changed at all in our thinking, until 7 July 2007 when Pope Benedict XVI issued the Motu Proprio by which he proved beyond doubt that he was intent on 're-sacralising' the Church. It was like a miracle. (Perhaps, as in the vision of St Don Bosco, he is the Pope who is steering the Barque of Peter between the two pillars surmounted by the Blessed Sacrament and Mary Immaculate.) Consequently, as soon as you recognise that Benedict XVI is without doubt truly the Pope; a new dynamic of Catholic life came into play.

Martin: What's that?

Father Michael Mary: From the moment one recognises Benedict XVI as truly the Pope, 'Practical Sedevacantist Catholicism' gives way to 'Practical Papal Catholicism'; it is inevitable. Even though there be a war raging about us in the Church, we still have to make the move towards the Barque of Peter by abandoning 'practical Sedevacantist Catholicism' for 'Practical Papal Catholicism' where the Pope has primacy of jurisdiction over each one of us. We join ranks with him for our own salvation; and after that, we join ranks with him in the battle for the life of the Church. But I repeat, the above is my personal understanding of the last 20 years. It may not be the understanding of others. But I know that however one understands the last 20 years, something new has begun with Pope Benedict XVI and the tide has turned.

Martin: And Jurisdiction?

Father Michael Mary: When 'Practical Papal Catholicism' kicks in you soon see that it is necessary to obtain jurisdiction, from the Vicar of Christ, as soon as possible.

Martin: But what about supplied Jurisdiction?

Father Michael Mary: If you believe that Pope Benedict XVI is the Pope, then you need to have the authority that comes from him. It is that simple. Even with a crisis in the Church raging all about us. Even if you are going to be stoned by fellow traditionalists. No matter what you have to 'get with the Pope!'

Martin: Please explain it a little more.

Father Michael Mary: I am reminded of the morals question on 'stealing' in a case of necessity. The Second World War: Some British soldiers are hiding in a French village. They are in dire need of food and discover that the back window of the village bakery can be opened to give them access to freshly baked bread. Can they take the bread without this being the sin of theft?

Martin: Yes they can. There is necessity and taking the bread through the back window is the only way they can stay alive.

Father Michael Mary: Exactly. But then, after some period of time, the people in the village notice them. The war is not over, there are still many risks, but France is slowly being liberated. The Baker announces that he will give them all the bread that they need and that there is no longer any need to take it from the back window. He himself will even bring it to them.
Now everything is changed, and if not today, then very soon, taking the bread from the back window will be called, and will be, stealing.

Martin: Which means?

Father Michael Mary: For 20 years we have been living in a state of necessity where we lacked authorisation for what we needed, particularly for the Heavenly Bread, confessions, marriages and religious professions. We did as we could. We presumed authorisation for everything we needed. It was not the best situation, but we did what we did because we could not see any other way of surviving.
Then Pope Benedict XVI noticed us and in a clear voice he announced through the Motu Proprio that the old Mass was authorised and that he would give us all that we need and more: Mass, Ritual, jurisdiction for Confessions, marriages, religious professions and the exclusive use of the 1962 Missal in our communities. It is clear that he knows that the war is not over since he is himself working at restoring all things in Christ. He calls us to answer his call and accept the bread he offers us in abundance from his open arms.

Martin: So is this what you are saying: The Baker is the Pope, right? He knows there is a war going on and he is leading the way? He now offers us what before 7 July 2007 we simply took? To ignore him now and to continue taking through the back window is no longer acceptable, since it can't be right to take from behind his back what he wants to give us face to face?

Father Michael Mary: That's one way of putting it. And let me add, there are reasons for getting things right with the Church. This matter of Jurisdiction is a very serious matter. I remember a Doctor of Canon Law in the seminary, citing a case of a pre-Vatican II marriage annulment. It went like this:

A bishop's niece was being married in a neighbouring diocese. The bride invited her uncle, the bishop, to perform the ceremony. It was agreed. The uncle-bishop performed the marriage in the cathedral of the neighbouring diocese where even the local bishop attended to add solemnity to the occasion.

Some years later the marriage broke down. The marriage tribunal investigating the case discovered that the uncle-bishop did not ask for or receive receive jurisdiction from the neighbouring bishop (the local Ordinary) to perform the marriage; (he presumed it). And even though the local bishop was physically present, the Church declared the marriage nul through lack of jurisdiction.

Surely this would have been a case of 'human error and failure'? Surely the Church would have declared this to have been a case for 'supplied jurisdiction'. No it was judged to be a case of 'no jurisdiction.' The marriage was anulled. We were given this case as an example of the seriousness and necessity of having valid jurisdiction to perform valid acts. Perhaps some will say this is legalist, I do not argue. I say that it is an example that gives cause of concern for acting without valid jurisdiction when it can be had for the asking.

