April 2019 - Faithful Cross! Above All Other, One and Only Noble Tree!
As nature awakens with the coming of spring, we are reminded of the life giving power of Christ in the soul and the fruit of the apostolate brought forth by prayer and sacrifice. Thanks to your generosity, we continue to improve the seminary property so that it may reflect the beauty and serenity which are essential in a priestly soul. We further commend to your prayers the taking root and growth of vocations in the souls entrusted to us. From the Rector and the whole seminary community, we would like to thank you for your prayers and support.
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
The Resurrection of Our Lord is a spiritual invitation to live only for God the Father’s glory, and therefore as a witness of God. We are these witnesses when our days are spent in remembrance of God’s mercy with gratitude. As true charity towards neighbor always flows out of the charity towards God, so also gratitude to our neighbor reflects our love of God and the recognition of all His benefits.
It is in this spirit that I would like to send you my Easter greetings and thanksgiving for all that you do for us here at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary. We are blessed immensely by your support of prayer, kind sentiments, and provision by your almsgiving whether it be a small stipend, regular donation, or estate bequeathal. The majority of the funds we receive go towards the continued completion and maintenance of the seminary complex, as well as the daily sustenance and education of our priests, sisters, brothers, and seminarians. Now that the main building is nearly complete, we have been able to look outside and improve our grounds that they too may provide the serenity so necessary in priestly formation.
We know that all creation reminds us of the Father’s glory and indeed gives witness to Him. This glory is seen especially now at spring when we daily observe that what gave the appearance of death only yesterday, slowly begins to bud and finally burst forth in leaf and flower. At this time when all creation is coming back to life in glorious color and sound, we may forget that winter even existed, so caught up are we in the beauties of a new season. In this way, even the trees bear witness to God and give perfect glory to Him.
A major project here in the last year has been to enhance the Seminary grounds with the planting of a large variety of trees. A team of staff and seminarians was designated to research and implement the planting of nearly 80 trees with the primary goal of creating a natural transition from the surrounding forest, across the barren hill, and up to the seminary building. Several large maples and Zelkova (a Mediterranean elm) have been planted near the ordination field to provide shade from the Virginia summer sun. Nearby, a number of ornamental and deciduous trees, including native species such as dogwood, redbud and Southern magnolia, have been put in along the edge of the forest up the hill towards the refectory. Just outside the refectory a row of large sweet gum and sugar maples have been carefully arranged to give ample relief from the western sun, yet retaining the view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The cemetery perimeter was encased with boxwoods last year, and to the growing border other trees are being added to provide a peaceful garden for the final resting place of the dearly departed. On the east side of the complex, the pond has been enhanced with water plants and native grasses and is being surrounded with trees including several weeping willows. These trees and plants will provide natural filtration towards the water and create a park-like setting for meditation and prayer. If we see new life and hopeful promise in the spring, we know that by October when we celebrate the feast of Christ the King, these same trees will be gilded with gold and vibrant shades of red.
While we have been planting trees here on the property, we have also seen a much more important “planting”: four of our seminarians have just made their perpetual engagements in the Society of St. Pius X. Last weekend, these candidates for the sub-diaconate confirmed for life their attachment to the SSPX, following the new norms established at the last General Chapter. They are thus firmly planted in Holy Mother Church, through the Society. It is indeed essential for the priest to be rooted in the Church, whether through his diocese or through a religious congregation; otherwise, he would be trying to stand alone without support. Without these roots, he cannot withstand the tempest which we know to be very strong in our times. Like Our Lady and St. John, the priest stands at the foot of the cross where he receives the grace to give new life to a decaying society. We can thus be reminded of this grace as we contemplate today Our Lady’s Sorrows in the Stabat Mater. So, let us pray in thanksgiving for our priests, engaged members, and especially for our Sisters who honor their patroness on this feast day.
Additionally, this spring we have been happy to receive H. E. Bishop Tissier de Mallerais in residence at the Seminary. Prior to his arrival in March, careful preparations were made for his living quarters, which include a private oratory. To have a bishop with us on a daily basis is a great blessing from above and a reminder of our connection with the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church – the Roman Catholic Church.
In the past few months, our mission has not been limited to our own community and associated chapels. The seminary priests have also made numerous trips to SSPX schools and chapels to encourage the young men to seriously consider the priesthood, and to speak to their families about fostering the generosity so necessary for the priestly vocation. Indeed, the “harvest is great, but the laborers are few.” Nevertheless, we are encouraged by the vast field of so many Catholic families, and we trust that God will send forth from them many more workers for His harvest. The “Our Lady of Good Success” chapel in Dickinson, ND is a prime example of this faithfulness and growth of Catholic families. With their increased numbers, the faithful there found it necessary to construct a new church building. At their invitation, we were pleased to send a contingent of seminarians to assist at the blessing and first Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which was offered by Rev. Fr. Jürgen Wegner.
We are reminded in the canticle of Daniel that we are all called to give glory to God in thanksgiving by proclaiming to Him the wonders of creation. In this canticle, we acknowledge Him as Lord of all and we give voice to all creation to praise and thank God for his providence. Let us always bear witness by our gratitude and charity to God and neighbor. Be confident that we are immensely grateful to each of you for your support of St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary. Without God’s Providence, working through your generosity, this work would be an impossibility. Be assured of our remembrance of you and all of our benefactors in our evening prayers. Our doors are always open for you to visit, and we hope that many will be able to join us for the priestly and diaconate ordinations set for June 21, 2019. While you are here, be sure to stroll the grounds and enjoy the natural and enhanced beauty which are enabled by your prayers and sacrifices. With my own heartfelt thanks and the thanks of this entire community, I wish you every blessing made possible by the Crucifixion, Death, and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
In Christo Sacerdote et Maria.
Fr. Yves le Roux