May 2020 - Christ is Risen, Alleluia! He is Risen Indeed, Alleluia!
While we currently undergo times of trial and uncertainty, we must nevertheless place our hope in Divine Providence whose silent workings are constant and ever-present. In our sufferings let us be comforted by the glorious victory of Christ, by whose death and Resurrection we are restored to life. We are grateful for you, our generous friends and benefactors, whose countless gifts and prayers make it possible for us to form laborers for the harvest.
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
As we celebrate the resurrection of Our Lord, we still find ourselves trapped in a Lent which we did not sign up for. Even so, Easter has come, and we may indeed rejoice in the risen Lord and in the peace and hope which His glorious rebirth speaks to our hearts. You may not have had the opportunity to be physically present at the beautiful liturgies which the Holy Church offers us this year, yet you are daily present with Christ at his crucifixion, death, and resurrection by your holy intentions.
I know well that you have these good intentions as you speak them with your self-sacrifice and beneficence in each gift you offer to the Seminary. As St. Pius X said, “there are many of you and many drops make a shower.” I have the good fortune to receive these unsparing drops, your own honest offerings, daily, and am thus daily reminded of the Providence of God. It gives me great joy to know that we have you as a friend to support us and provide for us as you await the new laborers to be sent into God’s vineyard each year. We have four young men now eagerly anticipating their ordination to the priesthood this spring. Although the Covid-19 pandemic has cast uncertainty on many things, yet we know that God’s Providence never fails, and will arrange all things strongly and sweetly.
Everyone has been affected by this pandemic in some way. We are grateful to be isolated in a rural area at the Seminary. Yet, for us too, it has necessarily changed our operations somewhat. Virginia has ordered no gatherings of groups larger than ten. So, while we have kept our Triduum liturgies as usual, the faithful were served with parking lot masses and offices. Our Easter vacation was changed to an in-house vacation with a schedule for prayer, work, and recreation. Since trips home and abroad were cancelled, we brought some international culture to the Seminary. Each night a seminarian from a different nationality prepared food in honor of his country.
Starting on Laetare Sunday during this past Lent, seminary professors have found themselves saying outdoor, drive-in Masses for a number of Catholics in Front Royal, Virginia. As some of you may know, we service a St. Pius X mission chapel in Maryland. While the restrictions placed on religious gatherings by the state of Maryland in response to Covid-19 were so restrictive that it was essentially impossible to serve all our faithful in that chapel, Virginia’s legislation still allowed for outdoor gatherings. To make a rather long story short, the first outdoor Mass in Front Royal was offered with the faithful sitting in family groups using hay bales for pews – of course, in compliance with all social distancing guidelines. Word had spread that Mass was being offered, and a large percentage of the attendees were attending an SSPX Mass and having contact with SSPX priests for the first time. Interestingly, the following week, Maryland legislation changed to allow for parking lot Masses, but the response of the Front Royal faithful was so overwhelmingly positive and their requests for SSPX priests to return were so vehement that it was decided to continue providing them Mass and confessions.
The next weekend, due to stricter Virginia state guidelines forbidding gatherings of more than 10 people, the Front Royal Mass changed to a parking lot Mass, in which the faithful stayed in their cars except for communion. All of these Masses were carried out according to the guidance of the local sheriff and Governor’s office and with their approval. It is interesting to note that the sheriff expressed great pleasure that Mass was being offered in his county. Mass attendance has steadily increased and the number of communions has recently reached an average of approximately 325 a Sunday.
Currently, the priest servicing the St. Pius X chapel in Maryland offers Mass there on Sunday mornings and then goes to Front Royal where, with the assistance of other seminary professors and seminarians, 2 additional Masses are offered – along with approximately 4 hours of confessions! The Catholics in Front Royal have been extremely vocal about expressing their gratitude and a number of them have even expressed a real desire for the SSPX to establish a Mass center in Front Royal.
Due to continued restrictions on gatherings in the state of Virginia, the Seminary will hold the ceremonies of ordination to the priesthood and diaconate privately. While this is certainly an unfortunate outcome of the current situation, it is nevertheless a great grace to be able to give four new priests and four new deacons to the Church.
Please accept my heartfelt thanks and the gratitude of our whole community at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary. Relying on your charity enables us to focus on our work of forming priests according to the Traditional practice under the patronage of St. Pius X and our founder Archbishop Lefebvre. Today, it allows us to adapt to the present circumstances while going forward in our mission. Asking for your prayers; be assured of our daily prayers for you.
May God bless you and your loved ones with unfailing health of mind and body.
In Christo Sacerdote et Maria,
Fr. Yves le Roux