Confiteor: Why does Fr. Michael Mary now "accept" the possibility that F.SS.R. priests will celebrate the New Mass outside the monastery, presumably when they are on missions?

Father Michael Mary: No, No, No! In my reply to Brendan, I said that we have been assured that we need not celebrate the Novus Ordo Mass nor con-celebrate it. These assurances have given us the courage to do what we consider to be the right thing and seek reconciliation with the Holy See. So clearly we are not wanting to say the new Mass. However, if you accept the Pope you accept the Canon Law of the Church and therefore we must accept that the Canon Law does not give permission to forbid a priest from saying the New Mass. It does not mean that he will say it. None of our priest want to say it, none of our seminarians want to say it; and nor can they be forced to say it, ever! Not even on the Missions! But the Church does not allow superiors to forbid their priests from saying it. I was disappointed to see this statement of the facts misused before further enquiry.


Fr Michael Mary, F.SS.R.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

No more servants, but sons. (Gal. IV:7)

Transalpine Redemptorists
Golgotha Monastery Island
Papa Stronsay
KW17 2AR, Orkney Islands

Feast of the Most Holy Redeemer
20 July, 2008

Change of Name

Dear Friends
Praised be Jesus and Mary ever Virgin!

Our new name has been worked out in consultation with the Holy See but, as with all things of this nature, we can only say that the name will be absolutely finalised when the community's statutes are approved. This is normal proceedure.

Our new name, the name which we will use exclusively
from 2 August will be:

Filii Sanctissimi Redemptoris

The siglum will be the Latin initials for 'Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer':

F. SS. R.

  • This new name indicates that we are a community in the spirit of that Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer founded by Our Lord Himself through the instrumentality of St Alphonsus and the Venerable Maria Celeste Crostarosa, pictured above.

  • This new name indicates that we will continue to live from that traditional school of holiness known as Redemptorist which belongs to the patrimony of the Universal Church.

  • We affirm that we claim Saint Alphonsus as our Holy Father, the most eminent of the Son of the Most Holy Redeemer.

  • We ask our Holy Father Alphonsus, to teach us by his writings how to be images of the Most Holy Redeemer by perseverance in his school of the religious life.

Our new name is a delight to us all, since it highlights the dimension of our filial, familiar and intimate relationship with Our Most Holy Redeemer. -No more servants, but sons.

But when the fullness of time was come, God sent His Son, made of a woman, made under the law: That He might redeem those who were under the law: that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because you are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying: Abba, Father. Therefore he is no more a servant, but a son. And if a son, an heir also through God. (Galatians IV: 4-7)

We thank God for our new name which we receive as coming to us directly from Him through a holy priest from outside our community. We profoundly thank our spiritual benefactors who prayed for us, and the abovementioned Father who was inspired to give it to us. We treasure this name and we will pray and work to be less unworthy of it.

Mother of Perpetual Succour, pray for us Thy Sons, whom Thou didst accept and receive at the foot of the Cross, O Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrix!

Devotedly yours in our Most Holy Redeemer,

Fr. Michael Mary, F.SS.R.
Fr. Anthony Mary, F.SS.R.
Fr. Clement Mary, F.SS.R.
Br. Yousef Marie, F.SS.R.
Br. Magdala Maria, F.SS.R.
Br. Ivan Maria, F.SS.R.
Br. Nicodemus Mary, F.SS.R.
Br. Louis Marie, F.SS.R.
Br. Wolf Maria, F.SS.R.
Br. Dominic Mary, F.SS.R.
Br. Paul Mary, F.SS.R.
Br. Cyril Maria, F.SS.R.
Br. Martin Mary, F.SS.R.
Br. Matthew Mary, F.SS.R.
Br. Xavier Maria, F.SS.R.
Dominic Farrell
Giovanni Escamilla

The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer

Friday, July 18, 2008

Interview Update

Dear Friends
In the form of interviews I want to clarify some of the different questions that have been asked of us about our life as a traditional religious community now that we are having our censures lifted by the Holy See.

Confiteor: I am saddened to hear about CATHOLIC being banned across the SSPX. Very, very sad.

Fr. Michael Mary: Yes, it is a danger for the newspaper. Catholic has been banned in all SSPX chapels in the USA and the United Kingdom. Fr Couture has also stopped it in the Philippines, India and Singapore. Both of our long serving agents in the United Kingdom and the United States have resigned. They have both been wonderful people very devoted to helping with the paper. They will always have our thanks and friendship; we know that it must have been a difficult decision to make.
This is the situation so far and it could get much worse. It means that already over 50% of our 4,000 Catholic subscriptions are lost since we do not have the names of those who receive the paper from SSPX chapels. Others have cancelled because of our decision to be reconciled with the Holy See.
This has prompted us to add a subscription button to this blog so that people who want to support us now, can take out subscriptions on-line using Paypal.
All is not lost. We have had a good number of people writing to us asking us to continue the paper since it is important for them. We are determined to do our best to continue. I can only hope that people who have received Catholic through their chapels will take out subscriptions either by writing to us or by using the button here on this blog.

