September 2009 - At the Service of Christ in...
Allow us to talk about one of our sorrows concerning the life of the SSPX. It regards the vocation of Brother within our Society. Little known, or at the very least much overlooked, the vocation of Brother attracts few, and rare are those who ponder the possibility of such a vocation among us.
Dear friends and benefactors,
Allow us to talk about one of our sorrows concerning the life of the SSPX. It regards the vocation of Brother within our Society.
Little known, or at the very least much overlooked, the vocation of Brother attracts few, and rare are those who ponder the possibility of such a vocation among us.
Because Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre wanted his priests to live in community, priories throughout the world were opened. According to the spirit of our Founder, the members of each community had to be Priests and Brothers living together under the rule of fraternal charity. The wisdom and experience of the religious and apostolic soul of our Founder are wholly revealed in the fact that, thanks to the common life, the Brothers give the Priests an irreplaceable support for the stability and the safeguarding of their sacerdotal life, as well as for the apostolate itself.
However, the vocation of the Brother, being essentially interior, hardly attracts a glance. For that reason, we would like to give you a brief introduction to this beautiful vocation - a vocation that, if known and esteemed at its right value, can fill with enthusiasm young souls eager to give themselves to God, but who do not see themselves as Priests.
First of all, let us dispel the widespread error of thinking that the vocation of Brother is reserved for those who cannot, for whatever-reasons, become priests -an error that leads to neglect and even to scorn for such a vocation, presenting it as a failed priestly vocation. It is not: the vocation of Brother is a special vocation, complete in itself.
Since it is necessary for us to dispel errors before approaching the vocation of Brother itself, we must also contradict all those who see in a Brother only a common handyman to be exploited at will. For such people, a Brother is the one who has to do all the heavy and unpleasant work and who must be totally at the disposal of the Priest! It is not so. The Brother has his proper rule which consecrates him to Christ - to the Christ living in the Priest by virtue of His shared priesthood, the mystery of the participation of a frail, sinful creature in the hypostatic union.
In our desacralized world, the Priest risks sinking into what is merely human by the heresy of activism, or by acquiring the spirit of a civil servant, totally unworthy of his being and of his divine function. The Priest, taken and separated from men, must be able to develop and to regain strength in the bosom of a religious family, in which he finds joy, peace and balance. The atmosphere of faith and simplicity that reigns there — and which the Brothers are stewards of- makes it possible for him to return easily to God and to keep in his soul the ardor and the desire to serve Christ in the apostolate that is entrusted to him.
To fulfill his mission, because of the difficulty of our times, the Priest finds himself constrained to run up and down the world. If he cannot count on a haven of religious life in which he can easily find the sense of God, the Priest will have great difficulty in preserving the sense of supernatural realities and will let himself decay, imperceptibly but surely, into a mortal tepidity.
The community of the Brothers offers to the Priest the essential framework within which he can develop his life of prayer and of fraternal charity, necessary for the balance of his soul.
It is true that the Brother relieves the Priest of many material tasks, so that he can devote himself more completely to his apostolate, but that is not the principal reason for the existence of the Brother. The Brother's life of consecration to Christ in the person of His priests is, first and above all, a source of graces for the Priest himself. Not only by the framework that he provides, as we have just seen, but also by the exercise of the religious virtues that he practices and which help the Priest, exposed to the world, to keep in his soul the love of religious realities.
Even more, the consecrated life of the Brother obtains graces of fidelity and holiness for the Priest. The Brother is not satisfied with praying for the Priest, as the faithful do, but he gives his life so that Christ may reign in the soul of the Priest. This oblation is powerful before God, Who then grants to His poor servants the graces necessary to fight against their own misery and to enable them to be instruments of His mercy.
You may now have a better understanding of how essential this vocation of Brother is for our Society and how much the low number of Brothers, compared to their sublime vocation, is prejudicial to the Priests and why, consequently, it concerns us so much.
The life of the Brother has also a direct apostolic dimension, by the catechisms and the teaching that they impart to the children, and by the summer camps that they lead. They also visit those who suffer and thus have the joy of exercising an apostolate of spiritual mercy, preparing souls to receive the graces of the priestly ministry.
The patronal feast of our Brothers is that of Saint Michael the Archangel, heavenly patron of those who defend the honor of God - which our Brothers do by their specific consecration! Let us not forget to pray for them, let us take the trouble to interest ourselves in their lives; for, who knows? Perhaps God has in reserve for us the grace of calling us to serve Him in this noble task...
In Christo sacerdote et Maria,
Fr. Yves le Roux