Confiteor: Do you now consider ties between the Transalpine Redemptorists and the SSPX "severed" from your end?

Fr. Michael Mary: There is somebody I have neither seen nor written to for over 20 years who now lives in Australia. He often used to say to me in his newly learnt English: ‘Friend lost, never was!’ I’m looking forward to meeting him again sometime and I know that nothing will have changed.
That is the school of friendship that has marked my life. It will not change now. I don’t sever ties at my end. Some people need to sever ties at their end; fine, I can understand that, but it is always unfortunate unless it is with the false friends of a strong morally bad infleunce; in which case it is an unhappy obligation.
So no, I will not sever ties with the SSPX unless I was ordered to do so by the Holy See; which would then become ‘an unhappy obligation.’ But why would the Holy See do that?
There are some great priests and faithful in the SSPX who have been our friends for over 20 years. If our submission to the Holy Father is the cause of certain people cutting ties with us then I can only leave doors open, hoping they misunderstood our actions; or acted in a moment of pique, or from human respect. If, however, it comes to the worst, and we are severed for good, I will say to myself, and unhappily: ‘Friend lost, never was!’.... and move on.

Confiteor: Are you at all in contact with Bishop Fellay?

Fr. Michael Mary: We had a very pleasant meeting with Bishop Fellay last 26 May during which we were able to discuss a number of important issues. We really appreciated that opportunity. I last wrote to Bishop Fellay on 29 June. I have not heard back from him as yet. But I cannot believe that he has felt it necessary to severe his ties with us.

Carol from CNS: What prompted the community to agree to join in communion with the Holy See?

Fr. Michael Mary: Pope Benedict XVI. The Holy Father's Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum and the letter that accompanied the document led to our monastery council seeking expert advice from outside our community. The advice we received led us to more closely examine our ecclesial structures and their seeming absence of jurisdiction. While the question of supplied jurisdiction for Confessions and Marriages has been widely discussed, we had not come across any discussions on this point of jurisdiction for the religious life. We have concluded in fact, that there is no 'supplied jurisdiction' for traditional religious superiors receiving vows; nor does their power to command link back to the Holy Father and to the power of the Keys.

If this is so, it means that the superiors do not have supernatural authority to command and organise their communities in the traditional understanding, where the voice of the superior is the voice of Christ. This is an extremely important point.

We asked the SSPX about this question and also the traditionalist Dominicans in France. Both agreed that there was no "supplied jurisdiction" for religious superiors.

Once we were clearly aware of this lack of jurisdiction for the organisation of religious life we found that we would be building on sand, not to mention burying our heads in it, if we continued to try to live religious life in this way.

We were unhappy with the responsibilities and possible consequences that we would be taking upon ourselves in commanding people without sharing in the authority that comes from Christ, through His Vicar and through the delegated superiors whoever they may be. Continuing on in the face of these realities seemed to be like 'playing house' and we didn't want to have anything to do with it.

Carol from CNS: Do you know of other traditional communities planning to reunite in the future?

Fr. Michael Mary: No I do not. But if the other traditional communities were to examine the question of jurisdiction for religious life, I think that eventually they would all want to build their monasteries on the rock and jurisdiction of Peter.

Religious life cannot work without both jurisdiction and the power of domination; it all comes from The Keys.

There is no valid reason for refusing to receive this jurisdiction from the Holy Father.

In his Motu proprio, Pope Benedict XVI assured us that we may continue to offer the Old Mass and follow the Rules of our religious communities. As our Father he has provided for all we need.

To traditional friends who say that we need more than this assurance from the Holy See, and that we first need theological discussions, I would reply that they should first begin studies at home on the need for jurisdiction to validate and govern religious life, because from my enquiries nobody has done it yet; there have been studies on all kinds of subjects concerning the ‘crisis in the Church’ but not on the absence of jurisdiction for religious life. For religious this is a fundamental.

Carol from CNS: What name will the community chose?

Fr. Michael Mary: We cannot call ourselves either "Redemptorists" or "the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer." The name has not been finally decided yet, but we would like to announce it on our blog for this Sunday, Feast of the Most Holy Redeemer, the titular feast of the Congregation (which is always kept for the 3rd Sunday in July).

Confiteor: CNS reports: ‘Because the group is not associated with the Redemptorist order, it will have to change its name.' Say it isn't so! Are you not Redemptorists, true sons of St. Alphonsus?

Fr. Michael Mary: In this question, Confiteor, we are caught both ways. If we were to enter the modern Redemptorist Congregation we would be taken over by them; we would have to be obedient to them. This would be an immediate danger for our community since we know that there are Redemptorists, (with every right to that legal description), who would be happy if we were suppressed. We did however ask them if they wanted to receive us with a special statute that would safeguard our existence. They declined.

Now we know that it is God’s Will for us to live unambiguously separated from them.

In this case we must distinguish ourselves from them; this is quite normal and reasonable. In the Church there are all kinds of different orders claiming to be authentic descendants of their founders: for example Capuchins, Conventuals and Friars Minor are all the sons of St Francis of Assisi; they are distinguished from one another by their names.

We must do the same. For our own historical reasons we must distinguish ourselves from the group that claims the exclusive right to being called the ‘Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer’ and to be known by the nickname: ‘Redemptorist.’

Therefore, after 2 August 2008, we will try to no longer publicly call ourselves ‘Redemptorist’ or ‘Transalpine Redemptorist.’ (It may take a month or two longer since an old habit is sometimes difficult to break immediately!) It will take a further number of months to make legal name changes which can be a complicated matter. Eventually we will get there.

But frankly, while the change of name will be difficult in one way; it will also be a relief in other ways. We will no longer have to explain the difference between being 'Redemptorist' and 'Transalpine Redemptorist'; and we do not think it is necessary to have to carry the modern Congregation about with us. We will no longer need to feel associated with the modern Congregation. And although we will still pray for them in general, we will not feel a constant responsiblity to pray for their deceased members. For the past 20 years, at the Memento of the Dead in every Mass that we have offered, we have explicitly mentioned: 'all the deceased Fathers and Brothers of the Congregation'. In the Old Rule every deceased priest was supposed to receive 250 Masses for the repose of his soul and in practise this seems to have been greatly reduced or to have been dwindled away.

So in some ways the end of this assumed direct relationship with the Redemptorists is even a sweet release.

We have been advised that the Redemptorists do not have an exclusive right to every aspect of their name and that we will always be permitted to describe ourselves as ‘a community in the Redemptorist tradition’ and to claim that we too are the ‘sons of St Alphonsus.’

Saturday, July 05, 2008

A Pillar of Fire

Our annual bonfire and barbeque in honour of St. John the Baptist was this year, for various reasons, transferred to the feast of Saints Peter and Paul. It was very successful and there was a good turn out, despite the rain and wind!

Mr John Friel, the first member of our faithful on Stronsay, was asked to do the honours and light the fire.

Br. Wolf Maria C.SS.R. assists with getting it going.

With the fire blazing, Rev. Fr. Michael Mary, C.SS.R. begins the blessing for a fire from the Roman Ritual.

Father incenses the fire. Already at this distance the heat is very intense.

A pillar of fire.

Finally the tower collapses.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Canonical Good Standing

1 July, 2008
Feast of the Precious Blood

My dear friends,

I am happy to inform you that last June 18th, before Cardinal Castrillon and the members of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei in Rome, I humbly petitioned the Holy See on my own behalf and on behalf of the monastery council for our priestly suspensions to be lifted.

On June 26th I received word that the Holy See had granted our petition. All canonical censures have been lifted.

Our community now truly rejoices in undisputed and peaceful posession of Communion with the Holy See because our priests are now in canonical good standing.

We are very grateful to our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI for issuing, last July, the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum which called us to come into undisputed and peaceful Communion with him.

Now we have that undisputed communion! It is a pearl of great price; a treasure hidden in the field; a sweetness that cannot be imagined by those who have not tasted it or who have not known it, now for many years. Its value cannot be fully expressed in earthly language and therefore we hope that all traditional priests who have not yet done so, will answer Pope Benedict's call to enjoy the grace of peaceful and undisputed communion with him. Believe us, the price to pay is nothing; even all the angry voices that have shouted against us and calumniated us are as nothing when weighed in the scales against undisputed communion with the Vicar of Christ; others have died for it; what are raucous voices?

We publicly thank all those souls who have prayed for us over the last months; some of you have truly stormed heaven for us. You have kept us afloat. We are deeply grateful. Especially we thank that priest who was unknown to us, until June 16th when he wrote in fraternal support. Where did he come from? Why us? But he told us of the number of Masses, Offices, prayers and sacrifices he had personally said for us; he had also enlisted the prayers of contemplatives and Third Order societies and had a great number of people fervently praying for us with an abundance of prayers. We were amazed! Thank you Father! Thank you also to that brave person who, so kindly wrote to us to say that if he said any more prayers for us he would be floating! What wonderful people! Thank you!

Looking to the future, the next stage will be to have our community canonically erected. So please, dear friends, keep praying for us, there will be many crosses to bear; but they will be yokes sweetened by the grace of these last days.

We assure you all of our very best wishes.
Your devoted servant,

Fr. Michael Mary, C.SS.R.
Vicar General

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